This Congresswoman Called Out Her Colleague's Patronizing Language On The House Floor

She's using it as an example for other women.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who represents Seattle, Washington, fired back at her colleague Rep. Don Young from Alaska on Thursday, after Young spoke to her in a manner critics described as condescending on the House floor.

According to The Hill, Jayapal was opposing an amendment to a 2018 government spending package, concerning wildlife management on Alaskan preserves. Young's response, which was broadcast on C-SPAN and later posted to Twitter by pro-choice organization NARAL, is being called sexist and belittling.


"I rarely do this, but I'm deeply disappointed in my good lady from Washington, who doesn't know a damn thing what's she's talking about," Young began, going on to defend the amendment and later adding, "You may not know me, young lady, but I am deeply disturbed."

Jayapal didn't let Young's comments slide. After he called her "young lady," she interrupted him, prompting him to raise his voice and say, "I am still talking." 

"The gentleman has already impugned my words by saying that I don't know a damn thing about what I'm talking about," Jayapal said, as Young attempted to speak over her. "He's now called me 'young lady,' and Mr. Chairman, I ask that he take down his words."

Japayal, who is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the House of Representatives, also took to Twitter Thursday evening to encourage other women, particularly women of color, to "stand strong" and "refuse to be patronized or minimized." On Friday, she tweeted a link to a story about Young's comments, telling women, "Don't ever be afraid to demand the respect you deserve."

Shortly after the interaction, Young reportedly asked to withdraw his remarks, and told Jayapal, "To the lady, I do apologize. I get very defensive about my state. I recognize it was out of order, so I hope you accept my apology."

The Hill reports that Jayapal accepted his apology, adding, "I thank you for it. We have obviously some work to get to know each other, but I can tell you that I care about my state as deeply as you do, and I look forward to getting to know you."

Her quickness to call out Young's comments has received a positive response from many on social media, and Jayapal herself has retweeted many of the messages. Some pointed out how important it is to have more women of color in government, while others praised the congresswoman for representing the many women in various fields who have been the subject of similarly patronizing language.

Jayapal's reaction to Young is just one of a number of empowering moments from women in Congress this year. In February the phrase "Nevertheless, she persisted" became a rallying cry for defiant women, after Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke it about his colleague Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In July, Rep. Martha McSally called out the House dress code by wearing a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes, which she pointed out should be considered "professional attire." And, of course, Rep. Maxine Waters recently gave the internet a new catchphrase when she declared that she was "reclaiming my time" while questioning Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. 

Last month, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted, "Imagine if half of Congress was women." We don't think it would hurt.

Cover image via Twitter.


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