On Thursday afternoon, Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) unintentionally reminded the public that sexism in Congress is still an issue.
In a clip posted onto Twitter by NARAL Pro-Choice America, Young, an 84-year-old white man, refers to fellow Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a 51-year-old Indian-American woman, as “young lady” in response to a debate about a 2018 government spending package.
“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,” he says. “You may not know me, young lady. But I’m deeply disturbed.”
(Watch the full interaction below.)
After Young refers to Jayapal as “young lady” for a second time, she asks the chairman to withdraw Young’s comments.
“The gentleman has already impugned my motives by saying that I don’t ‘know a damn thing’ about what I’m talking about and he’s now called me ‘young lady,’” she said. (Young angrily denies having said the word “damn,” but in the clip above, it’s clear that he did say she didn’t know a “damn” thing.)
On Thursday evening, Rep. Jayapal ― who was the first Indian-American woman to be elected into Congress and has been working in civil rights advocacy for decades ― posted a tweet after the incident in which she reminded women of color to “refuse to be patronized.”
Women across the country, including many of her constituents, tweeted to show their support.
According to the Hill, Young apologized to Jayapal after she called him out for his condescending words and tone.
“To the lady, I do apologize,” he said. “I get very defensive about my state... I recognize it was out of order, so I hope you accept my apology.”
“I do accept your apology,” Jayapal said in response. “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.”