Charlotte Proudman is a barrister, Cambridge graduate, PhD candidate, and contributor to the New Statesman and the Independent on issues such as female genital mutilation and revenge porn. She's got a pretty impressive resume, so you'd figure anyone stumbling across her LinkedIn account would want to comment on that, and not her looks.
Some would say that Proudman should have been flattered, or at least gracious, that fellow legal professional Alexander Carter-Silk would reach out to her to say how simply stunning her profile picture was, and how interested he was in "working with her," (interesting, since he didn't once mention her qualifications), but Proudman was annoyed. Because she was on LinkedIn to be treated as a professional, nothing more and nothing less. This was simply not the proper venue to make such a comment, and she said as much in her response to Carter-Silk's message:
"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."
Carter-Silk defended himself, saying that he meant to compliment the "professional quality" of Proudman's photo, and not her own physical attributes, persay. But then why did he preface his comment with the statement by admitting he was about to sound politically incorrect? And why did the word "professional" never once appear in his message?
Since Proudman shared her experience on Twitter, more and more women have been coming forward with similar incidents.
Yet, some still refuse to acknowledge the impact the constant barrage of both small and unsubtle propositions have upon a person's psyche. Men and women both deserve to be able to walk down the street without being constantly objectified, in ways both well-meaning and not so. The professional sphere should at the very least be a reprieve from the plight of being a woman, of being constantly sexualized regardless of your state of mind or the situation you are in. Women deserve to be able to pursue career success, bring home a paycheck, and then pursue relationships (or not) on their own terms.
You only have to look at the lengths some women admit to have gone to shield themselves to understand how real of a problem this is. One women admitted to intentionally making herself look uglier to avoid attention.
Another let herself be harassed, believing that to not do so would have been "career suicide."
@CRProudman I've been on the receiving end whilst pregnant. Back then I thought it would have been career suicide to challenge— Divorce Lawyer (@helpmedivorce) September 9, 2015
She wasn't far off from the truth. For her efforts, Proudman has been called a "feminazi' in an article by the Daily Mail.
Mail appears to have devoted a lot of pages to discredit Charlotte Proudman pic.twitter.com/6nrhQYguYF— Martin Barrow (@MartinBarrow) September 10, 2015
She and her supporters have also been roundly dismissed on Twitter.
@joshuajbryant I totally agree, women moan about being hit on - but they will hate it more if men stop paying attention altogether.— David Bieber (@DavidSmithmick) September 10, 2015
At the very least, Proudman has LinkedIn's support. Spokesman Darain Faraz notes that the site's user agreement "requires our members to act in a professional manner."
Banner image credit: Twitter @thepooluk