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Nate Jackson / Nov. 17, 2017

Franken Hypocrisy and Objectification of Women

The Democrat senator was photographed groping a woman. What if we had known before he was elected?

Another day, another accusation of sexual assault. This time, it’s Democrat Comedian Senator Al Franken in the crosshairs — and on camera. Radio talker Leeann Tweeden finally had enough of Franken’s hypocrisy on the subject and told her story. On a 2006 USO Tour to entertain U.S. troops in the Middle East, she says Franken pushed her to kiss him for a skit, and, while rehearsing it, he finally “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.” She angrily told him to never do it again, but otherwise avoided him and didn’t speak up. On the trip home, she fell asleep and he took the above photograph of himself fondling her breasts (or at least pretending to) through her flak jacket. She didn’t see the picture until arriving back home and still held her tongue. Until now.

Franken responded, “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

In some jurisdictions, what Franken did was a crime. Will Democrats hold him to account? Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have called for an ethics investigation.

At best, this wasn’t Franken’s only line-crossing. Back in the 1990s, he proposed a “Saturday Night Live” skit about raping a news anchor: “And, ‘I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then, when Lesley’s passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her.’ Or, ‘That’s why you never see Lesley until February.’ Or, ‘When she passes out, I put her in various positions and take pictures of her.’”

And it wasn’t just boorish behavior but hypocritical grandstanding. In March 2017, while defending a resolution on labor laws and government contractors on the floor of the Senate, Franken berated Republicans for supposedly forcing “vulnerable women” who were victims of sexual assault “into the dark.”

“The Al Frankenstien [sic] picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?” tweeted the man caught on tape boasting of grabbing women by the genitals. Perhaps that was Donald Trump suffering from an utter lack of self-awareness — or perhaps he was using the irony to highlight Franken’s hypocrisy. Trump added, “And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women.” After all, Trump got caught talking about it; Franken was photographed doing it.

Nevertheless, the behavior of both men — and any other man guilty of objectifying, groping, harassing, assaulting or raping a woman — is totally unacceptable and in some cases criminal. In a perfect world, it wouldn’t happen. In a better one, they’d all be justly held to account.

This leaves us pondering something that few seem willing to discuss — the responsibility women bear. Do not misunderstand: This is not victim blaming or offering any exculpatory defense for the men at fault. Men must always exercise self-control. But it’s worth noting that Leeann Tweeden was a former model for FHM, Maxim and Playboy. In choosing to bare all for magazine spreads — or even just dressing scantily or behaving overly flirtatiously — women contribute to their own objectification. Most women simply do not understand just how powerful the visual is for men. Sometimes, men like Franken act out their fantasies.

Finally, food for thought: Franken says he decided to run for Senate on that very USO trip. He won by a mere 312 votes, and, without him, Democrats would not have had the 60th vote to pass ObamaCare.

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