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Stop Sleeping Your Way To The Top

It hurts us all

BY Joan Thatiah

Mar 02, 2021, 12:51 PM

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You've been working hard for years, hustling and pushing for promotion after promotion when a pretty little thing with only a few years of experience is promoted above you - you want to assume it's because she's talented. But is it? How did she really get there?

This is her story. She is young, pretty, and having what she thinks is the time of her life when she meets a wealthy older man.

His wallet is as thick as they come so worming his way into her heart and then her bed isn't hard. He is married, of course, so they see each other in secret for months. She is on cloud nine, fine dining and meeting influential people. She thinks she is headed places and promotions and thinks of her agemates as stupid for breaking their backs at those entry-level jobs.

This common story ends when she falls pregnant, or she becomes too demanding, or colleagues start asking about her background and suddenly, Prince Charming drops her like a hot potato to fend for herself.  No surprise here.

If I met this woman, I would tell her to stop. We are in the era of sexual liberation and we can’t even attempt to police who a woman should or shouldn’t sleep with. What I am concerned about is how some of these choices affect the rest of womanhood.

When a woman tries to sleep her way up, she is pulling all of us down the career ladder. By ‘we’, I mean all those women who are working hard, long, and smart both at the office and in lecture halls to close the gender gap at the workplace. Women who want to be seen as people first before they can be seen as women. Women who, in a professional setting, want to be recognized for their professional skills and their brains.

For as long as women are giving sexual favors to get ahead in the workplace, women are going to be seen as sexual objects in the workplace. Women are going to be expected to smile, give their company, or even sexual favors so that they can be given what they have already earned through their professional output.

It's women like these who continue to reinforce that stereotype that a woman can’t be young and remotely attractive and be successful without having a man pulling the strings somewhere in a cozy office. That all good-looking or young successful women have a godfather. Sleeping you sway up is reinforcing the stereotype that sets aside a woman’s professionalism and instead focuses on what else she can offer. To how well she can smile, who she can agree to have lunch with or agree to do other things with outside the office.

If you can’t do it for yourself, then at least do it for that little girl in a small village somewhere who hopes to be just like you one day. Do it so that her hard work will not be reduced to what other perks she can offer in dingy lodgings downtown. You may think you are winning but you are sleeping all of us down the ladder.

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