It’s a sleazy message. Not a compliment. There is a difference.
Instead of accepting the approach with benign politeness, the senior barrister wrote back, “Charlotte, delighted to connect,” he wrote. “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 seen. Always interest (sic) to understant (sic) people’s skills and how we might work together. Alex”
Charlotte Proudman was unimpressed. She responded that she found the message offensive: “I am on linked-in for business purposes not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men.”
After explaining that when men focus on the appearance of women, they are effectively silencing them, she closed with, “Unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.”
Sounds like some helpful advice. If a woman contacts you to become a professional contact, don’t assume that she wants to hear about how prize-winningly beautiful you find her. That’s just sleazy.
Also: If you ever start a sentence “This is probably horrendously political incorrect, but”, there’s a very good chance that what you are about to say is VERY ill-advised, unprofessional and otherwise inappropriate. Alexander Carter-Silk was on notice that what he was going to say was inappropriate. But he went for it anyway.
Proudman posted their correspondence to social media and called out Carter-Silk over his remarks.
Quite a few women responded by offering examples of sleazy comments they’d received on LinkedIn. It’s apparently not an isolated incident.
Proudman started to receive messages telling her that her career was over. 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.”
A partner from one of the biggest law firms in London said that Charlotte will be blacklisted by solicitors. Franklin Sinclair, of Tuckers Solicitors, wrote on Twitter: “What an awful thing to do, what kind of world do we live in when a man can’t give a lady a compliment. getalife. Nomorebriefs4u.”
Sarah Vine, a conservative columnist for the Daily Mail, has taken up this cry and has written in defence of a man’s right to ‘give a lady a compliment’.
How does Vine think that Proudman should have responded? Well, she should have just thought he was a nice man: “…Most normal women would have thought: ‘What a nice man.’ Indeed, many of us would be delighted; compliments are few and far between these days.”