AOC’s Best Clapbacks to Rep. Yoho’s Insults

Supermajority Education Fund

July 23, 2020

On Thursday morning, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) responded to the insults that Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) directed at her on the steps of the Capitol building on Monday. As she spoke, she detailed the incident in full: “I was minding my own business walking up the steps, and Rep. 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,” she said.

The exchange was about Ocasio-Cortez’s recent suggestion that poverty and unemployment are driving a spike in crime in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic. “You are out of your freaking mind,” Yoho told her. She told him he was being rude. Ocasio-Cortez said that Yoho retorted, “I’m rude. You’re calling me rude.” 

“I took a few steps ahead, and I walked inside, and I cast my vote 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, and that they’re able to carry their lives with dignity.”

She added that Yoho later called her a “fucking bitch” in front of reporters — an incident that was also reported by The Hill. In her address, Ocasio-Cortez drove home the point that this kind of “dehumanizing” language is a symptom of a larger problem that women in America face every day. “All of us have had to deal with this in some form, some way, some shape, at some point in our lives,” she said, speaking for all Congresswomen and women in the U.S. 

Here are a few of the best quotes from her time on the House floor Thursday. 

“These are the words that representative Yoho levied against a congresswoman. A 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 in our lives. And I want to be clear that Rep. Yoho’s comments were not deeply hurtful or piercing to me because I have worked a working-class job. I have waited 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.”

“Mr. Yoho was not alone. He was walking shoulder to shoulder with Rep. Roger Williams, and that’s when you 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 in an entire structure of power that supports that.”

“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 incidents toward women and dehumanization of others.”

“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 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 let that stand.”

“I will not stay up late at night 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.”

“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…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. In doing that 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 say that is not acceptable.”

“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 to apologize.”

“I want to thank [Yoho] for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost woman. You can have daughters and accost women without remorse. You can be married and accost women. You can take photos and project an image to the world of being a family man and accost 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 Capitol. It happens when individuals who hold the highest office in this land admit to hurting women and using this language against all of us.”