What's So 'Disruptive' About AOC Standing Up for Herself?

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  jbb  •  2 weeks ago  •  6 comments

By:   Rebecca Traister (The Cut)

What's So 'Disruptive' About AOC Standing Up for Herself?
After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez publicly responded to a colleague who had verbally attacked her, the New York Times implied she was being disruptive and opportunistic.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez gave the gop Hell!


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Photo: Alba Vigaray/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Yesterday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood up and gave one of the finest speeches recently heard on the House floor, calling out not just Florida representative Ted Yoho for having called her "disgusting," "out of your freaking mind," and a "fucking bitch" on the steps of the Capitol in front of reporters on Tuesday, but also elucidating how that kind of language is normalized and deployed against all kinds of women, on all kinds of days.

It was a remarkable piece of oratory, clear and thoughtful about some of the knottiest dynamics of gendered power imbalance in political, public, and personal life.

After Yoho's outburst was reported in the Hill, he had offered up a floor speech purported to be apology, though it was actually far closer to pallid self-justification. "Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I'm very cognizant of my language," Yoho had said, in a speech in which he did not mention Ocasio-Cortez's name, and in which he nonsensically refused to "apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country."

It was this non-apology and not his original outburst, Ocasio-Cortez said on Thursday, that led her to make her own speech, in which she eviscerated Yoho's use of familial pablum and domestic association with women as evidence of his respect for them. Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that she, too, was someone's daughter, and that that did not in any way insulate her or other women, also daughters and wives, from the impact of degrading and sexist diminution.

"You can have daughters and accost women without remorse," Ocasio-Cortez said. "You can … project an image to the world of being a family man and accost women without remorse and with a sense of impunity. It happens every day in this country."

The electric speech gave ringing voice to the experiences, frustrations, and anger of millions of women and men who have had their days, lives, and realities shaped by often abusive, sometimes vulgar expressions of patriarchal power. Among Ocasio-Cortez's talents as a politician is her ability to connect and communicate clearly, intellectually, and emotionally, with masses of people; the speech she gave on Thursday put those talents on full display, and she was widely praised for it. New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick wrote a column suggesting that Ocasio-Cortez possesses the "rhetorical dynamism" long absent from the House of Representatives and praised her defense of decency, "principle and countless women," while former DNC head Howard Dean tweeted, "I am now convinced that AOC has what it takes to run for president and to be President."

But some of the coverage of the impact and resonance of Ocasio-Cortez's speech perpetuated exactly the gendered power imbalances the speech was meant to challenge. The conflict started by Yoho, to which Ocasio-Cortez was responding, got retold, in the New York Times, as an instance of her aggressive political ambition, rather than as a response to the very forces that have long made political power elusive for women like Ocasio-Cortez, and an assumed norm for men like Ted Yoho.

The Times' story on the speech bore the headline "A.O.C. Unleashes a Viral Condemnation of Sexism in Congress" and kicked off by noting that Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman in Congress, who arrived there in 2019, "has upended traditions." It called her speech on Thursday "norm-shattering" and described supporting speeches made by her colleagues — including one in which Pramila Jayapal recalled being referred to as a "young lady" who did not "know a damn thing" by Alaska representative Don Young — as a moment of "cultural upheaval."

All these words somehow cast Ocasio-Cortez and her female colleagues as the disruptive and chaotic forces unleashed in this scenario, suggesting that they shattered norms in a way that Representative Yoho's original, profane outburst apparently did not. (Perhaps Yoho's words weren't understood as eruptive and norm-shattering because calling women nasty names, in your head or with your friends or on the steps of your workplace, is much more of a norm than most want to acknowledge).

As Mark Harris pointed out on Twitter, the Times only printed the full epithet in a piece about Ocasio-Cortez reading it into the House record, after declining to print the words in an earlier story, when they would have been attributed to Yoho. This offered the faint impression that the only person who actually said the actual words "fucking bitch" was AOC herself, and not the man who aimed them at her. What's more, the paper described her as "punching each syllable in the vulgarity," reinforcing a view of Ocasio-Cortez's utterances as pugilistic, without acknowledgment that while she enunciated clearly, she delivered her speech in the calmest and most genial tones imaginable. (An earlier Times story on Yoho's non-apology and Ocasio-Cortez's initial response to it described her as having "upbraided" him, and opened with a description of how she "forcefully rejected" his apology.)

