Sexism is not the fault of career women who complain about it

Right-wing writers blame and defame a female barrister - proving her point

Mail Charlotte 10 9 15 crop


‘Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman’ – so sang the bard of Tennesee, though as she must have known at the time, this rather understates matters.

Working in more or less any profession, a person can turn to a female colleague (assuming they have any) and hear tales of regular harassment and abuse, up to and including threats of physical violence, from perfect strangers, simply for their being a woman.

The internet has amplified this problem, empowering every keyboard misogynist to say what they would be too gutless to say in person.

One such victim is Charlotte Proudman, a brilliant human rights barrister studying at Cambridge who I’m proud to count as a friend.

Sick of yet another message from a man she did not know, this time a creepy remark about her picture on networking website LinkedIn, from a male lawyer twice her age, she told him where to get off and shared the exchange on Twitter.

As she wrote: ‘How many women @LinkedIn are contacted re physical appearance rather than prof skills?’ The lawyer in question, legal partner Alexander Carter-Silk, issued an apology, claiming incredibly that all he meant was she had a very ‘professional’ photograph. (Nice try, Alex.)

After the story was picked up by the newspapers, our favourite right-wing columnists saw a case of political correctness gone mad (hasn’t PC gone mad enough to be sectioned by now?) and pounced.

In a full-page column previewed on the front of the Daily MailSarah Vine basically says women being reduced to their looks is no problem, accusing Charlotte of seeking publicity as a ‘short-cut’ to furthering her career. This defamation is compounded when Vine writes:

“Isn’t she supposed to be some hot-shot human rights lawyer? Well, go and defend some real victims of inequality, dear, instead of bleating about some slightly off-colour message.”

If Vine had done her own job, even a cursory look at LinkedIn would detail Charlotte’s work defending vulnerable women, campaigning against FGM and forced marriage, and taking on pro bono work in the Middle East, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In other words, it’s not either/or. She would just like to be able to work without being harassed by creepy men.

For this she is denounced as a careerist minx, uploading an ‘enticing’ photo then abusing a clumsy admirer for personal gain, on the front page of a national newspaper. How disgraceful.

Vine’s chosen term for women supporting Charlotte online, ‘Feminazis’ – a charming invention of right-wing US radio thug Rush Limbaugh – brings us on nicely to Limbaugh clone Rod Liddle in the Sun. 

As if seeking to prove her point, Liddle not only says it’s fine to comment on a woman’s looks, but goes on to exercise the right himself, by insulting Charlotte’s appearance. He adds:

“If you don’t want people to comment, you silly mare, then don’t put your picture up.”

No doubt Liddle thinks he’s being clever by writing a piece that dismisses sexism while expressing it, but as usual, he just looks a fool.

Odious as these columns are, they do an inadvertent service to the cause they attack, by proving exactly why Charlotte’s actions were necessary.

They show how many would still rather train their guns on the victims of sexism rather than the perpetrators: His career shouldn’t suffer, hers should.

The implication is that men are entitled to practice sexism, but women should refrain from complaining (or fighting back) – that is, if they know what’s good for them.

In other words, it’s her fault for being a woman in the first place.

The Mail’s news coverage, published next to Vine’s piece, leads with the Twitter jerks who say this episode might damage Charlotte’s career. In reality, any law firm worth working for would be lucky to have her.   

The take away question from all this ought to be not, ‘Who would want to hire a feminist?’ but rather: ‘Who would want to work for a sexist?’

Until that’s the case, the struggle for equal human rights will be disfigured, and our newspapers’ reflection of the world will remain the same ugly picture.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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85 Responses to “Sexism is not the fault of career women who complain about it”

  1. Chilbaldi

    And the tragic thing is there is basically no real cure.

  2. Jonathan David Farley

    I’m not sure what “racially homogeneous society” you’re referring to. Before the Norman invasion?

  3. steroflex

    Are you talking about men or women here?

  4. Spica

    When you read most of the male comments it is glaringly obvious why the feminist movement is essential.

