By Catalina Benavides
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, or better known by the nickname given to her by mainstream media, AOC, is the youngest woman, at 28 years old, to win a seat as a congresswoman representing New York’s 14th congressional district. She is the voice of our generation and some say she has started a new revolution. A revolution that has come to engage millennial and centennial women and men in activism and political awareness. AOC shines light on issues that are not discussed openly. Her introduction to legislation, gave way to the Green New Deal plan that has awaken us to the harsh reality that our politicians have dismissed the focus on the environment and climate change that we desperately need. But aside from kicking ass in D.C., AOC makes time to stay connected to audiences of all walks of life and ages. She is known for her social media presence, as she often will make herself ramen or mac and cheese while answering questions on Instagram live. She also gives a close account to the inner workings of congress–something no other congressperson has done.
Recently, AOC spoke out at a recent “Girls Who Code: Be Brave not Perfect” event in Queens, and her words to the audience supports a stance as a feminist who strives for equality for all. “Girls Who Code” introduces girls to the world of technology and teaches them computer science and coding. Needing more women in the STEM fields, AOC took this guest speaking opportunity to remind these girls and young women that women do not need to be perfect and if mistakes are made, it is okay. This empowering message is needed for women who are faced with male dominated professions. No one gender is perfect and we are equals at the end of the day. No one gender is smarter than the other.
Patriarchal society today demonizes the mistakes of women and uses them to label women incapable and inept– which in turn keeps the women feeling inferior and limits them from reaching greater heights, personally and professionally. AOC, a woman under constant male scrutiny, shared an honest reflection and her response to this type of male scrutiny: “I made a mistake. Deal with it. I’m trying. You’re not.” And I could not agree more with this simple yet powerful truth. As women, we should not feel the need to apologize for every little thing. We cannot let others put us down for our slip ups. As women, it is going to be harder for us to reach the goals that others, due to the privilege of biological sex, can attain with ease. Men have to “deal with it” in the same manner we deal with their slip ups– slips ups that are in some cases ginormous (take a look back into history for some examples). AOC also reminded the audience that “Women will always face confrontation but it’s an essential element for change.” I honestly never thought that I could view the element of confrontation as something necessary for change. Instead of viewing confrontation as a limitation, it should be viewed as a tool to push us forward.
As a feminist, if I want to see change in the world and more equality, women need to confront those who challenge us head on. We should not be fearful of confrontation, but use it as empowerment for the present and future.