It’s not atypical for a woman’s clothing to be nit-picked. This time the woman was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
On Thursday, Eddie Scarry, a Washington Examiner writer who covers media and politics, tweeted a photograph of the Democratic congresswoman-elect from behind, apparently taken somewhere on Capitol Hill.
“Hill staffer sent me this pic of Ocasio-Cortez they took just now,” Scarry wrote on Thursday. “I’ll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.”
The response was rapid — and furious.
The tweet was dissected for the curious biases it seemed to evince — about the way women should dress or be referred to, or about the appropriate attire for someone who believes that government is not the root cause of all of society’s ills.
After hours of controversy on Twitter, in which it seemed as though just about everyone had a chance to weigh in, Scarry deleted the tweet, writing that he felt it had been misinterpreted.
Scarry’s tweet was the latest example of the unusual level of scrutiny that Ocasio-Cortez, 29, has been subjected to since her insurgent victory jolted her to the forefront of the discussion about the future of Democratic politics.
Conservatives have for months picked apart details about the self-identified democratic socialist from New York.
John Cardillo, a conservative radio host, shared an image of the home Ocasio-Cortez grew up in outside New York City from Google earlier this year.
“This is the Yorktown Heights (very nice area) home @Ocasio2018 grew up in,” he wrote. According to Cardillo, the home was a “far cry from the Bronx hood upbringing she’s selling."
A photo shoot for Interview magazine, in which Ocasio-Cortez donned a $3,000 outfit, again drew similar protests from some conservatives.
Fox News picked up the thread, with the hosts of morning show “Fox & Friends” slamming her for “expensive tastes for a socialist.”
“I mean, I want a pair of $600 shoes,” guest host Katie Pavlich said. “I think she should redistribute.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who has a lively social media presence, has responded fiercely to the criticism. She lampooned conservatives for not understanding magazine shoots after the Interview spread.
“You don’t get to keep the clothes, duh,” she wrote. “Get used to me slaying lewks because I am an excellent thrift shopper.”
A recent remark she made in the New York Times about finding an apartment in Washington before her congressional salary kicks in was similarly analyzed.
The comments seemed to emphasize a common conservative critique of socialists for owning goods that many others do. Bernie Sanders drew cries of hypocrisy when he bought a $575,000 vacation home after his presidential campaign ended in 2016.
Scarry’s Twitter history become a subject of inquiry after the tweet. People scoured his past tweets for other content to criticize. And many found what they were looking for, including multiple posts that referenced women’s rear ends.
Many speculated that Scarry’s remarks were informed by sexism.
Ocasio-Cortez said she believed that the criticism and focus on her body would probably be forthcoming regardless of what she was wearing.
“If I walked into Congress wearing a sack, they would laugh & take a picture of my backside,” she wrote on Twitter. “If I walk in with my best sale-rack clothes, they laugh & take a picture of my backside. Dark hates light — that’s why you tune it out. Shine bright & keep it pushing.”