Recently, an opportunity opened up for certain people to throw about one of their favourite words: “Feminazi”.
Charlotte Proudman, a barrister, shared a picture of a comment she received on LinkedIn from an older male lawyer. Charlotte is 27, the man is 57.
This led to a debate on social media. Some people think her outrage was appropriate, some people think she overreacted, most people think she is just another man hating angry feminazi who cannot take a compliment and oh my God what is wrong with the world when a man cannot give a woman a compliment she is not even that pretty FEMINISM HAS RUINED THE WORLD rah rah rahhhhhh.
What do I think?
My first reaction was that she overreacted, but as a veteran fence straddler, I have come to see both sides.
Yes you can pay a woman a compliment and tell her she is stunning, but it is best not to do so on LinkedIn. We only know about this particular message from Mr. Carter-Silk,, we do not know what other things Ms. Proudman has had to endure on LinkedIn. It could be that his message was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I guess she joined LinkedIn hoping to make some good work related connections and had probably been receiving lots of flirtatious messages from men. Maybe she requested to connect with Mr Silk, expecting that as a prominent lawyer himself, he would be a useful contact to her. I imagine she opened his message hoping to see something sensible only to be met with a comment about her looks (some have argued that he was complimenting the photographer not her looks). I imagine Ms. Proudwoman sighed in exasperation at yet another potential business connection gone awry and decided enough was enough.
I am not going to criticise her for being offended by his message. Even Mr. Silk knew his comment could be interpreted as offensive. I am not going to say that she should have just accepted the compliment. I am not going to say she should have ignored the message. I personally might not take offence to a message like that, but if Ms. Proudman did not like the message, she was well within her rights to let him know. What I do have a problem with is the public shaming. She did not have to “put him on blast”, as they say. If at all she wanted to share the message to spark a discussion, she could have at least masked his identity. It seems everyone is obsessed with shaming others publicly these days, under the guise of correcting some injustice or sparking debate. Most of the time, it comes across as attention seeking. I am surprised his employers haven’t been petitioned by the powers that tweet, demanding for Mr. Carter-Silk to be relived of his duties. I shudder to think of how many people have lost their jobs thanks to an inappropriate tweet.
If Ms. Proudman really wanted to expose sexism and misogyny, she chose the wrong hill to cry out from. It would have been more effective if she revealed one of the more vulgar comments about her appearance she claimed to have received. Even hardcore feminists would be hesitant to go up in arms over a man telling a woman her picture is stunning. The most she will get out of some is “yes he should not have sent that on LinkedIn” but this really does not call for a Feminist march.
Before I go on, I have a request: can we stop using the word “Misogyny” and its derivatives all willy nilly?
Misogyny: A hatred of women. (Merriam Webster)
A person cannot be termed as misogynistic simply because he complimented a woman’s picture. Nope. Let us stop watering down the word. I don’t know Mr. Silk, he very well might be a sexist misogynist, maybe Ms. Proudman knows him in person and is aware of his woman hating ways, but that is not apparent in his message. Inappropriate, yes. Misogynist? That is not clear.
“The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women.” Every word of that sentence is correct, but I got the impression she was writing the message for an audience. I think she had every intention of sharing the message publicly and was probably expecting a few hundred “yasssssss, read that white cis hetero man for filth! Sip his tearssssssss!” in solidarity. If he had written something along the lines of “nice boobs”, then alright we got an eroticisation.
I don’t know his intentions, but my first thought was that the compliment was a way of breaking the ice, because that is something I would do myself. It is similar to meeting a person in real life and saying “nice umbrella” or “Your hair is really pretty”.
Mr. Carter-Silk released a statement, summarised as “I was complimenting the picture, not your face gaddemit!”
‘Most people post pretty unprofessional pictures on LinkedIn, my comment was aimed at the professional quality of the presentation on LinkedIn which was unfortunately misinterpreted.
‘Ms Proudman is clearly highly respected and I was pleased to receive her request to linkup and very happy to instruct her on matters which [are] relevant to her expertise, that remains the position.’
Charlotte has put herself and Mr. Carter-Silk out there, and perhaps that was her intention all along, but now the media (looking at you Daily Mail) won’t leave the issue. Both their social media histories have been placed under a microscope, eager for sightings for anything remotely juicy to report. We now know that Mr. Carter-Silk commented on his daughter’s photo, calling her hot. We know that Charlotte has left several comments on pictures of male friends, calling them hot stuff and saying ooh lala. In her defense, the comments were made on Facebook and not LinkedIn. We also know that Ms. Proudman made her paternal grandmother cry and had a falling out with her family when her father died and left all his money to a charity. The media has dug up things that are nobody’s business. Soon we will be hearing that Ms. Proudman uses tampons made out of absorbent baby seals, and that Mr. Carter-Silk is a secret belly dancer.
Charlotte Proudman said that she has been told that she has ruined her career over this incident and I think that is ridiculous. Whether she overreacted or not, her career should not be affected by this, and neither should his, although that is less likely. If she does a good job, then she should be allowed to do it. The truth is she could have just gotten fed up and poured out her frustrations on Mr. Carter-Silk.
I know that Mr. Carter-Silk will now think thrice before complimenting a woman other than his wife. Hell, his wife may never get another “you look beautiful tonight honey” from him. Again, compliments about physical appearance are fine, just not in professional settings.Even seemingly innocuous comments can be seen as inappropriate. Let us try to keep LinkedIn strictly professional, okay?
What do you think about the entire kerfuffle?