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Feminist barrister tweets screenshot of senior male solicitor’s ‘sexist’ LinkedIn message

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Well, this is embarrassing

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A senior partner at the London office of Brown Rudnick has been shamed on Twitter after sending a private LinkedIn message to a barrister praising her “stunning” profile photo.

Rather than respond with, as perhaps was hoped, a coquettish smiley face to Alexander Carter-Silk’s note, Charlotte Proudman — who describes herself as a “fearless feminist” in her Twitter bio — took a screenshot of the correspondence and yesterday evening posted it on Twitter for all the world to see.

The five-year call family law specialist at the Chambers of Michael Mansfield QC also included her non-plussed response in which she brands Carter-Silk’s message “offensive”, “sexist” and “misogynistic”.

Proudman has received messages of support on Twitter for her actions exposing what some have dubbed “disgusting” behaviour. Meanwhile, Carter-Silk, who leads his firm’s European intellectual property division, has issued this statement via City law messageboard RollOnFriday:

Most people post pretty unprofessional pictures on Linked in, my comment was aimed at the professional quality of the presentation on linked in which was unfortunately misinterpreted. Ms Proudman is clearly highly respected and I was pleased to receive her request to linkup and very happy to instruct her on matters which [are] relevant to her expertise that remains the position.

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278 Comments

Lincoln Hudson

I wonder how some people manage to climb out of bed in the morning!

(4)(4)

Shep Bush

I still don’t get what’s so sexist about it – I genuinely don’t.

If anything, his words strike me as a genuine, if somewhat clumsy, attempt to flatter her. Admittedly, a LinkedIn message is not the appropriate medium for such conversations to take place, but surely it didn’t come across as offensive or sexist in any way? He didn’t comment on her body, salaciously appraising her backside or bosom, did he? He merely expressed admiration over her professional photo – a comment so innocuous no sane person could take offence for.

Her response strikes me as everything that’s wrong with our current politically correct status quo. It highlights her as a potentially unstable, hateful and perhaps frigid individual, who relishes shaming men who somehow manage to fall through her ridiculous standards.

I dread to think what would she do if someone complimented her in person when out in some City local. Would she glass him for the kindness?

(44)(8)

Quo Vadis

This faux-naivety is distasteful. Unless they are close friends (which I doubt), the message is clearly inappropriate. He even acknowledges it himself – the message being “probably horrendously politically incorrect”. The rule of thumb in such cases should be whether one would be happy to read the message out loud, and in company. Here, the answer is no.

(13)(11)

Emmy

Spot on, totally agree

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Thanks feminazi.

(1)(6)

Anonymous

Come on – describing a woman as ‘stunning’ whom you don’t know outside a professional context (if he knew her at all) is deeply inappropriate however you slice it.

You don’t need to comment on someone’s backside to be objectifying them.

I say all this as a man, and one who wouldn’t self-identify as a ‘feminist’…

(15)(33)

Anonymous

I feel sorry for anyone who wants to start a relationship with this ice maiden.
If she doesn’t like the look of you, you might end up in the Tower of London awaiting execution! (and yes she does look like a Lego character……lol)

(41)(1)

Anonymous

Rubbish. I was recently walking along a promenade with my wife when we saw a tall, elegant African lady. Her skin was jet black and her hair was immaculate. She was dressed in the most colourful traditional robes. I immediately described her as stunning and my wife agreed. I had never seen this lady before and we certainly had no professional connections. There was absolutely no sexual connotation in my use of the word stunning nor would I or my wife consider its use to be sexist in any way. This barrister needs to get a life.

(44)(0)

Anon

LinkedIn is as LinkedIn does.

It is not up to her to dictate how other people legally use the service.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed. According to her “linkedin is like being in the workplace”. Fuck off.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Really she contacted him to linkup’ get a life and take the compliment or get a boyfriend or a girlfriend whichever is your preference

(26)(8)

Anonymous

We don’t know who added who…

Him thanking her for linking up could either have been the result of her adding him or her accepting his add.

(2)(2)

Anon

Absolutly right to be named and shamed for his sexsit comments. What gives him the right to belittle a professional approach in such a way? Arrogant, disgraceful and demeaning behaviour. Looking forward to seeing this on Roll On Friday and other legal mediums….. what a sad fool !

(8)(29)

Mr T

I pity the fools that keep using the word fool on this whackass website.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

Wanker!

(13)(0)

Eegads!

Handbags at dawn! Place yer bets: Ms Meanie vs Mr Sleezee. Round 1 to MM whose vicious public nad clamp sees off MS’s tentative opening gambit…

(6)(0)

Anonymous

“Misogynistic”? Sheesh. Another silly girl with a desperate need for a dictionary.

(21)(7)

Not Amused

1) Is it sexist?

