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Was what Jenny McCarthy did to Justin Bieber sexual assault?

Justin Bieber is smothered in kisses by presenter Jenny McCarthy as he accepts the award for favorite album, pop/rock, for Believe at the 40th Anniversary American Music Awards on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Los Angeles.

Matt Sayles/AP

If you missed it, check out this video of Jenny McCarthy mauling a hapless Justin Bieber at the American Music Awards Sunday night.

Note the horrified expression on poor Bieber's face, as he struggles out of the model-comedian's grasp while she repeatedly kisses his neck and grabs his buttocks.

"I couldn't help it, he was just so delicious," McCarthy says.

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In a backstage interview with Access Hollywood, McCarthy, 40, further explained that "emotions … took over" and her attack on the 18-year-old pop star was all part of living out "a cougar fantasy maybe."

Yikes. What's worth noting about this incident is the kind of reaction it has generated.

Performer Pitbull suggested to Access Hollywood that Bieber should count himself lucky to be groped. "I wish Jenny McCarthy would have touched me like that," he said.

Some online commenters echoed the sentiment, even going so far as to question Bieber's sexuality because he did not appear to enjoy it.

As one commenter put it: "C'mon … any straight guy wouldn't be making a face like that if 'attacked' by a hot girl."

Another added: "If that isn't the face of a gay dude being kissed by a hottie I don't know what is …"

Attitudes like these are troubling as they reinforce the misguided notion that hot-blooded men (or in Bieber's case, teen boys) can't possibly be victims of sexual assault perpetrated by women; they're fortunate to be attacked. This is one of the reasons that sexual assaults on male victims tend to be underreported and support for male victims is lacking.

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Consider, for instance, if the roles were reversed and a 40-year-old male celebrity groped an 18-year-old starlet, and blamed it on "emotions" taking over. Surely that wouldn't fly.

Even without the age difference, that famous impromptu kiss that actor Adrian Brody planted on Halle Berry at the 2003 Academy Awards left some viewers feeling uncomfortable, in spite of Berry's apparent good humour about it. "I can tell you this, he was wet," she said in an interview afterward.

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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