Gender Politics

AOC: A New Voice Inside My Head

53186874e0c62d8f8ced7457e6dd6cbfI have watched AOC’s speech around men bullying women on the floor of Congress (oh happy day!) a number of times since she delivered it. I wept the first time, became proud the second, and grew enraged during part of the second and part of the third. I’m not sure what I will feel next week when my calendar pop-up reminds me to watch it one last time.

AOC surmises that Rep. Ted Yoho spoke to her that way simply because he believed he could do so with impunity, that he believes it’s OK to speak to women that way.

I surmise that while he might have thought he could get away with it (and, in fact, might have done just that if his comment hadn’t been overheard by a member of the press), that is not why he did it.

I think he saw her, was filled with the kind of rage that doesn’t have forethought or fear of reprisal. I don’t think he thought for that split second anything other than the fact that he can’t stand that she exists, let alone that she is a sitting congresswoman. He reacted without the ability to not do so and without thought of impunity, which is what makes it a pattern in his behavior. If you can behave that way over and over again, and it works by intimating those around you, it’s a tool in your tool box that serves a purpose.

I’m not sure which is worse: The fact that childhood-learned uncontrolled behavior of men works with women, or the fact that they can do it with impunity.

Weinstein. Yoho. Epstein. Trump. Barr. Should I go on?

Here is the thing: It becomes an uncontrollable response. I assure you, Yoho has lost it with his daughters and wife as well. I know this because just as AOC is the daughter of a man who gave her an unfettered voice nurtured without fear of his reprisal, a voice that I admire and need, I am the daughter of a man like Yoho, who, when challenged or made to feel “less than” by me or someone else, responded the same way Yoho did, without restraint. They can’t control it. And they have impunity. Both things can be true.

AOC gave me so much yesterday. My dad is gone, but I will write him a letter today, with her voice inside my new voice. It’s a voice she gave me, one that she got from her father, a different voice from the one inside my head. I am a better person, a stronger person because of her speech. No one will ever intimidate me that way again.

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