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Is Charlotte Proudman about to sue the tabloids?

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Labelling me a ‘Feminazi’ is defamatory, claims barrister-turned-gender commentator

Lead

Sexism row barrister Charlotte Proudman has issued what appears to be a thinly-veiled threat to sue the Daily Mail for labelling her a ‘Feminazi’.

Writing in her latest Guardian column — she has penned three now since becoming a global media sensation through her skilful use of social media — Proudman claims that to suggest “those who challenge gender inequality are feminazis is, arguably, libellous”.

The Mansfield Chambers family law junior, 27, elaborates:

It is a false statement because feminists are not Nazis, and it could be defamatory because being branded some kind of a crypto-Nazi implies extremist and even homicidal ambitions.

Warming to her theme, she continues:

Labelling someone a feminazi publicly castigates and vilifies them and creates public perceptions that are untrue. It renders them at risk of being stigmatised, hated and unemployable. All of this for daring to contest the abuse of women.

Certainly Proudman’s closing lines will send a few shivers down the spine of the Daily Mail‘s legal department:

Let there be no mistake: a war of words is upon us.

Could these words — which were delivered as part of wider guide to how feminists can fight linguistic smears — be the prelude to a claim that not only banks the legal aid rookie some potentially much-needed cash, but also keeps her in the spotlight for a while longer?

The headline that the Daily Mail could live to regret:

mail-headline

77 Comments

Lord Harley

Gosh, she is an expert in defamation now. Such talent.

What a waste that she isn’t in practice right now.

(63)(3)

Anonymous

‘Ageism’

Charlotte, please could we have your considered and expert view on this?

Why have you ignored explaining about your ‘ageist’ public comment regarding Carter-Silk?

(20)(0)

Anon

BORED

(25)(2)

Anonymous

i hope she does. the judgement will likely feature the phrases

“dont care”, “use of court to advance personal development”, “erratic madness”, “malicious litigant”, “linked-in trap”

yawn. shes clearly playing the system. she was gaining 0 traction through talent, so do it by making stupid noise

(16)(0)

Antigone

Presumably Carter-Silk can also sue the Mail for referring to him as ‘leering’.

(21)(1)

Common Sense

It is quite obvious that the term “feminazi” does not mean “feminist who is an actual nazi”. This is so obvious that I am surprised it needs to be said. I am not trying to defend the term “feminazi” – it is not a term that I would ever use – but allegations of defamation are simply laughable. I fear for Ms Proudman’s clients (if any) …

(49)(1)

Ass-Eater LJ

More importantly, if nobody could reasonably believe it to be true it is not libellous. If anything, it’s simple vulgar abuse.
Back to school for you, Proudman.

(20)(0)

Kuzka's Mother

Dead horse being beaten.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

“being branded some kind of a crypto-Nazi implies extremist and even homicidal ambitions.”

I’m not exactly a fan of the pejorative term “Feminazi”, but isn’t #KillAllMen a thing in feminist circles?

(9)(4)

Anonymous

Nope.

(3)(10)

Anonymous

a google search confirms that it is

(16)(5)

Anonymous

Err just searched for that hashtag on twitter, scrolled down quite far and can’t find a single use of it in a feminist context. Lots of men angry about it. Exercise the old critical faculties – there are genuine injustices worth getting angry about and things that some sad people in some corner of the internet have made up. Don’t confuse the two.

(5)(5)

Anonymous

Obviously lots of people (not just men by the looks of it) are angry about something they made up.

Anonymous

Upon google searching:

1. Hundreds of tumblr posts, of which only a small minority are critical

2. Various tweets which are largely critical of the concept, but scattered throughout are such unironic delights as “Men are animalistic brutes who need not be taken seriously”, #MaleTears, #Manspreading and a new hashtag called #MasculinitySoFragile

3. A lengthy blog/essay defending the phrase: “”Kill all men” is a shorthand war cry, much the same as “ACAB” or “tremble hetero swine” or “die cis scum”. It represents a structural critique”

4. Various articles on the topic, including the time Goldsmiths University condoned the phrase by retaining a diversity officer who used it routinely.