Times reporters wrote that Ocasio-Cortez "excels at using her detractors to amplify her own political brand" (Ocasio-Cortez's "brand" is the subject of frequentcoverage; it's rare that powerful white men are understood as having built brands; they just have careers). The Times described how, in the wake of Yoho's words, "the media-savvy Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had sprung into action to create disruptive and viral events." It may seem innocuous to call her "media-savvy" but that too turns a strength — media fluency and, with it, communicative acuity — into a diminishment and obscures the fact that Ocasio-Cortez had not created the disruption in the first place.

In describing her team's decisions about how to respond, the Times put scare quotes around their plans "to discuss how she 'was accosted and publicly ridiculed,'" rather than simply reporting that she had been … accosted and publicly ridiculed. The whole thing suggests that she had somehow connived to set this all in motion; that her actions were the active and self-serving ones, while Yoho was a passive actor, his only contribution to the situation providing the platform from which she might spring. As the Times put it: "Republicans have long labored to cast Ms. Ocasio-Cortez as an avatar of the evils of the Democratic Party, a move that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has used to bolster her own cheeky, suffer-no-fools reputation."

There is no acknowledgement here that Ted Yoho, not lacking political and professional ambition himself, was also building his brand by deciding to accost Ocasio-Cortez in front of reporters. Nor is there acknowledgment that it worked for him. The percentage of Americans who had ever heard of "Ted Yoho" has risen exponentially in the past 48 hours, and his name will now resonate heroically for a broad swath of AOC/woman-hating Americans.

What is also true and unsaid here is the way in which degradation and dismissal of women — as disgusting, as crazy, but also as Jayapal's examples remind us, as infantile, incompetent, irrational, and stupid — has been key to the building and maintenance of disproportionately male power in American political, economic, social, and sexual life. And that's before we get to the ways in which the ubiquity of dehumanizing and aggressive language toward women can have very real violent implications, as the recent murder of Judge Esther Salas's son by anti-feminist Roy Den Hollander, and so much contemporary mass violence, shows all too often.

How else to clear the field except to render your peers incapable, unlikable, unprofessional? Whether or not men are saying it out loud, via street catcalls or in front of political reporters, the reduction of their would-be female peers — their ideological and electoral adversaries and competitors for power — has helped clear away potential impediment to their own professional trajectories. But white male opportunism, whether in the form of aggressive insult displayed by Yoho this week, or merely accepting the advantages that broad systemic disrespect of others affords them, is rarely examined as the kind of active force that it has always been.

Instead we are trained to recognize the reactions of those who are not white men to white men as some sort of useful path to power. We are told, in lots of ways, that people who are not white men get to play certain kinds of cards — race and gender cards — to get ahead, whereas white men just … get ahead. White male power is so assumed as to be wholly indistinguishable from what we simply recognize as "power," and with it, the whispered implication that those with authority have somehow earned that authority fairly and squarely, while those who challenge authority and its abuses are wily manipulators. This rankles particularly here, since what Ocasio-Cortez did so well this week was part of her job, the part that is about representing people and their experiences, and communicating effectively on behalf of those who've experienced disadvantage. In other words, she actually did earn whatever gains she made this week.

Meanwhile patriarchal power abuse remains so expected as to not be notable as a violation of norms or civility, as disruptive or chaotic. Instead, it simply coexists with the authority, the command, the humanity of white men — it's just part of what their power looks like.

Consider how Yoho himself explained his derision of Ocasio-Cortez in his House floor speech as an expression of his "passion," as somehow synonymous with his faith in God and his love for his family. And that Ocasio-Cortez's senior colleague in her party, Representative Steny Hoyer, immediately responded to Yoho's speech by calling his words "appropriate," because "the language we use matters."

