This morning, the Daily Mail has put Charlotte Proudman, the 27-year-old woman who publicly shamed a man she believed was being sexist, on their front page again. They've gone with the Feminazi headline once again, too. They like the ring of that: Feminazi.
The Daily Mail – the paper that likes to troll us all by calling Hollywood stars fat; an institution run by middle-aged white men petrified of a time when all women will call out dodgy LinkedIn admirers like Alexander Carter-Silk – has also unearthed Facebook comments made by Proudman, in which she praises the appearance of both men and women. So they’ve found evidence of Proudman using the word “hot” under a photo and screamed: “How the Feminazi lawyer ogles men online”. Presumably, Proudman actually *knew* the men that she was “ogling” – these weren’t men in junior positions in her line of work who she came across on professional networking sites, so yeah, it’s not really the same thing. But well done on managing to fuel sexist hate out of snatched Facebook comments.
Because the thing is, Feminazi isn’t even the worst thing Charlotte Proudman has been called. Feminazi is actually so ridiculous a word as to be almost funny. I wouldn’t even mind calling myself a Feminazi; I might just start doing that. Cunt: that’s a worse word, I think. It’s a punch of an insult, gendered and misogynistic. Being called a cunt is always a shock – if it’s shouted at you, online or in real life, it will leave you feeling winded and bruised and raw and weakened. And Charlotte Proudman has been called that several times since she posted that screenshot to Twitter.
Journalist Martin Belam has rounded up the recent tweets directed at Charlotte Proudman in a brilliant post for Medium, examining the despicable gendered abuse she has received, collecting all the “bitches” and “cunts” in one place so that we can see for ourselves why we still need to keep having discussions about sexism – online and in the workplace.
Men just don’t undermine women by objectifying them and sexualising them with misplaced compliments, like Alexander Carter-Silk did. They also threaten them, often with sexual violence
Belam separates the tweets into different categories of insults levelled against women, interrogating all the different ways men undermine women. Because men just don’t undermine women by objectifying them and sexualising them with misplaced compliments, like Alexander Carter-Silk did. They also threaten them, often with sexual violence. Or, they tell women “they’re not that attractive anyway”. Furious men, angry and bewildered that the status quo is being questioned, will threaten to either fuck women or not fuck women.
Women do experience sexism at work and the law is an area that has a real problem with women deserting it in their droves in their thirties as women barristers find it impossible to take maternity leave. Charlotte Proudman said that this “your photo is stunning” comment from Carter-Silk was the latest in a long line of remarks she found worryingly, depressingly unrelated to her career and job prospects. She wanted to discuss the sexism that she had encountered, to address an issue she felt was important in her line of work, to begin a conversation about how privileged white men thought it appropriate to comment on the pictures of far younger colleagues.
Maybe posting a screenshot online wasn't the way every woman would have chosen to present these issues (I have had several interesting discussions with women and men debating whether what Carter-Silk did was actually “sexist”) but what has happened since, with rabidly violent online commenters – encouraged by the “respectable” press – abusing a 27-year-old woman proves exactly the kind of sexism women face, and why we need to bring it up for discussion in the best way we see fit.