A Washington Post columnist with a history of subjecting female coworkers to a “inappropriate behavior” has argued that singer Miley Cyrus’ “twerking” dance at the MTV Video Music Awards encourages the type of culture that led to rapes in Steubenville, Ohio last August.
In his Monday column, Richard Cohen wrote that Cyrus should read up on the details of the “so-called Steubenville Rape” after she performed a sexualized dance called “twerking” to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” at the awards show last month.
“The first thing you should know about the so-called Steubenville Rape is that this was not a rape involving intercourse,” Cohen opined. “The next thing you should know is that there weren’t many young men involved — just two were convicted.”
The columnist said that when he learned about the Steubenville case, he “felt somewhat disconcerted — unhappily immersed in a teenage culture that was stupid, dirty and so incredibly and obliviously misogynistic.”
“This is what got me: a teenage culture that was brutal and unfeeling, that treated the young woman as dirt,” Cohen continued. “So now back to Miley Cyrus and her twerking… 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.”
In 1998, the Post mediated a dispute after Cohen was accused of sexually harassing a 23-year-old intern by asking her to “stand up and turn around.”
In the end, the paper concluded that Cohen was guilty of “inappropriate behavior,” but that the incident “had nothing to do with sexual harassment as the term applies today.” The intern was forced to take a two-week leave of absence.
Cohen found himself under fire again earlier this year after he wrote that neighborhood watchmen George Zimmerman “understandably suspected” slain teen Trayvon Martin because he was African-American and was wearing a hoodie.
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