US Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a speech rejecting a colleague’s apology after allegedly using a sexist insult in an argument.
The New York Democrat went to the House to accuse Republican Ted Yoho of accosting her on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Monday.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, who is often the target of conservatives, said the comments showed a “pattern” of bad behavior on the part of men.
Mr. Yoho denies saying the insult and calls for courtesy.
“This problem is not about an incident. It’s cultural, ”she told lawmakers, calling it a culture“ to accept violence and violent language against women, a whole power structure that supports that. ”
She added that she was ready to drop the incident until Mr. Yoho “finds an apology” by quoting his wife and daughters in a speech Wednesday.
What happened during the incident?
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said she was entering Congress to vote when Mr Yoho, a congressman from Florida, and congressman from Texas, Roger Williams, approached her as they were leaving the chamber.
She said he called her “disgusting” and said “you are freaked out with fear” in what a reporter who also witnessed the incident called a “brief but passionate exchange” to About Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s recent comments on poverty-related crime.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez – a member of the so-called “squad” of young democratic women – said she told him he was “rude”.
Then, as Mr. Yoho walked away, he was overheard by reporters using profanity and a sexist slang being used to disparage women.
Mr Yoho’s office denies using the word sexist and said he instead exclaimed “bullshit” as he left.
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What did Ocasio-Cortez say?
In an impassioned speech Thursday, Ms Ocasio-Cortez dismissed Mr Yoho’s comments on the House floor a day earlier, in which he apologized for the “blunt manner of the conversation” with her and said that he was “very aware” of his language because he was married and had daughters.
“Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, 30, said Thursday. “I’m two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am also someone’s daughter. My father, fortunately, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho has treated his daughter. ”
“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,” she continued.
“When you do this to a woman, what Mr. Yoho has done is give permission for other men to do this to his daughters,” she added. “By using this language, in front of the press, he gave permission to use this language against his wife, his daughters, the women in his community, and I am here to stand up to say that it is not acceptable. ”
Mrs Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest Democrat in the chamber, spoke about her upbringing in New York’s Bronx and other times in her life where she had heard abusive words from men.
“I want to be clear that Representative Yoho’s comments were not deeply offensive or piercing to me,” she added. “Because I worked as a laborer.
“I waited for tables and took the metro. I walked the streets of New York. And this kind of language is not new.
“I have encountered words spoken by Mr. Yoho and men speaking the same words as Mr. Yoho while I was harassed in restaurants. I threw men out of bars who used language like Mr. Yoho’s. ”
“This problem is not about an incident. It’s cultural, ”she said, calling it a culture“ to accept violence and violent language against women, a whole power structure that supports that ”.
What have other lawmakers said?
Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy defended 65-year-old Yoho, who retired in January, saying “when someone apologizes they should be forgiven.”
“I just think in a new world, in a new age, we are now determining whether we accept when someone says’ I’m sorry ‘if that’s a good enough excuse,’ he continued.
House Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi – the chamber’s top Democrat – called the alleged insult “a manifestation of attitude in our society in reality.”
“I can tell you firsthand they’ve been calling me names for at least 20 years of leadership, 18 years of leadership,” she said, referring to Republicans.
“I have personally lived a lifetime of insults, racism and sexism,” California Congresswoman Barbara Lee told the House. “And believe me, it didn’t stop after I was elected to public office. “