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An Open Letter to the Male Representatives of the United States of America | by Yael

Your misogyny has tyrannized us for the last time

Yael Wolfe

Reuters TV

In light of events that have transpired for the past 244 years, events that show no sign of changing as evidenced by Representative Ted Yoho’s misogynistic behavior toward Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I thought I would take a moment to explain what is going down right now. Because you don’t seem to get it.

I realize that the man sitting in the highest office above you all has fought very hard to continue normalizing violence against women (among other things), but as you have witnessed in the past few months, he is no longer in charge. And clearly never was.

So I’ll state this as simply as possible, just in case you misconstrue or misunderstand me: We’re done with the misogyny. It’s over. #TimesUp.

You are elected representatives of the United States of America. I realize that isn’t saying much at this particular point in history, given what a joke some of you have made out of this nation. But let’s remember what our forefathers (and foremothers) aspired to.

Public office is a position of respect and authority, which is meant to be used to protect and serve the people of this country. Yes, by all means, get passionate about what you believe in. Fight for what you think is right.

But you don’t get to confront women with violent words and intimidating behavior. You don’t get to treat female representatives — your colleagues of equal stature — like imbeciles, children, or mentally compromised brats. And you definitely don’t get to rebrand your misogyny as “passion.”

The truth is, what you are passionate about is forwarding your agenda, which includes fortifying the sexist and racist power system that runs this country.

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Did you know that the United States, one of the most advanced countries in the entire world, has a shockingly low number of female representatives compared to other countries? We rank 75th out of 193 countries. Only 24.2% percent — less than a quarter — of House seats are occupied by women.

But of course you know that. And your behavior proves time and again that you have no problem with that.

As does your persistent failure to follow in the footsteps of 80 other countries by enacting gender quotas for United States representatives. I’m not saying that will solve anything — I’m just a woman, after all — but evidence proves that they are, indeed, effective at getting women into government positions.

And what would that accomplish? you ask. Why should you support the advancement of “dangerous” people?

Because women in government positions get shit done. (I’ll quote male researchers here, just to make sure you give the following statements the gravity they deserve.) Carles Muntaner, Ph.D. and Assistant Professor Edwin Ng state:

…research has shown that women in government tend to work in more collaborative and bipartisan ways and employ a more democratic leadership style compared to men’s more autocratic style. Women are also more effective at building coalitions and reaching consensus.

Granted, they are Canadian researchers, but the study they cite was conducted through the University of Connecticut.

Further, Canadians clearly understand the importance of women in government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has prioritized gender parity since his first days in office. Seventeen of his 35 cabinet members are women. He didn’t give philosophical or political reasons for his choice — he simply said, “It’s 2015.”

In other words, it’s about damn time.

Since you are still intoxicated by the power system that has you convinced that you have more inherent worth and political authority than a woman, I’m going to lay out the new rules very clearly here:

Do not verbally attack women with sexist and misogynistic language

Americans love a good argument. Our government is literally built on the art of bickering. If that’s our destiny, so be it, but you will engage in a respectful manner. You will not call women misogynistic names like “crazy,” “bitch,” or “bimbo.” You will not launch personal attacks that center on a woman’s gender.

You will treat her like you treat your male colleagues. Angry or not, you will treat everyone with the respect that they deserve.

Be honest about your mistakes

We should never need to apologize for misogyny or sexism (or any of the other isms, for that matter) — we shouldn’t have to apologize for them because we shouldn’t be engaging in that kind of toxic behavior. But since some of you are persistently reluctant to recognize the humanity of other people, it’s bound to happen a few times while we transition into this new system.

So when you screw up and call a female representative of the United States of America a “fucking bitch” on the steps of the Capitol Building in front of witnesses, first of all, you cop to what you did instead of insisting that you didn’t say what witnesses heard you say (implying that the woman in question is a liar).

No. If you want to keep your respected position as a government representative, you will behave with dignity and integrity.

Don’t imply that a woman misunderstood or misconstrued what you claim you didn’t say (an implication that a woman is overly sensitive or downright crazy).

Don’t call your misogyny “passion,” thus further normalizing it.

And don’t hide behind the fact that you have daughters and a wife, as if that makes you immune to exhibiting sexist behavior.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Admit what you did.
  2. Say you’re sorry.
  3. Don’t do it again.

Call out misogyny when you see it

Every male representative who witnesses misogyny and sexism and fails to openly speak out against it is normalizing this behavior and enabling other men to behave this way. Representative Roger Williams, I’m looking at you.

And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, I’m looking at you, too. You said apologies should be forgiven because America is a forgiving nation. But let’s be very clear: Representative Yoho did not apologize, admitted to no wrongdoing, and further impeached Representative Ocasio-Cortez with his assertion that her allegations were false (despite being witnessed by others).

Your definition of “forgiveness” is our definition of “enabling.” And we aren’t going to stand for that anymore.

Promote fair representation

The demographics of the 116th Congress report “record” numbers of women and people of color. Do you know what those “record numbers” are? 10.5% African American, 9.4% Hispanic/Latino, 3.8% Asian/Pacific Islander, and the aforementioned 24.2% women.

Calling these numbers “record breaking” is a distraction from the inexcusable lack of diversity in our government.

This should have been addressed a long time ago and every second that you fail to address it is going on record, as of now.

Further, every time you speak disparagingly of female representatives with the express purpose of discrediting them because of their gender, you are purposefully stacking the system against us.

One more time for the folks in the back: Time’s up, guys.

We are done politely arguing for the respect that you get just for existing in a male body. We are done letting you write the laws that tell us how we’re allowed to live our lives, what we can do with our bodies, and how we should behave.

Our eyes are on you. We are watching your every move.

You want to promote misogyny? See ya. You want to publicly disrespect intelligent women who are serving their country? Buh-bye. You want to continue behaving in ways that enable other men to commit verbal, psychological, emotional, and psychical violence upon women? So long, pal.

As Beyoncé said, “Boy, bye.”

The women of American aren’t going to stand for it anymore.

You are a representative of the United States of America. Rise up. Show some integrity. Get your act together.

Or get out. Because we’re ready to take our fair share of those seats.

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