Washington — Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, fired back on Thursday against a GOP congressman who reportedlyearlier this week, saying that she was taking a stand for all women to declare his behavior is "not acceptable."
"What I believe is that having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man," Ocasio-Cortez said in an impassioned speech on the House floor addressing the incident with Representative Ted Yoho from Florida. "Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man. And when a decent man messes up, as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologize, not to save face, not to win a vote. He apologizes genuinely to repair and acknowledge the harm done so that we can all move on."
Ocasio-Cortez was joined in the chamber by fellow Democratic lawmakers, many of them women, who relayed their own experiences with colleagues in which they were demeaned and condemned Yoho's behavior and derogatory comments.
The witnessed by a reporter with The Hill, who said the Florida Republican called Ocasio-Cortez a "f***ing bitch" after the two parted ways on the steps of the Capitol.between Ocasio-Cortez and Yoho occurred earlier in the week and was
Ocasio-Cortez recounted the confrontation in her speech and said she was "minding my own business" when Yoho approached her and called her "disgusting," "crazy," "out of my mind" and "dangerous."
Repeating the uncensored profanity, Ocasio-Cortez said she is no stranger to being the target of "dehumanizing language," and said his behavior further demonstrates there is a "pattern of an attitude toward women and dehumanization of others."
"What I am here to say is that this harm that Mr. Yoho levied, tried to levy against me, was not just an incident directed at me," she said, "but when you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters. In using that language, in front of the press, he gave permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community, and I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable."
The New York Democrat said she was compelled to speak out about the confrontation after Yoho took to the House floor Wednesday and apologized for the "abrupt manner of the conversation" but did not offer an apology to Ocasio-Cortez directly. Yoho also denied directing profanity toward his fellow lawmaker and, citing his wife and two daughters, said he is "very cognizant of my language." His office said in a statement earlier this week Yoho actually said "bulls**t" and accused Ocasio-Coretz of "using this exchange to gain personal attention."
Responding to Yoho's remarks one day earlier, in which he invoked his wife and children, Ocasio-Cortez said she, too, is a daughter.
"My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter," she said. "My mother got to see Mr. Yoho's disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television. 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."
Ocasio-Cortez also condemned Republican Congressman Roger Williams of Texas, who she said was alongside Yoho during the exchange, and said his inaction was indicative of "a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women and an entire structure of power that supports that."
"I do not need Representative Yoho to apologize to me. Clearly he does not want to," she said. "Clearly when given the opportunity, he will not, and I will not stay up late at night waiting for an apology from a man who has no remorse over calling women and using abusive language toward women."
Ocasio-Coretz said she wants to thank Yoho "for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women."
"You can have daughters and accost women without remorse. You can be married and accost women. You can take photos and project an image to the world of being a family man and accost women without remorse and with a sense of impunity," she said. "It happens every day in this country. It happened here on the steps of our nation's Capitol. It happens when individuals who hold the highest office in this land admit, admit to hurting women and using this language against all of us."
House Democrats across the various factions of the caucus spoke out against Yoho's behavior. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and others called for Yoho to apologize.