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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemns ‘violent language against women’ in powerful speech

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Kayleigh Dray
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has delivered a speech rejecting a colleague’s apology after he allegedly used a sexist slur in an argument. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it has set the internet on fire. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting, inspiring figures in politics today. She’s a champion for equality, sustainability, and progress. She uses her voice and platform to speak up for those who can’t. She is a bonafide Twitter queen. 

And, on top of all that, she point-blank refuses to be boxed in by the institutionalised misogyny of certain circles of American politics.

It should come as no surprise to learn, then, that our beloved AOC wasn’t going to sit back and let Republican Ted Yoho get away with accosting her on the steps of the US Capitol.

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According to AOC, she was entering Congress to vote when Republican Ted Yoho approached her, put his finger in her face and called her “disgusting”, “crazy” and “dangerous” over recent comments she had made about crime being linked to poverty.

Ocasio-Cortez informed Yoho he was being “rude”, and headed into the building. As he descended the steps, though, AOC says she heard Yoho brand her a “fucking bitch”. 

The exchange was, it’s worth noting here, witnessed by a reporter from The Hill.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
AOC said: “Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”

Yoho later apologised for the “abrupt manner of the conversation” with AOC and said he was “very cognisant” of his language because he was married and had daughters.

The congresswoman, however, has used his comments to underscore a bigger issue.

“Mr Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters,” she said, in a speech that has since gone viral.

“I am two years younger than Mr Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr Yoho treated his daughter.”

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AOC continued: “I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.

She added: “Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man. And when a decent man messes up, as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologise.”

Watch AOC’s speech below in full:

AOC went on to note: “All of us have had to deal with this in some form, some way, some shape, at some point in our lives. I want to be clear that Representative Yoho’s comments were not deeply hurtful or piercing to me, because I have worked a working-class job.

“I have waited tables in restaurants, and I have ridden the subway. I have walked the streets in New York City. And this kind of language is not new. I have encountered words uttered by Mr Yoho and men uttering the same words as Mr Yoho while I was being harassed in restaurants. I have tossed men out of bars that have used language like Mr Yoho’s. And I have encountered this type of harassment riding the subway in New York City.

“This is not new. And that is the problem.”

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“When you [speak like this] to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did, was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters,” stressed AOC. 

“In using that language, in front of the press, he gave permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community, and I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable.”

Unsurprisingly, AOC’s speech has touched a nerve with women on social media, many of whom have rushed to thank the politician for defending not just herself, but defending principle and countless women.

“I am so sick of men using their daughters as evidence of their empathy for women,” tweeted Olivia Wilde. “I don’t care if you have a daughter or a pet turtle. You shouldn’t need to raise a woman to know not to disrespect us.

“This speech is fierce and true. Please rise for AOC.”

Hear, hear.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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