Barrister Calls Out ‘Sexist’ LinkedIn Message (But Is It Basically The New Tinder, Now?)

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  • Charlotte Proudman's tweet went viral when she shared a sexist message she had been sent by an older, senior partner at a law firm

    An up-and-coming barrister has ignited a fierce debate about what constitutes sexism after she called out a senior partner for an inappropriate LinkedIn message.

    Charlotte Proudman, 27, connected with 57-year-old Alexander Carter-Silk on the networking site presumably in the hope of establishing herself in the competitive world of law, in an attempt to further her burgeoning career.

    However, the message she received from Carter-Silk had little to do with Proudman’s professional attributes and rather a lot to do with her personal appearance:

    ‘Charlotte, delighted to connect, I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture !!!’

    Charlotte replied to Alexander, telling him in no uncertain terms that she did not appreciate his “offensive” message:

    ‘I am on LinkedIn for business purposes not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men.

    ‘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.’

    Charlotte posted the exchange on Twitter and has since found herself the poster child of the dreaded “feminazi” movement, as splashed across the front page of a national newspaper.

    While many have supported Charlotte’s bravery for standing up for women everywhere who are subjected to these “harmless” examples of everyday sexism, there are a number of people who would use Ms Proudman as the prime example of “feminism gone too far”.

    It feels like a shame that we have to point this out in 2015, but there are plenty of ways to spot sexism and, unfortunately for Mr Carter-Silk, this message is full of them.

    The fact that Carter-Silk even acknowledges in his message that what he’s about to write is “probably horrendously politically incorrect” and then writes it anyway smacks of a sense of entitlement. Although he knows he is about to be inappropriate and make a complete stranger feel uncomfortable, oh well he’s going to press on and do it anyway.

    LinkedIn is not Facebook. It’s not Twitter. It’s not even Instagram. It is not there for you to have a few glasses of red, look up your school ex and send them a regrettably drunk, suggestive message asking them to meet you behind the old bike sheds “for old time’s sake”. It is definitely not the place to be commenting on people’s looks.

    However Charlotte isn’t the only one who’s been at the receiving end of inappropriate LinkedIn messages recently. Her case has prompted more women to come forward, saying men had been using LinkedIn “like Tinder”, and forcing them to change their profile pictures to put them off. No, we can’t quite believe it either.

    Law graduate Mandeer Kataria recently tweeted, ‘I changed my LinkedIn profile photo to an uglier one so that I would get fewer creepy men adding/messaging me.’

    She changed her photo from one of her in a white dress to one where she’s wearing a grey turtleneck, saying, ‘I took my picture down and replaced it with one that I considered was less attractive – and the messages stopped.’

    Felicity Gerry QC weighed in on Charlotte’s experiences, commenting, ‘We are all getting the hang of how to behave on social media but this man behaved like he was on Tinder.

    ‘One of the main problems with the legal profession is that it is very male-dominated. It is an exhausting battle to deal with this type of old-fashioned dinosaur behaviour.’

    Proudman has since claimed that her career has taken a hit for her actions but she has no regrets:

    ‘I am prepared to accept the misogynistic backlash that inevitably accompanies taking a stand in the hope that it empowers at least one other woman to feel she doesn’t need to sit back and accept sexist “banter”.’

    Do you think the message was harmless or sexist? Are all social media outlets destined to become hook up facilitators?

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