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

(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.

Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus perform at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 25.
Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus perform at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 25.   (Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP)
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