October 5, 2019

Rape or weird foreplay: Bob Woodward investigates


At last, a man who is ready to play the devil’s advocate!

Iconic investigative reporter Bob Woodward put his foot in his mouth on the evening of October 2 and then proceeded to keep shoving it back in a couple more times before the night was over.

Woodward was interviewing fellow investigative reporters, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey—the Pulitzer-Prize-winning pair who broke the Harvey Weinstein story two years ago around this very time—at Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington, D.C.

Kantor and Twohey are currently promoting their book She Says (a title that is presumably a play on the idiom “he says, she says,” but does frankly sound a little like a post-riot grrl band from the late 90s, not that there’s anything wrong with that! Just making an observation, because that’s what people who write blog posts are allowed to do).

During their discussion, Woodward started to re-litigate the question of “what is rape anyhow.” It’s not that complicated, Bob! It’s when one of the parties doesn’t consent! But, what, asks esteemed reporter who broke Watergate and was once portrayed by Robert Redford in a movie, if Weinstein’s behavior could hypothetically be considered just “weird foreplay.”

The audience, who had paid up to $50 for what was probably the premiere “we are unambiguous about our feelings about rape, sexual assault, or any other form of sexual harassment” event of the season, was predictably not amused.

Eyewitnesses from Vox’s staff who were in attendance, along with multiple Twitter threads confirm that the audience booed Woodward, and grew restless and chagrined as he repeatedly interrupted and talked over his interviewees.

Woodward also reportedly asked if Weinstein’s behavior was “about power,” following up with “It’s about sex also, though, isn’t it?” Ahh, the sex/power dichotomy. Nobody has thought to dissect the two or theorize about how they might be related … Or, wait, I guess all of gender studies and post-structural criticism for the last half century has kind of touched on it. But who here is going to volunteer to tell Woodward who Judith Butler is?

Anyhow, long story short, everyone is pissed, but for the most part they have already stopped tweeting about it. At press time, Twitter is mostly talking about: Martin Scorsese not considering The Avengers cinema and the Trump impeachment proceedings.

But that’s just how fast the news moves, kids. Remember when you were all reading Fear last year like you were doing the Lords’ work? Good times.



Athena Bryan is an editor at Melville House.