Heart of LA Statement Denouncing Hate Speech Against Women and Call for Action
We continue to be in a space and time where demeaning, racist and sexist language prevails. For those who need to hear it most, the clarion call for change seems to fall on deaf ears. When one woman is demeaned and maligned, it denigrates all women, and the Heart of LA Democratic Club asserts that we must continue to be vigilant and call out these affronts whenever and whenever they happen.
How many times have women been publicly demeaned in open and private settings? How many times was Hillary Clinton called a “bitch” over the course of her decades in public life? And how many times have we sanitized derogatory language, or failed to publicly address use of those words or other slurs so casually hurled at women, especially women in positions of leadership?
When Florida Rep. Ted Yoho called New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch” on the steps of the Capitol in front of reporters, with zero fear of blowback from his colleagues - including the other congressman who witnessed the incident and stood silent - she said “NO MORE.” Her searing indictment of his words of hate proclaimed NO MORE on behalf of all women, to a culture that allows men to use abusive language that supports violence against women; words that tacitly permit a culture of racism and sexism to persist.
Here in Los Angeles, in a recent live Facebook forum, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villaneuva called LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, a child of immigrants from Nicaragua and Mexico, a La Malinche, a derogatory name used to demean a woman as a traitor or sellout. Solis resoundingly responded, calling the Sheriff’s words “highly unprofessional, inappropriate, racist and sexist…and that those words malign women everywhere.” Her remarks have added to the drumbeat of women standing up against racism and sexism. And this latest incident adds further credence to the many voices calling for Villanueva to step down from his position, given his controversy-laden short time in office.
Particular to the Heart of LA community, one of our own Board members, Andrea Ambriz, was recently subjected to obscenities and a verbal attack against her Latina ethnicity and age by a person in leadership on the local Community Council on which she also serves. This occurred after our Board member used her voice to raise concerns about a lack of equity and inclusion on the Council. The twist here? The attack came from another woman, which further underscores that incidents involving discriminatory and pejorative language against women do not originate solely from men.
We stand in solidarity with all women who have been subjected to malicious hate speech.
The Heart of LA Democratic Club was conceived on the heels of the 2016 Presidential election as the first countywide Democratic Club in Los Angeles County dedicated primarily to uplifting feminist candidates and issues of importance to women. We have an explicit goal of ensuring the equal representation of women in local, state and national politics. Moreover, we insist on a society where everyone is safe and respected, a society free of gender and race-based discrimination, where no one lives in fear of harassment or assault and everyone has equal opportunity.
The culture of misogyny, sexism and racist language - it’s an old problem, and in this new day, we’re standing loudly against it.
We say NO MORE to breaches of civility. NO MORE to accepting violence and venomous language against women or the power structure that supports these words. NO MORE to hollow non-apologies or statements from perpetrators feigning ignorance of the weight of their words. And NO MORE to people in power who espouse and condone hate speech.
It is up to all of us to hold people accountable for their words and egregious behaviors – especially those elected or appointed to serve their communities, whom we expect to uphold the highest standards of conduct. It is well past the time for widespread diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all people in positions of leadership. It is time for substantive plans prioritizing these issues at all levels of government. Moreover, it is time for meaningful repercussions for violators of civil discourse.
We pledge to remain vigilant and to use our collective voice and power to bring about a more just, equitable and respectful society for everyone. We will continue to support and elect leaders at every level of office who make that agenda a clear and demonstrable priority with real action to back it up.
About the Heart of LA Democratic Club Founded in March 2017 on the heels of the Presidential election, the Heart of L.A. Democratic Club was created in recognition of the growing awareness within the Democratic Party that women should be fully and equally represented in local, state, and national politics. The Heart of L.A. Democratic Club is open to all Democrats who subscribe to the club’s goals and purposes regardless of their gender identity. The mission of the Heart of L.A. Democratic Club is to help make the Democratic Party and its elected officials responsive to, and responsible for, the needs of all people, particularly, though not exclusively, women in our community. In addition to endorsing candidates and organizing for those candidates, the Heart of L.A. Democratic Club actively participates in issues advocacy, community outreach, and voter education. The Club’s monthly meetings feature guest speakers such as Democratic elected officials and candidates, and experts in policy areas of interest to women - including reproductive justice, homelessness, voter registration, immigration, criminal justice reform and more.