Surely by now you heard about Ted Yoho, the republican Congressman from Florida whose invective towards NY Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“AOC”) made national news. The incident distilled an awful lot into one mean-spirited encounter, notably the enduring pervasiveness of sexism and harassment of women, even in America’s halls of power.
AOC represents roughly 740,000 New Yorkers in the House of Representatives. But that never seems to matter to her sexist detractors. When her own colleague Mr Yoho called her a “f-ing b-tch” on the Capitol steps, he probably didn’t think this would be any different from all those other times he behaved similarly.
It’s bad enough Yoho used that language about a woman half his age to another colleague. Doing so at their work place and with the press nearby is a whole different level of audacity. He clearly thought there’d be no consequences because there never have been for guys like Ted Yoho.
This time he picked the wrong f-ing b-tch.
AOC’s even-keeled denunciation of Ted Yoho’s behavior from the House floor was immensely satisfying to watch and “should be studied for its measured cadence, its artful construction, and its refusal of ugliness.”
And for many who’d experienced similar treatment, AOC’s words were a kind of long overdue salve.
Anjali Mehrotra is president of National Organization for Woman- NJ. She echoed what many women were sharing on social media.
“It’s always been about toxic masculinity that is threatened by competent, independent women,” Ms Mehrotra told InsiderNJ. “Even as a girl, I had members of my family say disparaging things about me. It took me years to figure out that they viewed my outspokeness as a threat.”
Koren Frankfort was writing about workplace misogyny in NJ since before it was the thing to do.
“I am grateful that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a stand on the culture of sexism as manifested by Congressman Yoho,” Ms Frankfort told InsiderNJ. “Our daily work interactions, ranging from the exclusivity of the boys’ club to downright hostility and name calling, slows us all down by adding unnecessary procedures and draining our energy — beyond the underlying experience of misery that sexism causes.”
So what about all those folks (including women) whose reaction to the abuse of AOC was skeptical or even unsympathetic? Some called her a media hound hellbent on participation trophies and Instagram followers. Almost sounds like they think Ms Ocasio-Cortez choreographed her own abuse for the likes!
Which feels like the opposite of solidarity.
“We must explore the relationships between social movements towards pinpointing how we have been both divided and conquered,’ Ms Frankfort added. “One gets 100% of what they ask for when they ask for nothing, so we as women should tip our hats to the outspoken – like AOC. Women must support each other before, during and after one comes forward. No one who has said nothing has ever made things change.”
Sexism in drag .
Terms like “b-tch” and especially “f-ing b-tch” are hurled at women all the time to diminish and intimidate and to humiliate. When it comes to gay men, such insults are also meant to emasculate, especially when invoked in front of other men.
If I had a dollar for every time a (straight) guy called me a f-ing b-tch, I could treat myself to a nice lunch combo at Five Guys which I might end up doing when I’m done here. Pushing 50 years of age, I finally have the tools to manage whatever homophobic insults come my way. But that wasn’t always the case.
Gay men apparently qualify for the “f-ing b-tch” club because let’s be honest, homophobia is basically misogyny in bad drag. And since I’m gay and because homophobia and sexism are often interchangeable, I have a small sense of what it’s like to be treated and spoken to that way.
And guess what?
I hate it. And I hate the way it makes me feel.
Jay Lassiter is an award winning writer, videographer, and podcaster based in Cherry Hill NJ. Find him on Twitter @Jay_Lass.