Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez provides an example of confronting disrespect.
The recent exchange at the Capitol between Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Ted Yoho provided a demonstration of the all too common degradation of women. However, this time, a woman had the attention of Congress and the nation, and she took the opportunity to be heard.
“Jenkins (2009) makes a useful distinction between shaming individuals and helping to create the context in which individuals themselves face shame. He argues, “when a man faces shame, he comes to his own realizations through recognizing a contradiction between his ethics and his actions. By contrast, shaming others is an abuse of power and not surprisingly, tends to further exacerbate avoidance of responsibility.'” (Afuape, 2011, p. 20.)
Rep. Yoho reportedly got in her face because Rep. Ocasio-Cortez disagreed with him and he did not like it.
“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… I walked back out and there were reporters in the front of the Capitol and in front of reporters Rep. Yoho called me, and I quote, “a f***ing b****.”
In that brief, demeaning exchange, Rep. Yoho is described as making a threatening gesture with his “finger in her face.” He harasses her; uses crude language and calls her names; puts her down and criticizes her behavior. These kinds of behaviors are typically meant to intimidate and coerce.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez reminds us how commonplace such abusive behaviors are: “His behavior is not new … It’s our culture of patriarchy that accepts violence and abusive language against women.”
A major obstacle to changing such behaviors is the avoidance of responsibility—men not holding themselves or others accountable.