5. A site selling t-shirts with the phrase.

Yeah, it’s totally not a thing. In fact, I just made it up.

Tony Tee

Is it a UK site selling the T shirts? If so a hate crime prosecution is in order.

Lucas

Could she please just shut up? Her rubbish isn’t even interesting anymore…

(10)(2)

Anonymous

it wasn’t interesting in the first place.

(10)(0)

Anonymous

The platform she has been given to talk about feminist issues – a topic she clearly devotes a significant portion of her life thinking about – and this is the best she can come up with to write about?

Bore off Charlotte.

(6)(3)

Not Amused

Don’t feed the troll.

(6)(5)

Clickbait Charlie

Obvious clickbait is obvious, LC. Fuck off with these Proudman stories.

(20)(1)

FarmerGilesPryor

face it…you read the whole thing, enjoyed it, can’t wait for the next one.

ClickedyClickClick

(13)(1)

Clive

And yet you clicked.

(8)(2)

Gorgonzola

So you now call yourself Clive, Alex?

(2)(0)

Richard Keys

A lot of pent up sexual frustration .

Someone smash her.

(21)(15)

Anonymous

This comment will surely make Miss Proudman blow her top with fury.

I should add that so long as this comment is intended in deliberate jest to mock her position, it’s amusing, albeit close to the mark. If it is seriously intended, it is evidence of much of what she says.

(4)(1)

Trouser Cobra

The more I look at her, the more she’s starting to turn me on. Charlooooooote, I thiiink I’m cuuuuuuumiiiiiiiinnng!!!

(6)(1)

Anonymous

She becoming a left wing Katie Hopkins

(15)(4)

Tony Tee

What I love about this publicity seeking man hater is her utterly contradictory surname.

You’d have thought she’d have heard of a deed poll by now.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

She already changed her name TO Proudman from Bailye (or something)

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Doesn’t say much for her brain that she chose to change to such a hilariously inappropriate name.

(2)(0)

Tony Tee

I suppose changing it to Charlotte Hateman was a bit too left wing even for her.

(9)(0)

HR Expert

You have to love her comment about how using such volatile language potentially makes people ‘unemployable’.

Oh dear, if she only knew why employers hire people and why they choose to avoid hiring others. Tsk-tsk, I guess the penny will drop eventually.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Obviously it’s the “feminazi” label that has impacted her employment prospects; her conduct has been faultless. Always somebody else’s fault. No exceptions.

(2)(1)

Don

In any case, if she is a barrister in a chambers she would be self-employed, so no case to answer.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

I believe “Nomorebriefs4u” was the phrase employed at the time of the original scandal

(2)(0)

Anonymous

She’s obviously laying the groundwork already for her next article:

WHY PEOPLE WONT EMPLOY ME AFTER TABLOIDS BRANDED ME FEMINAZI

Perhaps LC can get the exclusive?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

It’s not being labelled a feminazi that has rendered her unemployable.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

The BSB need to intervene and stop Proudman bringing the Bar into further disrepute.

(23)(2)

Female lawyer

I know I’ll get downvoted and insulted but I have to say that I really admire Proudman and appreciate her interventions. I think that a lot of people feel the same but LC’s policy of allowing flagrantly misogynistic comments to go unmoderated means that we’re unlikely to hear from them on this website.

(7)(20)

Anonymous

So you think ‘stunning’ is misogynistic?

You think Proudman public exposing a private message from a professional colleague is something to be admired?

Have you complained about messages taking the ‘mick’ out of Carter-Silk?

Carter-Silk and his family have kept quiet and yet he has been lampooned incessantly because of a private message made public by Proudman. I don’t see you sympathising with his and his family’s plight, why not?

Or is it just females you admire and feel sorry for? That would demonstrate your bias based on gender, wouldn’t it?

(19)(2)

Anonymous

If you look on any of the broadsheets on-line, including the Guardian, the comments are 99% + unsupportive of Proudman.

So your silly view that comments on LC are stopping her vast army of supporters coming out in her defense are a nonsense, obviously.

