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Now it’s Proudman versus Sumption: LinkedIn row barrister slams Supreme Court judge

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27-year old is seizing new role is unofficial spokesperson for nation’s female lawyers

Lead

The rookie barrister who rose to fame this month for tweeting a screenshot of a “sexist” LinkedIn message has waded into the Lord Sumption women judges row.

Charlotte Proudman, 27, of Mansfield Chambers says Supreme Court judge Sumption’s claim that rushing through more women judges “could have appalling consequences for justice” encapsulates everything that is wrong with gender dynamics in law.

Writing this morning in The Guardian, Proudman goes beyond calling out the 66 year-old for his deeply conservative plea for the judiciary to continue muddling along with hardly any senior women — and hits Sumption where it hurts.

First, she does some psychoanalysis — exploring the former Brick Court man’s “deepest fears”. Proudman writes:

Let me be clear: Sumption’s concern is not about finding ‘good enough’ women candidates to be QCs and occupy top judicial posts. His comments encapsulate his deepest fears that power vested in the old boys’ network could come under siege.

Next, the family law junior, who completed bar school in 2010, questions Sumptions credentials. Points out Proudman:

It must be pure luck that after securing pupillage (barrister traineeship) through his father, Sumption just happened to be the best candidate for the supreme court.

And finally, she indirectly slams his privilege, while showing admirable restraint in declining to mention that Sumption went to Eton and Oxford. Proudman explains:

Despite Sumption’s claim that the bar is ‘meritocratic’, men who are white, upper and middle class, and heterosexual have always enjoyed a privileged status in the profession — and continue to do so.

There is also an interesting paragraph where Proudman compares the mainstream media’s reaction to Sumption’s comments (barely a shrug, although Twitter went wild), to her LinkedIn message row (global newspaper and TV hysteria). She writes:

While a few lawyers have not held back in taking Sumption to task for his comments, it’s no surprise that he has not experienced a backlash for his comments. His face isn’t plastered across the tabloids, nor is he accused of hating women, and it is doubtful he has received death threats. The irony is that only when people challenge the status quo does a backlash ensue.

Elsewhere in the article Proudman argues in favour of the introduction of a quota system to boost the pathetically low number of women judges.

Reaction to Proudman’s article has so far been muted among the legal Twitterati, with no mention made of it — at the time of publication of this article — by top barrister Dinah Rose QC, who led the charge against Sumption’s comments earlier this week.

89 Comments

Alexander Sarter-Cilk

Legal Cheek, I realise that this is dreadfully non-PC, but the picture accompanying this article is absolutely stunning! It definitely wins the prize for best picture accompanying a Legal Cheek article, and it is with no small amount of bashfulness that I must admit that I fully intend to tug myself dry while thinking about it later today.

(126)(9)

Anonymous

Yes, Jonathan’s quite something isn’t he.

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Anonymous

If he asked me for work experience, I would be sure to ask for pictures of him in a swimming costume first.

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Anonymous

Sumptuous, you might say.

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Anonymous

One*

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Anonymous

This just about sums up Ms Proudman…

http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/12445-limecat

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Anonymous

Stunning!

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Anonymous

knowyourmeme.com/photos/12445-limecat

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Mr Pineapples

yes – Sumption has a great head of hair

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Kuzka's Mother

I was going to click ‘like’ but there are 69 likes and my inner adolescent idiot won’t let me ruin it

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Not Amused

Extremists and idiots who latch on to causes actually do much more harm than good. (well harm to the cause but apparently they do well for their own profit)

I criticised Sumption yesterday. I stand by my call. I do have a wish list of brilliant female lawyers and I am certain that fast tracking a candidate to the Supremes today would be a good thing.

We already have quotas in the Supremes. The House of Lords operated quotas. We have quotas of Scots and Northern Ireland and common wealth (or, as I’ve not actually checked recently, we used to) – that didn’t destroy the world either.

But Proudman’s article is hysterical rubbish. Again I am concerned about the impact that extremist weirdos have on impressionable kids. I’m not sure why Proudman mentions race, but as I have pointed out before the Bar is representational of BME – the number of BME barristers mirrors or exceeds the proportion of BME people in the country. The gender divide at the Bar is also at or near parity.

