Charlotte Proudman’s outing of Alexander Carter-Silk has stirred quite a controversy on the legal twitter sphere. She’s certainly not the first female professional whose appearance has been commented on by a senior man – and his comments are certainly not the crudest. Rather, the furore is due to the fact that Carter Silk responded to her linkedIn invitation by giving her what he thought would be a compliment. However, banal you think his comment – the quick ’sexism test’ is to ask ‘would he likely have written the same exact email reply to a male lawyer? I think not.
But what bothers us more is how much of the public dialogue has turned towards blaming Proudman for ‘attention-seeking’ now that she is being asked to give interviews and write articles on the topic. The tenor of many articles is that she is a publicity seeker, rather than a professional woman with many accomplishments that make her credible – even before this row kicked off. It harks back to the ‘blame the victim’ mentality we see with victims of rape. As Matthew Scott, a barrister and blogger, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “I think we have to look how this developed… Charlotte sent him a message, asking him to connect so the initial contact was made by Charlotte.’ It’s spooky how akin Smart’s comments are to the ‘what did she expect with how she was dressed and what she was wearing?’ attitudes we’ve seen in sexual assault cases. You may not agree with Proudman’s naming and shaming tactics, but let’s remember Carter Silk’s certainly not the victim in all this.