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Why Sleeping Your Way Up Hurts Us All

It may look like winning but it isn’t

BY Joan Thatiah

May 26, 2023, 09:57 AM

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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 heading to places and thinks of her agemates as stupid for breaking their backs at those entry-level jobs.

This common story ends when she falls pregnant and Prince Charming drops her like a hot potato to fend for herself and her child.  No surprise here.

The interesting thing is that when it is all over, she will be convinced that she is owed something, usually millions of shillings, for participating in that relationship. If only life were that easy, wouldn’t we all be on a beach somewhere? 

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.

As long as women are giving sexual favours 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 favours so that they can be given what they have already earned through their professional output.

It's women like these who continue to reinforce the stereotype that a woman can’t be young and remotely attractive and be successful without having a man pulling the strings somewhere in a cosy office. That all good-looking or young successful women have a godfather. 

Sleeping your way 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.

The thing about stereotyping is that it boxes us in and if one person does this then it automatically means that the other person or the next person will do the same, since they are similar or from the same demographic.

It uses the concept of birds of a feather flock together and this is why if a woman sleeps her way up, it drags us all to the mud.

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