We are, or ought to be, specifically discussing the higher ranks of the judiciary. Not adding in stupid references to the Bar or spreading malicious falsehoods. There was no reason at all to mention race – just as there was no reason to mention age in her last little episode.

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Anonymous

While I share your concern over the effect this kind of hysterical ideological journalism can have on people, she wrote for the Guardian, which prints racist, sexist diatribes like this all the time.

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SB

Wow that hair… hello lego face!

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retiredbrief

Being brilliant is one thing, quite another to spend decades gaining the necessary experience through life in the law.
This woman makes me sick.

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Anonymous

Dear god, she’s becoming the Belle Knox of the legal world. Are we trying our best to become as tacky as the US? There are many women in the profession of much greater standing and repute who are well suited to becoming a powerful voice for this issue rather than Charlotte Proudman who is clearly just using it as a launchpad for her own brand.

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Lord Harley of Bollocks

This is exactly what she wanted. To move from law to feminist commentator in the press, and in a few years I fully expect her to stand as an MP and complete her transition into Harriet Harmon 2.0

This is all self promotion and career building. She clearly never intended to have much of a career in the law.

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Incandenza

There seems to be quite a basic misunderstanding in Ms Proudman’s remarks. Lord Sumption criticised quotas for female judges. He said that judicial appointments should be based solely on perceived merit.

Ms Proudman may disagree with Lord Sumption’s view. But he isn’t some sort of raving sexist. Many people, including feminists, oppose quotas.

It is unwise for a junior barrister to display such poor reading comprehension skills in a public forum.

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Not Amused

Quite.

I opposed quotas for years. I’ve come around to them. I might still be wrong of course. I criticised Sumption. He also might be wrong. What we need is a reasoned and nuanced debate.

Not vicious and extremist lunatics wading in accusing one side or the other of some sort of extreme discriminatory view. It’s unhelpful – it’s also deeply nasty.

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Quo Vadis

If you have quotas you will inevitably be put in the position of turning down a superior candidate in favour of another who happens to have the appropriate genitalia. The point of the law is that it should be applied without fear or favour – the gender of the judge should have as little import on their decisions as their shoe size, and if it doesn’t, or if (god forbid) judges are selected for their particular ‘perspective’, we all lose out.

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Not Amused

The problem I have with that argument is this:

1) I have zero confidence in the judicial appointment system. I reject utterly the idea of the 6 core competencies. I am not convinced they are selecting the absolutely 100% unarguably best candidates. I think there is a high degree of subjectivity and I see no reason therefore not to fast track in a few female candidates (and probably 1 or 2 BME candidates) as long as they are at least silk level now.

2) We have quotas for Scots and wile you can go back through the scots law lords and point out some stinkers, as a whole the system has coped.

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Quo Vadis

Is the appointment system going to improve by the introduction of quotas? Or will it introduce further inefficiency into an already inefficient system? How should we choose which personal characteristics are deserving of protection? Let’s assume we have quotas for men and women. But what about quotas for each race, class, age, region, education, parental income…? Each of these factors undoubtedly influences recruitment and progression at the Bar. If one, why not the rest?

Not Amused

Well, we already have quotas for region. By convention, at least two of the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary were Scottish and at least one from Northern Ireland.

Why is it constitutionally vital to have two scots and an Irishman but not equal representation of women or BME? I think you do have to answer that question and I’m afraid I am increasingly finding it difficult to avoid sanctioning quotas.

Then we have the fact that the current appointment system is very likely either broken or skewed. We can all have subjective views about individuals; but the failure to appoint a woman in 13 years does sort of hint that way.

Then we also need to look at Sumption’s own appointment. I am still not entirely sure that I understand why that happened. Are we really saying he is a ‘super law lord’ and better than everyone else? The case law may not back that up. Where was the pressing need to advance him so quickly? Because it seems to me that the total lack of a BME supreme or more women actually is a pressing need. You seem to be saying “oh we can do it when there isn’t a need but we can’t do it when there is” – I find that confusing.

Having in any event set a new precedent for fast track appointments – why can’t I use the same mechanism now to take a brilliant female QC, solicitor or lower judge and plonk them in the Supremes?

