Rep. Ted Yoho’s unprovoked verbal assault against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday morning was both unsettling and remarkable. On one level, it was a nasty attack against a fellow member of Congress simply for having a different view about an issue. But thanks to Yoho’s offensive parting shot, the incident also stands as yet another example of how brazenly sexist Donald Trump’s Republican Party has become.
When passing AOC on the Capitol steps, Yoho could have just said hello or ignored her, or he could even have asked her about the comment regarding poverty and unemployment in New York City that he found so offensive. Instead, Yoho approached AOC to make sure she knew she is “disgusting” and “out of your freaking mind,” according to reporting by The Hill. After AOC called him out for being rude, Yoho disgraced himself even further — walking away while muttering “fucking bitch!”
This morning, AOC tweeted that the two had never spoken “before he decided to accost me,” and she told reporters yesterday that she never encountered such an “abrupt, disgusting kind of disrespect.” While the incident may indeed be peculiar on a personal level, it fits right into a larger, ugly phenomenon that began nearly four years ago.
As Tufts University Professor Brian Schaffner detailed in a presentation to the American Political Science Association two years ago, there is a dark link connecting Trump, the 2016 election, and the expression of sexism by Republicans. After conducting surveys and analyzing the data, Schaffner found that the election made Republicans “more willing to endorse sexist statements.”
More disturbingly, the fact Trump won the election despite clear proof of his sexism (such as in the Access Hollywood tape) likely changed Republicans’ views about the prevalence of sexist attitudes among Americans. This, in turn, also empowered Republicans to feel “more justified” in expressing their pent-up sexism.
Apparently, the mere sight of AOC on the Capitol steps triggered Yoho’s misogyny. Then, when AOC dared speak out against Yoho’s gratuitous insults, he could no longer suppress his hateful feelings. Although this incident involved two members of Congress, it is really about the hostile male chauvinism that Trump inspires in others. This incident should be taken as an urgent reminder of why America must evict this Neanderthal clown from the Oval Office and flip the Senate blue this November.