By Tyler Bauer
This past week, conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro asked Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to come on his show and take part in a political debate. In return, Shapiro pledged to donate $10,000 to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign or a charity of her choosing. Ocasio-Cortez responded in a way that only a millennial politician could respond – by making herself the victim and comparing the debate offer to catcalling.
To an extent, I fully agree with Ocasio-Cortez here. The debate offer was unsolicited. She doesn’t owe anyone a response. Nobody should feel entitled to another person’s time and effort.
But comparing a debate invite – as well as a campaign contribution or charitable donation – to catcalling? That doesn’t seem quite right. To my knowledge, Shapiro never said nor implied that he was entitled to a response. He’s smart enough to know that not everyone will talk to him, especially in a debate setting. Shapiro even had some fun at Ocasio-Cortez’s expense in his response to the catcalling comparison.
Furthermore, comparing a debate to catcalling trivializing actual cases of catcalling, sexual harassment, and any other unwanted sexual advances. Just as comparing Trump to Hitler trivializes Hitler, comparing a debate with Shapiro to misogyny trivializes misogyny. Ocasio-Cortez – who prides herself on being one of the most progressive supporters of women’s rights – should know better and do better in thinking about what she says.
Of course, Ocasio-Cortez is well within her rights to say whatever she wants. If she wants to compare a debate invitation to catcalling, that’s her prerogative. I’m not trying to mansplain and tell her how to talk or think. However, if she wants to be taken seriously by the vast majority of the population, she’d be better off not comparing debating a conservative to sexual harassment.