If given the opportunity to advance in your career (I’m talking a substantial jump) how many of you women would actually say no? I trolled the comment section on many blogs that have attempted to answer this question and the commenters are split down the middle between morality and reality.
When the question is addressed to a male audience, some are not afraid to admit that they would more than likely engage in sexual relations with a female superior if a promotion was promised post-coital. Some even admitted they’d probably sleep with any woman for whatever the reason if she was the instigator. When a male uses sex to move his belongings into the coveted corner office, most of his male colleagues wouldn’t blink an eye in disapproval; they’d probably congratulate him. So why can’t women sleep their way to the top without being scorned and judged?
Through the eyes of the general public, using sex to propel one’s career is simply a white collar version of standing on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard. If the Pretty Woman script had made Vivienne’s character a low-level administrative assistant instead of an “innocent” prostitute with “no way out of the slums”, the modern day version of this Cinderella-in-thigh-high-boots-story would end with Vivienne getting fired and chased out of the office by her fellow female co-workers while her superior would be welcomed with champagne and strawberries by his fellow male suits to congratulate his ability to nail a beautiful redhead. You wouldn’t see a happy Kit De Luca bid Vivienne farewell on her future adventures with Mr. Money Bags. In fact, Kit De Luca would be another low-level administrative assistant that would take to social media to publicly ostracize Vivienne in order to validate her own impeccable morality.
We were disgusted when Mad Men’s vivacious Joan Holloway slept with a client in order to get 5% ownership of the company, although on some level we all understood why she did what she did. True, the show is based in the 1960s, but I have met many women who have slept with a superior in exchange for a title. Women who are millennials. Perhaps we should look at the issue from these perspectives: time, money, and prestige.
Completing post-secondary education and clawing your way to a mid- or senior-level position takes a lot of time and money. After you’ve served your educational term and after many entry-level positions coupled with waitressing gigs, you’re finally able to reach a certain step on the ladder of success, only to find you’re forced to do so much more than is physically possible in order to break free from that measly $40,000 salary. But by the time you even get close to your original career aspirations, your clock will begin to tick because you’re in your “dirty thirties” and your mind is spinning with thoughts about marriage and that other inevitable chapter of adult life. If you have the opportunity to reach your goals by having sex, isn’t it that much easier than having to fight in the trenches with the rest of the desperate 20-somethings eager to boost their LinkedIn credentials? Why can’t a woman’s use of sex to get ahead be seen as a viable asset instead of a worthless penny stock?
Nowadays, women need to be financially stable and relatively well-off to simply survive in this treacherous economy on salaries that are barely putting instant oatmeal on the table. We also have to remember that the glass ceiling continues to exist. In fact, according to Canadian Business, the income gap in Canada and the US between men and women has widened in recent decades. Yeah, Google it. Job security has also become virtually non-existent following the financial meltdown of 2008. This bleak and depressing reality forces women to settle in positions that don’t come close to what they fundamentally deserve (or what their skill set is capable of producing) or what they desperately crave their career to deliver. I know plenty of fellow graduates who are working minimum wage positions in retail just to make ends meet and they barely have enough money to afford a Saturday night restaurant outing. If they could somehow make their life easier by simply engaging in a little and generally harmless sexual adventure with a superior, why not?
In a time when being famous and rich is more coveted by the masses than “good morals,” who are we to judge if we get wind of a fellow co-worker who received a promotion because she slept with the manager? We can use our finger to swipe Tinder and find someone willing to cavort for a night, but we stomp on women who have used sex to get ahead. I would never use sex to hold a fancier business card, but I can honestly say that I would never point a finger at someone who has. Life is like a big game of chess; the Queen is the piece we all strive to protect because she is the one that ends up defending the boring King who can’t move more than one space over to save his own life. I highly doubt that the Queen wouldn’t sleep with the Knight if she was promised a greater chance of being able to call “check mate” and win the war.