(6)(1)

Not Amused

People resent the term misogynist being applied to anyone who disagrees with Ms Proudman. They resent it just as much as Ms Proudman resents being called a feminazi.

Unfortunately for all feminist, and I include myself here, Ms Proudman is frequently wrong.

1) complimenting someone’s professionally touched up photograph via private message when they are not your employee is not sexism;
2) The person who used the term feminazi about Ms Proudman, was Ms Proudman;
3) Calling someone a feminazi, even if they were called it, is not defamation

Hypocrisy and a total lack of intellectual consistency undermine the feminist cause. If anyone cared about actual feminist issues they would be talking about far wiser feminist lawyers than Ms Proudman. All Ms Proudman has done is orchestrate a side show and profit from that by gaining a new ‘celebrity’ career.

Ms Proudman risks profoundly damaging many young women who are considering careers in the law by pretending sexism is rife when it is not. As someone who frequently has to explain to school age young women that they can become barristers, and that the message they got from the media that everyone was against them is wrong, I resent self promoters who profit from spreading misleading ideas.

You are entitled to disagree with me – but I would appreciate you taking the time to read and consider my views before you simply dismiss me as a misogynist

(26)(2)

Anonymous

Spot on!

(4)(0)

Anonymous

I am not saying comments disagreeing with Proudman should be deleted. I am saying that flagrantly maisogynistic comments should be deleted. Everyone is entitled to their perspective on the politics of a approaching a new colleague with a personal compliment and on the politics of publishing correspondence perceived as offensive. But many of the comments on articles on this subject on this site are vulgar remarks about parts of Proudman’s or (perceived) female commenters’ anatomy, suggestions that she or other feminists need to be fucked in order have their thinking corrected, and so on. This is not debate and fair comment, it’s misogybistic hate speech and it wouldn’t be allowed on many forums. To expect that allowing it will not have a chilling effect on discussions is naive. And of course this is precisely the effect that it’s authors hope it will have.

(1)(9)

Anonymous

And in response to you NA, I know you mean well but in my experience in the legal and in my previous profession, I have without exception found that people who seek to deny and minimise instances of sexism to be a far greater problem than those who seek to discuss and expose it. With respect, I’d try actually speaking to some young women about their experiences than assuming that you know best for them what they need and ought to think.

(3)(1)

Not Amused

1) I don’t think your previous profession matters;
2) I do care about the legal profession;
3) I too understand and am exposed to the legal profession

The young women I speak to often start by saying “I know I can’t be a barrister because XXX told me the Bar is sexist and women can’t succeed”. The options that I have in that scenario are these: 1) I tell them XXX is right, or 2) I tell them XXX is wrong.

I take great offense at any suggestion that by taking option 2) I am a “far greater harm” to these young women. Your counter position of adopting option 1) is absurd – unless you actively wish to dissuade young women from even joining the profession. I have found that the perception of the Bar is greatly skewed against the reality of the Bar. That perception is harmful to the diversity of the Bar and so it needs to be challenged.

When the XXX in question is Ms Proudman asserting that what happened to her (which was not sexism) is sexism, then I find the need to active tell young women frustrating. I worry terribly about the young women who no one ever gets to talk to, who sit in their rooms not applying to the Bar because of media circuses like this. Their loss is a grave loss to the future of the Bar. I accept that the fact these young women often only have me to rely on is not brilliant for those young women. I encourage you and others to go out, go to schools and talk to charities to help.

The only reason I type here is in the hope that one young person has their perception changed and applies.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Iin my experience women do not find a man telling them that any stories of sexism in a profession are fabrication and exaggeration a comfort. This kind of minimisation and dismissal of complaints is sadly familiar to many. And I certainly don’t think women need a man telling them what is and what is not sexism. Serious question: do you ever consider the possibility that your views on issues surrounding gender might be conditioned by your own experience as a man rather than a preternatural ability to achieve objectivity?

Anonymous

Thanks for taking the time out of your thriving practice to join us, Ms Proudman.

Not Amused

With respect this is the second time you have completely dismissed my reasoned and logical argument because “in your experience” you disagree.