It does matter. The language used about Ocasio-Cortez matters a lot, and will continue to matter as she rises through American politics.

As we read commentators tell the story of women's ambition and savvy and drive, all of which are surely politically animating forces — as they have been for all the many men who have preceded them in American politics — I hope people can remember that the analysis is not wrong, exactly, but that it is woefully incomplete. Because until we can see how white men have taken advantage of sexism and racism for their own gain — how they've built their own "brand," the American brand — on the backs of the fucking bitches forever, we're not really reading a full story.


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JBB
1  seeder  JBB    2 weeks ago

The gop is getting a heaping dose of blowback...

 
 
 
Adam_Selene
1.1  Adam_Selene  replied to  JBB @1    2 weeks ago
the New York Times implied she was being disruptive and opportunistic

By any chance - are the Times writers former Fox employees?

 
 
 
MAGA
2  MAGA    2 weeks ago
Ted-Yoho-scaled.jpg?auto=format&fit=crop&ar=16%3A9&ixlib=react-9.0.2&w=970

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) cast doubt during a Fox News interview on Friday on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) claims this week that he called her names during an interaction about her far-left policy views.

Yoho repeatedly denied during the interview that he called Ocasio-Cortez any name, and said the remarks that he made were directed at the policy views that she holds, specifically her statement that people who are committing crimes are doing so because people just need “ some bread .”


“Everything was directed at policy,” Yoho said. “When she told me that, yes, she thought it was right for people to go ahead and shoplift if you’re hungry, I said ‘Seriously, with as many social programs and faith-based programs and all these other and food kitchens around, the best that you can do is to offer people in your district to go ahead and shoplift while you’re calling at the same time to defund the police?’”

“I said those are just absolutely the most frickin’ crazy policy ideas I’ve ever h[eard],” Yoho continued. “And I says, ‘Your policy ideas are disgusting,’ and I turned around and walked away. And that was really about as long as that interaction lasted.”

When asked if he called her a “f***ing b***h,” Yoho said that he did not, saying, “I walked down the steps, I said, ‘This is just such frickin’ BS.’”

This iframe is not allowed

Yoho said that Ocasio-Cortez later yelled at him.

“I was coming back from my second vote series, I was walking back to my office, and all of a sudden I hear somebody go, ‘Ted Yoho!’ She yells it out, I turn around, and she’s pointing her finger at me. She goes, ‘Ted Yoho, I am not done with you,’ and I’m like okay,” Yoho said. “And that, I mean, like I said, and so I guess you see what’s going on now is, you know, she’s making hay out of this, she’s fundraising off of this, she’s out in front of the capitol wearing her COVID mask playing that song, ‘boss,’ … making fun of this, but yet she’s on the floor crying saying how bad this is, but yet she’s out there saying the same thing, and uh, you know, it’s disingenuous.”

TRANSCRIPT:

FOX NEWS MARTHA MACCALLUM: But we begin as promised this evening with congressman Ted Yoho. Congressman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know it’s been a heck of a week for you and we’re glad you came here tonight to sort of tell your side of the story. So it seems that what prompted this on your end, at least according to what we’re hearing, is that you were appalled by the comments that she made about the fact that poverty and unemployment was leading people to commit crimes. Is that what sparked you?

REP. TED YOHO (R-FL): That was part of it, yeah. I mean, but it’s been a series of things, you know, I can go into that, but, you know, that was something, and I just, I asked her if we could have a minute of her time and ask her a question.

MACCALLUM: You did? Because she said you just accosted her, she didn’t know what was coming at her, and then she said you called her disgusting. Did you call her disgusting?

YOHO: No, ma’am. I was coming down from voting from the capitol as I walk across as I always do, and I was coming up – she was coming up the stairs and I asked her, I said, “Hey, do you have a minute?” She goes, “Yes,” and we’ve never had a conversation before, and I wanted to ask her about this policy that she was telling people it was okay to shoplift if you were hungry. And it went backwards from there.

MACCALLUM: So, but did you call her disgusting and did you suggest that she was losing her mind?

