In a speech on the House floor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to an exchange she had earlier in the week with Rep. Ted Yoho, saying he made excuses for his behavior. Ocasio-Cortez also spoke about the broader issue of men, especially those in positions of power, using abusive language toward women.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: 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 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, Representative 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 accept it as an apology and to accept silence as a form of acceptance. I could not allow that to stand, which is why I am rising today to raise this point of personal privilege.
And I do not need Representative Yoho to apologize to me. Clearly, he does not want to. 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 towards women.
But 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.
Now what I am here to say is that this harm that Mr. Yoho levied-- tried to against me was not just an incident directed at me. 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.
I do not care what your views are. It does not matter how much I disagree or how much it incenses me or how much I feel that people are dehumanizing others. I will not do that myself. I will not allow people to change and create hatred in our hearts.
And so 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.
Lastly, what I want to express to Mr. Yoho is gratitude. I want to thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women. 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. It happened here, on the steps of our nation's capital. It happens when individuals who hold the highest office in this land admit-- admit to hurting women and using this language against all of us.