Backlash after 'sexist' tweet about youngest congresswoman

Washington: It's been a whirlwind of excitement for newly elected politicians this week as they get acquainted with the building that will likely be a second home: the US Capitol.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's first two days in the nation's capital have been an adventure. The 29-year-old, who was the youngest congresswoman ever elected, was mistaken for an intern her first day and on Thursday, her second day, was criticised over her attire through a tweet that was later deleted.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arrives in Washington for orientation for new members of Congress.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arrives in Washington for orientation for new members of Congress.Credit:AP

"People keep giving me directions to the spouse and intern events instead of the ones for members of Congress," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.

Other members of Congress chimed in, saying they, too have had issues with this.

"I STILL get stopped in the halls and confused for a spouse or an intern. This is what happens when you're a young WOC [woman of colour] in Congress – but it shouldn't," Congresswoman Grace Meng, who was elected in 2013 wrote on Twitter.

It wasn't just women, either.

"After four years I still get stopped sometimes," tweeted Congressman Carlos Curbelo, who just lost an election to Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. "Happens to a lot of the younger Members. It's no big deal. You'll get over it."

But on Thursday, the attire of Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most recognisable newly elected House members, became the focus.

Eddy Scarry, a reporter for the Washington Examiner, posted a photo of Ocasio-Cortez's backside, saying the Congresswoman-elect's clothing showed she wasn't struggling.

"Hill staffer sent me this pic of Ocasio-Cortez they took just now," Scarry wrote. "I'll tell you something: that jacket and coat don't look like a girl who struggles.

After Ocasio-Cortez was elected, the former restaurant employee explained that she wasn't able to work and wondered how she'd afford an apartment in Washington before she started her new role in January as a member of Congress.

"I can't really take a salary. I have three months without a salary before I'm a member of Congress," she told the New York Times. "So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real."

Scarry's tweet was almost immediately criticised as sexist and ignorant, causing many, even to chime in.

Fox News' Geraldo Rivera came to her defence, too.

Others mocked the tweet and posted photos of others wearing numerous clothing that were sent from a "hill staffer".

Ocasio-Cortez wrote that it didn't matter what she wore, people would still criticize her.

"If I walked into Congress wearing a sack, they would laugh & take a picture of my backside," she wrote on Twitter. "If I walk in with my best sale-rack clothes, they laugh & take a picture of my backside."

At first, Scarry mocked his critics and said he wouldn't delete the tweet. Then, he said he deleted the tweet because it was misinterpreted and he was actually praising Ocasio-Cortez's elegance.

USA Today

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