YOHO: No.

MACCALLUM: Did you use those words? You never said she was disgusting? You never said she was losing her mind?

YOHO: No. Everything was directed at policy. When she told me that, yes, she thought it was right for people to go ahead and shoplift if you’re hungry, I said, “Seriously, with as many social programs and faith-based programs and all these other and food kitchens around, the best that you can do is to offer people in your district to go ahead and shoplift while you’re calling at the same time to defund the police?” I said those are just absolutely the most frickin’ crazy policy ideas I’ve ever h[eard]. And I says, ‘Your policy ideas are disgusting,’ and I turned around and walked away. And that was really about as long as that interaction lasted.

MACCALLUM: These stories are so totally different that the two of you are telling, so it’s kind of hard to know, you know, which version is the truth. But when you turned around and walked down the stairs, did you refer to her as a f-word b-word?

YOHO: No. I walked down the steps, and I said, “This is just such frickin BS.” And that’s all I said, and then a reporter came up to me and said what was that about, I said no comment, did you say this, I said no comment and I left. You know, there’s another part of the story that’s not being told that she doesn’t tell, and I don’t want to get into that because the policies that they’re telling, to tell people you don’t have to fund the police department, we need to defund it, I mean it got defunded in New York $1.5 billion, and then to go out and tell people it’s okay to shoplift. Well, I don’t believe it’s okay for the shop owner who owns that store who’s trying to make a living for his family to have somebody come and say, well, miss Ocasio-Cortez says it’s okay. Or what about the student or the child that’s watching this with their mom and dad and [says], well I guess I can go shoplift, mom, she said it was okay. These are the things that are tearing this country apart and it needs to stop, and I can go on and on, but I don’t want to because I know that’s not the purpose of this. These are the policies that are dividing America.

MACCALLUM: I’m just curious, you said there’s something that I could tell you that she’s not telling the truth about, and what is that? Because, you know, this story, I was actually surprised at how much traction this got, but it’s getting a ton of attention, people are clicking on it all the time. So is there something else that we need to know about what happened between you two?

YOHO: Well, I thought it was interesting, like I said I’ve never had a dialogue with her and I’ve been meaning to, but with the pandemic and the way Washington’s working, we’re running out of time, and I wanted to address this, and I do this with a lot of members, and I’ve done this with many members – questioning policies and just to try to get where … so we have an understanding, but as I was coming back from my second vote series, I was walking back to my office and all of a sudden I hear somebody go, “Ted Yoho!” She yells it out, I turn around, and she’s pointing her finger at me. She goes, “Ted Yoho, I am not done with you,” and I’m like okay. And that, I mean, like I said, and so I guess you see what’s going on now is, you know, she’s making hay out of this, she’s fundraising off of this, she’s out in front of the capitol wearing her COVID mask playing that song, “boss,” … making fun of this, but yet she’s on the floor crying saying how bad this is, but yet she’s out there saying the same thing and uh, you know, it’s disingenuous…

MACCALLUM: Well you got up on the floor … and you apologized. She said she didn’t consider that an apology … but she then came back to your latest statement and she said she didn’t see what you said as an apology at all. She said if he wants to continue to lie about what happened, that’s his business. They think their little man card will be taken away if they apologize for their absurd behavior. That’s her most recent comment. What’s your reaction to that?

YOHO: No. Well again, what is that attacking? I mean, that’s attacking a person’s character, it’s their manliness, I guess, is what she’s doing. And then she spun this into saying that I’m attacking all women, and then it was women of color. This was strictly policy and those policies are bad for this nation. I mean, do you think it’s right, or I’m going to ask the American people, do you think it’s right to advocate shoplifting instead of going to your representative and getting help and assistance? Whether it’s food stamps …

MACCALLUM: It sounded to me, you know, that video that she made got a lot of attention and it did sound like she was excusing some of that behavior, or at least she was saying that she understood where she thought it was coming from and she said she wasn’t talking about people getting shot in Chicago and Seattle and elsewhere, she said she was talking about small crime that came from people who were out of work. What I want to get to is the point that you just touched on because you said, “I have had similar conversations with other people about policy.” Now, did you get heated in those conversations? Might any of those people have thought that you were out of line in your language with them, and were those people men and were those people women? Did they cross the gender line?

