Al Franken, That Photo, and Trusting the Women

 In U.S.
The picture was striking. The military airplane. The sleeping woman. The outstretched hands. The mischievous smile. The look what I’m getting away with impishness directed at the camera.

On Thursday, Leeann Tweeden, a radio host and former model, came forward with the accusation that Senator Al Franken, of Minnesota, had kissed her against her will during a 2006 USO trip to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In a story posted to the website of Los Angeles’s KABC station, Tweeden shared her experience with Franken. She also shared that photo. “I couldn’t believe it,” she wrote. “He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.”

I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.

How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?

I told my husband everything that happened and showed him the picture.

I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster.

But that was then, this is now. I’m no longer afraid.

I’m no longer afraid. It’s a sentiment that has been steadily spreading among those who have been sexually harassed and preyed upon in recent weeks—not among all of them, certainly, but among many more than before. Tweeden, however, had another reason not to fear coming forward: She had, unlike so many other victims of harassment, hard evidence. This was not a case of her word against his, he said against she said; Tweeden had, via that photo of Franken groping and grinning, the receipts. Because of that, members of the public had no other choice but to do the thing that so many people, for so long, have been extremely hesitant to do: Take her at her word. Trust the woman and the story she tells.

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