Obviously, our elected officials are supposed to be leaders.
We hope Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida) doesn’t view himself as a leader. Even moreso, we hope others don’t view him as one.
Yoho was caught making obscene and sexist remarks to another lawmaker, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-New York), this week on the Capitol steps.
After Yoho told Ocasio-Cortez her recent comments about poverty and policing were “disgusting” and said she was “out of your freaking mind.” Then, he called her an expletive that cannot be printed in this family newspaper. In fact, it can’t be repeated in full in most any mainstream media.
Yoho later denied using those words. However, a reporter from The Hill reported the exact same exchange Ocasio-Cortez says took place, giving more credence to what Ocasio-Cortez said about the exchange. He claims he wouldn’t say such a thing to a woman because he has a wife and daughters of his own.
However, Ocasio-Cortez responded with logic:
”I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter, too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter.
“You can be a powerful man and accost women. 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.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she’d planned to ignore the insult — that being a woman had required a lifetime of ignoring such insults — but changed her mind after Yoho himself brought up the matter in his own speech in the House.
“This harm that Mr. Yoho tried to levy at me was not just directed at me. When you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters. … I am here to say, that is not acceptable,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
In this exchange, nothing Yoho said to Ocasio-Cortez is acceptable. If Yoho didn’t like the representative’s stance on poverty and policing, instead of hurling insults at her, he should have talked to her about the content of her statements. He also shouldn’t have called her an obscenity.
Yoho’s behavior illustrates what women often deal with on a daily basis, at work and elsewhere. It doesn’t matter whether a woman is physically assaulted. The words used against her speak volumes about how she is viewed and treated, and how she would be treaded if she didn’t stand up and speak out.
Sure, Yoho might use lewd terms to insult male representatives, too, but that’s not polite, professional or constructive, either.
Just as there is a secret culture of racism in America, there is a secret culture of sexism. Of course, it’s not really a secret. Those who perpetuate it and those who are the victims of it know all about it.
Now, it’s time for everyone to realize it and put a stop to it. If you are a woman, you must report it. If you are a bystander, you must learn the facts and support the victim. If you are perpetrator, you must examine where your hate comes from and correct it.
This editorial was originally published by the The Daily Independent in Ashland, Kentucky, a CNHI sister newspaper.