When the congresswoman was in her 20s she worked in a bar in New York. Once, when her manager tried to do something despicable, AOC refused to stand for it.
Gather round, children, and let me tell you a tale of a strong woman triumphing in the face of vile misogyny and institutionalised sexism.
In the pantheon of great Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stories, this might be the greatest of them all. We all know that AOC, the youngest-ever representative elected to Congress in the US worked as a bartender in New York in her 20s. We know this because she was mixing margaritas there in early 2018 while raising the funds necessary to mount her political campaign, and only quit when she decided to run for election in February.
Ocasio-Cortez’s job history is something that her critics love to leverage against her. “Why didn’t anyone tell this bartender that maybe she should have started with the city council first,” one such critic tweeted at her.
AOC’s response? “This bartender has served in a Senate casework office, organised and educated 1000s of young people, earned relevant degrees with honours, worked on field campaigns, and the only reason I wasn’t told to run for city council was because I was consistently told not to run at all… And by the way, it’s Congresswoman.”
AOC is proud of her time working at bars in her 20s, and rightly so. As Jezebel pointed out, though people love to look down on those who work in the service industry more than 100 million Americans are employed by it across the country.
But the politician isn’t afraid to call out misogyny in the service industry where she sees it, too. In We’ve Got People, a recently released book on the subject of America’s current socialist movement, author Ryan Grim interviewed some of Ocasio-Cortez’s old colleagues about their time working together.
In the book he relays a story in which a manager instructed the waitresses to line up against a wall so that the manager could rank them based on his perception of their attractiveness. After being asked to do so, Ocasio-Cortez quit her job on the spot and immediately left the bar, only to return to employment when her manager resorted to “pleading” with her, promising that such “contests” would never happen again.
Other things that Ocasio-Cortez’s colleagues remember about her? That she was “different” and that “she was always working towards something”.
But mostly, they remember that time that she stood up for herself and her female colleagues and refused to let men in power objectify the women around them.