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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s State of the Union plus one is a sexual assault survivor

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The congresswoman will be joined by activist Ana Maria Archila at the event.   

On Wednesday 6 February, President Donald Trump will present his State of the Union address to the nation.

Delivered annually to Congress, the State of the Union is designed to be a manifesto of sorts for the sitting president and their perceived achievements over the last year of governance. There had been some debate about whether the speech would happen at all this year, given the dire straits of the government shutdown throughout January.

But with Trump’s government blackout now over and the wheels of American politics turning once more, the State of the Union address is happening on Wednesday, come hell or high water.

The State of the Union address is coming

This will be the first State of the Union address attended by the 14th district’s new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The 29-year-old politician is the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, and though she was only sworn in a month ago she has been making her time in congress count. Already, Ocasio-Cortez has tabled plans for a Green New Deal, leveraging higher tax rates at the super rich to help combat climate change.

She’s also pledged to use her platform to give a voice to the marginalised. Like sexual assault survivor Ana Maria Archila, who will be Ocasio-Cortez’s personal guest at the State of the Union address on Wednesday.

Archila, who hails from Ocasio-Cortez’s district of the Bronx, is an activist who made headlines around the world for her protest against Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. It was she who, moments before the nomination vote, marched up to Kavanaugh supporter Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator to demand that he hear the voices of sexual assault survivors.

“He needed to understand that women feel incredibly enraged about the thought of our stories, of our experiences of surviving sexual violence being dismissed, laughed at, disbelieved, and I think I just felt a great sense of urgency and I think I saw in his face that he could not escape the emotion,” Archila explained to CNN.

Archila and Ocasio-Cortez will be attending the State of the Union together wearing matching pins bearing the slogan ‘Well behaved women seldom make history’. In a video shared on her Instagram story, Ocasio-Cortez handed the pin to her new friend. “Thank you for not being a well behaved woman, ever,” Archila responded, grinning. 

Archila protesting Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination

Explaining her choice of State of the Union plus one, Ocasio-Cortez called Archila a “shero” who has given a voice to the shared trauma of assault survivors. “She wasn’t planning on leaping into that elevator ahead of the Kavanaugh vote but after hearing the stories of survivors across the country, she went in. A defining moment,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

“She‘s living proof that the courage within all of us can change the world,” Ocasio-Cortez added.

Archila, for her part, is eager to take a seat beside Ocasio-Cortez for the State of the Union speech. “I never thought I’d be excited about being in the same room with Donald Trump,” she joked

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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