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Going against Republicans, the media, and some on the left, the New York representative makes the case for accountability.
February 3, 2021
photo above: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
On Monday night, New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke on a live video on her Instagram page about her fears during the January 6 riot in Congress. In gripping detail, Ocasio-Cortez described how she hid in the bathroom as she heard banging on the door to her office. “I start to hear these yells of ‘Where is she, where is she?’ and I just thought to myself, they got inside,” Ocasio-Cortez recalled. “This was the moment where I thought everything was over.” She remembers thinking she was “going to die.”
During the talk, Ocasio-Cortez compared the trauma of the day with her earlier experience of sexual assault, which she has alluded to before but never in so much detail. “I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I haven’t told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.”
Ocasio-Cortez spoke in such personal terms in order to reject calls to move on from the events of January 6. “We cannot move on without accountability,” she insisted. “We cannot heal without accountability.”
Guardian columnist Moira Donegan made the compelling point that the linkage Ocasio-Cortez drew between her sexual assault and the trauma underscored the feminist argument the congresswoman was making about the imperative of listening to the voice of the vulnerable. “In admitting to fear, in admitting to vulnerability, in admitting to hiding for her life and to having been a survivor of assault, AOC demonstrated that she was unwilling to concede that female vulnerability is incompatible with the dignity of power,” Donegan notes. “Refusing to separate those two was a demonstration of her feminist vision, a gesture at what an authentic kind of power might look like.”
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