  5. James Riddick

    Just wanted to make it clear, my original contribution to the discussion was deleted earlier today by the Moderators with no reason given. Says it all really.

  6. James Riddick

    Out of principle, I don’t like censorship.

    Unless it affects national security, which I don’t think this does, why should posts talking about facts be removed just because some find it uncomfortable. As such, here is my original post
    As a regular reader of the site, I was saddened to read this article.

    I’m afraid I know Charlotte and I think it is fair to say she is a troubled person. For example, she once wrote a letter to her own Grandmother the nastiest, most vicious letter designed to cause as much hurt as possible just before her Grandmother passed away.

    In the letter she told her Grandmother how much of a failure she was in her life, and how that Charlotte was the only member of her family who was successful. Whatever the rights and wrongs of a situation, imagine how spiteful and selfish you would have to be to write such a letter to an elderly lady.

    I just hope that Charlotte gets the help she needs and that the reputational damage to her accuser isn’t permanent.

  7. Jon Jones.

    Thanks Lizzie. That was where I found about it too. I’m no fan of the Daily Mail but the source doesn’t change the facts.

    Now Proudman seems to have moved into a `comments on a business based social media site should follow different rules to the comment rules made on the social media sites most of us use. Bullshit! It’s either sexist or it isn’t.

    Do we really live in a world where it’s not OK to say to someone that we find them attractive? If that is the case the future of Human procreation is pretty much screwed.

    Sexism is not giving members of the opposite sex the same opportunities and rights. Saying you find someone of the opposite sex attractive isn’t.

    I ask you this Proudman – If it was a Gay woman that had sent you that same message what would it be? Sexism?

    How about a Trans-gender person? Sexism?

    How about artificial intelligence? Sexism?

  8. Anon

    Carter-Silk: ‘Hey, nice picture.’ Proudman: ‘Lick my arse. In public’


    $98/HOURLY SPECIAL REPORT!!!!……….After earning an average of 19952 Dollars monthly,I’m finally getting 98 Dollars an hour,just working 4-5 hours daily online… three to five hours of work daily… Weekly paycheck… Bonus opportunities…Payscale of $6k to $9k /a month… Just few hours of your free time, any kind of computer, elementary understanding of web and stable connection is what is required…….HERE I STARTED-TAKE A LOOK AT…….dp…….

    ➤➤➤➤ http://GoogleSpecialBucksJobsCloudOnnetCenter/$98hourlywork…. ⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛⚛

  10. brianmacker

    She’s also a hypocrite because she had in the past contacted men online with comments like “hot stuff”, “sexy” and ‘oooo lalala!’

  11. SuffolkBoy

    The reasons appear to be political rather than content or tone. It’s OK to advertise 98 Dollars an hour, just working 4-5 hours daily online, but not to place into the spotlight the delusions of a paranoid fantasist hell-bent on disrupting somebody’s career.

  12. SuffolkBoy

    I don’t think clarification has gone down well with people who have rushed in with their own social and political agenda and interpretation of Charlotte’s bizarre behaviour!

  13. Jona

    Removing a comment? Typical left-wing censoriousness 😉

  14. Dave Stewart

    It may have escaped your notice but English is a living language and accepted meanings of words change over time based on common usage. A quick google of the Oxford English dictionary would have shown you that misogyny means:

    “Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”

    Which I think aptly describes this mans behaviour. Also referring to a woman as hysterical for standing up to being treated as nothing more than a pretty face really undermines your statement about “the worthy cause of feminism”.

    Do you think homophobic only means the fear of homosexual people or that gay only means happy?

    Or perhaps the terrific still means to cause terror?

    Kindly drop your lazy rhetoric then.

  15. Dave Stewart

    Facebook is specifically a social platform. LinkedIn is a professional one. Can you not see the difference or are you wilfully ignoring it.

