Gosar’s Anime Video: Yet Another Sexist Attack on AOC

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Rep. Gosar shared an anime video that his staff created where his character killed Representative AOC’s. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Giovanna Rafanello, Contributing Writer

On Nov. 7, Congressman Paul Gosar shared an edited video that his staff created which depicts him dueling with President Joe Biden and killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC. The clips from the video come from the anime series “Attack on Titan,” except in Representative Gosar’s version, his, Biden’s and Ocasio-Cortez’s faces are edited onto the characters. Even though creating and sharing this video is bizarre on Gosar’s part, it highlights realities about the dynamics of legislators in the U.S. today. 

On the surface, this anime video might seem inconsequential and somewhat trivial, but its content depicts serious and threatening subject matter. Rep. Gosar claims that this cartoon was never intended to be threatening and instead was supposed to depict a political battle. In the case of the anime interaction between Gosar’s and Biden’s characters, Gosar is correct; the video of Gosar and Biden did portray only a battle. 

The portion of the anime video with AOC is much more gory, with Gosar’s character killing AOC’s. Still, some may say that this is merely a comical video. If Biden and Ocasio-Cortez’s roles were reversed, Rep. Gosar could have been charged with a felony as it is illegal to make any “threat to take the life of, to kidnap or to inflict bodily harm” on the president. 

Animosity and conflict between politicians is not a new phenomenon by any means. However, AOC has been subjected to multiple inappropriate ands unprofessional interactions from both male and female legislators since she took office. For example, in July 2020, Rep. Ted Yoho allegedly called AOC a “f—— b—-”, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene purportedly verbally assaulted and “screamed” at AOC in both February 2019 and May 2021

Why is AOC so frequently targeted by her fellow legislators? Rep. Greene would cite AOC’s political agenda, referring to her as a “radical socialist.” Rep. Gosar may also cite AOC’s politics as a reason for sharing the video, arguing against AOC’s amnesty policy for illegal immigrants in the U.S. 

However, misalignment of political ideology is not license for politicians to verbally harass each other, use demeaning words or share videos depicting a fantasy murder scene of other congresspeople. Besides, it is likely that AOC’s policy is not truly the root cause of her colleagues’ inappropriate behavior. 

AOC is affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America. Senator Bernie Sanders is associated with the same political group and has held public office since 1981. Although Sen. Sanders has been subject to a fair deal of scrutiny for his politics, he has never faced the same disrespectful and vicious comments from other legislators to the extent that AOC has. Considering the fact that they share the same political ideology, what makes Sen. Sanders more deserving of respect from legislators than AOC?

The first female legislator served in 1917, and during the more than 100 years of women in Congress, there is not one instance documented on the Legislator Misconduct Database in which a female legislator has even been accused of a verbal attack or threat on a male legislator. 27% of the 117th Congress identify as women and 23% identify as BIPOC. Those who are both of these identities make-up only 9%. The 117th Congress is surely a historic Congress; it has the most women and is the most multicultural in the history of our country. Yet, representation is still  extremely low, with a majority of Congress consisting of white men. 

If women of color in Congress are getting murdered in videos made by fellow congressmen and facing verbal harassment and offensive name-calling, then this behavior may deter prospective women of color politicians from running for office or influence those currently in office to leave. 

It doesn’t matter if Rep. Gosar was censured for his actions; this is merely a public way of reprimanding Gosar and  is not enough. After all, workplace practices that uphold gender-based discrimination are often a factor as to why many women who initially choose male-dominated professions often change careers for either female-dominated or balanced professions. We need more diverse representation in Congress and these kinds of inappropriate actions threaten to limit an already extremely small number of BIPOC women in Congress. 

Giovanna Rafanello, FCRH ’23, is a psychology and Italian studies major from Madison, N.J.