Well, if Alex Carter-Silk were gay and had sent that private message to a male family barrister then it seems hard to see how it would be described as sexist. If Alex Carter-Smith were a straight woman and sent that private message to a male barrister then it is hard to see how it is sexist.

2) Is it objectification?

Well, firstly it was private. You can’t really objectify someone in a private way. When a wife tells her husband how nice his bottom looks she isn’t really objectifying him. She is flirting and being complimentary. So, I find it difficult to say it is objectification. It’s a compliment.

3) What is the motive?

Well, I think we must presume it was a come on, a pass. Why else would an IP solicitor want to talk to a family barrister?

4) Is that unprofessional?

Firstly let’s try to establish some reason why a duty to be professional exists in this circumstance. This is more tricky. They don’t share a practice area. They don’t share a profession.

Secondly it is a private e-mail communication.

So in circumstances in which no direct duty is owed (colleague to colleague or supervisor to trainee) and where then can be no suggestion of improper influence (because 1) he can only offer IP work, which she doesn’t do and 2) his law firm does not do family work either) I find it difficult to describe this as unprofessional.

5) Can solicitors ever make passes at barristers?

It seems difficult to say they can’t.

6) Is there real objectification of lawyers (male and female)

Yes. See that awful blog. See the ‘hot 25 sols’ story.

7) Is it appropriate to publish a private communication?

Not obviously.

8) Is it ageist?

It does seem to reference his age in an unattractive way.

9) Is her behaviour sexist?

How would she have reacted to the same lines from a female solicitor? Only she can know.

I am having real difficulty explaining the level of vitriol being directed at Alex Carter-Silk. It is deeply unpleasant. I also think it is deeply unpleasant to make unfounded allegations of sexism. A desire to hurt other human beings, your fellow human beings, merely because you disagree with them or because they have upset you, is not I think beneficial to human beings all trying to get along in an equal society.

Broadly speaking I think the view I have is that neither has acted well. The public has no right (and, despite its desire to do so, it really is not in their interests to start) regulating private relationships between grown up adults and should stop.

(37)(4)

Anonymous

You can’t objectify someone in private – where’d you get that idea from? Also, the allusion to the married couple is bizarre (a) as they’re *married* and (b) because that’s still objectifying. One person’s compliment is another person’s treatment as a sexual object – not mutually exclusive.

(5)(30)

Not Amused

If we use your, wider, definition then objectification has no meaning because it is both a good thing and a bad thing depending on circumstance. Meaning it would be necessary to have ‘bad objectification’ and ‘good objectification’. Bad objectification would then be any attack upon or denial of autonomy.

In which case objectification done in private, like this, can’t be ‘bad objectification’ because there is no threat to autonomy (they do not know each other) and no threat or challenge to autonomy because it was inherently secret from her peers.

So bad private communications, being unable to be ‘bad objectification’, if wrong must be more likely to be wrong for some other reason – see lascivious or grotesque or threatening. This communication was not. So my point stands. Although you have just forced me to demonstrate why sociologists have a job.

(36)(3)

Anonymous

I said ‘one person’s compliment is another’s objectification’ – that is: what one person considers a nice thing for them to have said might be deemed inappropriate by the recipient. That doesn’t make the objectification good from one perspective and bad from the other, it’s just that one participant in the conversation is ignorant of how bad it is.

Re private objectification: the harm is lack of respect. Perhaps we differ on whether that matters.

(2)(21)

Not Amused

For you all objectification is wrong? Regardless of context? Well that is a consistent position but, I think, an impractical one. There is no harm in objectification if you use such a wide definition. By your definition the wife who compliments her husband is the same as the wolf whistling builder, and I think that must be wrong.

Anonymous

It is certainly arguable that the wife’s comment is still objectification and is still bad even if the husband’s subjective reaction were positive. However, I do accept that this is rather abstruse.

In a similar way, free club entry for women is objectification because clubs do it to attract paying men. This makes a sexual product out of women. Yet I doubt that many women complain about the free entry.

Anonymous

So next time I tell my girlfriend that she’s hot, I’m objectifying.

Shoot me now.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

Let me stalk her on LinkedIn, I’ll be the judge of that

(4)(0)

MrShineHimDiamond

You would also be wrong

(0)(0)

Anon

“Well, I think we must presume it was a come on, a pass. Why else would an IP solicitor want to talk to a family barrister?”

Perhaps he was getting a divorce, or maybe he was demonstrating the meaning of the phrase “self fulfilling prophecy” to a client.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I say get a life – the world is messed up enough without this sort of crazy self promoting rubbish. Lets face it – she has now made a name for herself and will benefit as a result – I’m sure her damaged ego will be repaired after a sip of champagne paid for on the back of this self promoting act.

(5)(5)

Anonymous

She looks like Rodney’s wife Cassandra off Only fools & Horses. Hardly pretty….

