Lawyer accused of sexism after complimenting LinkedIn picture

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A 57-year-old lawyer has been accused of being sexist after he messaged a woman barrister on LinkedIn, saying her photograph was ‘stunning’ and that the 27 year old should ‘win a prize’.

The compliment backfired completely when the woman, Charlotte Proudman, responded saying that she found it offensive. Proudman then tweeted the messages, receiving support for her response, where she told the lawyer that she’s not on the social media site to be objectified by sexist men, The Daily Mail reported.

“Alex,” Proudman wrote to Alexander Cater-Silk in a private message.

“I find your message offensive.

“The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women.  It silences a woman’s professional attributes as their physical appearance becomes the subject.

“Unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour.  Think twice before sending another women (half your age) such a sexist message.”

Proudman, who is currently a human rights barrister and PhD student at Cambidge generated Twitter interest by asking other women if they had been similarly approached by men on the site.

Carter-Silk, who has two children and a wife of 30 years, has had some fairly high profile clients in his career including Elle McPherson in the phone hacking scandal.  Proudman told The Daily Mail that as a senior member of the legal profession, he has a duty to uphold laws against sexual discrimination.

He took to a message board on RollOnFriday to claim that his comments had been taken out of context.

“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,” the statement read.

Since the incident, Proudman has been targeted by internet trolls who have told her she has ruined her career, which she says shows how ingrained sexism is in the legal industry.

The whole row started when Carter-Silk sent Proudman a message on LinkedIn saying, “Charlotte, delighted to connect, I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture!”
  • william on 12/09/2015 10:36:40 AM

    News has recently arrived that Charlotte has herself used the same words to men in pictures. Surely she has rules for herself and rules for others.

    Tuberville v Savage and the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” have relevance in this matter.

    To date all the energy seems to be concentrated on the man’s behavior. Not much has been dedicated to the photograph that evoked his response.

    Prior to any discussion on the photos in evidence I draw your attention to evidence based on common knowledge. Namely, that people speak with body language and gestures and that is confirmed in Tuberville’s case set sometime in the 1669 where it was determined that “mere words are not enough to constitute an assault”.

    It is clear that there is a requirement to establish a mens rea of hate as Charlotte does in referring to Alex’s words as “mysoginistic”. To the ordinary person the words of Alex are merely to compliment Charlotte. A compliment is defined as “a polite expression of praise or admiration”. Clearly no malice afore thought on the part of Alex.

    Little public scrutiny has been placed on the photo evidence when in fact a picture speaks a thousand words. For those who have taken the time to view Charlotte’s photos you will note that they are not the ordinary everyday photos that are seen on LinkedIn. The photographer has taken the time to ensure that Charlotte has posed properly.

    It is common knowledge that poses are meant to send messages to the observer that can be interpreted accurately. The ancient artists used poses to great effect to communicate messages in their paintings and sculptures and other. More recently, fashion modelling dominated by women comprises substantially of poses to communicate all kinds of understandable messages. TV advertising sends all kinds of extra messages when advertising to ensure that it products are sold (we’ve all seen the skimpily clad actresses washing the car to sell sponges”)

    If you look at Charlotte’s photo you will notice a sideways look over the shoulder. I submit that this particular pose has been used in art many times over the centuries to indicate that a woman is showing an intimate interest of a non-professional nature. Furthermore, the photographer has taken the photo from the chest upwards and the perspective that is provided is a view that I often seen when I walk hand in hand with my honeybunch. It’s not a view that is regularly seen in professional situations.

    When professional photos are taken it is clear that the posture and stance is of a particular kind and great pains are taken to ensure that the professional perspective is maintained. I draw your attention to the portrait of Prime Minister Malcom Fraser that caused a commotion when it was released. The issue was that the placement of the PM’s hands inferred that he was gay.

    Charlotte had many options in the photos that she chose to present and she could have chosen not to place a photo on LinkedIn as many professionals do. It is submitted that she who is driving a political cause should have taken that option in the first place allowing people to choose her services on the basis of her accomplishments alone.

    What is disturbing is Charlotte’s raising of the matter in public when it could have been a matter between her and Alex. Many of the bloggists support Alex and object to Charlotte’s characterization of the compliment as hate words against women.

    The typical feminist fundamentalist makes up rules out of thin air, accuses and lynches men. There was no basis for accusations of hate, the mere making of a compliment is not unlawful and most people men and women accept compliments as a favourable thing to receive.

    A sensible fair minded person could not have reached the decision that Charlotte did. She should not have spun the story on the web.

  • Major Tom on 11/09/2015 10:55:30 AM

    I enjoy the irony of the person in question being called "Proudman."

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