“This issue is not about one incident,” declared Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said today on the House floor in a searing response to being accosted and insulted with profanity by Republican Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida this week. “It is cultural,” the Democrat for New York’s 14th congressional district added, garnering strong reaction from Hollywood, past presidential contenders and others.
In her 10-minute remarks on Thursday, the savvy progressive politician known to many simply as AOC took aim at Yoho’s behavior and his non-apology on Wednesday as being “accepting of a violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports that.”
Followed by strong support from fellow Democrats, the speech attacking a sexist and toxic culture in the corridors of power and elsewhere struck a chord on cable news and social media:
If Luna turns out to be half the woman Alexandria is, I will have won. I can’t believe we are lucky enough to have her in that room. https://t.co/QbT3V96AA1
I am so sick of men using their daughters as evidence of their empathy for women. 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 🙌 https://t.co/zpkwP7NRV6
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) July 23, 2020
C-SPAN’s clip of the speech took off on Twitter, drawing more than 11.1 million social media views as of Friday morning. According to the network’s Jeremy Art, in a little more than six hours, it was its most retweeted tweet ever. A 2018 clip in which President Donald Trump calls member of MS-13 “animals” ranks as the most viewed clip, at 22.4 million, but that is after more than two years.
Accompanied by a fellow GOP-er, the soon to retire Yoho confronted Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capital on July 21. The conservative Republican slammed the Congresswoman as”disgusting” and proclaiming that “you are out of your freaking mind” because of AOC’s assertion that reports of climbing crime rates during the COVID-19 pandemic are related to the subsequent economic crisis. After Ocasio-Cortez called Yoho rude for such a display and walked into the building, the Sunshine State Congressmen referred to her as “f**king b***h,” according to journalists and others within earshot.
On Wednesday, a clearly unrepentant Yoho spoke on the House floor and, despite numerous witnesses to the incident, claimed he never used the “offensive name calling, words attributed to me by the press.” The Congressman also said he was “very cognizant” of his language because he was a wife and two daughters.
Those further contemptible words spurned the thick-skinned AOC to shine an even brighter spotlight on what had gone down, and was being perpetuated.
“Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters” she said today of Yoho’s remarks of Wednesday. “I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter,” the Bronx-based Congresswoman added. “I am someone’s daughter too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television and 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.”
“When you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters. 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.”
Must watch. Allllll of this!! 👇🏾🖤✊🏾 https://t.co/aWK50iPs3q
Sexism permeates our culture—and members of Congress are not immune.
Must watch https://t.co/zVdINmCw1K
— Janelle Monáe, Cindi Mayweather (@JanelleMonae) July 23, 2020
Want to feel pride and admiration for a stranger? Put aside 9 minutes and 51 seconds and watch. Making sure my daughters watch it tomorrow (if they’ll acknowledge that I’m in the room).
Innate grace, intellectual ferocity and the heart of a lioness. She’s the anti-Trump.@AOC https://t.co/AMbxwPf33G
— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) July 23, 2020
— Gina Prince-Bythewood (@GPBmadeit) July 23, 2020
There’s a lot going on, but there’s a reason @AOC‘s speech today on the House floor is resonating. She says what for too long has gone unsaid. Silence is not an option. The moment for reckoning with misogyny and harassment, in Congress, and in the country, is here.
First: Watch this. She’s right.
Second: Imagine what we could get done if women didn’t have to deal with things like this on top of doing their job. https://t.co/msz9QWq6I2
My Dear Sister @AOC’s magnificent eloquence and courage in the face of ugly disrespect made her precious mother Blanca and her late father Sergio proud, and he smiles from the grave!
— Cornel West (@CornelWest) July 23, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the incident in her weekly press conference with reporters, relaying her own story of being patronized by other House members. “The fact that the behavior of one of the members is such that the whole caucus, the whole Democratic Women’s Caucus has gone to the floor at a time when our floor time is very precious, tells you how important this is,” she said.
“It’s a manifestation of attitudes in our society, really. I can tell you that firsthand. They’ve called me names for at least 20 years of leadership — 18 years of leadership,” Pelosi noted.
She said that they could be “condescending” in addition to being “disrespectful.”
The top ranking Democrat and mother of five recalled that a number of years, when she spoke in favor of reproductive rights on the floor of the House, “they got up there and said, ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the Pope.”
“There’s no limit to the disrespect or the lack of acknowledgement of the strength of women. Nothing is more wholesome for our government, for our politics, for our country, than the increased participation of women. And women will be treated with respect.”
On the other hand, as bullies often do, Ted Yoho pretty much stayed silent on Thursday. The only thing he did was to put up a post on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s bullet points speech on China Thursday at the Richard M. Nixon Library in California
Great speech by @SecPompeo on the need to confront #China as a united front with our allies. We don’t seek conflict & I pray for the people of China to put their country on a better path, but until the #CCP changes its behavior we must #DistrustButVerify. https://t.co/wprsrE9z5M
— Ted Yoho (@RepTedYoho) July 23, 2020