I don’t think the counter arguments: ‘thin end of the wedge’ and ‘unmeritocratic’, superficially attractive as they may be, stand up to scrutiny. That is of course, only my view, but it is an issue I think we should debate openly without commando lunatics like Proudman stifling debate by accusing one side of the other of sexism.

Anonymous

As a further element to this discussion, how would you feel if you were a female QC, solicitor or lower judge who was fast-tracked to the Supremes because of a newly implemented quota? Would it affect how you viewed your own achievement, or would you just be glad that there was more proportional representation?

Not Amused

The Scots law lords appointed on a quota system don’t seem to have suffered too much psychologically.

Anonymous

You’re sanctioning quotas? Sorry didn’t realise it was your decision, Lord NA.

Not Amused

I would encourage all of the young people reading this site to adopt a similar approach. Deference achieves nothing. It inevitably leads to the young wasting years of their life bowing to and thereby maintaining the status quo. If instead young people adopt a sense of ownership and responsibility for the country then we may see real improvements.

The status quo isn’t brilliant. It barely reaches the level of ‘adequate’ when viewed objectively. Sure it’s better than a lot of other places, but if the UK is ever going to improve, it will need young people who are not hampered by deference.

Anonymous

Your argument about Scots judges is misconceived. The Supreme Court is (as the HL was) the ultimate appellate jurisdiction for 3 different legal systems. It is right that there should be at least one judge who has practiced in each of those jurisdictions – both perceptionally, and so that there is someone on the bench who actually knows what, for example, delict is. They are appointed not because they are Scottish, but because they are qualified in and have practiced in Scots law. That isn’t sort of precedent for quotas based on genital group, ethnicity, hair colour, or any other factor.

Anonymous

(The missing word is ‘any’, if you were wondering)

Not Amused

Well the point is that you think that there is a clear distinction between a quota of Scots and NI lawyers (for practical and constitutional reasons) and a quota of BME and women lawyers. I do not.

I think that both for practical reasons, and as you say, perceptionally, we should treat them as similar concepts.

The reason I raise scots and NI lawyers is to re-butt those who say quotas are themselves inherently wrong. They clearly can’t be if we’ve operated them for years (even if you think the reason we have for operating them are justified). Quotas can’t be inherently wrong.

Mr B J Mann

As a layman I’d welcome clarification as to whether there is a separate legal system in the UK for women as there is for Scots?

Perhaps it’s the one known as “Family Law”?!

Mr B J Mann

But clearly, as pointed out, there isn’t a “quota”.

You might as well argue that there is a “quota” for engineers and firemen on the footplate of a steam locomotive.

Or a “quota” for surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses in the operating theatre!

Mr B J Mann

How would you feel if they replaced the outdated, unfair, inequitable, old patriarchal, old boy system currently in use in hospitals where there is a quota of at least one anaesthetist and at least one surgeon in any operating theatre.

With a more progressive, forward looking, fair and equitable system where there had to be at least one black person and one female person.

But for your operation neither was going to be an anaesthetist?!

Mr B J Mann

But surely it’s not quotas for Scots.

But quotas for practitioners in Scottish Law.

Who could be English, Welsh, double-Dutch, or even, shock-horror, from the misogynist, sexist, male chauvinist pig Isle of Man (or racist Isle of White I suppose?!)!!

Anonymous

Utterly stupid comment. You are Charlotte Proudman, aren’t you?

Anonymous

The Guardian is deleting masses of comments as usual, when their readers do not agree with their views.

Other online broadsheets are lightweight in comparison to the authoritarian Guardian.

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Bob Spunkhouse

The best thing about LC is that unlike the Guardian, you can actually make serious comments here about the doubtfulness of Proudman’s approach and not get one’s comment deleted.

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Anonymous

…and you can say she looks like a mushroom without the gestapo interfering.

She looks like a mushroom, and I don’t like her.

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Boh Dear

Definition of irony: having your comment on a Comment is Free article deleted.

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Mr B J Mann

Tell me about it!

I’ve had a dozen removed ranging from:

>> I don’t recall feminists demanding the equal right to be drafted for Nam.

Through:

>> >> “Both sexes have the right to have a voice and use that

voice……”

>> Not in the liberal media it would appear!

