I had to look it up. What is slut-shaming and does it apply to attitudes or remarks regarding the youngest member of Congress, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? The resounding answer is, Yes.
Slut-shaming refers to criticizing a woman for allegedly violating gender expectations, for behaving in ways that someone, often males, thinks is out of step or out of line. Critiques often are sexual in nature but not necessarily so. In this case, it appears to be an entire movement of political slut-shaming of Ocasio-Cortez, whose popularity continues to climb, in order to put her in her place, meaning not the House of Representatives.
Ocasio-Cortez is a political phenomenon of the sort not seen in years, perhaps since Barack Obama, a credible person who captivated the public’s imagination, raising questions of what could be. ICYMI: That was what the “hope” part was all about.
She is one of the “bad-ass” members of Congress with a lot – and I mean a lot – to say. Ocasio-Cortez is really, really good at what she does, boasting . 2.5 million Twitter followers, compared with about 300 before she was elected. She resonates with a lot of people.
She knows how to clap back and shut it down before criticism takes hold. She has been compared with Donald Trump, also a tweeter by night and day. But each uses social media for different purposes. Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t rant, rave and ridicule as Trump does. She is not a Twitter bully, but more deliberate and respectful.
Lastly, by my lights, it doesn’t hurt that Ocasio-Cortez is Puerto Rican, as am I. My sense is that many Puerto Ricans admire her and are proud of her being elected to Congress.
A growing number of people admire her political persona, how she attempts to demystify politics for the folks outside of D.C. and unabashedly pushes for her agenda, beliefs and constituents. She is a breath of fresh air compared with all the octogenarians in Congress, or as she famously tweeted, the age difference between her and the oldest member of Congress is 60 years. Dang! Somebody has stayed too long at the fair.
Think about that while also contemplating all the ways others have attempted to embarrass, humiliate, talk down, take down or ridicule Ocasio-Cortez:
• Fake nude photos of Ocasio-Cortez circulated earlier until they were criticized and deemed false. What is more slut-shaming than being “exposed” or being caught in flagrante? Mocked, ridiculed and destroyed? Sigmund Freud wrote about the fear of being caught naked as being one of the biggest human fears. And let’s not overlook the slutty video of Ocasio- Cortez dancing during her college days, because the only moves Congress knows how to make is for your money.
• Making fun of her clothes. One writer said her black jacket and coat looked too expensive “for a girl who struggles.” What is the expectation here, that because she comes from The Bronx, New York, she couldn’t possibly dress appropriately, or that she lacks good clothes or is pretending she’s middle class or poor? As they say in New York, puhlease.
• She can’t afford an apartment in D.C.! Imagine that, as if everybody can afford to pay for two apartments or homes, one in the district and one in pricey D.C., in the most expensive cities in the U.S. The high expense of being in the House or Senate is the main reason many representatives use their Capitol Hill offices as permanent sleep-ins. The New York Post estimated that 20 percent, or about 100 House members, use their offices as homes, including former House Speaker Paul Ryan and current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
• She don’t know nuthin’. That was the overall reaction to her 60 Minutes interview during which she talked about her preference for a 70 percent marginal income tax rate. It turned out her critics knew nothing of how marginal tax rates work and, in any case, people are for higher taxes, as polls later showed. A Wall Street Journal article, titled “Tax Tricks of the Rich and Famous,” looked into how marginal tax rates really work, showing nobody pays the top tax rate, not even and especially the ultra rich. Even when the U.S. had a 91 percent marginal tax rate in the 1950s – yes, you read correctly, 91 percent – top earners paid on average 32 percent.
• She’s a socialist. Don’t cry for me Venezuela! Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic-Socialist of the kind you find in Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland – all countries light years away from Venezuela. All enjoy a high standard of living, in some cases higher than in the United States. Look it up. I have visited Denmark, and it is a clean, orderly, prosperous place with an economy based on shipping, renewable energy and pharmaceuticals, among other things. And you should see the size of their bike lanes! (Not a minor point in Florida, a leader in pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.) There’s nothing rotten in Denmark. Americans should be so lucky to live like that.
• She should wait her turn. Which prompts the question, for what? Her constituents didn’t elect her to sit quietly. Ocasio-Cortez was open about her ideas and agenda and her constituents want her to act on it. But in truth, this criticism is condescending and ageist, a not too sly way of reminding the public the she is young. Heaven forfend. Just today, a talking head said on TV that “the new crop of Dems should stop acting like young people.” As we say in Spanish, ¿y qué? And so? See bullet point above.
It’s time to end the slut-shaming of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s not having any of it and, as important, you’re embarrassing yourselves, folks.
˜˜María Padilla, Editor