During the past week when you’ve opened up your Facebook feed and scrolled through a chain of coronavirus articles, you may have stumbled across the phrase,
“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.”
These were just a few of the moving words that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (also known as AOC), the first-term Democrat from New York, states in her speech on the floor of the House of Representatives last week. The speech came after Republican Ted Yoho, approached Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol, having just voted, and called her “disgusting,” “out of her mind,” and worse…
Too often, when American politicians find their way onto our newsfeeds, it is for the wrong reasons. However, AOC’s recent speech is trending for all the right reasons and here’s why –
She is the youngest woman to ever be elected into American congress and is standing on the floor of the House of Representatives defending herself against a much older, male in power.
American politics is dominated by disreputable male characters. President Trump has been held accountable on multiple occasions for his abusive language and poor attitude towards women. He has built a Republican party that reflects these traits and AOC’s encounter with Yoho is a prime example.
For AOC to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives, as the youngest female in history to be elected into congress and tell her narrative of how Mr. Yoho approached her with his male colleague and called her, “disgusting,” “out of her mind,” “and “a f*cking b*tch,” is incredibly brave. To then follow this recount of events by defending herself, ignites a spark of empowerment in the hearts of all women.
Her motive to speak out about the incident was to ensure young girls do not excuse or accept verbal abuse from men.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez states in her speech that Representative Yoho’s comments “were not deeply hurtful or piercing” to her. She explains that she has encountered this harassment in all areas throughout her life.
She was “going to pack it up and go home,” as it was just another day in her life as a woman. However, when she heard Yoho making excuses for his comments towards her, she decided to speak out.
“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 as an excuse, and to see our congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology.”
Her motive for taking to the microphone was to stand with younger women, ensuring they do not tolerate or accept verbal attacks from men.
She calls out all men for using their wives, daughters, and family as shields of protection for inexcusable abuse.
Perhaps the most inspiring words of AOC’s speech were, “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.”
Mr. Yoho attempted to excuse his behaviour by saying that he has a wife and a daughter and therefore, is a decent and respectful person. However, AOC quickly invalidated his comment when she states that she, “is someone’s daughter too,” and no child, no women, no man, no person, should ever be spoken to with such disrespect.
She acknowledges that this does not only happen to women in politics, but women in all professions, in multiple different areas of their lives, and it is not okay.
Before being elected into congress, AOC majored in international relations, was an activist, and worked as a waitress and a bartender. She mentions her previous occupations in her speech and states that she has “ridden the subways and walked the streets of New York City and this kind of language is not new.”
She unites all women by acknowledging that in some way, shape, or form, we have all been in her position and experienced verbal abuse, and that is the problem. AOC acknowledging that there is an issue and using her position to vocalise it is encouraging.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t only defend herself but defends principle, and countless women, not only in America, but across the globe.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez closed her speech with, “Lastly, what I want to express to Mr. Yoho is gratitude.” Because he showed the world that any man, no matter their title, their position of power, if they have a daughter or if they have a wife, can still accost women without remorse. It happens everywhere, every single day, and by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling him out in her speech, she defends, inspires, and empowers us all.