Like Tinder, you can get harassed & slut shamed on LinkedIn too

LinkedIn. A Complete mystery for some, a great professional networking tool for others. LinkedIn can also tell us a lot about how experiences of social media can vary depending on gender.

This post by a graduate student, a woman of colour, sums it up.

Women’s experience on LinkedIn, a social media site designed to be used on a purely professional basis, can sound very similar to an episode of Mad Men where a professional setting is perverted into a place of aggressive seduction attempts, harassment and misogyny.

Expressing your concerns about the use of LinkedIn as a dating tool is not, like some people in the post’s comments have pointed out, ‘screaming for attention’. It is certainly not something any woman should be ashamed of or keep to herself by just moving on and deleting the messages. The very fact that people are warning her she should delete her post to avoid negative impact on her future career is disturbing and frankly alarming. Are we to stay silent when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace in fear of the consequences? The recent revelations that Fox News had covered up presenter Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment allegations for decades before finally firing him last week when advertisers started dropping out (read: his large audience, and the profit it brought through advertising, meant that paying $13 million to silence his victims was a better investment for Fox than protecting their female employees), proves that we still have a long way to go when it comes to addressing issues of sexual harassment in professional settings.

Can we please, for once and for all, settle on the fact that being harassed either on social media or in real life is not a way to tell someone they are ‘attractive’? It is an unrequired and unwelcome invasion of personal space; and is often an attempt at exerting control over that person. It is also a continuation of patriarchy’s oppressive tactics that want to show that women in the professional space are nothing but public property and ‘fair game’.

A woman, especially on a professional website, is entitled to be treated in a professional manner. Personal messages on her physical appearance discredit the working profile of an individual. When such comments are met with disdain, the justification is that it was just an innocent compliment.

It is instilled in women to accept unwanted attention as a compliment rather than an unnecessary wrong. But the psychological effects of the same are damaging. When professional capacity is merged with comments about physical appearance, then the concept arises that women need to be pretty to be successful. Or vice versa: successful women are so because of their physical appearance.

Advertisements cater to it, society caters to it, and the business industry caters to it.

Bringing up ‘comments about personal appearance’ on a professional website like LinkedIn and then, when the person has the courage to call them out, dismissing her as an ‘attention seeker’, just goes to confirm the belief.

Accept creepy comments as a norm.

Well, we say, normalisation was overrated anyway.