Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives, has delivered a powerful speech in response to a congressman who allegedly verbally abused her.
The Democratic congresswoman claims that Republican Ted Yoho called her a “f****** b****” and said she was “out of [her] freaking mind” on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington DC.
Mr Yoho issued a public apology the following day but denied using the alleged language, saying it was a “policy discussion”.
In a passionate 10-minute speech in the House on Thursday, Ms Ocasio-Cortez, who is known as AOC, rejected Mr Yoho’s apology and called out a culture of accepting “violence and violent language against women [and] an entire structure of power that supports that”.
She said: “I have waited tables in restaurants. I have ridden the subway. I have walked the streets in New York City. And this kind of language is not new.
“I have tossed men out of bars that have used language like Mr Yoho’s, and I have encountered this type of harassment riding the subway in New York City. This is not new.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York’s 14th district, added: “Having a daughter does not make a man decent.
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“Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said men abuse women with a “sense of impunity” every day, including when “individuals who hold the highest office in this land admit… to hurting women”.
US President Donald Trump was embroiled in a public row with Ms Ocasio-Cortez last year when her told her and three other Democratic women of colour – known as the “squad” – to “go back” to the country they are from. Ms Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York.
During the session in the House on Thursday, a number of other women supported Ms Ocasio-Cortez by saying they too had come across similar treatment from men.
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Democratic congresswoman Barbara Lee said: “I personally have experienced a lifetime of insults, racism and sexism and believe me, this did not stop after being elected to public office.”