Several other women in Congress have since spoken up about the culture of misogyny in politics, backing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Editor's note: We are re-sharing some of the best moments and most important stories of 2020. Although it was a difficult year for nearly all of us, there were also shining moments of light and signs of hope. This was one of them.
Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set the House floor on fire this Thursday when she called out Republican Congressman Ted Yoho's verbal attack against her, The Guardian reports. His statements, she said, were not an individual problem but a small example of a universal culture. "You can be a powerful man and accost women," she asserted. "You can have daughters and accost women, without remorse. You can be married and accost women. You can take photos, and project an image to the world of being a family man, and accost women, without remorse, and with a sense of impunity. It happens every day in this country." The Congresswoman's speech has since gone viral, resonating with dozens of women, in policy and otherwise.
.@AOC calls out Rep. Yoho: "I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse and worse to see that, to see that excuse and to see our Congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology." pic.twitter.com/lmhBtXRbJZ— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 23, 2020
According to Ocasio-Cortez, the Republican Representative had earlier this week, on the steps of the Capitol building, called her "disgusting" and exclaimed that she was "out of [her] freaking mind." The exchange, which has been labeled a conversation but was nothing short of a verbal assault, ended with Yoho calling the Congresswoman a "f*cking b*tch." Though she had initially planned to ignore the statements during a Congressional session, he himself brought up the matter. He explained, "Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I’m very cognizant of language." He claimed that reporters had simply "misheard" his remarks and thus apologized for the "misunderstanding," but added, "I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family, and my country."
After Yoho called AOC a f****** b**** he went on the floor and said a lot of words but never apologized. AOC correctly called him out for not apologizing. Kevin McCarthy showed sympathy to Yoho and lied, saying he did apologize. McCarthy’s lack of respect for women is disgusting.— Kim Mangone for Congress 2020 (@KimMangone) July 24, 2020
The Democrat, thankfully, did not remain silent. "I am someone’s daughter, too," she responded, in what ultimately became a scathing criticism of the nonchalant way misogyny is embedded within Capitol Hill. "Thankfully, my father is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect of me on the floor of this House, on television. I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter, and they did not raise me to accept abuse from men." Ocasio-Cortez then pointed out that the Republican Representative's remarks were not about a singular incident—"It is cultural," she asserted.
She continued: "Dehumanizing language is not new, and what we are seeing is that incidents like these are happening in a pattern. This is a pattern of an attitude towards women and [the] dehumanization of others. So while I was not deeply hurt or offended by little comments that are made—when I was reflecting on this, I honestly thought that I was just going to pack it up and go home. It’s just another day, right? But then yesterday Rep. Yoho decided to come to the floor of the House of Representatives and make excuses for his behavior, and that I could not let go. I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls that I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse and worse, to see that, to see that excuse and to see our Congress accept it as legitimate, and to accept it as an apology, and to accept silence as a form of acceptance."
Here is my full response regarding Mr. Yoho and the culture of misogyny that inspired his actions.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 23, 2020
I am deeply appreciative of my colleagues and everyone speaking up and out against the rampant mistreatment of women both in Congress and across the country. ⬇️ https://t.co/nFfxy5UdmP
The infamous "Squad" member claimed she would "not stay up late at night waiting for an apology from a man who has no remorse over calling women and using abusive language towards women," arguing that what she had an issue with was how he (and others like him) used their wives and daughters "as shields and excuses for poor behavior." "Now, what I am here to say is that this harm that Mr. Yoho levied, tried to levy against me, was not just an incident directed at me," she concluded. "But 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." The Republican, dumbfounded no doubt, said someone should be forgiven when they make an apology. However, as Ocasio-Cortez made evidently clear, this is a culture of sexism that will no longer be tolerated.
I not only stand with @AOC, but all women who have experienced verbal abuse not just once, but since they were little girls.— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) July 23, 2020
This behavior by Ted Yoho and so many others will not be tolerated.
All women deserve respect and fundamental equality. Period. pic.twitter.com/Zgjyp5Hleg