YOHO: Sure, I’ve had conversations with [several Democratic politicians] … and we don’t always walk away agreeing, but we always wind up, it seems like afterwards, laughing about things and, you know, we’re going to disagree on that but we’re always amicable…

MACCALLUM: So she’s been really laying down the gender card here. Here’s part of her speech, which got a lot of attention. Let’s play that because I want to get you to react to this.

YOHO: Sure.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): This harm that Mr. Yoho levied, tried to levy against me, was not just an incident directed at me, but when you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his  daughters.

MACCALLUM: What do you think about that?

YOHO: You know, she’s entitled to her opinion, that is nothing to do with our conversation. It was strictly about her policies, and, you know, I went to the southwest border the week after she left. I went into the same cells she was in where she said children were being snatched away from their parents and the detainees were made to drink out of the toilet and she was cussing in front of the the workers there. And when I found out, they said, this is the drinking fountain, this is this, you know, and so this has been a history of what she’s doing and it’s identity politics and I don’t play that and, you know, I’ve got a pretty good reputation, whether it’s up there or down here in my district. I’ve practiced for almost 30 years. I’m not going to try to defend myself. I feel bad for miss Ocasio-Cortez, who thinks I called her these names. I did not call her these names. This was strictly on policy, and then again, I’ve been quiet about this. I’m not worried about this. I’m not asking anybody to defend me. I’m not going on YouTube. I’m not out in front of the capitol playing whatever that “boss [b***h],” I don’t listen to that music. We’ve got serious problems in this nation. We’ve got $30 trillion in debt. I’ve got china breathing down our throat, and I’m not gonna, this is what’s wrong with Washington, they’ll capitalize on stuff like this and have identity politics, and it’s not moving this nation forward and it needs to stop.

MACCALLUM: Well, you say you’ve had similar conversations that got heated with with men and women, and she clearly is trying to make this into an attack on women. She called you out and said that you weren’t decent just because you have a wife and daughters. So, you know, there’s there’s no doubt that she’s playing this to the hilt. She’s got a lot of support behind her from Nancy Pelosi and Ayanna Pressley and other folks who are really making this into a much broader topic. You’ve also got the Bread for the World organization suggesting that maybe they should take you off their board. What do you say about that before I let you go?

YOHO: Well, you know, I think it’s interesting, and I saw the clip before this on Fox News that said I was loser of the week. You’re supposed to be fair and balanced. Nobody’s even talked to me, and if the Bread of the almighty wants to do that, that’s fine. But I think it’s funny how the definition of a democracy is mob rule, and you’re hanging somebody before you even talk to him. That’s wrong, and that’s another thing that’s wrong in this country. We need to come together, and if we if we have a disagreement, let’s talk about it and let’s move on, and we may not always agree on it and, you know, I know that, I mean I’ve been married for 45 years. And anyways, you take care and I thank you for the opportunity to come on here.

MACCALLUM: You’re very welcome, and we always like to hear both sides of the story. We did not call you or anyone else the loser of the week. We don’t do that segment here. But and we also invite her to come on and talk about it as well. https://www.dailywire.com/news/ted-yoho-casts-doubt-on-aocs-claims-that-he-accosted-her-makes-own-claims-about-what-she-did-during-interaction
 
 
 
MAGA
2.1  MAGA  replied to  MAGA @2    2 weeks ago

Just setting the record straight on this issue.

 
 
 
Ronin2
2.1.1  Ronin2  replied to  MAGA @2.1    2 weeks ago

They aren't interested in his side, or the facts. AOC has spoken and she has never uttered an untrue comment, or been abrasive with anyone./S

 
 
 
MAGA
2.1.2  MAGA  replied to  Ronin2 @2.1.1    2 weeks ago

It’s great though to impose the other side of the issue upon those who would silence Opposing views by cancel culture if only they could.  

 
 
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