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This week has seen a media storm as a female barrister, Charlotte Proudman, objected to remarks an older male solicitor made to her on the business networking social media site LinkedIn.  Here one of  Averta’s solicitors  Marianne Browne, comments on the issue:

Mr Carter-Silk’s message to Charlotte Proudman is arguably cringe-worthy and ill-judged.  Perhaps, given his obvious experience, he should have known better.  I do not condone his comments or think that it was appropriate but I do find it difficult to believe that Charlotte Proudman should really be that outraged by his remarks.  Her response in publicly naming and shaming him is over the top.

I note that it was Ms Proudman who reached out to Mr Carter-Silk, whom she did not know, on LinkedIn and therefore initiated the contact.  It was not like Mr Carter-Silk asked to connect with her just because he liked the look of her.  He replied to accept her connection request and included a message when he did so.  As I said, his message is cringe-worthy which even he appears to accept as he says “I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect” and describes her picture as “stunning” and the “best” he has seen on LinkedIn.  Is that really so demeaning?  Even if she finds it demeaning, I struggle to see how it constitutes “social policing, gender control and a hidden form of social violence”, some of which comments Ms Proudman repeated on Radio 5 live today.  It was a compliment sent to her via social media commenting on the photograph she had chosen to use to represent herself.  There’s no denying she is a very attractive woman (I assume I am allowed to say that because I am female and therefore have no hidden sexist agenda), and no doubt that the quality of the photography is rather better than the average Linkedin picture.

I disagree that his comments represent an eroticisation of women or that they silence the professional attributes of her or women at large.  A woman can be professional and attractive.  Indicating that you find someone attractive does not belittle or diminish their professional attributes.  It certainly does not constitute sex discrimination or come close to any sort of sexual crime.

Ms Proudman would have been justified in deleting him from her LinkedIn network and letting him know, as she did, that she did not appreciate his message.  However by making such a huge and very public fuss over what was quite obviously a well-meaning compliment comes across as a bit self-indulgent, does it not?

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