While a historic number of women were elected to Congress in November, that doesn’t mean that sexism itself has been booted from office. But Congresswoman-Elect, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has quickly become the Chrissy Teigen of political social media clapbacks, isn’t just going to give it a pass.
Most recent case in point: She called out the double standard between herself and outgoing Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. Ryan was 28 when he was first elected, the same age as Ocasio-Cortez was when she won her New York primary race over the summer. But as Ocasio-Cortez noted on Twitter, the similarities end there—and she doesn’t just mean their opposite political views. (He’s a conservative Republican; she’s a Democratic Socialist.)
“Double standards are Paul Ryan being elected at 28 and immediately being given the benefit of his ill-considered policies considered genius; and me winning a primary at 28 to immediately be treated with suspicion & scrutinized, down to my clothing, of being a fraud,” she tweeted on Monday along with a Vox article titled “Paul Ryan’s Long Con”.
Ocasio-Cortez has been scrutinized and criticized—especially by the right wing news media—since her primary victory in New York’s 14th Congressional District catapulted her onto the national stage. And to the women watching her rise, it’s no surprise that her achievements have been questioned while those of a “fresh-faced” white man were applauded and validated. He got to be a man “on the rise.” To some of her critics, she’s a woman who doesn’t “know her place.”
See: a recent photo that Eddie Scarry, a writer for the Washington Examiner, took of Ocasio-Cortez and proceeded to share on Twitter in order to question her socio-economic status. (“I’ll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles,” he wrote in the now-deleted tweet.)
But Ocasio-Cortez had a brilliant comeback for him, too. “If I walked into Congress wearing a sack, they would laugh & take a picture of my backside,” she tweeted. “If I walk in with my best sale-rack clothes, they laugh & take a picture of my backside. Dark hates light—that’s why you tune it out.”
It’s such a relief to see these double standards and sexist barbs called out for what they are—attempts to tear women down and count us out. Whatever work there is to be done (and there is still so much work), we have at least arrived at a moment in which we can be honest about the uphill climbs women face.
Women like Ocasio-Cortez are the future and if that means cutting through all the sexist noise with wit, brains, and a voice that doesn’t sound like it’s been run through 47 political consultants before posting a tweet, I’m in.