In the past couple of days, I’ve had an influx requests asking for my response to various news items.

Four. That qualifies as an influx, right?

I’m jazzed  that people outside my immediate family care what I think. And as much as I enjoy getting ranty, I feel like I’ve been doing that an awful lately. I’m always happy to share my thoughts in other forums, but in the interest of maintaining a bit  of balance in this space, I’m only gonna blog about my first request, so I can get back to writing about dildos and stuff.

My friend, Alexis wanted to know what I thought about the claim that Jenny MaCarthy sexually assaulted/harassed Justin Bieber at the AMA’s.

To bring you up to speed, last Sunday at the American Music Awards, actor Jenny McCarthy presented Justin Bieber with an award for rock/pop album of the year. She then proceeded to neck hug him, kiss him and pinch him on the butt. Behold:

Maybe Ms. McCarthy wanted to have a little fun. I like fun. Maybe she likes cute young men. I like cute men.  And maybe she likes kisses and bum shenanigans. Me too. I don’t begrudge Jenny McCarthy or anyone the pleasure of getting frisky with someone…under one condition: ASK FIRST!

By her own account Jenny McCarthy didn’t ask. Immediately after the incident, reporters backstage asked McCarthy if her actions had been spontaneous. Her response:

“It better be, because that’s just weird if it isn’t.”

No, Jenny McCarthy, it’s not weird. It’s called consent. It’s a totally un-weird thing that people do when they want to touch someone else’s body.

McCarthy then went to explain that there were extenuating circumstances that precluded her from getting a green light from the Biebs.

“I couldn’t help myself”

I’m pretty sure you could, Jenny McCarthy. I’m reasonably certain that you’re not afflicted with a specific type of palsy that causes uncontrollable spasms of neck grabbing and butt-pinching. My guess is that you just wanted to touch the Biebs. Maybe because you thought it would be funny or you wanted attention or maybe even because you genuinely like him. Doesn’t matter. The point is, you did what you wanted without knowing what he wanted and that’s not cool because it wasn’t your body.

Was it sexual assault?  Apparently Jenny McCarthy thinks so. During a subsequent interview with Entertainment Tonight she jokingly described her behaviour thusly,

“It was a little cougar scary…but I took the opportunity in the window, considering I’ll never get to do it again, and kind of molested him.”

I was unaware of the loophole that says that kiss-mauling people is okay as long as it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!

So all of this to say that yes, I do think it was sexual assault. And – sarcastic vitriol aside – I’d like to explain why.

Sexual assault is a loaded term. For many people, it carries very personal significance. For others, the term conjures images of specific, overtly violent sexual acts. For some, labeling a brief transgression by a celebrity during an awards show as sexual assault may seem sensationalist. It might also feel as though it using the same term, somehow diminishes the severity or intensity of other people’s experiences, which isn’t my intention at all.

Like physical assault, I believe that sexual assault encompasses a broad spectrum of behaviour. Sexual assault can be motivated by malicious behaviour.  Sometimes, it may not be. Similarly, the emotional, physical and psychological effects of enduring sexual assault are vast, varied and totally individual. But in my opinion, the common thread in any of these situations, is the perpetrator’s choice to touch another person’s body without permission. It stems from a perpetrator’s belief that what they want to/with someone, is more important than what that person may want for themselves. It’s a disrespectful, dehumanizing attitude that, in my opinion, always carries the potential for great harm.

So some may say that a few slobbery seconds under the lips of a pretty, blond celebrity isn’t troubling enough to warrant the label sexual assault. But I find McCarthy’s feelings of entitlement regarding Justin Bieber troubling and I think her actions constitute a legitimate violation.

So that’s my opinion, for what it’s worth. If you have thoughts on this issue, I’d love to hear about them. The comment sections is all yours – opinionate away!

 

Comments

  1. Bob LeDrew says:

    I find Jenny McCarthy a distasteful person for many reasons. But now there’s another one. Huh.

  2. Don says:

    So these are the shenanigans that go on on awards shows these days.

    What Bob said!

    Am presently wondering what McCarthy was doing at a music awards show in the first place…

  3. Jolie says:

    It’s funny how if it had been a man forcibly kissing and grabbing a young woman, we wouldn’t even ask the question whether it’s sexual assault or not.

  4. Remember when the guy from The Piano went up on stage and grabbed Halle Berry and kissed her full-on the mouth while taking his award? This kind of reminds me of that. (Also: what Bob said.)

  5. Melissa says:

    [sarcasm] I’m surprised she didn’t blame it on the vaccinations she had as a youngster. [/sarcasm]

  6. allison says:

    Totally agree. It would appear that, in addition to scaring millions of people into not vaccinating their children, she’s also a sex offender.

  7. A few years ago, I presented an award onstage at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, and the winner – an older man that I considered a friend – stuck his tongue down my throat without my consent. I laughed it off at the time because I didn’t want to make a fuss and ruin the party. But I resented him for it, and I have felt massively uncomfortable around him ever since.

  8. Marion says:

    I agree that it was sexual assault.

    You didn’t mention that she also took him from behind which adds to the sense that she wasn’t at ALL interested in his participation or his consent. Furthermore, he wouldn’t have been able to see her coming or be in a position to ward her off with his arms – giving her added advantage to “take” from him in a manner he wouldn’t be able to resist. This for me, really clenches the nature of the intent to “steal” from someone, or take from them, that constitutes assault.

    When someone shoots someone in the back it’s seen as a “dishonourable” shooting because the person has had no chance to defend themselves. The same is true here.

    The other defence of “I just couldn’t help myself, he was just so cute” overlooks that while he may be cute, he was also smaller and younger. 18, isn’t he? Which means he’s technically just reached adulthood, but not yet able to drink in his home province, and most parents would still view him as a child/kid in school.

    Change the genders, and we’d have no trouble calling it what it was. An unwelcome attack from behind by someone who was bigger and determined to cop a feel…and the fact that Justin then sprang forward announcing that he felt assaulted was just calling it what it was.

  9. Lily says:

    Completely agree with you in this article.