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Lawmaker condemns sexism in Congress

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had her most norm-shattering moment when she took to the House floor to call out Representative Ted Yoho

Luke Broadwater, Catie Edmondson Washington Published 25.07.20, 01:30 AM
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks on the House floor on Thursday, on Capitol Hill in Washington

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks on the House floor on Thursday, on Capitol Hill in Washington AP

Ever since Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came to Congress as the youngest woman elected to the House, she has upended traditions, harnessing the power of social media and challenging leaders, including President Trump, who are 50 years her senior.

On Thursday, she had her most norm-shattering moment yet when she took to the House floor to read into the Congressional Record a sexist vulgarity that Representative Ted Yoho, a Florida Republican, had used to refer to her.


“In front of reporters, Representative Yoho called me, and I quote: ‘A f****** b****,’” she said, punching each syllable in the vulgarity. “These are the words Representative Yoho levied against a congresswoman.”

Then Ocasio-Cortez, who excels at using her detractors to amplify her own political brand, invited a group of Democratic women in the House to come forward to express solidarity with her. One by one, they shared their own stories of harassment and mistreatment by men, including in Congress. More even than the profanity uttered on the House floor, where language is carefully regulated, what unfolded over the next hour was a remarkable moment of cultural upheaval on Capitol Hill.

“It happens every day in this country,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It happened here on the steps of our nation’s Capitol.” And then, in an unmistakable shot at Trump, she added, “It happens when individuals who hold the highest office in this land admit to hurting women and using this language against all of us.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal recounted how a male Republican lawmaker had once lashed out at her during a debate on the House floor, sternly calling Jayapal, 54, a “young lady” and saying that she did not “know a damn thing” about what she was talking about. Jayapal did not name the lawmaker, but she was referring to Representative Don Young whose insults were captured on video in a 2017 incident that was widely reported at the time.

New York Times News Service

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