On Monday, July 20, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) was confronted by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida) on the steps of the Capitol, where Yoho allegedly called Ocasio-Cortez a sexist slur in response to her views on the economy's effect on crime and police budgets. On Wednesday, July 22, Yoho denied using the "words attributed to [him] by the press" and apologized for the "misunderstanding," but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's response to Rep. Yoho's apology points out a bigger problem.
According to a recounting of the alleged incident, which was first reported by The Hill, AOC was heading into the Capitol for a vote on Monday when Yoho approached her and allegedly called her "disgusting," "dangerous," and "out of her mind," for her views that a rise in unemployment could be linked to a rise in crime. After AOC and Yoho parted ways, it was reported that Yoho allegedly called Ocasio-Cortez a "f*ck*ng b*tch" in front of reporters.
On Wednesday, July 22, Yoho denied using the offensive language and issued an apology on the floor of the House of Representatives. "The offensive name-calling, words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleagues and if they were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding," Yoho said. Referencing his 45-year marriage and two daughters, he also said he tries to be "cognizant" of his language around women. Elite Daily reached out to Rep. Yoho for further comment on the alleged incident and Ocasio-Cortez's subsequent response, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Ocasio-Cortez responded to Yoho on Thursday, July 23. AOC spoke on the House floor, and she used the moment to highlight the bigger issue of the treatment of women as whole. "These are the words that Rep. Yoho levied against a congresswoman. The congresswoman that not only represents New York's 14th Congressional District, but every congresswoman — and every woman in this country — because all of us have had to deal with this," Ocasio-Cortez began.
Ocasio-Cortez said the offensive language Yoho allegedly used is nothing new. Bringing up the working class and women everywhere, AOC reiterated that similar dehumanizing language is used every day about women throughout the country. She referenced examples she herself experienced while working as bartender or riding on the New York City subway. "This is not new, and that is the problem," she said.
The congresswoman also explained how this behavior isn't unusual. "This is a pattern of an attitude towards women and dehumanization of others," Ocasio-Cortez said. AOC also pointed out that this behavior happens at the highest levels of power, noting the July 2019 incident in which President Donald Trump apparently suggested she and progressive colleagues "go back" to other countries "from which they came." Ocasio-Cortez was born in the United States and is an American citizen. The White House did not previously respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the remarks.
AOC condemned Yoho's reference to his own wife and daughters, calling it a shield for his reported inappropriate behavior. "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." Ocasio-Cortez said. She added that using insulting and dehumanizing language about women paves a pathway of acceptance for other men to use dehumanizing language towards their wives, their daughters, and the women in their communities. "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," she said.
AOC said Rep. Yoho's reported words didn't personally hurt her. She chose to speak out because she "couldn't allow" the women and girls around the country hear Yoho's excuse and "witness Congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology." She ended her speech with a reminder that harmful attitudes toward women are alive and well in this country.
Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, has become an emblem of the young progressive wing of the Democratic party. Since taking office in January 2019, she has become a prominent face in left-leaning politics for her impassioned stances on issues like climate change, immigration, and health care. It's also made her a target for opponents — she's been the object of political attacks from pundits and the president alike. But clearly, she always has a response at the ready.