LinkedIn is a premium professional networking platform. The idea of LinkedIn is that women believe that they can safely connect with people they don’t personally know because it’s a professional platform. One of the main reasons why LinkedIn is deemed as a safe space is because there is supposed to be no personal intrusion. It is presented as a professional environment where people maintain a degree of formality. This is to keep unsolicited messages at bay, in comparison to most social media platforms where women have to be extremely careful with respect to who they connect with. This has been proved time and again with multiple reports of cyber assault and other online crimes against women.
Students are mostly looking to expand their reach by connecting to professionals in their fields on LinkedIn. But what happens if these so-called professionals turn out to be predators?
To make light of a recent event, a student was suggested marriage by a man on this website. It is more absurd than it sounds. Here’s what happened—a woman connected with a professional on LinkedIn to learn more from him and expand her network. Then she was informed of a WhatsApp group for updates on Human Rights by this particular man. Unsuspectingly, she joined it. Later, she started receiving WhatsApp messages from this individual who wanted more than a professional relationship from her. She of course kept refusing, and finally she had to block him. He went on messaging her via SMS as well as LinkedIn suggesting marriage.
Seems rather ridiculous, doesn’t it?
‘This doesn’t happen on LinkedIn!’
Well, wrong. Such predatory behaviour is all around us. Though it’s not always outright visible.
Many of us believe that education will solve most of the problems in our society. These unsolicited messages on LinkedIn unfortunately tell us a different story. Almost everyone who is on LinkedIn is a working professional, which means that they have received some sort of a formal education, assuming that most of them have or are pursuing a bachelor’s degree. So, essentially education has solved nothing. We know that the world isn’t fair towards women. At almost every single step, we have plenty of obstacles to face. We know that there is a certain degree of normalisation of these kinds of misogynistic behaviour, both in the online and offline world.
To quote directly how the working professional in question defended his actions—
“Sending marriage proposal is neither a crime nor anti-social but keeping a boy friend/girl friend is anti-social which creates a bastard society…These girls are using lipstick and other fashion materials to attract their boyfriends…they even if wear tight dress and open dress to attract their boyfriends.”
Now I don’t know if this particular working professional has taken down these comments. But this is what it is. From his comment, his mentality becomes quite clear. So in his educated opinion, sending a marriage proposal to a girl who has repeatedly informed you that she is uncomfortable in having any relationship with you, professional or otherwise, is not wrong. There was apparently nothing wrong in suggesting marriage to a girl he’s never met, and spoken to merely in a professional capacity.
This was the one time someone was brave enough to come out and point a finger to say what happened.
What about the countless times it has happened before?
What about the girls and women who carry such weight on their shoulders?
When an educated working professional makes such comments, it truly displays how regressive our society really is. Education hasn’t changed anything. And education alone cannot change anything. Blatant sexism, patriarchy and misogyny haunts our path as women gradually try to occupy such professional spaces.
Then, how does a working woman accomplish her goals when she has such things to constantly be wary of?
The Larger Issue
Patriarchy and sexism are so deeply embedded in our society, that many a times it is invisible to us. To be a working woman in the Indian society is hard. All of these women have to go against the standards of our traditional society—standards set by a society governed by men. The real problem is that when women refuse to conform to these standards created by a man-made society, then those women are deemed as wrong.
For those who still refuse to accept that, here is some data. The average Female Labor Force Participation (FLFP) which is the percentage of working women across the world as of 2018, is 52% whereas in India it is 26.79%. More women in other countries work than in India. Why? This is because of the amount of difficulties the society at large has created for women.
Is There A Solution?
This is the question that haunts most of the women living in this country. It is quite disturbing to see what the society has come to. To have a short-term solution for this lifelong problem is impossible. The only long-term solution is to preach feminism. The core principle of feminism is to spread equality among all. The fundamental reason for such unwarranted behaviour is the notion that the needs and wants, rights and freedoms of men trump over the needs of every other gender. Once the principle of equality is integrated in society, such notions will cease to exist. This absence of a sense of equality is what leads to marginalization.
Kanishta Naithani is pursuing a degree in law. She is a devout Feminist. She strongly believes that freedom, equality and justice are necessary for people to prosper. You can find her on LinkedIn.
Featured Image Source: Vice