  16. GhostofJimMorisson

    In what universe was he showing dislike or contempt for her? She showed contempt by publicly smearing him – a move that has spectacularly backfired and left her looking pretty, spiteful, vindictive and untrustworthy. She could have admonished him privately, rather than smearing him. Besides, it’s since been revealed that Miss Proudman has commented on several male Facebook profiles – ‘Hot stuff!’ being one of them. She is petty hypocrite, who has done nothing to advance the cause of feminism, a cause I genuinely believe in. Please, stop being such a tedious leftie for once. Or maybe go away and ponder why the Labour party has yet to elect a female leader, or why St Corbyn has ostensibly sidelined woman from senior cabinet posts.

  17. GhostofJimMorisson

    Of course language changes. But I simply do not accept that the term ‘Misogyny’ has undergone the kind of semantic shift as the word ‘gay’. If it has, as you clearly believe, then I challenge you to offer a new definition of misogyny or misogynist.

  18. vics_toew

    barrister? pfft…. she would make a poor barmaid.

  19. Dave Stewart

    I did supply an alternative definition from the Oxford English dictionary.

    Also It’s not a smear if it is true, what she did was expose him. There is a big difference between commenting “hot stuff” on a FRIENDS (or at least facebook friend) profile on facebook to doing so on LinkedIn which is specifically a professional website generally populated by complete strangers or at best work acquaintances. If Context here is key. If his behaviour was fine why precisely is he bothered she exposed it?

    I’ll stay away from the ad hominem but I would suggest you consider that this blog is called LEFT foot forward and you may come across a lot of left wing views here.

  20. Dave Stewart

    Sorry missed a bit of your reply.

    Treating people like a piece of meat is pretty disrespectful in my book.

  21. GhostofJimMorisson

    I agree: he shouldn’t have posted a comment of that nature on a professional account. I agree that his comments were ignorant, silly and a little inappropriate. But they weren’t misogynistic, and her response was wholly out of proportion and will backfire spectacularly.

    Theres being a leftie and then being a leftie. You know what I meant. Have a day off for once 🙂

  22. Mr B J Mann

    Lazy rhetoric?

    Meaning of words change?!

    How is complimenting the professional quality of the obviously highly “creative” photo of someone who “p0ked” you and asked you to “like” and promote their personal marketing page on a professional marketing networking site while agreeing to “like and promote them evidence of “Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice”?!?!?

    Or did you misread and think he meant he was going to “stun” her with his club before dragging her off by her hair to his cave??!?

    You are clearly even more hysterical than she is!

    In fact, are you one of her “personalities”?

  23. Mr B J Mann

    Context? CONTEXT??!

    Proudman herself has said on twitter in response to a question as to whether she would have done the same in a face to face situation that the context was irrelevant, s-xism is s-xism regardless of the context.

    So, according to Saint Charlotte herself, HER behaviour on Facebook is s-xist “objectification” and “er0ticisation” which she, again on twitter, has likened to social oppression and s-xual *ssault for mere compliments on a photo!

    So the difference between commenting “hot stuff”, regardless of whether it’s on a FRIENDS (or at least facebook friend) profile on facebook, to commenting on the quality of a highly “professional” photo on LinkedIn, is that whether or not commenting on a marketing photo on a personal marketing page you have invited someone to “like” and promote is even inappropriate, never mind offensive, the facebook comment was VASTLY, VASTLY worse!

    Yes, she “exp0sed” him worldwide to ridicule and abuse for a compliment, alleging he was s-xist and worse, totally hypocritically given her ageist comments to him, and her s-xist comments to others.

    Especially as she was probably being s-xist to him, as well as misandrist and ageist.

    And a publicist where, as a lawyer, she should have shown better judgement, more discretion, and an ability to preserve confidentiality.

    Oh, and considering she reported him to his professional standards body, as well as his employers, for complimenting the quality of her photo, and her actions are in breach of several of the rules of HER professional standards body as I understand it.

    Oh, oh, and as she thought complimenting the quality of a photograph was reason enough to breach his privacy and subject him to worldwide ridicule, why has she not yet “outed” the lawyer who demanded a bikini shot of her, never mind the one who supposedly gr0ped her?

