It's wrong to turn one woman screaming wolf! into a media superstar.
For those coming late to the party, about two months ago Charlotte Proudman made headlines over calling a senior London-based lawyer, Alexander Carter-Silk, sexist in LinkedIn messages controversy.
I've had a problem with some aggressive feminists for quite a while. From their arrogant hijacking of the public agenda, to their silly belief they speak for all women. I can assure them: they aren't speaking for all of us and definitely not for me. To me, some of them are the epitome of what's wrong with women now. And it affects all of us.
I grew up in a very patriarchal society, which is slowly changing now. And although I was always encouraged in my career path, and even supported by men, of course I've noticed a slight double-standard in terms of how the same situation would be judged when involving a man comparing to when a woman was doing the same thing. Do I like it? I can honestly say I'm not giving it the time of day.
See, screaming about things doesn't necessarily make you right about them or force people to listen. I believe in leading by example: bettering myself constantly will make people see the value I add to an organization, situation, team, etc. To my knowledge, I have never been set aside because I am a woman.
Screaming "discrimination" will no doubt turn us all into victims one day. I am not a victim. I've seen some discrimination on account of being Romanian, and it didn't feel good. But if someone tries to discriminate against me, I won't have it. And it won't take long until I get my way. Not by screaming or posting mail between me and the other party, but by setting the correct tone to each conversation. It works every time. Or I walk away from it: stupidity is not always curable and I can't fix everyone.
I am not defending Alexander Carter-Silk. I don't even know the man. But, as we were all taught in law school or law classes (or on Law and Order), everyone is innocent until proven guilty - and this should be the basis of any legal system or personal mindset. Do I think he's sexist? That unfortunate exchange is definitely not enough to form a conclusion. At the end of the day, it all boils down to angles. As a journalist, I know very well that the angle I choose for my story is the one that will lead the audience's impression on the subject of my story. That gives me great power. And in today's viral environment, that power is even greater. I blame Mr Silk for poor judgement in not learning the lesson he surely taught his daughter: careful, you never know who's at the other end of the line. However calm and friendly they may seem.
In terms of what actually happened - being complimented has always been at the basis of being a woman. I would like a show of hands from those who don't enjoy a compliment, as long it doesn't carry an odd quid pro quod or some impropriety. Was him complimenting her on LinkedIn inappropriate? While I accept that many people use LinkedIn for professional purposes only, I can assure you that not all do. And that is an empirical observation, based on what I see on my wall when I open LinkedIn - from opinions on feminism to cooking recipes. This was not some strict office context. And even in that case - isn't the workplace one of the main venues for people finding partners? Let's not be hypocrites. If someone doesn't want to be represented through the image they have on their social media, then they shouldn't add a picture. If you're all business, post a photo of your CV and we're done.
And here's why I wouldn't hire Ms Proudman. As a journalist, I believe in the sanctity of all communications. And certainly revealing the details of a conversation which include the name and details of the other side is unacceptable (yes, we all have made the occasional comment about a PR person sending a silly email, but how many have actually posted the name of that person?). With her being a lawyer, I believe discretion should be even more important. I know there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in this situation, but we should definitely practice what we preach. I find it difficult to trust someone who would, on a whim, react by posting conversations on Twitter. Call me prejudiced, but all things equal, I'd prefer a more social-media silent representative. And with less of a penchant for making rash decisions.
If Ms Proudman thought Mr Silk was in the wrong, surely there were other ways to handle it. Ignoring is always an elegant option. Reporting him to The Bar Association would be another. But one would not bring global attention and the other would have no chance of success.
Having said that, feel free to look at my profile photo.