This week, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, popularly know as AOC, delivered a powerful rebuke to a fellow member of congress, who verbally abused her.
The amusingly named congressman, Ted Yoho ( a pirate in a former life?) had got in her face, jabbed a finger at her called her, disgusting, crazy and out of her mind. Her crime ? Simply having a different point of view to him on the causes of rising crime rates in NYC. His parting comment as he moved away from her on the steps of the nations capitol, was to call her a F****ing bitch.
It is a function of a political discourse on both sides of the Atlantic that has become polarised, bitter and disrespectful. It is perhaps unsurprising with the President leading the way with unbalanced vitriol as his stock in trade. Of course all political figures must accept public criticism but the irrational misogyny embodied in these comments is significant. If presidents and leaders of Government’s speak in this way, it legitimizes verbal abuse. The language used matters because it shapes the way people think and behave.
It was a master class in a powerful speaking.
“These were 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..this issue is not about one incident. It is cultural. It is a culture of .. accepting of violence and violent language against women”
Her Speaking Style
Her speech was delivered slowly, with dignity and moderation, yet it was passionate. She spoke with no reference notes, with great emphasis on key passages and looking up all the time. Contrast that with Representative Yoho’s shuffling “apology,” where he read directly from a script, head down , no eye contact. I think we know who won this encounter!