Is this the face that launched a thousand tweets?
The face belongs to one Charlotte Proudman, a British lawyer. She chose to display it on her LinkedIn profile.
One day, she send a LinkedIn connection request to a male attorney she did not know. His name was Alex Carter-Silk and he was a senior attorney in an important law firm. Proudman is 27; Carter-Silk is 57. True enough, it happens on LinkedIn that one receives such requests from strangers.
Next, Carter-Silk responded with a message complimenting Proudman on her appearance. Apparently, he did not see the picture in an entirely professional context.
I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture!! You definitely win the prize for best LinkedIn picture I have ever seen.
By all appearances, Carter-Silk was being mildly flirtatious. Proudman saw his remarks as a grievous offense, a macroaggression, if you like. She shot back with self-righteous feminist bile. Note that she addresses him by his first name. Does that not bespeak an unwarranted degree of familiarity?
Alex, 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.
The eroticization 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.
Unacceptable and misogynistic behavior. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.
Next, she posted a screen shot of the exchange on LinkedIn. Thereby, she sought to shame Mr. Carter-Silk for not seeing through the image to her professional competence. Evidently, such a public shaming will have a negative effect on his career and his marriage.
But then, Proudman contacted the man’s employer and what is called the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. It seems a bit much and a bit vindictive, to say nothing of grossly thin-skinned.
Rather than laughing it off and perhaps even changing her LinkedIn profile picture, Proudman, good feminist that she is, fought back like a woman who had suffered extreme abuse. When you cannot distinguish between an inappropriate compliment and severe sexual abuse you should develop a better sense of humor or a thicker skin.
The Daily Beast suggests as much:
At worst, Proudman’s response seems disproportionately malicious for a message that was inappropriate, but not sexually graphic—nor made to an actual colleague or employee.
The Daily Beast believes that no man should ever compliment a woman on her appearance in a professional setting. Of course, most men do notice when women make an effort to look good while looking professional. Women make great efforts to look their best while on the job. Making such a compliment into a crime is a bit much. Some women would be seriously offended if you do not mention that they look good.
Later, it was revealed that Proudman herself had offered compliments about men’s looks on Facebook.
Once Proudman assaulted Carter-Silk—doubtless as a representative of the patriarchy— she managed to elicit a great deal of overt hostility. The insults and invective against her went far beyond the offense she found in the words of the older lawyer.
Initial reactions denounced Proudman as a “feminazi,” a woman who was trying to destroy a man for making a slightly flirty remark, that is, by offering her a compliment on her looks. They suggested that she would henceforth have far more difficulty getting work in the legal profession.
Judith Wood wrote in The Daily Telegraph:
But there was something quite unkind about the way in which “fearless feminist” Proudman went far beyond slapping down her admirer, electing instead to publicly humiliate him in quite an extraordinary manner.
Of course, Proudman works in the field of women’s rights and defends victims of genital mutilation. One understands that in this field her prominence as a feminist firebrand might work to her advantage.
On the other hand, if Carter-Silk’s work had nothing to do with the field of Proudman’s expertise, why did she want to make a connection with him over LinkedIn anyway?