Hoity-toity young pin up of the day is a London barrister called Charlotte Proudman who has achieved sudden media prominence by attempting publicly to name and shame a middle-aged solicitor who dared to pay her a compliment.
Ms Proudman had posted a simpering picture of herself in her fetching wig and gown on the professional networking site LinkedIn.
Alexander Carter-Silk, a solicitor, commented:
Charlotte, delighted to connect, I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture!!!
Ms Proudman was not amused. She replied:
Alex, I find your message offensive. I am on Linked-in for business purposes not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men.
Unacceptable and misognynistic behaviour. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.
So delighted was Ms Proudwoman [as I really think she should consider styling herself] with her fearless rejection of the oppressive, sexist-pig, running-dog-lackey patriarchy that she then felt compelled to share her outrage on social media.
Good for Charlotte! I do love it when feisty young missies show a bit of a mettle. Only last year, when I was taking my daughter back to boarding school and I offered to make her bed for her, she sent me packing with a “Go away! Rapist!” “That’s my girl!” I thought to myself proudly.
Then again, my daughter is 14 – an age when a girl’s impressionable head is bound to be filled with all manner of barely understood feminist notions picked up off SnapChat and when, unfortunately, there aren’t always ponies available to boss around and kick and cajole over jumps.
Ms Proudwoman on the other hand is no longer a teenager. She’s not even an undergraduate. She’s a 27-year old lawyer with a grown-up job representing actual clients in real courts where words have consequences.
I don’t wish to sound ungallant towards someone clearly so sensitive. But isn’t it, well, ever so slightly immature to go into such a strop after a man’s clumsy compliment that you decide it’s sane and proportionate to respond by trying to destroy his career.
Can I prove beyond reasonable doubt that this was Ms Proudwoman’s intention – Mens Rea, as I believe it’s known – when she shared her humiliating put-down of the solicitor with her friends on social media, complain to his law firm and demand an apology?
Possibly not: I think it would require far greater psychoanalytical skills than I am capable to penetrate the mysterious workings of Ms Proudwoman’s brain.
However, what we do know is that the two Twitter accounts with whom @CRProudman decided to share her outrage were a) @ObjectUpdate (a feminist group – “for better representation of women & girls in the media & against sex object culture” – which broadcasts examples of male sexism) and b) @Jessica_Asato, a Labour Party activist and Executive Member of the Fabian Society.
You may ask yourselves, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, whether when Ms Proudwoman chose to reveal poor Alexander Carter-Silk’s private correspondence to those two particular Twitter accounts her intention was to keep it secret.
Interviewed in today’s Evening Standard, Ms Proudwoman has declared:
“I am not a man-hating feminazi.”
Heaven forfend that anyone should suggest such an unflattering thing.
But, again, at the risk of sounding ungallant, I cannot help noticing that the woman with the mirthless smile and the severe bob in the accompanying photograph is not necessarily what all people would describe as a “perfect ten.”
Perhaps this is what Alexander Carter-Silk was really getting at when he sent that reply. He saw in that photograph a woman of his no-doubted-beloved daughter’s age apparently yearning for a bit of attention and was simply doing his awkward best to put her at her ease, give her a bit of a fillip.
And indeed, we can all I’m sure sympathise to a degree with Ms Proudwoman’s predicament.
It is after all, a tough competitive world out there in the field of human rights law – and if you don’t have connections as good as Mrs Tony Blair’s or looks quite as striking as Mrs George Clooney’s – I imagine it can be hard, really hard, to get the attention you feel you deserve.
On the other hand, if it turns out that Ms Proudwoman wasn’t at all thinking of herself, only of striking a blow for the sisterhood, I’m not altogether convinced that this was the best way to do it.
Isn’t one of the arguments advanced for total equality that women are just as cool, lucid, rational and unprone to hysteria as their male counterparts? And does Ms Proudwoman’s behaviour in this instance strike you as emblematic of any of those qualities?
I rest my case.