Encouraging Modesty Is Not Exploitation Or Enslavement: Miley Cyrus Did Not Act Human

Writing for Slate, Amanda Marcotte took aim at two columnists in her piece, “Washington Post This Weekend: Teenage Girls Are Asking to Be Raped.”

“If you’ve been reading the Washington Post the past few days, you might conclude that sexual abuse is the inevitable result of girls being girls. First, there was an op-ed by Betsy Karasik, in which she defends a 49-year-old male teacher who raped a 14-year-old girl (who later committed suicide) with the classic “grass on the field” justification. Then there’s Richard Cohen, in full Richard Cohen mode, trying to tie Miley Cyrus to the Steubenville, Ohio, rape.”

Karasik is plainly out of her mind, and Marcotte’s points against her make me think I must be reading the Dr. Jekyll part of her persona. When she critiques Richard Cohen’s piece, however, I think she must be channeling Karasik herself.

Marcotte pretends that Cohen is guilty of providing

“an excuse to sexually assault them, minimize sexual assault against them, or indirectly threaten them by saying that sexual assault is what’s coming if they continue to play with their own emerging sexuality.”

What nonsense. How many women have been raped by a man who had loaded himself up porn since a young teen? It isn’t the teen’s fault that other women have been exploited (or, if Marcotte prefers, made autonomous choices) to provide and reinforce a mindset in which women exist for men and secretly enjoy coercion even if they pretend otherwise. So Cohen never said anything about what Miley deserved. He just pointed out that her dehumanization project is going to hurt women. He is obviously right.

Marcotte’s foolishness leads to this line:

“Our job is to protect them [i.e. teen girls] by giving advice on sexual health and making sure there are safe spaces, like schools, where they can be themselves without being preyed upon by predators.”

How was Miley Cyrus being herself? She wasn’t. She was being some insane (and immensely unappealing) thing, mixing childhood with exploitation and ugliness. And nothing about prancing and simulating stimulating oneself with a foam finger before a live and TV audience communicates or encourages “a safe space.”

Cohen’s point is that teaching girls to degrade themselves and boys to expect girls to do so is to going to encourage boys to degrade girls when they get the opportunity. It is all portrayed as fun and worthy of mass entertainment. That doesn’t remotely entail that a victimized girl is at fault for “not being modest.” There is no reason to think the girls, who get victimized by boys who internalized the message, are going to be the same girls who are used to encourage and model the public degradation of women as funny entertainment.

The latter will be getting drunk in their mansions without a care in the world while their sisters suffer the fallout.

The real perversity in Marcotte’s piece is that she pretends the men who desire modesty (for both men and women, duh) are not trying to protect them from bad men, but merely waiting for an excuse to victimize those women themselves if they cross the line. It is a malicious lie she simply pulls out of her own imagination to meet personal needs that I cannot begin to understand.