AOC's Notes On That Famous Speech Need To Be Seen To Be Believed

Hailed the speech of the decade, a lesson in decency and a masterclass in grace and consideration, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has revealed the preparation notes that allowed her to engage the world for ten minutes on the jagged nature of sexism and everyday misogyny.

One thing’s for sure, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) knows how to capture attention.

Last week, in a retort to Republican Ted Yoho, who allegedly called her a “fucking bitch” on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, AOC expertly schooled him (and the world) on the violence of misogyny and abuse of power in the workplace.

"This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural," 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."

"I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men. When you do that to any woman, what Mr Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters," she added.

“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. And when a decent man messes up, as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologize,” she said, now famously. 

“I am someone’s daughter, too.”

After receiving an “outpouring of personal stories”, the Representative for New York's 14th Congressional District shared some behind-the-scenes details on how it all came together on the House floor.

As it turns out, her speech was neither rehearsed nor scripted.

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I want to thank everyone for your immense outpouring of personal stories and support for one another after last week’s speech on the violence of misogyny and abuse of power in the workplace. I figured I’d share some behind-the-scenes details of what went into that moment. . Many have asked me if my speech was pre-written. The answer is no. But in some ways, yes. Yes because this speech was a recounting of thoughts that so many women and femme people have carried since the time we were children. It flowed because every single one of us has lived this silent script: stay silent (why?), keep your head down (for whom?), suck it up (to whose benefit?). But my chosen words were largely extemporaneous. I got to the House floor about ten minutes before my speech and scribbled down some quick notes after reflecting on what had transpired over the last few days. Pictured here are all the notes I had, and from there I improvised my composition and spoke live. . The evening before my speech, I did not know what I was going to say. I wrestled with this question: what is there to say to a man who isn’t listening? I couldn’t come up with much, because frankly I didn’t want to diminish myself or waste my breath. It was then that I decided if I couldn’t get through to him, perhaps I could speak directly to the culture, people, and institutions responsible for creating and protecting this violence and violent language. . I also reflected on MY role in all of this - to me, this speech was about holding myself accountable as much as anyone else. Because my first instinct was to let it go. It was my second instinct, too. It was only when sisters like @ayannapressley, @rashidatlaib, @repilhan and friends like @repraskin reminded me how unacceptable this all was that I started to think about what I would have done if this abuse happened to any other person BUT me. That is when I found my voice. Why is it okay to swallow our own abuse, yet stand up for others? I needed to learn that by standing up for ourselves, we break the chain of abuse and stand up for every person after us who would have been subject to more of the same with lack of accountability. . So rise.

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“Many have asked me if my speech was pre-written. The answer is no. But in some ways, yes,” she wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of her handwritten notes.

“Yes because this speech was a recounting of thoughts that so many women and femme people have carried since the time we were children. It flowed because every single one of us has lived this silent script: stay silent (why?), keep your head down (for whom?), suck it up (to whose benefit?). But my chosen words were largely extemporaneous.

"I got to the House floor about 10 minutes before my speech and scribbled down some quick notes after reflecting on what had transpired over the last few days.”

As it happens, AOC didn’t know what she was going to say until moments before.

She realised that she needed to “speak directly to the culture, people, and institutions responsible for creating and protecting this violence and violent language.”

Like so many women are wont to do on a daily basis, AOC revealed that she initially thought it better to just “let it go” and not make a speech at all. “It was only when sisters like Ayanna Pressley, Rachida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and friends like Jamie Raskin reminded me how unacceptable this all was that I started to think about what I would have done if this abuse happened to any other person BUT me,” she continued.

“That is when I found my voice. Why is it okay to swallow our own abuse, yet stand up for others? I needed to learn that by standing up for ourselves, we break the chain of abuse and stand up for every person after us who would have been subject to more of the same with lack of accountability. So rise.”

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