On Thursday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a sad Republican congressman from Florida the fame he was seeking at her expense.
Days prior, Ocasio-Cortez was reportedly approached by Ted Yoho as she entered the Capitol to cast a vote. Their exchange was described as “brief but heated” but the congresswoman representing the Bronx described the encounter like this: “That kind of confrontation hasn’t ever happened to me — ever. I’ve never had that kind of abrupt, disgusting kind of disrespect levied at me.”
Yoho is, for lack of better phrase, a big old white man. Ocasio-Cortez is younger and smaller in physical stature, so I can imagine some hefty barking white man hollering at her about how she is “disgusting” and “out of her freaking mind” for rightly recognizing that poverty and unemployment are driving a spike in crime in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic. Ocasio-Cortez told him that he was being “rude,” but as they parted ways, Yoho was overheard telling fellow Republican congressmen, “Fucking bitch.”
Yoho was to apologize for this on Wednesday on the House floor, but behaved very much like the spoiled, entitled brat his ilk often proves to be.
Because this is not an apology: “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 colleagues and if they were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding.”
Nor is this: “I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country.”
The kind of men who cite their “passion” to excuse their bad behavior around women are the kind of men to worry about. That is not to suggest that Yoho is a physically abusive man, but he has proven himself to be the kind of man who thinks he can treat a certain type of woman a certain type of way. In his case, that is to treat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most popular politicians in America, like she’s nothing.
In response to Yoho’s apology that lacked the actual apology, Ocasio-Cortez delivered her own remarks on the House floor.
“Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “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 they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.”
Republicans have always shown their disrespect for women in legislation, but their rhetoric has intensified under the control of Donald Trump, a man accused of sexual assault and rape. That appears to include even other Republican women like Lynn Cheney, who almost comically is no longer considered conservative enough by Trump’s biggest suck ups. And the usual suspects like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, who are vilified under descriptors like “crooked” and “nasty.”
However, misogyny has levels like anything else and “fucking bitch” ups the ante. He may not have said it to her face, but it was only a few steps away and around their shared congressional colleagues. And again, he approached her in a disrespectful and arguably physically intimidating manner.
Unfortunately, that noticeable difference in the already awful treatment of women worsening by race and ethnicity didn’t begin with AOC.
In 2018, then White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson an “empty barrel,” MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell noted at the time was a thinly veiled racist smear against Wilson. This was as he incorrectly claimed that Wilson derailed the dedication of a Federal Bureau of Investigation building to brag about having “called up President [Barack] Obama for the funding. During that same time space, Kelly practically defended slavery and deemed Confederate General Robert E. Lee as “honorable.” He was also protecting the accused woman beater working in the White House.
Ocasio-Cortez took offense and criticized Kelly on Twitter back then.
“John Kelly was straight up exposed for lying about @RepWilson in comments aimed at discrediting her,” she wrote in December 2018. “He absolutely owes her an apology, and his refusal to do so isn’t a sign of strength — it’s cowardice.”
For all the criticism Kelly received, he never apologized to Wilson — not even as he left his position in the Trump administration. That’s probably why Ocasio-Cortez didn’t need Yoho’s apology because she knows it would be insincere. Still, as eloquent as she was in chopping and screwing that stupid man from that state that needs prayer, a new governor, and a stay-at-home order, I worry that she may have to make that kind of speech again sooner than later.
Because if you can no longer even get them to feign guilt about this type of behavior, what comes next?