Friday 11 September 2015

Abusive compliments.

I have a company ID card. It has my photo on it. The photo is a bit crap. So is almost everyone else's, even the good-looking people's. And the photos are on the company intranet too, so we can all look at each other's. Occasionally, some lucky bastard joins the firm on a day when there's really good lighting or something, and actually manages to end up with a decent photo. It is normal, when coming across such a rare artifact, to compliment it. You know, "Wow, that's a really good photo," or something along those lines. It's not a big deal.

Is it?

Well, actually, according to Charlotte Proudman, it's a huge fucking great deal. It's such a big deal, anyone who does it should have their name dragged through the muddiest parts of the Internet and be lambasted in the national press.

Miss Proudman appears to be holding up OK, despite being on the receiving end of this filth from one Alexander Carter-Silk:

Charlotte, delighted to connect, 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

I can only imagine the trauma she must have experienced upon seeing those multiple exclamation marks. Oh, hang on, no, apparently that's not what bothered her. It's the compliment. Apparently, telling someone that their photograph — that they've spent money on having done professionally prior to putting it on the Web to make themselves look as good as possible — is brilliant is sexist. Miss Proudman repeats a claim I've heard a lot of late: that it is only ever women who are on the receiving end of this sort of disgusting trouser-rubbing lechery, never men. Men don't have to put up with comments about their personal appearance.

Now, I'm pretty sure that's true when it comes to comments like "Phwwooooaarrr! Nice arse, darlin'!" shouted in the street by total strangers. But that is really not what Miss Proudman is on about here. She just got told, by someone she already knew, that her photograph was excellent. And the idea that men never receive such comments is the purest undiluted bollocks.

I went out wearing my deadman's hat last night. I got quite a lot of compliments, including a couple from beautiful young ladies. (I'm not all that, but it really is a great hat.) I don't think I was being objectified on the basis of my physical appearance. I didn't find any of those compliments offensive. Possibly because THEY WERE COMPLIMENTS.

After recovering from the shock, Miss Proudman responded to these appalling slurs by demanding an apology, refusing to accept the apology, and then posting the message — without anonymising it — into evidence in the planet's court of public decency, a.k.a. Twitter. Unsurprisingly, she has faced a bit of a backlash.

In response to the backlash, she has said several things.

Firstly, she says that she has a thick skin. No, really. Speaking as someone who has performed live music in Glasgow, allow me to respond thusly: Pfffffffffffft.

Secondly, she says she made the message public

in order to see how many other women receive these types of messages ... on professional networking sites, as well as in the workplace

But, of course, she could have done that without saying who her message was from. She was very obviously trying to publicly shame Mr Carter-Silk. And, thanks to the sainted Jon Ronson, that's going out of vogue now.

Finally, she says she's been told she's going to lose work over this:

The human rights lawyer told the Daily Mail: ‘I have received messages saying: “You have ruined your career. You have bitten the hand that feeds you. There go your instructions from solicitors.”

... [Franklin Sinclair, a partner in one of the UK’s largest criminal law firms] suggested Miss Proudman would be ‘blacklisted’ by solicitors.

... When she responded saying she would not want to work for ‘sexist solicitors’, he replied: ‘I should think you’ve blacklisted yourself from more than just sexist ones!’

She really needed to take a step back from her obsession with seeing sexism everywhere and look at the big picture here. She's a barrister. Her job involves treating private communications in the strictest confidence at all times. Her job also involves representing people to the best of her ability no matter what she thinks of them, even if she thinks they're awful people. So does she really not understand how putting the details of a private conversation on Twitter just because she doesn't like it might be bad for business? I mean, if you needed a barrister, would you hire her? Would you talk to this woman in confidence? After this?

Thing is, I'm perfectly willing to believe Miss Proudman's broader point: that there are lots of men sending completely inappropriate come-ons to strangers and near-strangers on LinkedIn — because the Net is full of men being clueless sexist inappropriate fuckwits. (Seriously, who are these guys who are convinced that what a woman really really wants is to see a photograph of their penis? What has to happen in your life for you to be that wrong about anything?) She says there are men treating LinkedIn as if it's Tinder, and frankly I'd be amazed if that weren't true. But the one example Proudman has used doesn't illustrate that. At all. To anyone who's ever had a conversation with real humans, Mr Carter-Silk's comment was very obviously not any sort of come-on.

That raises two possibilities.

Firstly, if this example is the best she can come up with, that shows that she is not, contrary to her claims, receiving come-ons on LinkedIn.

Or secondly, if she is receiving come-ons on LinkedIn, and yet, of all the lewd messages she's received, this is the one she chose to make Exhibit A, she's a shit barrister.


Oswald Thake said...

You've said it all, really - again!
As a male admirer of what I see as the feminine qualities of earthy practicality and sheer common sense, I'm astonished by some of 'the Sisterhood's' effusions in the Radical Press. If anything, they far outstrip their male counterparts in sheer wrong-headedness gibbering idiocy.

BlokeOnaMotorway said...

OK, I give up. What is a deadmans hat?

Squander Two said...

A dead man's hat is a top hat that is so short it adds no height to the wearer. They were used by undertakers in the Old West to make men look respectable in death while still fitting into ready-made coffins.

I have one of these, without the feather: