WaPo Columnist Links Miley, 'So-Called Steubenville Rape'
Richard Cohen sets off a firestorm on the Internet
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2013 1:20 PM CDT
Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus perform at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 25.   (Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Richard Cohen condemns teenage culture in the Washington Post today, and in so doing manages to link Miley Cyrus' VMA twerking to what he terms the "so-called Steubenville rape case." He uses the qualifier because "this was not a rape involving sexual intercourse." The passed-out girl was "sexually mistreated" and "manhandled," writes Cohen, but he suggests that's how teens operate these days thanks to a "tawdry cable TV and celebrity culture." Which gets him to Cyrus:

  • "Let me also suggest that acts such as hers not only objectify women but debase them. They encourage a teenage culture that has set the women’s movement back on its heels. What is being celebrated is not sexuality but sexual exploitation, a mean casualness that deprives intimacy of all intimacy." (Read his column in full here.)

A sample of the reaction:

  • "This was blatant traffic bait disguised as pundit profundity," writes Twitchy, which rounds up angry tweets from all over the political spectrum.
  • "Cohen is not happy that a teenage girl in Ohio was hauled around and treated like a trash can by young men, but he ultimately puts the blame on young women for, yep, not being modest enough," writes Amanda Marcotte at Slate.
  • One of the most scathing takedowns is courtesy of Hamilton Nolan at Gawker, who calls Cohen a "lecherous" and hypocritical "skeezeball" and ends his piece with parody of the column: "Let me also suggest that acts such as Richard Cohen not only objectify women but debase them. They encourage a good-old-boy culture that has set journalism back on its heels. What is being celebrated is not critical thought but thoughtless criticism, a vapid and self-regarding editorial outlook that deprives reading of all pleasure."
  • Wait, so it's not rape just because intercourse wasn't involved? And because, in Cohen's words, "just two were convicted"? wonders Rebecca Schoenkopf at Wonkette, who struggles mightily to find a single sentence in the entire column that doesn't offend her.

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Showing 3 of 66 comments
Sep 4, 2013 1:36 PM CDT
The entire pop so called music culture is no longer about quality of your voice, it is about how raunchy and filthy you can act on stage and how many filthy words you can cram into a bunch of words you call music. Which requires no talent at all. Just ask Cyrus.
Sep 4, 2013 9:39 AM CDT
The entire pop music industry is disgusting. Cyrus is just one example of what it forces young women to do. Yes, in a way it is r*pe. I'm sick of bad, tasteless entertainment being defended from some misguided idea of political correctness. "You have to criticize absolutely correctly or we'll take you down worse than the offending entertainer." Right.
Sep 4, 2013 1:27 AM CDT
Off point. I saw this picture of cyrus on aol news. It was generally the same as here, but she had her white tongue out. And if you know anything about health, you know your tongue is suppose to be fleshy red pink colored. Her's looked like a piece of over cooked white fish. GROOOOSSSSSS. She no doubt got paid to do the gig. They paid her to wear a bikini outfit, because the promoters thought it was what the crowd wanted. Remember when singing used to be about the quality of your voice, not your raunch.