Ted Yoho LIVE: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez addresses confrontation with Rep. Ted Yoho
Walking up the steps and representative yoho put his finger in my face. He called me disgusting. He called me crazy. He called me out of my mind and he called me dangerous, and then he took a few more steps and after i had recognized his uh after i had recognized his his comments as rude. He walked away and said i’m rude you’re. Calling me rude, i took a few steps ahead and i walked inside and cast my vote and because my constituents send me here, each and every day to fight for them and to make sure that they are able to keep a roof over their head. That they’re able to feed their families that they’re able to carry their lives with dignity. I walked back out and there were reporters in the front of the capitol and in front of reporters representative yoho called me, and i quote a bitch. These are the words that representative yoho levied against a congresswoman, the congresswoman that not only represents new york’s 14th congressional district, but every congresswoman and every woman in this country, because all of us have had to deal with this in some form some way some shape at Some point in our lives – and i want to be clear that representative yoho’s comments were not deeply hurtful or piercing to me, because i have worked a working class job. I have weighted 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 encountered words uttered by mr yoho and men uttering the same words as mr yoho. While i was being harassed in restaurants, 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, and that is the problem. Mr yoho was not alone; he was walking shoulder to shoulder with representative roger williams and that’s when we start to see that this issue is not about one incident. It is cultural, it is a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports that, because not only have i been spoken to disrespectfully, particularly by members of the republican party and elected officials in the Republican party – not just here but the president of the united states last year, told me to go home to another country, is the implication that i don’t even belong in america. The governor of florida, governor desantis, before i even was sworn in called me, a whatever. That is dehumanizing language is not new, and what we are seeing is that incidents like these are happening in a pattern. This is a pattern of of an attitude towards women and dehumanization of others. So while i was not deeply hurt or offended by little comments that are made when i was reflecting on this, i i honestly thought that i was just going to pack it up and go home it’s just another day right.
But then, yesterday representative yoho decided to come to the floor of the house of representatives and make excuses for his behavior and that i could not let go. I could not allow my nieces. I could not allow the little girls that i go home to. I could not allow victims of verbal abuse and worse to see that to see that excuse and to see our congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology and to accept silence as a form of acceptance. I could not allow that to stand, which is why i’m rising today to raise this point of personal privilege, and i do not need representative yoho to apologize to me clearly. He does not want to 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 towards women. But what i do have issue with is using women, our wives and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior. Mr yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than mr yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too my father. Thankfully, is not alive to see how mr yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see mr yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this house towards me on television, and 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.
Now. What i am here to say is that this harm that mr yoho levied it 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 he gave 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. I do not care what your views are. It does not matter how much i disagree or how much it incenses me or how much i feel that people are dehumanizing others. I will not do that myself. I will not allow people to change and create hatred in our hearts, and so what i believe is that having a daughter does not make a man decent having a wife does not make a decent man. 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. Lastly, what i want to express to mr yoho is gratitude. I want to thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and a cost women.
You can have daughters and a cost women without remorse you can be married and across women you can take photos and project an image to the world of being a family man and a cost women without remorse and with a sense of impunity. It happens every day in this country. It happened here on the steps of our nation’s capital. It happens when the when individuals who hold the highest office in this land admit admit to hurting women and using this language against all of us. But once again i i thank my colleagues for joining us today. I will reserve the hour of my time and i will yield to my colleague, representative jayapal of washington. Thank you, madam speaker, that was brilliance, grace intelligence and complete dedication to what justice, equality and dignity in the united states looks like that is our colleague, alexandria, ocasio cortez, and we are so grateful to her for her voice. What my colleague from florida did was unacceptable. It was violent, it was sexist and i do believe he needs to apologize, not because it’s going to make our colleague miss ocasio cortez feel any better, but because he too needs to learn what unacceptable behavior looks like and rise to the level of the office that He has been elected to it does not dignify not just him, but the 750 000 people that he represents, and i thought, madam speaker, that it would be good to review for my colleagues a little bit of the history of the word that was used.
The word that begins with a b that’s five letters and that rhymes with which that word from 1915 to 1930. Madam speaker, that word suddenly took off in usage in newspaper reports and articles, and you know why? Because in 1920 this body gave women the right to vote, and that was just a little too much power for too many men across the country. And so all of a sudden. That word rose in prominence because god forbid that women would have the right to vote. That we would have power in this body that we would have power anywhere in this country. God forbid that women would actually have a voice to speak out on issues that mattered and be the arbiters of what is fair and right and spoken with dignity and truism, and so that is when that word started to take off now. I want to be clear that this violent language is about power. It is about power it’s, about exerting power it’s about wielding power over people. It is about fear of people who may well be smarter than you harder working than you and more dedicated to achieving justice than you. It just may be that it may be that fear. It is about diminishing and disrespecting when you have no other tools to do so and it’s not new. Madam speaker, you were right here managing time on this floor when i, as a new member of congress, was told by one of my republican colleagues that i was a young lady and i didn’t know a damn thing about what i was talking about.
You were right here managing the time for our side and you helped me through that moment. Thank you and i did get an apology on this floor from my colleague across the aisle. I was also told in judiciary committee to learn how to read by another one of my members across the aisle. These are the things that happen to us all the time these are not jokes, they’re, not little things not because they hurt us. We are way too strong for that, but because they say something about the caliber of person that is here in the united states congress. Do you know, madam speaker, out of the 11 000 people that have ever served in the united states congress? There are only 79 of us women of color who have ever served in this body and, yes, we bring a new voice, and so i say to my colleague, representative ocasio cortez. Thank you for your grace and for your brilliance and for your dignity and to everybody that is out there watching us and to our colleagues across the aisle. Let me say this: we are not going away. There are going to be more of us here. There is going to be more power in the hands of women across this country and we are going to continue to speak up. We are going to continue to say, madam speaker, we are going to continue to have a voice for people so that every day, working people, our sons, our daughters and our mothers and our wives across the country understand that somebody is standing up for them.
And so, madam speaker, i believe mr yoho should apologize i’ve been on a trip with him across the across across the globe. I never thought i would hear this kind of language from him. I really didn’t and i’m stunned and yet, at the same time, it’s a pattern and it’s an old pattern. Thank you, madam speaker, and i thank my colleague thank you, representative jayapal, and thank you in in giving the context of how these words in this language have always been levied towards the ascent of women and women who are ascending in power.