You Have A New (Pervy) Connection On LinkedIn!

The most recent of the “compliments” I have received on LinkedIn reads, “Congrats on the HuffPost great photo by the way rich.” There’s a lot going on here. I haven’t worked at “the HuffPost” since the beginning of November, so not a lot of research was put into that portion of the message. Although, my favorite part is probably, “by the way rich.” (Unfortunately, it’s not a non-sequitur meaning, “also, I have considerable funds.” The guy’s name is Rich.)

by the way rich



That happens a lot. It happened a lot when I had a blurry photo of me reading a copy of “100 Words To Make You Sound Smart,” because I think I’m hilarious. It happens even more now that I have a professional headshot; the sun is glistening in my hair like a halo and I kind of look like the lead singer of a Christian folk band, except in a good way. To be honest, I’m not sure why I have a LinkedIn, in the same way I’m not sure what I keep old phone chargers in a sort of rat king arrangement under my bed. It’s just a thing we all do, I guess. But what I am sure of, what probably almost all women who have eyes and a LinkedIn profile are sure of, is that this professional networking site has somehow become yet another venue for sexual harassment online. And that makes no sense.

By creating a LinkedIn profile, you are publically linking yourself with individuals in your field along with marketable job skills. That’s it. And I wish I could endorse some of these guys’ creep skills, but objectively speaking, LinkedIn is the actual last place on the Internet you should be tryna get some. Go on Tinder, OKCupid, Facebook, or Twitter. Go on the goddamn comments section of Brooklyn Vegan for all I care. Any of that makes more sense than LinkedIn. Like, even in a porn version of “Mad Men,” it would have been a little unorthodox to try and fuck your secretary in the HR offices specifically. Which leads to the more pressing question of: seriously, what do these guys even expect in the first place?

Hitting on women on LinkedIn is eerily similar to catcalling in the sense that an affirmative outcome is virtually impossible. There is not a real-life scenario in which a woman is walking down the street, hears a man cat calling her, stops and says, “Why yes, I am a hot mama, would you like to have intercourse?” OK, it’s not going to happen. Men catcalling women is the efficient equivalent of potty training a frog or trying to explain to your bigot uncle that reverse racism is not a thing. The impossibility of catcalling directly applies to LinkedIn. Can you even imagine? “Mom, how did you meet dad?” “Oh, he randomly messaged me on LinkedIn and said I had a really pretty photo.” I can’t even fathom responding to such a thing aside from just sending back that GIF of Elmo set on a backdrop of blazing fire. 

blazing elmo

The Internet being shitty is a given and catcalling being shitty is a given, but what makes LinkedIn especially disgusting is the professional branding of the site. It’s basically workplace harassment without the threat of being fired or any real repercussions beyond behaving like an overall dickhead (which, apparently, is not a thing certain straight men on LinkedIn care about). Given the lack of consequences and near-unlimited access to private messaging, it’s effectively a space between the depravity of street harassment and the power structures of workplace harassment. You know the white guys in suits that were missing from that viral cat-calling video? They were busy on LinkedIn sending messages about what a pretty headshot that is.

Oh, and by the way, LinkedIn creeps totally tell women to fuck off when they don’t reciprocate like their cat-calling counterparts. They just use fancier language to do it.

Consider Marion, who received the following message when she told a LinkedIn suitor she was uncomfortable with him saying she “[looked] fabulous” in her profile picture:

 

“Oh dear. Such unprecedented acidity in the face of being paid a compliment and being offered encouragement in your endeavors. I see this is not a profitable source of exploration.”

“I see this is not a profitable source of exploration” is actually the business professional version of “Fuck you bitch, put your titties away.”

This weird phenomenon in which the straight men agreed it was OK to sexually harass women on a goddamn business networking site finally got attention this past September when UK lawyer Charlotte Proudman tweeted a message she received about her “stunning picture.” “The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women,” she wrote back. “It silences women’s professional attributes as their physical appearance becomes the subject.”      

Proudman was met with praise and messages of solidarity from the way too many women who have had similar encounters. And yet, there was also anger, because, “feminazi” is still a term people use, apparently. The backlash is perhaps best summed up in a Daily Mail article titled “If A Man Can’t Compliment A Woman, The Human Race Is In Deep Trouble.” Anyway, they got the last part of that right.

The idea that men should be able to wantonly deal out unwelcome flattery under the guise of chivalry is just rape culture dressed up in a medieval knight costume from Party City. Except, at least on the street, you could argue the comments are not always unwelcome. (I mean, I couldn’t, but that lady from the New York Post is into it.) In the workplace, however, romantic advances are not only automatically unwelcome, but ACTUALLY AGAINST THE LAW. It should be a basic understanding that refraining from being a pervert applies to all extensions of the professional sphere. Commenting on a woman’s appearance on a business networking site is just the idiot cousin of workplace sexual harassment, and none of it is OK.

Hey, creepy straight men? Common sense would like to connect with you on LinkedIn.