AOC: The Powerful Voice of Feminist Giving In Real Life

Editor’s Note: the following post was originally published on February 3, 2021.

Here at Philanthropy Women, we started a series called Feminist Giving In Real Life (F-GIRL) to provide a platform for women leaders at all levels who are giving in a feminist way. This giving can happen through donations and funding strategy, through professional excellence, and/or through leadership efforts in the community. Feminist giving is a form of leadership that has special impact because it often combines deeply personal experience and significantly political thinking and acting.

AOC became tearful as she disclosed that she is a survivor or sexual assault. In a 90 minute video on Instagram, AOC discussed the ways in which the January 6 riots constituted a form of trauma related to sexual trauma experienced by herself and many other Americans. (Image Credit: AOC on Instagram

Yesterday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez performed what I would call a supreme act of feminist giving. When AOC spoke out against the January 6th riots and connected these riots to her experience of being sexually traumatized, she simultaneously stood up for every human who has experience sexual assault, and challenged the largest political body of our country to acknowledge how the January 6th riots are part of a continuum of pervasive violence against women, people of color, and other marginalized groups.

It takes incredible fortitude and bravery to speak out against willful acts of violence, particularly if you have experienced the violence yourself. Yesterday, AOC demonstrated her tremendous leadership capacities by informing the public about how violence impacts women, people of color, and other marginalized populations.

AOC’s disclosing her own experience with sexual assault sent shock waves through the media at every level. Many narratives stayed focused on her as a survivor of sexual assault, but failed to see the bigger story of her 90 minute monologue about the way in which the Capitol Hill riots violated the country with a form of white supremacist terror never before seen.

The Take-Away for Feminist Givers From AOC’s Bravery

Takeaway #1: Sharing your own story is a powerful vehicle for feminist change.

Takeaway #2: The repercussions of the January 6th riots are just beginning to be felt, as leaders like AOC provide more details of the radical right-wing violence that took place on that day.

Takeaway #3: Leaders like AOC will help us make the necessary connections in thinking that will open doors to better social policies that hold abusers accountable and create a more peaceful and sustainable vision for American society.

Watching AOC’s monologue takes you into the heart and mind of one of youngest and yet most advanced thinkers and political actors of our time. I’m about to return to watching the rest of it myself.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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