Why successful women are slut-shamed?


Is there only me who has heard people especially non-working women accrediting a working woman’s success to her ability to sleep with her bosses/superiors, engage in promiscuous behavior and being sexually provocative?

If you are one of the working women out there who is successful or not so successful but working by choice and reading this then may I ask if it has ever happened to you during your journey that a mentor/coach/people in principle ever tried discouraging you by telling that being ambitious is going to lead you into trade your body? And that there is just one way for a woman to be successful and that is being a tart? Well, I have been and that’s why I am here to bust the myth.

So, I started working quite early in my life as ambitious as I was. It was a part-time job that I picked or rather the job picked me when I was in the second year of my graduation course and there was this woman I admired and learned a lot from who constantly and subtly slip the idea of the not-so-fair world outside her company. The notion of the world being dangerous and especially for women who are ambitious was constantly fed to us as a staple diet during the so-called team meets. There was no way for a woman to succeed but sleep with people in hierarchy. She would slip this message through personal stories, generalizing bad experiences of her life, demonizing the corporate world and what not? I was admired for my hard work, sincerity, and efforts by the time I decided to stick to the company and stigmatized with attempts to be promiscuous the moment I decided to move on for my career growth. I was further challenged by this same person that I would not be able to survive and come back running to the safest place in the world which was her small-scale company. What can people not do to manipulate you into staying when it’s for their own benefits.

Anyway, I moved on and next, I joined an IT giant, a world leader in its domain and same happened when it came to internal job postings, would you be surprised to know that I heard same rumors about what a success mantra is for women to go up the ladder. For some reason, all my colleagues both men and women were convinced that a woman would definitely have to sleep with superiors to crack those internal positions. They even had case studies of other women in managerial and leading positions to discuss where they seemed to know explicitly who those men were who were served with these special services to grab the opportunities.  I wonder whether these women in managerial positions picked my colleagues working on ground in junior most positions to confide in. How my colleagues got possession of such well-guarded knowledge is yet a mystery to me !?!

Now to summarize, I have worked in four companies so far out of which three have been giants in their domain/industry and my career has shaped up pretty well but to my surprise, I never needed to engage in any kind of sexual activity with any of my superiors or colleagues to get ahead. Neither was I ever offered any such proposition by any of my male/female colleagues/superiors nor was I forced for any such sexual favors in return of promotions. Either I am extremely undesirable or very fortunate that in 12 years of my challenging career nothing of this sort happened to me and ironically neither to any of those other women who are sitting in superior positions, who make decisions that hit the bottom line of the company on regular basis.

So, the question that still troubles me – Who and what kind of people are engaged in making such sick stories and slut-shaming strong successful women?

Are all successful women in leading positions there because they exchange sexual favors?

Is the only skill set required for women to be successful is her ability to engage in promiscuous behavior, be sexually provocative, sleep with superiors?

Is this above-stated skill set applicable to career options like doctors, lawyers, teachers, pilots, etc. which seem to be favorites of these self-appointed custodians of society who pretend to know what competency is needed for what?

Or being a slut is only limited to career options like air-hostess, modeling, hospitality, corporate, acting, theatre, marketing, bartending, waitress i.e. all unconventional professions which are yet to be accepted by guardians of society?

How conveniently socially conservative people have favored the professions where they and their kids benefit directly from the services. For e.g. they would definitely send their kids to school so how come a teacher be sleeping around. Teaching has to be one of the noble professions out there afterall they need to depend on a school and teachers for education of their kids. They would need a doctor when they or anyone in the family is sick so why would a doctor be engaged in any unacceptable activity. After all, they need doctors around and quite often but that’s not the case with actors, models, bartenders, therefore there, women are bound to indulge in unacceptable behaviors.

Do we even take efforts to validate these false stories and rumors before believing and turning hostile towards women at the receiving end? Do we stop and think what and how authentic, reliable the source of such rumors is?

Mostly there are either just a bunch of jealous fellow women doing the rumor work or incompetent, imbecile men full of malign who stigmatize successful strong women because they can never be at par with them, who can not match their growth, speed, and skills. This doesn’t even take more than common sense to figure out why only people at ground level indulge in such gossip.

Now let us look at this stereotype from another angle. What makes men successful in any job or industry? Last I checked it was set of competencies and skills required for the job role that makes them good at what they do which eventually attracts not only personal growth and success but of the company. Now in a world full of competent and skilled men, can a woman thrive in any of the positions, at any designation in any of the industries just in return for sexual favors? Even if she gets there by all unsuitable means, would it be enough for her to sustain when she has to answer for profit and loss? How do men sustain and thrive in their positions? Oops the equation doesn’t add up, does it?

Can rules be different in the market for men and women leaders to bring profit to products and service-based companies? Would the companies retain women in positions of managers, directors, vice presidents, board members, group members, CEOs, COOs just for their talent of being sexually provocative?

Let me burst this bubble…let me share a little secret of how women get there….how successful women are successful…and how they sustain challenging positions and thrive further?

Women work and they work real hard because they know they are women and they are working in a world which is yet to acknowledge that it’s still not equal for both genders. Women build skills, competencies, up-skill, re-skill, transform and keep themselves updated to grow while the battle for gender equality is still on and wage disparity exists. They put in extra hard efforts to fulfill their ambitions because then know that men would be preferred for filling in positions even if they are better at required skills. The world is yet to come to terms with equality of opportunity irrespective of the gender of the applicant.

Now again whatever the reason is for this status quo? When would we stop pulling women down for their choices? When would we accept the fact that women can climb up the ladder of success in any profession without being promiscuous? When would we accept the fact that women can use their brains for making board room decisions? Women can participate in war rooms. Women can train. Women can lead? Women too are born with talents that can be honed further. Women can build skills, competencies, and capabilities.

And by slut-shaming women, aren’t we calling all men who work with them, the sexual predators? So, are all men in our lives i.e. our husbands, fathers, brothers, friends, the sexual predators? I am sure men in our lives in any role have a workplace to go to and I am even sure that there are successful and ambitious women working with them too. So by slut-shaming these successful, strong women co-workers of our men, are we implying that our men are the ones using their services. How spin-off questions make us all uncomfortable.

What hurts more is that more than men, women spread these rumors. More than men, women buy these rumors. More than men, women damage their and their younger one’s career growth trusting these stories.

If only women do not give up on growth and realize the adverse effects of these unproven rumor work, would they see that such talks do not even exist at the levels where success really matters? No one has time to indulge in gossip and no one makes it their business to intrude in people’s personal lives. But this can only be seen when the journey is made and unfortunately many women give up on their careers very early. I hope women start questioning and see through these deep-rooted issues that are just the tools to manipulate them.

177 Replies to “Why successful women are slut-shamed?”

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