To a long post the initial version of which received the following response:

Glorious! Made my day 🙂

I am listening to Vinci’s ‘L’Artaserse’ as I write this and I cannot

imagine a more sublime Saturday afternoon, bar the punctuation, which

is, frankly, a bit suspect. Even so, rock on, and thanks!

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Mr B J Mann

I tried re writing the long one, taking out anything I could within reason that might possibly invade their safe-space and need trigger-warnings and that disappeared too:

Further to Vicky Frankland’s comment, only a tiny percentage of people (including some women, despite the claims to the contrary) had the vote even in the 1800s.

All women only got the right to vote on the same day as all men got it (albeit they had to be older to exercise it).

So a success for people like Emily Pankurst, who, in between Suffragetting, used to hand out white feathers to conscientious objectors and the shell-shocked for declining to lay down their lives for the Suffragettes even on pain of death!

Women have the vote, more women go to university than men, women who chose a full time career earn much more than men, far fewer women that men commit suicide, women live longer and have healthier lives than men, women, despite apparently being no different to men, have the superior right to their children, and the right to make men pay for them, and the right to deny them even a say if their children should be aborted, more women than men are imprisoned and women get softer sentences than men, if you look carefully enough you will even find articles in the Guardian that confirm that nearly as many men as women suffer domestic violence, and possibly as many, if not more, certainly in the states, suffer rape, men are major victims of rape as a weapon of war, but it’s taboo to even mention such things, and any charity trying to address them will get their funding cut pour encourager les autres at the insistence of the feminist lobby (again, even the Guardian has had articles on such topics!).

There are far more women going into medicine (causing a massive staffing and funding shortages in the NHS as it costs £1M and takes two candidates to train the equivalent of a full time female doctor compared to one candidate and half a million for a male one).

And we even have vastly more women then men going into law, and the few who went in decades ago and stayed are twice as likely as a man to be made a judge.

And yet we still have comments like the one from Vicky Frankland.

(The stilted opening and ending are replacements for phrases that could have been taken as micro-aggressions threatening her safe-space.)

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Anonymous

Not quite the definition of irony, given that ‘Comment is Free’ obviously comes with conditions. One can argue about the merit of certain conditions, but some conditionality is to be expected.

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Veteran Commentarian

Don’t try commenting on Lord Harley’s ‘bona fides’ though…

Let us not forget the great Blacker comment purge & pray we never see the like again! *single tear rolls down cheek*

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Anonymous

Charlotte Proudman is a poor advocate to try and advance this discussion. There is a discussion to be had about representation at the highest levels of the judiciary, but her usual hyperbolic rubbish adds little to it.

Still, she’ll have impressed the usual #EverydaySexism brigade on Twitter, which is probably what she was aiming for.

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Quo Vadis

I know which I’d rather have represent me in court.

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A. Barrister

There are some fantastic female barristers and judges out there, at every level. Shame loud-mouth Proudman isn’t one of them.

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Anonymous

Can I just say that the Guardian’s picture of Lord Sumption is absolutely stunning. #justsaying

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Anonymous

Jeez.

Evidence if any were needed that she has no interest in a career in law.

This is all a calculated media stunt to build either a media career or a politics career.

I hope for her sake it is media she is gunning for. There is always room for a hysterical click baiter in the media. In politics, people will be turned off by her lunacy.

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Boh Dear

I’ve had enough of Charlotte Proudman. As I’ve stated previously I partially agree with Lord Sumption’s views; quotas do nothing to address the underlying root cause of the problem. Quotas produce a result that says ‘Look how diverse our contrived system is’ whilst not tackling the real issue of equality of opportunity.

To read into Lord Sumption’s view that he holds this opinion because “His comments encapsulate his deepest fears that power vested in the old boys’ network could come under siege” is simply bizarre and sensationalist. She is very prominent right now as ‘Most Popularised Feminist of the Month’ and is damaging the cause she is seeking to further. I have no issue with people speaking out, and loudly so, on issues they believe in, but do so with rationality and logic and not a profoundly bizarre and self-serving interpretation of some one else’s views.

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Mr B J Mann

OK, just between us, and don’t let it go any further like Charloud Proudmouth would, but she’s really me in drag:

It’s all part of my cunning plan to undermine feminists and ensure the third wave is the final goodbye from them!

