The New Yorker Videos

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Responds to Verbal Abuse by Ted Yoho

In a speech on the House floor, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says Ted Yoho’s profane slur on the Capitol steps is part of a larger problem faced by all women.

Released on 7/24/2020

Transcript

00:00
[chirpy music]
00:09
[Woman] For what purpose does the gentlewoman
00:11
from New York seek recognition?
00:13
Representative Yoho put his finger in my face.
00:16
He called me disgusting.
00:18
He called me crazy.
00:19
He called me out of my mind.
00:21
There were reporters in the front
00:23
of the Capitol, and in front of reporters,
00:26
representative Yoho called me,
00:28
and I quote, A fucking bitch.
00:32
These are the words
00:33
that representative Yoho levied
00:36
against a Congresswoman.
00:39
The Congresswoman that not only represents
00:41
New York's 14th congressional district,
00:43
but every Congresswoman and every woman
00:45
in this country.
00:47
Because all of us have had to deal with this,
00:50
in some form, some way, some shape,
00:54
at some point in our lives.
00:56
And I wanna be clear
00:57
that representative Yoho's comments
01:01
were not deeply hurtful, or piercing to me.
01:06
Because I have worked a working class job.
01:11
I have waited tables in restaurants.
01:14
I have ridden the subway.
01:16
I have walked the streets, in New York city.
01:20
And this kind of language is not new.
01:24
I have encountered words uttered by Mr. Yoho,
01:28
and men uttering the same words as Mr. Yoho,
01:32
while I was being harassed in restaurants.
01:35
I have tossed men out of bars,
01:37
that have used language like Mr. Yoho's.
01:41
This is not new.
01:42
And that is the problem.
01:46
This issue is not about one incident.
01:50
It is cultural.
01:52
It is a culture of lack of impunity,
01:55
of accepting a violence,
01:57
and violent language against women.
02:00
An entire structure of power that supports that.
02:04
When I was reflecting on this,
02:08
I honestly thought
02:09
that I was just gonna pack it up, and go home.
02:12
It's just another day, right?
02:16
But then yesterday, Representative Yoho
02:20
decided to come to the floor
02:23
of the House of Representatives,
02:26
and make excuses for his behavior.
02:30
And that, I could not let go.
02:33
I could not allow my nieces,
02:37
I could not allow the little girls
02:39
that I go home to.
02:41
I could not allow victims
02:43
of verbal abuse, and worse, to see that,
02:48
to see that excuse,
02:51
and to see our Congress accept it
02:53
as legitimate, and accept it as an apology.
02:58
And I will not stay up late at night,
03:00
waiting for an apology
03:02
from a man who has no remorse
03:04
over calling women
03:06
and using abusive language towards women.
03:09
But what I do have issue with, is using women,
03:15
our wives, and daughters,
03:18
as shields, and excuses, for poor behavior.
03:23
Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife
03:25
and two daughters.
03:27
I am two years younger
03:29
than Mr. Yoho's youngest daughter.
03:33
I am someone's daughter too.
03:38
My father, thankfully, is not alive,
03:42
to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter.
03:47
My mother got to see Mr. Yoho's disrespect
03:53
on the floor of this house,
03:55
towards me, on television.
03:57
And I am here, because I have to show my parents
04:01
that I am their daughter,
04:03
and that they did not raise me
04:05
to accept abuse from men.
04:08
Having a daughter does not make a man decent.
04:14
Having a wife does not make a decent man.
04:19
Treating people with dignity and respect
04:23
makes a decent man.
04:25
And when a decent man messes up,
04:29
as we all are bound to do,
04:32
he tries his best, and does apologize.
04:37
Not to save face, not to win a vote,
04:40
he apologizes, genuinely, to repair
04:45
and acknowledge the harm done,
04:48
so that we can all move on.