When is a compliment sexist?

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Charlotte Proudman has been all over the media today to reveal that she was sent a compliment on her LinkedIn account by someone she was connecting with.

The comment from Mr Alexander Carter-Silk said:

“Charlotte, delighted to connect, I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture!!!

“You definitely win the prize for the best LinkedIn picture I have ever seen.

 “Always interest to understand people’s skills and how we might work together.”

I think we can all agree that it’s not a business to business contact and it could be seen as inappropriate, but is it really sexist? Some females will already be jumping up and down complaining that as a man I don’t get a say on this, but isn’t that sexist 😉

Seriously though, you do have to look at the bigger picture here. Women are still earning less than men in the workplace and will face sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and objectification alongside being overlooked for promotion because of their sex. I’ve heard people who are interviewing moan about the fact they are hiring a young woman who will “probably go and get tubbed up” – and that was from a female!

There is still a long way to go before we find equality of any kind in the workplace for the two sexes. This comment is on a business/social networking site so no-one should be overly surprised that this sort of thing happens. Speaking to someone the other day they were telling me how male colleagues used to rate female job applicants on looks and dress sense. Apparently everyone is jockeying for Joan River’s job now she’s dead.

I’m also aware that many men are objectified (not me sadly) too, but without question this is a huge issue for women in the workplace. To be taken seriously for your skills and knowledge rather than your measurements and face. In this case though there is a simple solution – delete the person. If you feel that what they have said is inappropriate then remove them from your account and the issue is solved.

Whether you are online or in the street there always those who will comment, laugh, ridicule or objectify you because of your looks. And I’m not saying it’s right, but it is true. While we do have a duty to call it out where we see it, to ring the bell every time something like this happens can diminish the response that comes. There are real examples of sexist and misogynistic out there and a rather poor chat up line and attempt at flirting is not something we should spend too much time on.

If a woman doesn’t get a job or promotion because of discrimination then it’s an issue – this was just a poorly judged comment on a website. Mr Carter-Silk has not committed a crime so he shouldn’t be vilified – I’m sure his wife and family will be embarrassing him enough over the coming weeks to put him in his place.

I’m not defending him but I do think that in our current world situation there are much more important things on the agenda. There people being persecuted for race, sex, religion, sexuality, mental illness and many more issues – so a woman who can’t accept an older man’s misjudged compliment at face value then maybe we’ve got our priorities wrong.

JD

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