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Anonymous

Congratulations to Proudman in following the Katie Hopkins roadmap to Z list fame.

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Anonymous

It’s getting kind of pathetic that lc keeps publishing these updates on proudman, clearly for the sole purpose of getting a load of weirdo trolls to comment on what a feminazi she is. Many of these commenters don’t not even seem to be lawyers/law students – why on earth is lc pandering to them?

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Anonymous

She’s an obnoxious blight on how the profession is seen in the eyes of the press and non-lawyers, and she is also a current media figure, and the issue is also relevant to a topic that has become extremely prevalent in higher education over the past few years. LC has a perfect right to publish updates, as it is and should be in the interests of people who read its articles.

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Boh Dear

What interests the public isn’t necessarily in the public interest.

Doesn’t stop it being bloody good juicy gossip though!

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Not Amused

Ctrl+F “feminazi”
1 match
Your post

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Bob Spunkhouse

You are not Not Amused. Imposter!

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lawyer2b

Almost all comments on here appear to be from practitioners or students! Durbrain

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Anonymous

Cannot wait for her book in a year about how she was hounded from the law and providing graphic details of “my journey”.

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Bargain Bookzzzzz

It’s already in production but she needs to see how the “emotional rollercoaster” pans out first.

(4)(0)

lawyer2b

I would be interested to know if Charlotte Proudman is the daughter of Mrs Justice Proudmam. I just wonder, if that was the case, whether any strings were pulled on her behalf in getting to the bar (something Sumption admits happened in his career)! hypocrisy has already been levelled at her in other instances!

I do think there is scope for quotas though, and I do not think all of Sumption’s arguments on quotas (attributable largely to a speech he gave on judicial diversity in 2012) are necessarily correct (though he made persuasive thorough arguments), particularly where he talks about vicarious experiences of judges as opposed to personal experiences, being the suitable tools for judges. Baroness Hale has showed that bringing a female’s point of view to cases (Stack v Dowden and Radmacher) opens up important lines of legal argument and debate, even if not ultimately correct.

I think there is room for quotas of women and ethnic minority judges to be appointed to the higher courts. It would be tricky to administer but for instance; of new appointments to the high court, a certain proportion of the positions could only open to female applicants, and another portion only open to black and other ethnic minority applicants.

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Anonymous

No relation as she changed her surname from Bailye to avoid a parking ticket.

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lawyer2b

Then she went for an ironic surname

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Anonymous

But it was the name of her maternal grandmother I believe, so possible it is one side of the family and that Justice thingy is a relation.

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Anon

She grew up in Morningside Gardens in Leek, a small town not far from Stoke. This is a fairly modest street. She then went to Keele Uni, not exactly a public school hangout.
Justice Proudfoot, went to Oxford in 1968. Now, I may be assuming too much, but it seems likely that if you are the daughter of a High Court judge (salary £174,00 P.A) and live with your mother, (as her father was deceased when she was a child), then you probably are not living in a small Barretts home somewhere in the North of England, when most of the mother’s court work is conducted in London. Also, why go to Keele when mummy is part of the legal elite?
Of course, I could be wrong. But the connection seems doubtful.

(5)(0)

Anon

Sorry, Justice Proudman,……it’s starting to get to me…

Mr B J Mann

But she ridiculed her dying paternal grandmother for her side of the family never having achieved anything, unlike her mother’s side.

Having said that, doesn’t she hate men because her father left a fortune to charity instead of her?

Perhaps as well as having “daddy issues” there are paternity issues too?

Mr B J Mann

Actually, that’s a pretty swanky residence for a single mum!

Mr B J Mann

Yup, definitely can’t be related to Justice Proudman:

“My best day was when the Court of Appeal said something so stunningly nice about a judgment I had given that I went around with a smile on my face for some time.”

Mr B J Mann

Mzz Proudman should read, learn and inwardly digest.

Mr B J Mann

Maternal Grandmother’s name.

Or as we misogynistic sexist male chauvinist pigs say:

Grandfather’s name!

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Charlotte Proudfoot

You are all vile oppressive men, asserting your hairy, masculine dominance over delicate hairless women in the pooblic spess.

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