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The Moral High Ground?

Stuart White
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE

If I sent you a message on LinkedIn telling you your profile picture was ‘striking’ or ‘fabulous’ would you be offended? Would your reaction be different if you were a man or a woman? How about whether you were younger or older?

Well that was how such a message was received by member Charlotte Proudman when 57-year-old UK lawyer Alexander Carter-Silk said something similar to the 27-year-old, human rights lawyer. He got more than he bargained for when he accepted Ms. Proudman’s invite to connect, congratulating her on her “stunning picture” and she accused him of “unacceptable and misogynistic behaviour” for sending such a message, immediately naming and shaming him on Twitter by posting her outraged reply online.

In her retort she warned him to “think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.” Ms. Proudman, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge who is researching female genital mutilation, told Mr. Carter-Silk his message was “offensive”. Her response, which initially prompted praise on social media, read: “I am on LinkedIn for business purposes, not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men.”

She went on to say: “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.”

Apparently this is not the first time that Ms. Proudman has received similar messages about her appearance, although not from anyone as senior as Carter-Silk. And let me tell you, at the risk of sounding as horribly politically incorrect as he apparently was, it is a damn, fine, striking picture. But did she go overboard in her reaction? Has she taken political correctness too far?

Reactions have been mixed, with some blogger posting “What kind of world do you want to live in? Someone complimented u, not sent a filthy msg. Grow up & fight for important matters.” Another commented: “You represent everything wrong with the world. Glad I never have to know you.” – That’s directed at her not him, by the way.

Franklin Sinclair of Tuckers Solicitors said: “What an awful thing to do, what kind of world do we live in when a man can’t give a lady a compliment.” He suggested solicitors would no longer want to give her briefs, adding, “It’s not for exposing sexism of which this is not even an example, it’s for publishing private stuff, how can you be trusted?”  Another critic on Twitter wrote: “If I ever need a lawyer I would avoid her and her firm. She cannot keep her mouth shut.”

No sympathy there, then and perhaps the fact that she decided to publicly out him seemed a little bit too vindictive. I guess in my mind the question is, does the punishment fit the crime?

Defending her stance to the Daily Mail, Ms. Proudman said: "I have received messages saying: “You have ruined your career. You have bitten the hand that feeds you. There go your instructions from solicitors."

Here is the thing; we all know that whether you are male or female, creepy online messages from strangers are a no-go for any self-respecting individual but in this instance it was Ms. Proudman who contacted him with an invite to connect so it’s not as if he is a random stranger who was stalking her. And in his acceptance message all he said was "I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect, but that is a stunning picture!!!  You definitely win the prize for the best LinkedIn picture I have ever seen.”  Is that really such an inappropriate response? I can’t help thinking she overreacted.  Her accusation of sexism and (implied) lecherousness made all the front pages in the UK tabloids and such a public dressing down seemed a little OTT.

But then again I’m a man and maybe my viewpoint is a little skewed so I asked the ladies in my office how they would respond.  These were their responses:
 
Botshelo: “I won’t be offended, I am just usually disinterested in such messages on LinkedIn, and so in most cases I would just ignore the message and leave it at that.”

Ruth: “It depends…The fact that they responded would be a win for me given that I would have sent them a message. People hardly respond to messages on LinkedIn…well the “influential” or executives who limit their activity on the platform. I would not be offended by the compliment. However, if the person has a lower rank, I’d feel that that person is either 1. A weirdo or 2.Sucking up to me to find a job for them. So I guess for me it depends on the rank of the person I would have contacted, as well as their level of activity on LinkedIn.

Bonolo: “I would initially be taken aback. I would have mixed emotions…I’d be caught between feeling chuffed and really gorgeous and in the same breath I would be wondering that if I do respond, what does that mean, will he want to engage…because I wouldn’t want to engage in a back and forth conversation. My ideal situation would be to say thank you and leave it at that.”

Okhola: “Thank you would be my response. I would never be offended by such a compliment. But the catch 22 is that LinkedIn is associated with career networks, as such people are serious and want to always be perceived as professional. Display pictures are often people in their “pinstriped suits”. When do people have an opportunity to show their personalities even in a serious work environment without being perceived as unprofessional?  Not what you asked for by a long shot but it’s definitely an interesting subject more also now that most employers are using social media and references for the selection of their talent.”

Maybe I am a cynical sexist with a dislike for snippy, vindictive and over-sensitive good-looking woman but I have to wonder how Ms. Proudman would have reacted if instead of 50-something Carter-Silk, she had received the compliments from a younger lawyer who looked like Brad Pitt or Denzel Washington? Would she have just as quickly taken to her high horse or would she have been more inclined to climb on the back of his and ride into the sunset with him?

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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