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.