Cotton-topped moron Richard Cohen is, of course, an awful newspaper columnist. We're used to his steady stream of ill-concealed bigotry, horny romance diatribes, and routine contempt for the entire idea of "journalism." But now, Richard Cohen is forging bold new frontiers of fucked up sexual obsession.
"Miley Cyrus, Steubenville and teen culture run amok," goes the headline of today's column by elderly Washingtonian Richard Cohen. Richard Cohen, a man who has publicly defended the child rapist Roman Polanski and the sexual harasser Clarence Thomas and who was once reprimanded for sexually harassing a 23 year-old colleague, is who we all turn to for the final word in sexual morality, particularly as it concerns The Youth.
Miley Cyrus twerked. I had to look up the word since my indefatigable spell checker had no idea what I meant. I discovered from Wikipedia that twerking “involves a person, usually a woman, shaking her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer to shake, ‘wobble’ and ‘jiggle.’ ” That’s precisely what Cyrus did at the recent MTV Video Music Awards, for which she has been amply and justifiably criticized. She’s a cheap act, no doubt about it, but for me her performance was an opportunity to discuss one of the summer’s most arresting pieces of journalism — a long New Yorker account of what became known as the Steubenville Rape. Cyrus should read it.
VILLAIN: a young entertainer gyrating suggestively onstage. Remember that. Cohen forcefully condemns this cheap hussy, Miley Cyrus, who needs to learn a thing or two about propriety.
Richard Cohen then, for reasons known only to Richard Cohen, launches into a disquisition on the Steubenville rape case, which was the subject of this story by Ariel Levy. What lessons does Richard Cohen draw?
The first thing you should know about the so-called Steubenville Rape is that this was not a rape involving intercourse. The next thing you should know is that there weren’t many young men involved — just two were convicted. The next thing you should know is that just about everything you do know about the case from TV and the Internet was wrong.
This was not a rape "involving intercourse," you see. It was not a rape-rape. Cohen graciously allows this: "And yet what indisputably did happen is troubling enough. A teenage girl, stone-drunk, was stripped and manhandled. She was photographed and the picture passed around. Obviously, she was sexually mistreated." She was sexually mistreated, sure. But it's not like this was a rape, involving intercourse.
The New Yorker story that Cohen bases all of these conclusions upon notes that the victim in the Steubenville case was photographed "naked and apparently passed out, with what looked like semen on her chest." During the trial, two young men "were accused of putting their fingers in her vagina while she was too intoxicated to give consent." One said that he recorded the other "fingering her" as she was passed out. Later, he said that the same young man “knelt over top of her, trying to shove it in her mouth.”
So you see, this is not real rape, "involving intercourse." This is just a rape involving a passed out drunk girl being fingered and ejaculated upon and orally raped and recorded. Richard Cohen finds this distasteful, yes—but not as distasteful as that young harlot, Miley Cyrus, whose sexual gyrations are the real culprit here:
So now back to Miley Cyrus and her twerking. I run the risk of old-fogeyness for suggesting the girl’s a tasteless twit — especially that bit with the foam finger. (Look it up, if you must.) But 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. Cyrus taught me a word. Now let me teach her one: She’s a twerk.
So now back to Richard Cohen and his writing. I run the risk of reasonable humanity for suggesting the man's a lecherous fool—especially that bit with the rape. But 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. Cohen taught me a word. ("Wikileaks.") Now let me teach him one: He's a skeezeball.