British newspapers are abuzz today with talk of Charlotte Proudman, a female barrister who publicly shamed a senior lawyer after he complimented her on one of her social media profile pictures.
In a breathtaking act of rampant misogyny, a male lawyer told Proudman that she had a “stunning” LinkedIn picture and that it should “win a prize.” I am sure that Breitbart readers will be as appalled as Proudman rightly was by such a grotesque expression of toxic masculinity.
Our Charlotte, too, was quite reasonably utterly repulsed by the staggeringly oppressive and patriarchally-motivated, albeit let’s be honest rather tamely phrased, compliment. She posted the private message on Twitter, where it quickly attracted the attention of national media outlets.
This was, of course, a violation of privacy, but what does that matter when the grievous issue of unwanted compliments is at stake?
Regular readers will know that I take a nuanced and considerate approach to discussions of social justice and gender, so they won’t be surprised to read my carefully judged opinion, which follows below.
JESUS H CHRIST, IS THIS WOMAN FOR REAL???????
As a humble and self-effacing sort of person, I naturally try to refrain from listing the compliments I get on social media and into my inbox. But for the sake of comparison, I’ll list a few.
i wish i was gay, milo, i would let you put it anywhere you wants
Milo is SO HOTTTTT
@Nero how much for the whole night
Milo Yiannopoulos, your grace and beauty are a testament to power and might of our Lord God, you are the irresistible embodiment of absolute physical perfection, a glorious, fiery intellect to rival the greatest philosophers in the western canon and perhaps the most charming man in the history of western civilisation
Okay, so I might have slightly embroidered the last one, but you get the idea. If I were to treat every one of them as oppressive harassment, I’d be unable to function. I’d also get laid less, which would be unacceptable.
Of course, not all of my compliments come from good-looking guys, or even good-looking girls. But I’m not ungrateful enough to lash out at anyone who I don’t find attractive. Sure, I’d prefer it if all my admirers were sketchy upcoming rappers with six packs, Magnums, and grills, but you can’t have everything in life. (Well, I can, but I try to limit myself. I want to stay approachable.)
On a related note, I suspect that if the male lawyer looked like George Clooney, Ms. Proudman wouldn’t be complaining. But you’re not supposed to say that, are you.
I don’t know how many compliments Ms. Proudman receives on a daily basis. But it takes an extraordinary level of entitlement to complain that you’re receiving too many of them, especially when they are as mild and non-creepy as the one Proudman received.
I’m a lot better looking than Ms. Proudman, so I get a lot more nice comments, but if I imagine receiving let’s say 0.5-1 per cent of the compliments I get, I can imagine how awful her life must be. Honestly, her stunt was almost a humblebrag, lighting up this poor solicitor in order to show the world she had received a grand total of one solitary half-compliment. Cringe.
The fact that she also felt the need to violate the male lawyer’s privacy and publicly embarrass him on social media demonstrates an incredible detachment from reality. Proudman has now taken to the pages of the Independent, where she complains that her career is now under threat because of a “misogynistic” backlash. And it’s true, members of large law firms have suggested that they will no longer work with her.
Here’s an ugly truth for Ms. Proudman: this “backlash” has nothing, I’m sorry to say, to do with your gender, and everything to do with your personality.
Men are perfectly comfortable working with women. Our era is more tolerant than any that has come before it, and in my experience men working in male-dominated environments are desperate for more women to join their teams. But that doesn’t mean people are comfortable working with loose-cannon harridans who post private correspondence on the internet. I mean, you’re a lawyer, for Heaven’s sake! Who in their right mind would hire you now?
It’s not that nobody wants to work with women or feminists. It’s that nobody wants to work with jerks. This is the sort of thing a jerk would do, and jerks create PR problems, as you’ve amply displayed here, they’re bores to work with, and they make life intolerable. Nobody wants to hire a human minefield.
I wonder if there’s a more obvious explanation: Proudman is tired of working as a lawyer, because you know, it’s really hard and stuff and sometimes men work longer hours so they get paid more and HOW DO THEY DO IT I’M JUST SO TIRED ALL THE TIME?!?!? and everything wrong in my life must surely be the fault of sexist men because I’m a perfect special snowflake!
After all, her social media accounts are covered in Labour Party plugs and political posturing. Could she be entering the rent-a-gob market, trying to set herself up as a new feminist heroine like the risible Caroline Criado-Perez? I guess we’ll find out.
One final thought: in her complaints about a sexist backlash, Proudman has conveniently ignored the fact that her most high-profile critic so far is a woman, the Daily Mail’s brilliant columnist Sarah Vine. As is always the case when casual allegations of misogyny are thrown around, the female critics of feminism are quickly swept under the rug.
But they shouldn’t be: Vine is thinking what other women are thinking. Shut the hell up, you odious windbag, and stop making life worse for everyone around you, especially other women.
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