Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a powerful and searing speech on Thursday in response to a Republican colleague who had verbally accosted her on the steps of Capitol Hill earlier in the week, allegedly calling her "disgusting" and a "f—ing b—."
After the colleague, Florida Rep. Ted Yoho, offered a non-apology following the exchange, Ocasio-Cortez took to the House floor with a powerful speech denouncing his behavior. In the speech, she expressed that she was initially ready to let the exchange go, but once Yoho began "make excuses for his behavior," she says, "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."
She also excoriated Yoho for mentioning his wife and daughters when addressing his behavior towards her, which she said was an example of "using women, our wives, and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior."
"Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters," she said. "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. 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."
Here is my full response regarding Mr. Yoho and the culture of misogyny that inspired his actions.
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
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 23, 2020
"This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural," she said, calling it a culture "of accepting violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports that."
She added that she's not seeking an apology from Yoho: "Clearly, when given the opportunity, he will not, and I will not stay up late at night waiting for an apology from a man who has no remorse over calling women and using abusive language toward women."
On Thursday afternoon, videos of the powerful speech were being shared on Twitter, with people praising her fortitude.
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) July 23, 2020
— Liz Plank (@feministabulous) July 23, 2020
“I am someone's daughter too.” Watching a truly natural political talent at the start of her career is extremely exhilarating. https://t.co/8HXZcUuAKX
— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) July 23, 2020
On Tuesday, it was reported that Ocasio-Cortez had been going into the Capitol building when Yoho was leaving, at which point he called her "disgusting" to her face over remarks she had made about crime and unemployment in New York City. He then reportedly said "f—ing b—" to no one in particular after she said he was being "rude" and continued into the building.
On the House floor on Wednesday, he said "I rise to apologize for the abrupt manner of the conversation I had with my colleague from New York," but then followed up with, "I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country." He did not address what his passion or loving his God, family, and country had to do with calling a colleague a "b—."
In tweets following the events, Ocasio-Cortez said she had never spoken with Yoho before the incident, and that she did not accept his non-apology, adding that he was refusing to accept responsibility.
"Believe it or not, I usually get along fine w/ my GOP colleagues," she said. "We know how to check our legislative sparring at the committee door. But hey, 'b*tches' get stuff done."
She also took a video of herself walking near the Capitol listening to Doja Cat's "Boss Bitch."