When He Went Low She Went High – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Makes a Mark for History (Video)

WAXWORD

The congresswoman spoke on behalf of all women who suffer aggressions large and small from men who think they can do so with impunity

Cursing is a sign of weakness.

You know who taught me that? Charles M. Schulz, the creator of Charlie Brown and the whole “Peanuts” gang, who never used an epithet in the comic strip harsher than “Rats.” More often it was just “Good grief.”

“You don’t need anything stronger than that,” Sparky (as everyone called him) told me in one of our early interviews. He was a wise and gentle artist, who hailed from Minneapolis and made his home in Santa Rosa, California.

So when I read that a Republican congressman from Florida named Ted Yoho called his colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) a “f—-ing bitch,” I was shocked. The words were uttered in full earshot of a reporter from The Hill, who reported it. I’m still in shock, actually.

And now I’m in awe. Because Ocasio-Cortez made history on the floor of Congress on Thursday when she rose to respond to Yoho’s tepid “apology” — one which sounded exactly like those of so many men caught out in bad behavior. Essentially it says: I’m sorry that I got caught, but I never said (or in #MeToo cases, did) what I’m accused of doing.

The Congresswoman rose as a peer, not a victim, to show that she would not descend to his level or dignify his denial with a counterargument. She instead used the moment to speak on behalf of all women who suffer aggressions large and small from men who think they can do so with impunity.

She demanded respect. She stood up for human dignity. And she did so with words that touched the heart and appealed to our better selves. All without letting Yoho duck his actions.

“I have worked a working-class job,” she said. “I have waited tables. I have ridden the subway. I have walked the streets in New York City. This kind of language is not new. I have encountered men uttering the same words in restaurants. I have tossed men out of bars who have used words like Mr. Yoho.”

She went on to describe Yoho’s words as part of “a culture of impunity of accepting violence and violent language against women. An entire structure of power that supports that…  An attitude towards women and dehumanization of others.”

We already know how right she is. Violence toward women should not be tolerated anywhere, and it begins with verbal violence. Our “Grab ‘em by the p—y” president has led the verbal assault on women throughout his time in the White House, and it can be no surprise that his supporters in Congress have permitted themselves to follow his lead.

But Yoho’s words, like Trump’s, reflect weakness and insecurity, not power. Any adult knows that you reach for insults only when you run out of arguments.

And with the power of argument, Ocasio-Cortez then struck straight to the heart. In his so-called apology on Wednesday, Yoho said that he had a wife of 40-plus years and two daughters.

Yoho, she said, should be ashamed using his wife and daughters as “shields and excuses for poor behavior.”

“I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s daughter,” the 30-year-old congresswoman said. “I am someone daughter’s too.

“I have to show my parents that I am their daughter, and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men. This harm that Mr. Yoho tried to levy at me was not just directed at me. When you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to use that language to other peoples’ daughters.”

Her words struck with the thunderous force of truth, ending the conversation. There is no response to Ocasio-Cortez’s demand for decent behavior on the part of powerful men. And there was silence, as others have noted, from the Republican side of the aisle for the rest of the day.

“Having a daughter does not make a man decent,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Having a wife does not make a decent man. And when a decent man messes up, as we all are bound to do, he does his best and does apologize.”

There are, still today, moments when words can cut through the noise of our chaotic society and the fog of politics and make a mark. On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez made her mark.

Sharon Waxman

Sharon Waxman

Sharon Waxman, is the founder, CEO and Editor in Chief of TheWrap. She is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, and was a Hollywood correspondent for The New York Times.



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