Sorry to burst your long weekend bubble, culture denizens, but tired opinions on Miley Cyrus's dance at the VMA's and What It Means For Women/White People Doing Music/Butts are still filtering in over a week later. The latest late train to pull up to the station is special, though; not only is Richard Cohen's latest at the Washington Post one of those Man Opinions that would make you want to leave a party without saying goodbye to the hosts, it's a Man Opinion that manages to beat several dead horses simultaneously — Miley Cyrus, twerking, what constitutes "real" rape, and whether teenage girls who dance all sexy are somehow complicit in their own sexual assaults. A real crap salad.
Richard Cohen's most recent column (which I think is about teen vaginas RUN AMOK) would be much more offensive if it weren't borderline incoherent, but I'll do my best to explain what he wrote so you don't have to read it yourself. Cohen opens by quoting from the Wikipedia entry on twerking, since Richard Cohen just learned himself what twerking is from Wikipedia.
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.’ ”
Richard Cohen says Miley Cyrus twerks very badly, in a way that made Richard Cohen disappointed. Richard Cohen then goes on to use Miley's "twerking," an event that no one could shut up about for the last week, to discuss an Ariel Levy New Yorker article that was published last month. Richard Cohen then uses details from that three-week-old article to explain to his readers what, exactly, happened during the Steubenville rape, an event that occurred over a year ago. Zeitgeist, thy name is Richard Cohen.
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.
He goes on to describe what happened to the victim in the Steubenville rape case as "manhandled" and "sexually mistreated." Richard Cohen then goes on to blame the following non-rapist things for teen rape sexual mistreatment/manhandling — cable TV, celebrity culture, and, yes, Miley Cyrus. Don't worry; no actual rapists were harmed in the making of this Richard Cohen opinion piece.
Cohen, one of the foremost Man Opinionators in the game, is no stranger to writing stupid shit. Here's some stupid shit he wrote about gun control. Here's stupid shit about how he acted when his wife cheated on him back when they were dating (he broke into her apartment). Here's some stupid shit Richard Cohen wrote about how racial profiling is just fine. Here's some stupid shit Richard Cohen wrote called "Thank You, Switzerland, For Freeing Roman Polanski" that is not an Onion article designed to make fun of old guys who like Roman Polanski. And here's some stupid shit Richard Cohen wrote about how the only thing keeping Richard Cohen from sleeping with 23-year-olds is Daniel Craig as James Bond.
Again, it took Richard Cohen a week to come up with his take on the latest reason girls are to blame for what other people do to them. If we gave him a month, he could probably write a whole opera on victim blaming.
Cohen wasn't the only man to show up long after the shop had closed to weigh in on twerking. Humorist Teddy Wayne caught flack this weekend by satirically writing in the New York Times that one way to discuss twerking to your parents is to
Explain that twerking is a dance move typically associated with lower-income African-American women that involves the rapid gyration of the hips in a fashion that prominently exhibits the elasticity of the gluteal musculature.
Intended joke or not, that... didn't go over well.
But back to Cohen, and, more importantly, his employer, the Washington Post, which this weekend published not one but two opinion pieces that waxed idiotic on rape (the other piece, in case you missed it, was this gem that argued that high school girls fuck teachers all the time and therefore we need a definition of statutory rape that differentiates between girls who were, like, rape-raped and girls who actually wanted it). Is this what we can expect from the WaPo opinion pages from now until its sale to Jeff Bezos is final? Is it cutting off its nose to spite its face? I can think of no other explanation for the sudden uptick in stupidity of its already dumb-to-11 op-ed pages.
I like to picture a tiny windowless room somewhere, in which Richard Cohen and other Washington Post opinion writers are working tirelessly to blame other tragedies on unrecent pop culture happenings. Is the Sex and the City film franchise to blame for the Josef Fritzl case? Did American Pie cause 9/11? What's Britney Spears' growing baby fanbase's role in the continued pervasiveness of female genital mutilation in non-Western countries? What about the child brides who want it?
I wait, with bated breath, my next opportunity to have Richard Cohen explain stuff to me.
Image via Getty.