Balancing Act: What’s Behind That Al Franken Photo?

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Heidi Stevens nails it in this column about why women are so fed up with sexist behavior and how many of us (including men) are searching for a better way forward.

Chicago Tribune

Here’s what I see when I look at that Al Franken photo:

I see a guy marking his territory.
I see a guy making sure we know this woman doesn’t belong here, not really.
I see a guy playing to other guys, who do belong.
I see a guy with a knowing grin, secure in his knowledge that he’s identified a rightful foil, an interloper, an “other,” and can continue to make her the butt of his jokes.

Are his hands hovering or actually touching her breasts? I watched that debate play out all over social media, and I understand why. Touch is a powerful thing. More powerful than feigned touch.

But if we’re putting Franken in a larger context of men accused of sexual misconduct, and I think we are, whether there’s a wisp of air between his hands and Leeann Tweeden’s flak vest isn’t really the point.

Tweeden was on a USO tour to the Middle East, her eighth since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, she writes. Franken was the headliner, and he wrote a skit that required him to go in for a kiss. Tweeden planned to dodge the kiss, but she said Franken wouldn’t stop badgering her to rehearse it with her pre-show.

“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,” Tweeden writes in a post released Thursday. “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 next time.”

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