If you are a woman, and this month has not yet had you considering the merits of political lesbianism, it is possible that this latest news of Al Franken having sexually harassed radio host Leeann Tweeden has just about pushed you over the edge.

In an essay published on, Tweeden describes her encounter with Franken during one of his many USO tours. One of the skits Franken had written for the tour included a bit in which he kissed her -- which she was not into -- and he apparently insisted they "rehearse" the kiss ahead of time.

This is what happened:

On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

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. 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.

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.

Tweeden also asserts that after she started avoiding him, he got petty and mean. Later, she discovered this darling picture, taken while she was asleep, of Franken grabbing her breasts. (No, whether she is wearing a vest and whether or not he went for a full-palm grab or a "just kidding" finger touch is not relevant. He's humiliating her, and using her body as a grotesque prop.)

THAT IS SHITTY, AL FRANKEN. That is a shitty thing to do. It's not funny.

As a result of Franken acting like a creep, Mitch McConnell now gets the satisfaction of getting to call for an entirely warranted ethics investigation into his behavior.

Al Franken has done a lot of good over the years, both as a senator and before then. It is a goddamned shame that he could not have backed that up by being a decent person otherwise. I am mad about this. I am mad for the people he represents who trusted him and needed him to be a better person. I am mad for and at myself, because my first reaction to this was "please don't let it be true."

Franken, coincidentally, was on my list of men I would be genuinely surprised to discover were trash in this way. It was a very short list, which also included Mr. Rogers, Levar Burton, Vincent D'onofrio, Ralph Nader, Emo Phillips and Jonathan Kozol. I don't know why he was on that list. Maybe it was because it always seemed like he was in our corner, maybe because I found the Stuart Smalley book legitimately good for self-help purposes. I don't know. Maybe it was just wishful thinking.

As much as I would have loved for this not to be true, I'm glad it's come out. I'm glad all of this is coming out. Because with each incident, with each reckoning, it becomes more and more apparent to the men of this world that no one is the exception to this new rule. No one, no matter who they are, how beloved they are, is getting away with this anymore.

We have socialized men to think this kind of behavior is acceptable, even aspirational. We have taught men that with power comes not responsibility, but access to women and their bodies, like so many award show swag bags.

Franken has since issued a statement. It is a good statement, as far as these things go.

I am tired of these statements, whether they are good or not.

Let this be a lesson to all you men out there who hope to do any good in the world: We need you to not be shitty. To begin with. Not after the fact, when you release your "statement." We'd love to have you out there, with us, doing awesome things, but if you can't do that without sexually harassing or assaulting a woman, then you need to step the hell aside and make space for women and those men who can. That is the line we are drawing. So get with the program or go the hell away.


Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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Well, goddamn it, a wonderful person we'd never heard of until last night is dead. Lyra McKee was 29, an investigative journalist who specialized in looking at the legacy of "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland. She was murdered by someone shooting at police during rioting in Derry, or perhaps Londonderry, depending on who you want to piss off by using either name for the city. The rioting broke out after police "started carrying out searches in the area because of concerns that militant republicans were storing firearms and explosives" in advance of attacks planned to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Police are blaming the violence and McKee's death on the "New Irish Republican Army," a radical republican group formed a few years ago from several smaller groups. Despite the name, the group has no ties to the old Provisional Irish Republican Army, which renounced violence and disarmed in 2005 following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which was supposed to have brought peace to Northern Ireland, and kind of did, at least much of the time.

McKee is being remembered by colleagues and readers as a promising journalist who was expected to go far. A year ago, McKee signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber; the first of the books, The Lost Boys, an investigation of eight young men who disappeared in Belfast during the Troubles in the '60s and '70s, will be published next year. A 2016 Forbes profile said "McKee's passion is to dig into topics that others don't care about." For instance, CNN reports, McKee spent five years investigating a story about the only rape crisis center in Northern Ireland and its long struggle to regain funding after the government eliminated it.

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