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The phrase of the day is now "Sexual misconduct."

It sounds far less serious and far less threatening than "sexual harassment" or "sexual abuse."

But, whether or not it is, depends on your point of view.

Perhaps such politically correct terminology has come into vogue because a number of members of Congress have been accused of engaging in such behavior with female staff and constituents.

And, like it or not, those individuals who now sit in judgment of their fellow lawmakers must set the legal and moral parameters that will determine what punitive actions -- if any -- will be taken against them.

It's about time.

No, it's past time.

It's way past time that people in business, entertainment, media, sports, education, the judiciary and the clergy are having brutally honest conversations about what should be done when individuals -- men or women -- use sex to subjugate those over whom they have great authority and influence.

The women who in recent weeks and days have spoken so candidly about their own alleged degrading experiences in the workplace or elsewhere have helped eradicate some of the shame and self-loathing their counterparts felt decades ago when they felt powerless to act.

The men who have come forward to stand with the women who have been victimized have shown their true mettle.

The print journalists who have so diligently told the stories of the women who assert that they have been affronted and assailed have given us all an opportunity to assess how easily so-called social behavior can cross the line and become something more menacing.

There will always be those crass and cynical human beings who say, "This sort of thing has been going on for eons?" To them, a chorus of loud voices should reply, "Does that make it right?" and "Don't our mothers, sisters and daughters deserve better?"

In the long run, of course, all the laws in the world, all the company personnel guidelines, all the public protests and media storms, won't change things if we don't change our attitudes about how people should treat one another. And that process should begin very early in life.

Women and men together must address this issue if "sexual misconduct" -- wherever it occurs and to whatever degree -- becomes passe.

Women have been fighting the battle alone for far too long.

Editorial on 11/24/2017

Print Headline: It's not just a 'women's issue'

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