    When is she going to report THEM to their employers and their professional standards bodies?!

  24. Mr B J Mann

    Yes, treating those men on facebook as she did was like treating them as pieces of meat.

    Nearly as bad as the misogynistic, s-xist and ageist treatment (which she has likened to social oppression and s-xual *ssault) she dished out to him, publicly, in breach of professional standards, in response to a compliment on the professional quality of her marketing photo which she had poked him to like and promote.

    Does she think he is a an inanimate object devoid of feelings?!?!

  25. Mr B J Mann

    “Now Proudman seems to have moved into a `comments on a business based social media site should follow different rules to the comment rules made on the social media sites most of us use. Bullshit! It’s either sexist or it isn’t.”

    Proudman herself has said in a response to a question on twittter as to whether she would have reacted in the same way if it had been face to face that the context is irrelevant, s-xism is s-xism!

    Clearly she has some kind of problem with rational though processing.

    And feminists wonder why the term hysteria was coined!

  26. Mr B J Mann

    LinkedIn is a social media site for professional networking and marketing. Proudman “poked” him, effectively asking him to “like” her personal marketing page (headed up with the now notorious madeover, professionally lit and posed, then photoshopped picture).

    Given the way she reacted to receiving one compliment on the photo, and the number of solicitors she apparently “poked”, I shudder to think how she would have reacted if none of them had complimented the photo, given the effort she obviously took in producing and promoting it!

  27. Mr B J Mann

    But what about all the other ones that support her?

    And all the men who support them?!

    What if you weren’t Middle Aged but Old Aged?

    And didn’t have s daughter, but a son?

    Of 57?

    Called Alexander?!?!

  28. Mr B J Mann

    Surely the Normans were refugees, or, at worst, economic migrants who boosted the GDP.

    Just like the Romans, the Vikings……

    All of whom paid more in taxes than they claimed in “benefits”!

  29. Mr B J Mann


    Women have a right to 50%, but will settle for 40% as an interim measure, of directorships.

    Even though most women choose to work in organisations that don’t have boards of directors: medicine, welfare, education…..

    And where they do, it’s usually in fields that aren’t in line management eg research……

    And where they do, most don’t clock up anywhere near the hours and years of experience due to child bearing and rearing……

    And even if they are young free and single they don’t particularly want to (according to a report by a bunch of women in that lefty rag, and yes, it is, the Economist).

    And yet childless women, even straight married ones, earn more than men of comparable age, and have nearly as much chance of getting on the board.

    Actually, as the pool is vastly smaller, they stand vastly more chance of getting on the board!

  30. Mr B J Mann

    Hi Charlotte!

  31. Mr B J Mann

    More to the point, why did she spend so much time, effort and probably money on the makeover, the lighting, the pose, the phtotoshopping………..

    And then “poking” so many men…………..

    Anyone would think she was doing a PhD on male oppression and s-xual v!olence…………

    Oh, just a minute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Mr B J Mann

    And when you read all the feminist comments it is glaringly obvious why a masculinist movement is even more essential.

    So your point is?

  33. Eoireitum

    Did you watch the Newsnight interview? Weird…not only for a barrister’s surprisingly pedestrian and error-laden command of English (to say nothing of her strange delivery) but also for Evan Davies’s supine approach. I’d still want her as my lawyer. She scares the hell out of me…..

  34. Mr B J Mann

    Yes, but you’d want her to defend you or attack the other party. But she’d end up attacking you for daring to brief her.

    Well, it’s only one letter short of D-briefing her. And so it’s obvious what you REALLYT meant.

    That’s not just objectifying and er0ticising her, it’s not just oppressing her, it’s a form of s-xual *ssault!

    In fact, just simply briefing her is an example of the patriarchy exerting its control and dominance over women!

    Implying that women are mere children who can’t even be trusted to dress themselves and need their parents to put their kn!ckers on.

    And that they all have daddy issues.

    Like Proudman!

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