Why You Need to Watch “Knock the House Down”

Yesterday I opened Netflix, as I had some time left before my next class and I wanted to fill it up. Before I could scroll down to “Continue Watching,” however, a title caught my eye. It was a documentary, entitled “Knock the House Down,” which largely focused on the U.S. House Representative from New York City, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

I remembered a lunch I had had with a former classmate a few weeks ago, where he had mentioned the politician, citing her “overly aggressive and liberal demeanor” as reasons he did not much enjoy her recent win in the political field. In fact, I realized, I had only heard similar comments about the woman, people saying she was too “aggressive” and “loud.”

Deciding that anyone that controversial was worth learning about, I turned on the documentary.

Now two hours later, I was (and still am) convinced that every single voting American needs to see this film.

“Knock the House Down” follows four young women running for political office in 2016, three of whom lost (Cortez, of course, being the exception).

Each story is poignant and honest, filming the pretty moments and the dark ones. We see Cortez crying when she finally gets to visit the Capitol, Amy Vilela breaking down while recounting her motivations for running, Cori Bush standing in the street, championing her cause, and Paula Jean Swearingen cutting through brush in a field so she could hold a political rally.

The honest look at politicians this way, as people, was new to me, and it made me think.

It is easy to excuse rash behavior in today’s world, especially when it comes to politics. It is easy to say, “Yeah, Trump isn’t nice, but I like his policies,” or “Hillary made some mistakes, but she seems like she won’t do it again.”

We see this trend in the film. Cortez, for example, ran her entire campaign without debating her opponent, Joe Crowley, once until the last week before elections. Instead, he sent a representative.

However, this did not cost him points, and in fact not one audience member mentioned it until Cortez brought it up, calling attention to his lack of appearance honestly and openly.

This determined, emotional reaction, seen from the successful, scrappy waitress over and over again during her campaign, is what the people around me, insulting her, were talking about.

They saw videos of her yelling and arguing and stopped listening.

Why? Why is it that when a man stands on a podium and articulates his opinion strongly, he is listened to, respected and believed, and when a woman does it it is annoying, too much or overemotional?

I almost didn’t touch on feminism in this article, because I thought Oh, some people might stop reading.  

I am not talking to those people, although they are the ones that should watch the documentary.

This movie shows a woman. It shows her working hard, being honest, listening to others, and fighting for them, and somehow that makes it controversial.

I ask you, anti-feminists, have you ever known a strong woman?

Why is it that people have to know immigrants to sympathize with them, that men need to have daughters to value a woman’s innocence, that our country can vote for a man based on policies while excusing decades of racism, sexism, homophobia, and disrespect to our armed forces, and yet they see Alexandria Ocasio Cortez raise her voice and turn off the TV?

I urge you all to watch this documentary, and to keep it playing through the passionate speeches. If you listen, you just might learn to respect.