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Sexual harassment on the run? Brace yourself for a backlash

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

But a number of feminist writers also warn of an inevitable backlash. Like the civil rights movement and other periods of great social change, big feminist uprisings tend to be followed by big counter-movements urging a slowdown or reversal in the change.

Think of the presidential rise of Donald Trump following that of Barack Obama and you'll have an idea of what I'm talking about. Remember how "political correctness" kept rising as an issue in Republican campaigns? Pushback against liberal social rules sounds more appealing when the rules appear to be too strict, misguided or unfair.

For that reason, as a self-described feminist, I think there are at least three new rules that feminists and allies should remember in a period like this:

One, calibrate. Remember that every crime does not call for capital punishment. There's a big difference between Franken's bone-headed horseplay, for example, and Moore's alleged improprieties with of teenaged girls. We should express those differences in deciding what penalties or ostracism is appropriate.

Two, don't try to be more outraged than the victim is. While some call for Franken to resign immediately, Tweeden said she thought that would be excessive. We should at least listen to those who have been offended before deciding what to do about their offenders.

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And, finally, we all need to learn more about how the other side thinks. Men and women live in very different worlds, judging by the polls and numerous conversations. We guys need to keep those conversations going before we start mansplaining. Women, we need your help, even when some of us don't seem to want it.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2017 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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