Remember the tale of Charlotte Proudman? Last year, the young female barrister posted a screenshot on Twitter of the leering LinkedIn messages she’d received from a much more senior male lawyer, Alexander Carter-Silk. A thousand frenzied think pieces followed; in many, Proudman was labelled a “man-hating feminazi” for daring to call out a man’s inappropriate behaviour. Eventually, after months of relentless abuse from trolls, she ended up leaving Twitter.
For all the hate heaped on Proudman, you might have hoped that the saga would at least deter other men from using LinkedIn to try and pick up women. (Because, quick reminder: that’s not what it’s for.) But as we all know by now, we do not live in a perfect world.
On Saturday night, marketing consultant Abigail McAlpine, from Huddersfield, received a LinkedIn message from a user named Dermot Conway: “You are beautiful”.
“This is a professional website,” McAlpine replied. “Please act like a professional.”
Quick as a flash, 19 hours later, Conway had cooked up a zinger of a response. “A simple ‘thank you’ would have sufficed hunni,” he wrote. “Be more nice. This is a nice website for nice people.”
And there it is: the unerring conviction of the sleazy man that any and all women will be deeply flattered by his attention, wherever and whenever he decides to bestow it upon then – and that in complimenting a woman, he is simply being a ‘nice guy’.
Time for McAlpine to lay down some truth.
“You’re misinformed,” she wrote. “The LinkedIn mission statement is ‘To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.’ Not ‘use it to message women the same you would on Tinder without the need to match them, because it’s irrelevant whether they want your attention or not, they should be thankful for your compliments on a professional website’.
“I’m not grateful for your comment,” she continued. “I find it entirely unprofessional that you’re using this platform to message women, so why would I thank you?”
She then posted a screenshot of her conversation with Conway on her LinkedIn profile, saying: “Please do not use this website like Tinder, I don’t invite these comments with my profile or my work. I don’t care if it’s blunt, it’s not what LinkedIn is for. It’s becoming far too common.”
Predictably, McAlpine’s decision to publicly shame Conway was met with a mixed response, with several users taking the timeworn stance of telling her to ‘deal with it’ – despite the fact that McAlpine said that she had resorted to reporting Conway to the police after he became threatening, before deleting his account.
“All these women libber types get right up my nose,” wrote a representative from one company. “She could have given him same answer without posting it and professionally told him she's going to report him for inappropriate verbiage and than go ahead and do just that… I've got a feeling Abigail you might be lapping all this up and is enjoying her [sic] ‘soap box’ moment here!”
In response, another LinkedIn user summed it up perfectly.
“Enjoy your liberties, ma’am, while berating another woman, who brings to light boorish behaviour that is unacceptable in a professional networking site,” wrote Anh Nguyen. “I hope that you’ll never be the victim of the type of harassment that escalate[s] to violence.”