In the aftermath of the Weinstein rape accusations and further accusations about numerous powerful men coming to light, not a lot of revelations have really shocked us.
But today, a radio newscaster named Leeann Tweeden publicly accused Al Franken of having groped her and kissed her without her consent in 2006.
Al Franken has issued an apology, but that doesn't in any way negate his past actions.
Describing her upsetting experiences with Al Franken, Leeann Tweeden writes:
"In December of 2006, I embarked on my ninth USO Tour to entertain our troops, my eighth to the Middle East since the 9/11 attacks. My father served in Vietnam and my then-boyfriend (and now husband, Chris) is a pilot in the Air Force, so bringing a ‘little piece of home’ to servicemembers stationed far away from their families was both my passion and my privilege."
Tweeden shares that she was going to be in a skit that Franken had written, and he kept pressuring her to "practice" the scene's kiss.
(Before getting into politics, Franken was on SNL. So a skit makes sense. A kiss, though, should not be necessary. Rehearsals less so)
"He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me."
There are sadly a lot of harassment stories that we've heard, especially lately, involving women giving in not out of a desire to consent, but because they've been worn down or fear the consequences of saying no.
"We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth."
That is gross and unacceptable. You do not kiss people without consent. Kisses should be fun for both parties or they should not happen at all.
"I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time."
That is a more than fair response.
"I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth."
A horrifying feeling.
"I felt disgusted and violated."
And remember that she still had to go on stage with him.
"Not long after, I performed the skit as written, carefully turning my head so he couldn’t kiss me on the lips."
After that, she avoided interacting with him. But eventually, his harassment continued ... while she slept:
"The tour wrapped and on Christmas Eve we began the 36-hour trip home to L.A. After 2 weeks of grueling travel and performing I was exhausted. When our C-17 cargo plane took off from Afghanistan I immediately fell asleep, even though I was still wearing my flak vest and Kevlar helmet."
She did not learn that he had posed with his hands over her breasts until looking through the CD of photos that the photographer had given her, back at home.
She felt violated all over, and you can see why:
Kevlar or no, there is no excuse for that.
Senator Al Franken has publicly apologized:
"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women."
Starting with an apology is absolutely appropriate. This is a clear apology, unlike Louis C.K.'s open admission. There's a difference, and it matters.
Al Franken continues:
"I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t."
We feel the same way.
"And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed."
Shame is very appropriate.
Mitch McConnell has called for an ethics investigation into Al Franken, and Al Franken has agreed.
Leeann Tweeden has publicly accepted Al Franken's apology, and says that she is not calling for an ethics investigation into him.
(We're not sure what there is to investigate, as Al Franken's apology sounds like an admission, but even Franken isn't opposing it)
Many people on both sides of the political aisle feel that it would be appropriate for Al Franken to resign.
Overall, Democratics haven't shown any signs of chill in condemning Al Franken's shameful, inexcusable actions.
The controversy surrounding Alabama candidate Roy Moore's alleged penchant for underage girls, one that got him banned from a local mall in his thirties, comes to mind.
We all need to remember that, though some political parties may respond different to different accusations, sexual harassment and sexual predation don't know political boundaries.