(27)(4)

David Peckham

…but acceptable in the 80’s.

(7)(2)

Del Boy

You wally

(0)(0)

Trig

How’s Dave?

(5)(0)

Uncle Albert

Oh, he’s got the right hump cos his trouble ‘n’ strife’s been venting her Mr Sheen on that Twitter fing cos she reckons some smarmy brief was tryin’ it on wiv her. Cor blimey, ‘ave a banana.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

This whole thread is BRILLIANT

Monkey Harris

Alwight Albert?

Boycie

Sit down Marlene! And you Charlotte!

Del Boy

This time next year she will be a millionaire

Denzil

Hiya Lar! How are ya chuck?

Anonymous

I cannot believe some, actually most, of the comments on this feed. The message is clearly highly inappropriate and utterly sexist – whether or not he meant it to be is completely beside the point (a point that most have failed to grasp). There is a distinction to be drawn between a person being sleazy and sexual, and a person commenting on a female’s appearance (in their mind) innocently. One is more inappropriate than the other but BOTH are sexist and inappropriate (again, something that most have failed to grasp). The reason why a simple (intended) compliment on a woman’s appearance is inappropriate and sexist is because it devalues the role of women in society and places them in a weaker position in relation to men. The comment made actually says (even if he didn’t intend it to mean this) “…I am a man and thus in a dominant role in relation to you and therefore I feel it entirely appropriate to comment on your appearance regardless of the professional setting in which our exchange is taking place” (something which I am sure he would never dream of doing to a man). Secondly, he devalues her but commenting immediately on her appearance, not upon her achievements, views or work-related matters, suggesting (again, perhaps not intentionally) that her appearance is her most important asset or a very valuable one at least, and completely overlooks her professional status. These are views that should be consigned to the past, but unfortunately are not. I keep referring to the fact that whether or not he intended to communicate the above messages is irrelevant, because it is such an important point. These messages are perpetuated within society, largely unintentionally as product of our upbringing and societal influence, but that does not mean that making such comments is right or excusable or should be written of as “..he didn’t mean it in that way…” etc. People need to think very carefully about how they conduct themselves and about what they say actually means and how it contributes to the developments of society (because is does – society is a social construct which evolves through social action). Bringing this situation to the attention of the public challenges society’s traditional approach to women and contributes to the discourse that women should be valued by, amongst other things, what they do and not what they look like or what they wear etc. Only by doing this can we progress towards a society in which sexism doesn’t exist.

(14)(31)

Anonymous

When does the Law of attraction edge into sexism. If any male makes any form of forward comment does that constitute ‘sexism’?

I agree wholeheartedly that his conduct would appear inappropriate however to go ‘public’ on this is far more inappropriate and serves no purpose other to to damage the writers professional reputation.

A few stiff drinks in the Nags Head with Rodney Trotter should alleviate any tensions this unwanted attention may or may not have caused 😉

(9)(3)

Rodders

Why we always dahn the bleddin Nags Ead, I wanna go somewhere different! A place wif some proper sorts, not bookish lookin’ birds like this Prahdman one!

(4)(2)

Dr Umalke

@ anonymous 5:04 pm

You are undoubtedly the life and soul of all the parties that you are reluctantly invited to.

Bore off with you Femi-nazi dogma and perch yourself atop on a washing machine on spin cycle, to alleviate your pent up aggression and hatred to all those possessing a phallus.

(32)(11)

Lord Dyson

Well said old boy.

(10)(4)

Anonymous

@anonymous 5.04pm.

What you’ve written may well be thoughtful and intelligent. But I’ll never know, because I can’t be arsed to read comments that long that contain no paragraph breaks.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

It’s just a man making a come on.

Ok, it’s a bloody awful attempt at a come on. He’s clearly short of practice. But it’s still a come on.

He isn’t a white van man shouting at a female victim on the street about how big her breasts are. He isn’t a strip club patron. He’s a man making a poor attempt at saying ‘how about it’ to a woman.

Making a pass at a woman is not sexist. Unless you believe that men shouldn’t ask our girls, kiss them in bars, or proposition them for one night stands.

(6)(4)

Anonymous

Injudicious, juvenile and ill informed response. If grand dad had made the same comment on the airbrushed picture would Ms P have applied the same remarks?

(18)(0)

Anon

Maybe someone at work went off with a woman old enough to be his daughter, and she’s angry about it?

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Yawn.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The day she stops receiving positive comments about her appearance will probably make her equally aggrieved.

His explanation was absolutely horseshit though. He should have just admitted to taking a punt and being publicly shamed in response.

(19)(2)

Anonymous

Beyonce would be proud.

(5)(0)

Viscount Dilhorne

Basically:

1. He’s sad and creepy.

2. She’s exceptionally shrill and silly.

Both will be laughed at – both publicly and behind their backs.

