I was going to start this piece with ‘It’s 2020, and women still aren’t being given the respect that they deserve’ but I think that’s redundant. The truth is is that no matter the year, it seems that women will always have to endure the abuse from men who are threatened by their power.

It goes without saying that the election of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez alongside other prominent Democrats like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Debra Haaland has caused ripples throughout the House of Representatives in the US. On the Republican side of the House, many representatives have gone so far as to bristle at the comments made by the youngest ever, and Latina, representative, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

Recently, AOC received ‘criticism’ for her comments made regarding her own district—New York’s 14th District, which includes the Eastern part of the Bronx and portions of North-Central Queens in New York City, representing roughly 650,000 people. When addressing a rise in crime, AOC attributed this to people’s desperation to feed their families in an increasingly dangerous and uncertain USA.

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One of her critics was Rep. Ted Yoho, a Congressman from Florida. He is white, male, straight, cis, and middle-aged. And, like many of his conservative colleagues, he detests the idea that women like AOC would dare to take a seat in the same House which he resides.

In fact, the very idea that there are women in the House who not only represent, but also stand up for and defend the existence and livelihoods of minority people is beyond far fetched for people like Rep. Yoho. Especially for congressmen who have never even gone so far as to imagine that in their lifetime they could work alongside people who look, act, and think nothing as they do.

So what do they do? Well, in the case of AOC, many go on to discredit her education, her past occupation as a bartender, and her background on a daily basis.

This time around, the question arose if Rep. Yoho acknowledged AOC with the respect the Congresswoman deserved? The respect any co-worker deserved? The respect he without a shadow of a doubt would have granted to a man in the same position as she?

No, of course not.

Instead, on the steps of the House he loudly and, as he would say, ‘passionately’, scoffed expletives in her direction, calling her a “fucking bitch” in front of the press. His apology, if you can call it that, was less apologetic and more of a rebuttal arguing that he cannot have said that in the way in which it was perceived because he has a wife and two daughters.

Huh? Where’s the correlation? Because I don’t see it.

I am so tired of men like this.

That is the kind of man who hides behind any woman they are related to in order to show how ‘good’ they must be. To somehow depict that they are incapable of misogyny because of their relationship to women.

Newsflash: Ted, you’re a particularly horrible person and I’m sure your daughters are ashamed of you after this incident. In absolutely no way is the word ‘bitch’ a compliment. It implies a woman who has stepped out of her limit, a woman who is vengeful.

In an attempt to reduce AOC down to a ‘bitch’, Yoho is trying to strip away her integrity, her eloquence, and her education into a sexist visual of a woman who is crazy and unreasonable. This is abuse in every sense of the word.

Not to mention that in doing so, Rep. Yoho is not only actively working to tear down AOC, but is also doing the same to young girls just like her who are looking to break down the barriers every woman faces in the world of politics.

Meanwhile, AOC’s response was nothing less than what we expected. Her oration was elegant, articulate, poised, and damn powerful. She mentioned that the words didn’t affect her.

Not because she is thick-skinned, but because it was just another day at work.

Let me repeat that: it was just another day at work.

There’s evidence of an epidemic in which if a woman dares to demand the respect she deserves, she’s met with responses like this. In almost every walk of life. If she was a man, she wouldn’t be a bitch – she’d be courageous and ambitious.

If a woman is in charge, however, then she’s considered dangerous or bossy (both words used by Rep. Yoho in the past).

My question: Why are men so threatened by strong women that they go so far as to attempt to emotionally destroy them?

Rep. Yoho mentioned that he is the father of two daughters, well what does he expect from his daughters? Does he expect them to be subordinate to men in their personal and professional life? Or does he expect them to demand the respect they deserve? Would he be fine with a man calling one of his daughters a derogatory name in a fit of passion? I’d hope not.

No one should look at his response as an apology because it wasn’t. It’s unacceptable and disgusting to hide behind the women in your life to defend your bigoted behavior.

Men, for what I hope is the last time, I am begging you to do better.

 

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Aafiyah Shaikh

By Aafiyah Shaikh

Digital Product Manager