The recent scandals in Hollywood have highlighted something that everyone used to know but these days no-one is supposed to talk about – women sleeping their way to the top.
This has been going on from the first moment that women started entering the workforce, or more particularly since women started working in areas that were previously male-only. It is of course absolutely inevitable. If you have a mixed-sex workplace then women will figure out that they can trade sex for career advancement. Not all women will do so, but a lot of women will.
In Hollywood it arguably doesn’t really matter. If an actress is willing to follow the time-honoured practices of Hollywood, in other words if she’s willing to have sex with producers in return for getting a shot at good rôles in good movies, then she may get plum rôles that really should have gone to other, more talented, actresses. But Hollywood only makes movies so it’s not a serious problem for society as a whole.
On the other hand when women start doing the same thing in business, politics, the military, the police force, etc (which they do) it can have very serious consequences. In these fields it really does matter that the top jobs go to people with genuine ability, rather than just a willingness to spread their sexual favours around. It does matter if women who use sex to further their careers take jobs away from better qualified men or women.
When you look at women who do reach the top you can’t help wondering how many have in fact slept their way to the top. It’s extraordinary how many of these women seem quite unable to cope with the demands of the top jobs once they get them.
It’s absurdly unrealistic to think that there’s any way you can stop this from happening. Mixed-sex workplaces simply do not work, and never will. It’s not just the problem of unscrupulous women doing so consciously. There’s also the uncomfortable fact of female hypergamy. Women are attracted to powerful high-status men. A woman is going to want to sleep with her boss even if she doesn’t intend to use this circumstance to further her career. She’ll want to sleep with him simply because he has status and power. And it’s not terribly realistic to believe that he won’t then do things to help her career along.
It’s not just women sleeping their way to the top. There’s also the related issue of women marrying their way to the top. There have for example been plenty of instances of women basing careers on particularly favourable marriages. There is the case of a certain woman who almost succeeded in getting to the very top of the political tree in the United States, merely by virtue of being married to a man who had occupied that very job.
There are many reasons why women should not be in the workplace. The “sleeping her way to the top” phenomenon is just one of them.