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I'm 76 and grew/was brought up never to give offence, even if it was deserved, apart from anything else because refraining from it would gain me respect from those whose respect was worthwhile. Yet I never thought that 'telling a woman that she looked nice' in an appropriate way and appropriate circumstances would cause the woman to TAKE offence, and indeed, when I have made such a remark, it has always drawn a positive response, rather than sparking some suspicion that I was 'making a pass at her' or being supercilious. Many women within my age range, if I get into conversation with them about the matter, while wholly in agreement about how genuinely offensive men should be vigorously put down, are also dismissive of women who 'don't know how to take a compliment'.
This is similar to warning male teachers/academics 'Don't touch female pupils/students' and children not to talk to strangers. There are a small number of occasions when I felt I would have been judged inhuman if I had not put a hand on a 15 to 20 year-old student's shoulder when I saw she was in distress, then an arm round her when the tears flowed and she explained the, to an adult, not too serious circumstance she was in. Twice I got a letter from the Mum and another time was told that Mum wanted me to come and visit on Sunday, and when I stepped into the house Mum flung her arms around me. When my Head of Dept asked why I had been seen hugging a student in an empty refectory and I told him that, when she had woken that morning and gone to see the baby he (and I) didn't know she had, she had found him blue, and he was in hospital, his response (married, grown-up kids) was "Oh, better left alone." I can imagine what the mothers' ripostes to that would have been.

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