In an address to the House today, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke about a verbal altercation she had with Ted Yoho, a Republican representative for Florida.
The Hill originally reported that Yoho "accosted" Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in regard to remarks she made suggesting that a spike in New York City crime is correlated to the poverty and unemployment rates inflamed by the coronavirus pandemic. "You are out of your freaking mind," Yoho reportedly told her, adding that she was "disgusting" for what she said. After the two parted ways, Yoho also reportedly called her a "fucking bitch."
AOC previously commented on the altercation after the story broke, even making light of Yoho's verbal insult by playing Doja Cat's "Boss Bitch" on her Instagram Story. Now, after Yoho issued an apology yesterday, the Democratic representative has taken to the House floor to address the incident.
"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," she said. "I have waited tables in restaurants. I have ridden the subway. I have walked the streets in New York City, and this kind of language is not new."
She continued, "Mr. Yoho was not alone. He was walking shoulder to shoulder with Representative Roger Williams. And that's when we start to see that this issue is not about one incident. It is cultural. It is a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports that."
The congresswoman pointed to language used against her by members of the Republican party, specifically that of President Donald Trump, telling her and other Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to the "crime infested places from which they came."
"This is a pattern of an attitude towards women and dehumanization of others," she said.
AOC also added that she originally intended to "let go" of the altercation between her and Yoho—until he addressed the House floor and made "excuses for his behavior" toward her. "That I could not let go," she said.
Yoho told the House yesterday, per CNN, "Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I'm very cognizant of my language. The offensive name calling, words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleague and if they were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding."
The congressman went on to say that he and his wife "started out together at the age of 19 with nothing" and so he knew "the face of poverty." He continued, "I will conduct myself from a place of passion and understanding that policy and political disagreement be vigorously debated with the knowledge that we approach the problems facing our nation with the betterment of the country in mind and the people we serve. I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my god, my family and my country."
AOC addressed these remarks specifically, saying, "What I do have issue with is using women, our wives and daughters, as shields and excuses for poor behavior. Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. 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."
She continued, "What I believe is that 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 apologize. Not to save face, not to win a vote, he apologizes genuinely to repair and acknowledge the harm done so that we can all move on."
In her closing remarks, the congresswoman said she has "gratitude" toward Yoho, saying, "I want to thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women."
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