Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new Democratic representative-elect from New York, seized on a social media smear to show she’s not afraid to call out sexism or define herself on her own terms.
The incoming lawmaker responded Thursday evening after a journalist referred to her as “a girl” in a tweet critical of her clothing with the message “Dark hates light - that’s why you tune it out.”
Her words came in response to a now-deleted tweet from Eddie Scarry, a media reporter for The Washington Examiner, in which he posted a photo of Ocasio-Cortez walking down a hallway alongside a caption that read, “Hill staffer sent me this pic of Ocasio-Cortez they took just now. I’ll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.”
The tweet was quickly and widely criticized on Twitter, including by other journalists as sexist and inappropriate. It comes after Ocasio-Cortez suggested in a recent interview with The New York Times that it would be challenging to afford an apartment in Washington, before her congressional salary kicks in.
Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, made headlines and sent shockwaves through Washington over the summer when she defeated veteran Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in a primary challenge. While she hasn’t officially started her term as a US representative from New York, Ocasio-Cortez has already become a focal point of attention on Capitol Hill – and a target of criticism.
Her response reflects both the scrutiny directed at her and her comfort using social media to take it on.
In response to the tweet scrutinizing her clothing, Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “If I walked into Congress wearing a sack, they would laugh & take a picture of my backside. 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. Shine bright & keep it pushing.”
She wrote in a follow-up tweet, “Oh, does @eScarry think he can delete his misogyny without an apology? I don’t think so. You’re a journalist - readers should know your bias.”
Earlier in the week, Ocasio-Cortez joined up with activists pushing for action on climate change on Tuesday staging a sit-in at House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s Capitol Hill office.
Scarry later posted a follow-up tweet of his own, writing that the tweet had been “taken as something else,” leading him to delete it. He did not apologize.
“ATTN! I posted a tweet earlier suggesting the incoming congresswoman looked well put together – ELEGANT even – despite suggestions she’s struggled. The tweet was taken as something else, so I’ve deleted it!” he tweeted.
On Friday afternoon, Ocasio-Cortez outlined a broader critique of recent media coverage focused on her, specifically citing Fox News and The Washington Examiner.
“The reason journos from @FoxNews to @dcexaminer can’t help but obsess about my clothes, rent, or mischaracterize respectful convos as “fights” is bc as I’ve said, women like me aren’t supposed to run for office - or win. & that’s exactly why the BX and Queens sent me here,” she wrote.
In the tweet, Ocasio-Cortez appeared to be at least in part referencing a story published by Politico on Thursday with the headline: “Ocasio-Cortez gets in closed-door fight with veteran lawmaker over climate change.”
After the story’s publication, Ocasio-Cortez pushed back, tweeting: “This is completely false,” in response to a tweet about the story, which claimed she clashed with incoming Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone over climate change.