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LinkedIn sexism storm: Women posting 'uglier' photos on LinkedIn to stop 'creepy' messages

The barrister has been contacted by women who said they too have been approached about their looks on the professional networking site

Hardeep Matharu
Friday 11 September 2015 12:36 BST
Family law barrister Charlotte Proudman has ignited a heated sexism debate
Family law barrister Charlotte Proudman has ignited a heated sexism debate (Charlotte Proudman/Twitter)

Women are changing their photos on professional networking site LinkedIn in a bid to stop unwarranted attention from "creepy" men

Following a heated debate ignited this week by 27-year-old family law barrister Charlotte Proudman, women have taken to Twitter to share their experiences of being approached by men on LinkedIn about their looks.

Staunch feminist and Cambridge University PhD student Ms Proudman sparked a media storm after she tweeted a private message she had received on the site from Alexander Carter-Silk, a lawyer at London solicitors firm Brown Rudnick, who she had contacted to 'connect' with.

“I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture,” he wrote.

To which Ms Proudman responded: “I am on LinkedIn for businesses purposes not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men.

“The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women. It silences women’s professional attributes as their physical appearance becomes the subject.

“Unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.”

But it seems Ms Proudman is not the only one who has been contacted on the site with remarks about how she looks, rather than her professional experience.

After publishing the message, the barrister was approached by law graduate Mandeer Kataria who said she had been forced to change her LinkedIn profile picture, from one in which she was wearing a dress to a turtleneck top, to stop receiving unwanted attention.

Ms Kataria tweeted: “I changed my LinkedIn profile photo to an uglier one so I’d get fewer creepy men adding/messaging me.”

She later added: “The irony of me saying I changed my LinkedIn pic to get fewer views is that I’m now getting more views than I’ve ever had.”

Ms Kataria, who is doing a Masters in International Law, told Sky News: “I was just getting loads of random men who were trying to connect - we weren't even in the same business line. They were not interested in my professional credentials.

“I took my picture down and replaced it with one that I considered was less attractive - and the messages stopped.

“But after hearing about Charlotte's case, I feel I shouldn't have had to do that."

She said: “If people don’t experience the repercussions for their actions, which are plainly wrong, then their behaviour will not change, and neither will sexist culture.

“All too often, women are afraid to speak up about these small but significant comments on their appearance which happen every single day.”

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