Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is in her third year in Washington and has been no stranger to the limelight as one of the most prolific and polarizing figures in politics today. Now she’s making history as the first female politician to land the cover of GQ. Journalist Wesley Lowery interviewed AOC for the cover story where they discussed the riot on the Capitol on Jan. 6, the sexual assault she experienced in her 20s, patriarchy, the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and her potential run for president. The 32-year-old Bronx native, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is known for her progressive politics that have garnered her a devoted following among left-leaning Millennials and Gen Zers. Yet she’s also faced harsh criticism from conservatives making her one of the most talked about politicians across the political spectrum. Her popularity is undeniable and with 8.6 million followers on Instagram, where she occasionally hosts Lives to discuss timely topics like the Jan. 6 insurrection, her message clearly resonates with millions. With that political power comes the inevitable question of whether she will one day run for president.
“Sometimes little girls will say, ‘Oh, I want you to be president,’ or things like that,” she told GQ. “It’s very difficult for me to talk about because it provokes a lot of inner conflict in that I never want to tell a little girl what she can’t do. And I don’t want to tell young people what is not possible.”
She goes on to share that she has conflicting feelings about the idea — one is the belief that it’s possible, and considering she’s one of the most prominent women of color and Latinas in politics EVER, it would be a huge win for representation. On the other hand, she shares that she’s seen first-hand the “hate” people have for women and women of color sharing that when she’s asked about the future she’s not even sure she’s going to be “alive in September.”
“And that weighs very heavily on me. And it’s not just the right wing. Misogyny transcends political ideology: left, right, center. This grip of patriarchy affects all of us, not just women; men, as I mentioned before, but also, ideologically, there’s an extraordinary lack of self-awareness in so many places,” she added. “And so those are two very conflicting things. I admit to sometimes believing that I live in a country that would never let that happen.”
She goes on to say that should she ever become commander-in-chief she would still face limitations and issues with the Supreme Court and Senate. “It’s tough, it’s really tough.”
The U.S. representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, who sported gold hoops and red lipstick in the GQ photoshoot, also talked about why she chose to open up about being raped in her 20s following the Capitol riot where she crouched in congressional offices fearing for her life, she shared.
“I could not talk about that day without disclosing it, because it was such a central part of my experience,” she said. When Roe v. Wade was overturned, she told protesters at New York’s Union Square that following her rape, she took a pregnancy test and waited for the results thinking, “Thank God I have at least a choice.”
She attributes the assault to being part of the reason why she ended up working in public service. “My sexual assault was a pivotal event in the trajectory that led me to run for office,” she told me. “I can say that in retrospect, but obviously I didn’t know that at the time.”
The full interview with AOC is available on GQ.com