Now it might be entirely possible that there are huge flaws in my logic and my reasoning. But until you demonstrate the courtesy of actually pointing them out to me, I don’t see why I should waste time on you. I am similarly not interested in your making wild guesses about me.

It is the argument that matters. Currently you advocate option 1 – telling the young woman that sexism is indeed rife at the Bar and that she cannot succeed. That would result in that young woman not applying. Such a result is unacceptable to me. Not least of all because it is not true – and I need only casually point to the vast numbers of female lawyers (barristers, solicitors and judges) who are utterly outstanding.

Ms Proudman concocted a media storm and appears to have benefitted from that. One of her unwitting casualties are the young women who know no better than to believe her. As someone who has to deal with the fallout I resent that. I equally resent your helpful suggestion that instead of dealing with it, I tell brilliant future barristers to not even bother trying just because they are women.

OK, I'll bite

NA, I agree with many of your points on this topic. I am not a fan of Ms Proudman, her actions or her words. Nor am I a feminist; I am simply a fan of equal treatment for all.

I would point out one error in your argument, from my point of view. There are not just two options. You state “The young women I speak to often start by saying “I know I can’t be a barrister because XXX told me the Bar is sexist and women can’t succeed”. The options that I have in that scenario are these: 1) I tell them XXX is right, or 2) I tell them XXX is wrong.”

I would say there’s a third option: “3) XXX is correct in the sense that there is a great deal of sexism, but that does not mean you cannot succeed”.

Not Amused

“I would say there’s a third option: “3) XXX is correct in the sense that there is a great deal of sexism, but that does not mean you cannot succeed”.”

And to support this third argument I cite Ms Proudman’s non-sexist event or her later unsubstantiated claims? I will assume you are not citing Proudman because her event was not sexism. Do I believe the Bar can be labelled as ‘sexist’ more generally?

No. We have proper channels for reporting sexism. It’s easy to report and taken incredibly seriously if or when it does occur. The BSB, for all their faults, are there to protect even should an individual chambers fail to (most chambers are themselves brilliant at this). No profession, just like any group of humans, is ever 100% free from prejudice – although that is certainly my goal for the Bar and I see nothing but 100% effort in that direction from every barrister I know.

This idea of secret but prevalent sexism is oft doled out. Sometimes the focus changes and the Bar is accused of being secretly racist, secretly ageist, secretly ‘insert characteristic I am here in order to justify my failure’. People can believe what they like. In many ways failure in life is unpleasant and dealing with it by believing the odds are stacked against you is normal and fine. It is not acceptable when it crosses the line in to the public space and young people (who are innocent) have their heads filled with negative views of the Bar.

If I had to single out one cause of poor diversity and poor social mobility at the Bar then after money I would put ‘kids being too worried to even apply’. I would endure a thousand compliments a day about my photograph if it was the price of one kid having the courage to apply – the damage from this spat will be profound and last long after we have forgotten who Ms Proudman is.

Anonymous

No one is pretending that it isn’t sexism.

It just wasn’t sexism in this case.

Sorry, but that’s the truth.

Anonymous

By “XXX”, do you mean hardcore pornography? Your post is much more droll if you do.

Adam Costello

Whilst I deplore any form of -ism, this young lady is not doing herself any favours; persue the cause by all means, but she needs to do it in a more mature way.

The rhetoric she comes out with when trying to explain her case is ridiculous.

And Richard Keys: No. Even if it was supposed to be in jest, no.

(3)(2)

Don

I would love to see Proudman and Lord Harley in the Big Brother house together. Who knows, maybe one day it will happen?

(6)(1)

Gonzo

Too dangerous. All that pent-up sexual energy in the two could result in a spontaneous combustion of her untrimmed muff and his 13in trouser cobra.

(5)(3)

The Wolf

“his 13in trouser cobra”

Verified by reference to his LinkedIn profile.

(0)(0)

37th Duke

Alan Blacker should instruct Charlotte Proudman and Mx Proudman should instruct “senior counsel” Lord Harley. Legal Cheek fantasy legal team.

(7)(0)

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