“The right wing’s night terror in the flesh,” GQ describes the Bronx Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Why? To begin with, let’s start with her appearance. As a Latina, we see ourselves through her – especially when she wears our culture’s signature red lipstick and gold hoop earrings. A politician that looks like us? How exciting for us. Yet, threatening to others.
That’s only one of the reasons why she’s often synonymous with our hope for the future. But it doesn’t come without its challenges. AOC’s only 32, but she’s been talked about, criticized, and harassed – she’s been through the most during her three years in office. Currently in her second term – and as the midterm elections approach – she’s letting everyone know that she has more work to do. And she isn’t going anywhere.
To get a better insight into AOC’s world, GQ interviewed the “cultural star” on protesting, influencing social movements, the presidency, and why men have to speak up, among other subjects.
Here are five highlights from GQ’s interview with the one and only AOC.
On the importance of protest
During the interview, she talked about the importance of political leaders joining in on protests. She says that it creates a “community” and helps get the message across. “It’s really important for people to feel like their elected officials give a shit about them,” she told GQ. “Not from on high, but from the same level.”
On influencing social movement
“I have always felt that the true power, and true power in the United States, relies in mass movements and social movements,” AOC told GQ. “And there are many people who will not do something until they are forced until their hand is absolutely and utterly forced, whether that be for decisions of self-preservation or otherwise. And so there have been moments where I feel like I have been part of influencing an outcome or a decision by the party.”
On why men have to speak up – NOW
After Roe v Wade was overturned, it’s vital for everyone to speak up – not just women. AOC agrees with this. “For almost every woman that has gotten an abortion, there’s a man who has either been affected or liberated by that abortion too,” she told GQ. “In this moment it’s really only going to be the vulnerability of men, and men talking to other men, that gives us the greatest hope of shifting things the fastest, soonest.”
On different political powers and her current status of it
When asked if she believes she’s powerful, AOC dissects the different power levels. “There’s the political power of public opinion,” she told GQ. “There’s the political power of social movements. There’s a political power of platform, and in those ways I feel powerful. But since I got here, literally day one, even before day one, I’ve experienced a lot of targeting diminishment from my party. And the pervasiveness of that diminishment, it was all-encompassing at times. I feel a little more steady on my own two feet now. But would I say that I have the power to shift the elected federal Democratic Party? No.”
On the likelihood of her running for President
“Sometimes little girls will say, ‘Oh, I want you to be president,’ or things like that. It’s very difficult for me to talk about because it provokes a lot of inner conflict in that I never want to tell a little girl what she can’t do,” she told GQ. ‘And I don’t want to tell young people what is not possible. I’ve never been in the business of doing that. But at the same time…”
“I hold two contradictory things [in mind] at the same time. One is just the relentless belief that anything is possible,” she said. “But at the same time, my experience here has given me a front-row seat to how deeply and unconsciously, as well as consciously, so many people in this country hate women. And they hate women of color. People ask me questions about the future. And realistically, I can’t even tell you if I’m going to be alive in September. And that weighs very heavily on me.”
She continued, “And it’s not just the right wing. Misogyny transcends political ideology: left, right, center. This grip of patriarchy affects all of us, not just women; men, as I mentioned before, but also, ideologically, there’s an extraordinary lack of self-awareness in so many places. And so those are two very conflicting things. I admit to sometimes believing that I live in a country that would never let that happen.”
Read the full cover story at GQ Magazine’s official website.