Why did she however want to link up to him in the first place?

(21)(2)

Anonymous

same university

(2)(2)

Anon

That they attended decades apart

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Desperate because she’s a shit advocate.

(25)(0)

Bob

1/ poor judgment on the part of the solicitor, who, if he had taken a minute to skim the woman’s CV on LinkedIn or on her firm bio, would have spotted words like “Mansfield” “Fabian” “activist” “Labour” “sociology” – and many more – enough to alert him that this was hardly likely to be some bird that would be up for a pint in the Dog & Duck and a kebab home on the night bus

2/ A c*nt’s trick to throw this guy under the bus publicly – cringeworthy, and not something I would ever write to a woman, but not deserving of this shaming. The venom and spite is quite something. 99% of women would have brushed this off, and perhaps had a giggle with their mate the next time they were out. Jon Ronson writes brilliantly about this shaming phenomenon in his recent book – the willingness to try to destroy people’s lives for something so innocuous

3/ The barrister’s rant is like a satire – like some tiresome left wing nonsense some gobby student would have written at sixth form after reading John Pilger and Noam Chomsky (I guess Laurie Penny and Owen Jones for this generation) – almost like a caricature Millie Tant and the Modern Parents from Viz

4/ On a serious note, the most insidious aspect of this modern form of political correctness is that it one is judged entirely on the basis of a few words, with no thought to whether the target of the oppropbium is in fact sexist or racist or whatever. Most terrifyingly, it is justified on the basis of some sort of progressive fight against old-fashioned thinking. These people would have been quite at home in the Khmer Rouge and Castro’s revolution and in the Gulag

5/ I sincerely hope this backfires on the nasty cow

(50)(5)

Sir Viv

100% this.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

Absolutely spot on

(6)(0)

Oz so hard

My words exactly. Spot on guv’nor.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

this. everytime.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Well I think he sent her a private message, maybe he liked her and wanted to pay her compliment. Is it his fault that he happens to be a barrister, so what now barristers aren’t allowed to network and make friends ??? Shall we just ask our partners to stop complimenting because we shouldn’t be bothered about what makes us attached to one another ??

(5)(3)

C

Neither look good

As a family solicitor I would one never instruct her. The whole point of counsel is an anonymous mouthpiece hence the wig business.

But she knows this and knows as a legal aid family barrister in a set who’s rep is not for family law she is flogging a dead horse and is looking for bigger and better things anyway hence the sabbatical and the act

(11)(2)

Anonymous

“As a family solicitor… The whole point of counsel is an anonymous mouthpiece hence the wig business”.

Horseshit.

(1)(7)

Anonymous

Horsehair, surely.

(10)(0)

Anon

I’m bored of talking about this now…it really affects no one except her and him…..I really don’t think a feminist point has been made, everyone has pitched their tent on either side of the battle field and refused to move – just polarised and entrenched opinion (I) she was definitely right to do what she did, outrage, good on her, maybe not publish on twitter though cos thats immature n mean spirited OR (2) she’s a mad feminist and talks nonsense, all it was was a compliment, can’t say nuffin no more, totally innocent, not inappropriate, he said the lighting and composition was stunning not her, who does she think she is, politically correctness gone mad

WHO CARES? The surrounding debate doesn’t change anything

So bored of this sh*t, what a WASTE OF TIME

(1)(1)

C

Now not one

(0)(1)

Sir Viv

Christ, Ashley Madison now LinkedIn…where are the men to go now for their cheap thrills. Stay safe gents, just go to a stripclub….there are like 3 within 200 metres of the RCJ at least.

(7)(3)

Pervy Ken

Hmmm, yes I recommend Secrets; absolute TOP totty in there – the best in Gray’s Inn I dare say!!!! Oh yes, that’s the one for me……

(6)(1)

Anonymous

Life must be so, so bloody exhausting when you view everything through the feminism/patriarchy prism.

(6)(3)

Anonymous

Can I be the first to say, Charlotte can feel free to comment on my rugged male good looks any time she wishes.

So long as she doesn’t comment on my age.

(4)(1)

Tyrion

The guy made a naff remark, which he shouldn’t have said. However, whilst annoying, its not criminal. Her overreaction was not only in her response, but in making this all public. Very immature and silly and now has made her and her chambers look stupid too. There are channels to deal with this, rather than trying to have trial by twitter. Seriously should a lawyer working for justice really succumb to this nonsense trial by social media that is so popular these days.

She went to Keele though so it all makes sense, and she works at a rubbish lefty chambers where this sort of thing is tolerated.

(14)(3)

Feminazi

I was about to say – shite university and shite leftie chambers. The reaction was almost to be expected.

(7)(3)

Anon

The Chambers will be ok. It’s not like any of the partners have had any problem with women.

(0)(1)

Anon

Mate, that was below the belt….

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.