Thursday, September 10, 2015
A foolish feminist: Or how to destroy your career with one short message
When a pleasantry gets vitriol as a reply, who would want to work with such a b*tch? She is a barrister (trial lawyer) and, as such, depends entirely on solicitors giving her work. Few will now. How can she have been so stupid? A case of raging hormones, maybe
Step forward young Charlotte Proudman, 27, an award-winning barrister at the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC and a PhD student at Cambridge.
Clever girl, our Ms Proudman. Good at her job, too. Because, of course, the key to success as a barrister is knowing how to spot your enemy’s weaknesses — and having the guts and chutzpah to exploit those weaknesses ruthlessly.
In the dock, ladies and gentlemen, one Alexander Carter-Silk, a middle-aged, married father of two and a senior partner at the London office of solicitors Brown Rudnick.
Mr Carter-Silk, 57, stands accused of the most heinous of crimes. Of an act so foul that I hesitate to share it with you, dear reader. But share it I must. For this is a salutary tale of our times.
You may or may not know that there exists on the internet a tedious website called ‘LinkedIn’. It’s a networking site designed for thrusting professionals to be able to interact and do business with other thrusting professionals.
Being one of these creatures, Ms Proudman ‘reached out’ (as I believe it’s called these days) to Mr Carter-Silk, whom she didn’t know. He, being an accommodating sort, replied that he would be happy to ‘connect’.
He then took the liberty of expressing, by way of an ice-breaker, admiration for her photograph.
Now, most normal women would have thought: ‘What a nice man.’ Indeed, many of us would be delighted; compliments are few and far between these days.
But not Ms Proudman. ‘Alex,’ she typed, by way of reply (note, not ‘Dear Alex’, or Mr Carter-Silk, just ‘Alex’, as though she were his superior, and not a junior speaking to a seasoned expert). ‘I find your message offensive. I am on LinkedIn for business purposes, not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men.’
Warming to her theme, she continued. ‘The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women. It silences women’s professional attributes as their physical appearance becomes the subject.’
Signing off with a feminist flourish, she concluded, ‘Unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.’
Blimey, you might think. What exactly did he say? What could this repulsive specimen of the patriarchy possibly have done to her? What vile and perverted acts did he suggest to earn such a passionate rebuke?
Er, he said he liked her picture. Specifically, he wrote: ‘I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture!!!! You definitely win the prize for the best LinkedIn picture I have ever seen.’
That’s it. That is the extent of his indecent proposal. Of his ‘eroticisation’ of her physical appearance. A simple, straightforward compliment: you look nice in your picture.
If that is what counts as ‘objectification’ and ‘misogyny’ these days, then the human race is in deep trouble. Not only does it beggar belief that Ms Proudman could have inferred any slight from such an innocuous missive, it also makes me fear for the next generation of women.
After all, heaven help the poor man who actually tries to ask her out on a date, let alone try to get her into his bed. He’d have better luck propositioning a porcupine.
As if her *hysterical and laughably pompous* reaction weren’t bad enough, she then decided to post their exchange on Twitter, thereby escalating the entire debacle to a state of war.
Instantly, the armies of Feminazis, permanently stationed at their computers ready to pounce at the slightest hint of a politically incorrect utterance, mobilised. Righteous indignation and sisterly solidarity streamed forth from their keyboards.
‘Will endure misogynistic backlash that accompanies calling out sexism in hope it encourages at least one woman to feel she doesn’t need to take it,’ Ms Proudman went on to declare on Twitter, her *self-righteousness* gathering steam as she labelled the networking website nothing more than a white-collar dating agency.
Poor Mr Carter-Silk. He may be beginning to know how Tim Hunt feels — Hunt being the Nobel Prize-winning professor booted out of UCL after making a supposedly sexist joke about female scientists during a conference speech earlier this year.
For hell hath no fury like the feminist mob in full cry. No doubt there will be calls for Mr Carter-Silk to lose his job. He’ll certainly have to issue some sort of grovelling apology, and his poor wife and family will be hounded. And all for daring to pay a woman a virtual compliment.
In fairness, he must bear some responsibility for the pickle he currently finds himself in. Because if he’d bothered to check Ms Proudman’s Twitter profile, he’d have known she might be trouble.
A fearless feminist is how she describes herself — ‘because rape, prostitution & pornography are problems of male dominance’. Indeed. But paying a woman a compliment — surely that’s not yet a crime?
Let’s face it, it’s not as if he sidled up to her in a bar and pinched her bum, or thrust his unwanted attentions on her on a bus. This alleged act of sexism happened in the ether. Even if it had been genuinely fruity, it was definitely harmless.
Some women might even have found it a little bit funny. I certainly would. Men, especially men of Mr Carter-Silk’s vintage, can be such clots when it comes to women they find vaguely attractive. It can even be rather endearing.
A few weeks ago, for example, I received an email from a gentleman reader in response to something or other I’d written. Quite a long disquisition, as I recall, and rather serious. He made several good points. And then at the end of it, a P.S: please could he have a picture of me in my nightie.
Sadly I was unable to oblige (I’m more of a pyjama girl); but was I offended? Certainly not. Tickled pink, in fact. After all, what’s not to like about a harmless compliment?
But then Ms Proudman is a different creature from me. Women my age had to learn how to roll with the punches fairly early on in our careers. We never had the luxury of equality legislation to protect us, or quotas to ensure we got ahead in the workplace, regardless of our actual ability. We did not grow up in the era of state-sponsored entitlement.
We had to work hard and without much recognition to be taken seriously — which, somewhat ironically, meant not taking life too seriously. Something that women like Ms Proudman just don’t understand.
By demonstrating such a monumental lack of humour and making such a gigantic fuss about something so trivial, she just makes herself look weak and pathetic. Isn’t she supposed to be some hot-shot feminist human rights lawyer? Well, go and defend some real victims of inequality, dear, instead of bleating on about some slighty off-colour message.
But then this is not really about helping other women overcome sexism, is it? It’s about Ms Proudman making sure she’s the absolute centre of everyone’s attentions.
Perhaps Mr Carter-Silk was being a bit racy. Perhaps he should not have commented on her photo (although I can see why he did: she’s an attractive woman who’s clearly made a huge effort to look her most enticing); but if Ms Proudman thinks she’s doing anything other than indulging in a show of self-promotion at his expense, she’s deluding herself.
And if you want proof, I shall leave you with a quote from an interview she gave to a newspaper yesterday. Yes, Ms Proudman, so shy and retiring she could not even bear to suffer a compliment from a colleague — but perfectly willing to be interviewed by a newspaper.
‘My partner gets messages asking if he wants a job at hedge funds, I get propositions from men asking me out. I want a public apology.’
One thing’s for certain, Ms Proudman. You’ve sure got the public’s attention. Job done.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).