I know that’s easy for me to say given that I am neither famous nor particularly attractive, and the likelihood of Jenny McCarthy sexually harassing me is slim to none, but I do think the mild reaction to McCarthy grabbing Justin Bieber’s bottom did not fit the crime. In case you missed it, Jenny McCarthy presented Bieber with the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Album two weeks ago at the American Music Awards, and as Bieber turned his back on McCarthy to face the audience, she grabbed him, proceeded to kiss his neck several times, and then grabbed his bottom before letting him go to give his speech.

McCarthy would later say in an interview, “I kind of molested him… I want some Bieber fever — and I want a Bieber rash. It’d be like cougar rape.” To be fair, something somewhat similar happened at the 2003 Oscars when Adrien Brody kissed Halle Berry (who laughed off the situation). I understand why Bieber did not make a big deal about McCarthy’s actions, but I do think the way most people brushed this off reveals an unfortunate double standard.

I understand why people laughed this incident off: most sexual harassment is perpetrated by men against women and McCarthy is an attractive woman and people assume that Bieber wouldn’t mind. I watched the video of McCarthy grabbing and kissing Bieber and I have to say that it’s pretty obvious that he neither asked for that kind of contact nor did he enjoy it. Furthermore, McCarthy went on to make jokes that would have enraged the media if they had been made by a man in reference to a woman.

If we are truly concerned with the persistence of sexual harassment in society, we must not make the mistake of blowing it off when anyone, be they male or female, is guilty of committing it. Also, much has been said about rape jokes contributing to a culture of objectifying women. If we really care for rape victims, we ought to make clear that such comments objectify and only contribute to an already unhealthy sexual culture — regardless of who says them.


  1. Also, let’s be clear: “sexual harassment” per se is not crime in any US jurisdiction I am aware of, so there’s no such thing as “sexual harassment charges” to press. It’s not something you can be criminally charged with.

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids sex discrimination in certain workplaces (which has been interpreted to include sexual harassment), but it’s not a criminal statute. It just lets you sue your employer.

    Since she touched him, she could theoretically be charged with criminal battery and (possibly, but probably not) sexual assault. But honestly, (1) its only a crime if the person touched didn’t want to be touched (generally the physical contact has to be “offensive”), and (2) the state decides whether or not to prosecute, not Justin Bieber, and the state has a lot of discretion to decide when to prosecute alleged crimes and when not to (although Bieber’s cooperation makes a big difference).

    Also, Bieber could theoretically sue her in civil court for battery. But to get anything more than a nominal judgment, he would have to prove damages. And of course, he would have to want to sue her.

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