Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling attention to a bigger issue, all while trying to avoid giving one specific far-right commentator his fifteen minutes of fame at her expense. Ocasio-Cortez was sexually harassed on Wednesday as she walked toward the Capitol building, which is already a harrowing enough experience, that women have to deal with every day. But in this case, Capitol police were present and did nothing about it.
The harasser, who we won’t name, approaches AOC and refers to her as his “favorite big booty Latina,” all while criticizing her policies and continuing to remark on her looks. Ocasio-Cortez responds by turning and “posing for a selfie” in his video. Then she walks away as he continues to harass her.
Later, she took to Twitter and then did so again after deleting her first tweet about it to avoid giving him the attention he seemed to be seeking with the stunt.
She brings up not only the harassment but the fact that she has to “work in an institution that openly allowed this.” The man, who was allowed to walk away, continued his targeted harassment on Twitter. Later, the Congresswoman went on to discuss the encounter on Instagram, expressing her disappointment that a Capitol police officer had not stepped in to confront the man.
“This wasn’t about a political opinion or protest or anything like that, he was engaged in very clearly sexually threatening aggressive behavior right in front of a Capitol police officer, he wasn’t even asked to take a step back,” she expressed during an Instagram live.
The fact that a Congresswoman can get sexually harassed while walking up the Capitol steps without Capitol police intervening is a painful reminder that sexual harassment of women is seen as such a commonplace thing that the most common – and expected – response is just to grin and bear it. And though AOC pointing it out won’t change things overnight, she is at least forcing people to think about what it means that we are so comfortable looking the other way.