AOC Speech Electrifies Women, Irritates Men
Updated: Jul 29, 2020
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has hit a nerve across America, and her most recent speech in Congress defending herself against sexism and misogyny on Capitol Hill deserves the political Oscar for Best Performance of the Year. If you took the most talented Hollywood screenwriter, coupled with Meryl Streep performing, one could not have created a more poignant and compelling heroine. However, this scene did not take place on a movie set. Now, I am not inferring that AOC is an actress. Her speech was heartfelt, authentic and connected deeply to any human that has faced sexism or discrimination during their career. I am saying it was a popcorn-grabbing, eye-bulging moment, one that leaders aspire to give but often fail to deliver.
Regardless of one's political affiliation, women are awestruck by this 30-year-old Congresswoman gracefully and articulately defending herself from a vicious attack by a man in the workplace. At that moment, she departed her role of politician and re-created herself as a female activist, defending all women who have experienced similar mistreatment by men. Let me make something clear. I do not agree with many of AOC’s political positions, but during that congressional speech she became the bravest, most confident millennial in the United States. Every woman has faced that pivotal moment when we have a choice to permit bad behavior to slide, so we do not make uncomfortable waves at work and potentially face dire consequences. But she simply refused to be disrespected, and in that important moment she earned the respect of many women. Whether you agree with AOC’s politics or not, her passionate speech deeply resonated with any woman who has two brain cells colliding. AOC’s verbal laceration of Ted Yoho was a Congressional Game of Thrones, the moment when Khaleesi set fire to the old boys' club of Khals and emerged as the true leader of the Dothraki people. On that day, AOC issued a feminist manifesto, the spoken equivalent of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the Catholic Church door. AOC’s declaration to the world was not about party or policy but about gender equality: I am not a victim, she said. I will not give you the power to hurt me. I will not stand for your abuse because you don’t like my opinions. If you make these choices and attack me, I will not remain silent. I will not let you hide behind your purported religious family values and Fox News reporting, muddying the truth. I will not let you hide behind your male-dominated professional network that protects your narrative. I will eloquently speak my truth and let the people decide. This exchange between AOC and Yoho was not one between two old political adversaries healthily debating policy or ideology in America, as Yoho would like for you to believe. He called her a “fucking bitch,” “ disgusting,” and “crazy,” which is not only degrading, but in fact, highly emotional. It is something women are consistently accused of in the workplace when they express strong opinions. What exactly is it about AOC, and other powerful women like her, that make them targets for sexist vitriol? The list of answers is long. While American women were blown away, impressed and inspired by her courage, American men had different thoughts. They had a challenging time relating to the story and sounded defensive. One man told me that AOC’s unbridled passion would make her great in bed and called her hysterical. Another suggested she was a naughty, naughty girl, who needed to be spanked, and there is something hot about her. One male claimed the incident did not really happen, because there were no real witnesses that heard anything, according to Fox News reporting. Yet another man said he was not qualified to discuss, while another sarcastically called her a gift. One man told me he was on vacation and refused to engage in politics. It quickly became clear that while AOC is a fearless leader who emboldens women, for many men she is an irritation, like a gnat that gets stuck in their eye.