Please, Let Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Speech End The ‘As A Father Of Daughters…’ Excuse

You shouldn't need skin in the game to be fair to women.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

by Rhiannon Evans |
Updated on

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezhas swept headlines around the globe today for an impassioned speech against a male member of Congress who she says called her a 'fucking bitch' in front of witnesses.

But while AOC's speech has drawn praise for many reasons - many tired, tired women are particularly pleased with her stance against the idea that a man can say that because he has daughters, he can't be women-hating or sexist.

It's a trope many of us will be familiar with. And it manifests in many ways. As a 'I'd never do that, I'm a DAD!' defence. But also as a way of reinvention and a vow to be better. The 'Now that I have daughters, I understand...' line. Finally, after AOC's powerful speech, we hope that amongst all the continued debate over what happened, some good can come - and that's the end of this trope.

To start from the beginning, after a confrontation with Ms Ocasio-Cortez earlier this week, where a reporter allegedly heard Mr Yoho saying - amongst other things - that she was 'a fucking bitch', the congressman issued an apology.

'The offensive name-calling — words attributed to me by the press — were never spoken to my colleague, and if they were construed that way I apologise for their misunderstanding,' he said in a speech on Wednesday.

'It is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America, but that does not mean we should be disrespectful. Having been married for 45 years with two daughters, I'm very cognizant of the language I use,' Mr Yoho added.

Why, oh why oh why oh why please WHHHHYYYYY, does a man need to have meaningful interaction with women or have a woman in his close family to be 'cognizant of the language [they] use'? Why is this idea rolled out again and again that men need skin in the game to understand why they shouldn't (as he denies) call women bitches? Or (as it's been used an excuse for in the past) a reason why they'd NEVER touch women up, abuse them, dismiss them, demote them?

The idea that on having a daughter, you're suddenly woke to the prejudices of this world is infuriating for women to say the least. And it should be to all the men who don't have daughters, but can still be feminists, too.

And on the flip side, while this is so overused it's a cliche, what exactly do women learn when they have sons? What incredible life lessons wash over them that makes them vow to do better? Funny that there's not really an equivalent, isn't it?

As AOC said: 'Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.'

Infuriatingly, it's born out in statistics too that men do behave this way and that the 'daughter effect' is real.

A study from Harvard Universityresearchers has found that fathers of girls are working to redress the inequalities their girls may later confront at work, by hiring more women at board level. They found that organisations where senior partners had more daughters were more likely to be diverse in terms of gender representation.

On the surface, that seems great - and anything that helps redress gender imbalance is good. But isn't it exhausting that you need your own daughter to see that? Because, conversely, of course, what it means is that there are other businesses led by men who don't have daughters and they're walking around not bothered about female promotion because they don't have a vested interest.

In a wide-ranging speech, shared many times on social media, AOC criticised the apology and said Mr Yoho was using his daughters and wife 'as shields and excuses'.

She said: 'Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. 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. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho's disrespect on the floor of this House toward me on television ... They did not raise me to accept abuse from men.'

Because, as AOC says, abuse is abuse. No matter who it comes from, no matter their marital and paternal status.

Having kids can teach you a lot about life, like how little sleep you can truly, truly live on. But daughters aren't a must-have woke accessory. You shouldn't need a daughter to teach you some basic gender studies. And having a daughter doesn't bullet-proof you against accusations that you've been sexist, either.

READ MORE: 12 Reasons Why We Love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

READ MORE: The Daughter Effect: Fathers Of Girls 'More Likely To Hire Women At Senior Level'


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Feminist Quotes From Fiction1 of 11

‘When you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worthwhile.’

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Feminist Quotes From Fiction2 of 11

‘If you don't understand, ask questions. If you're uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It's easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here's to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.’

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Feminist Quotes From Fiction3 of 11

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White Teeth by Zadie Smith

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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On Beauty by Zadie Smith

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A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

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‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.’

Charlotte Brontë by Jane Eyre

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‘Don't let the bastards grind you down.’

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Feminist Quotes From Fiction9 of 11

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

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READ: This Video Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has Gone Viral For All The Right Reasons

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