|Sexist? No. It’s just feet.|
You know what? I really couldn’t let this pass without remark. I am no fanboy of PC in all its forms, fatuous or otherwise, courtesy usually providing an acceptable alternative. If people find certain words, phrases and innuendi ‘offensive’, then so be it. Life is hard for delicate little flowers sometimes and occasionally its winds blow cruelly. This is all about one Charlotte Proudman – the irony did not escape me – who was complimented on her photograph published on LinkedIn – where young Turks of all ages get to publicly joust for their next big break. OK, perhaps a bit patronising, but an entirely harmless, indeed quite chivalrous remark made by a senior lawyer, complimenting Ms Proudman on what was, after all, a quite well-taken picture of a pretty twentysomething. But, this was no ordinary bimbette. No, indeed. She happened to be a Cambridge PhD, and a human rights barrister with expertise in female genital mutilation, forced marriage and honour-based violence who took grievous offence to the gentleman’s perceived sexism. Oh, dear. I can’t imagine what retribution she would have exacted had he patted her bottom. She responded rather robustly, I thought, saying in her own words that she found his message ‘offensive’ and that she was not on LinkedIn ‘to be objectified by sexist men’. She then went on to describe his behaviour as ‘unacceptable and misogynistic’. Quite clearly, she doesn’t know that the word means a deep hatred of women. She went on to suggest that he should ‘think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message’; the irony of using ageism to bemoan sexism clearly escaped her.
The inevitable Twitterstorm produced champions for both sides, and it’s been hilarious to follow the exchanges. The tweet-and-bleat feminazis versus the knights in shining armour for whom paying a courtly compliment is really rather dashing. Did he pat her bum? No. Did he leer at her suggestively and call her ‘sweetheart’? No. They have never met. Did he ask her to send him a picture of her in her nightie? All he did was write a complimentary if perhaps misguidedly candid note on her LinkedIn page which she was at pains to point out was for *snigger* ‘business purposes’. Now THAT was a sexist and misogynistic remark. The words are exactly the same but…
It’s interesting to me when I notice that so many arrogantly believe they have a God-given right to go about their daily lives without ever being offended, or simply engaged with. But, hey, they can’t. Nobody’s an island, thank God. What makes life grand, interesting and serendipitous is when we encounter all kinds of people, saying all sorts of stuff, some of them are ‘nice’, some oafishly rude, others paralysingly stupid. Far better to endure the occasional rough encounter – or receive an unexpected compliment–than to live in the emotional twilight and tyranny of social paralysis that the PC among us cultivate so enthusiastically.
I suspect that she might be regretting her strident little tantrum. Educated, grown up people should really be better equipped to deal with remarks which offend them and now she has to detach herself from an hysterical and schoolgirlish social media firestorm. I wonder how she’d behave if she was subjected to serious, deliberate and sustained harassment, as many undoubtedly are, some of whom may be her clients. I hope she can defend them with rather more measured objectivity than she shows when defending herself.