It is a surprisingly common notion that women’s progress in the workspace comes more easily than that of men. While poor men have to toil hard to earn a paycheck and secure a promotion, women often get to climb up the ladder faster by granting sexual or romantic favours.
Our sexuality overshadows our talent because men see it as an advantage that they do not have. When in reality, being a woman only makes us more susceptible to harassment and objectification, because, again, men can’t see beyond our bodies.
This morning I came across a tweet stating that men earn iPhones while women get them in return for sexual favours. We are living in 2022 when women are leading many firms and are contributing significantly to India’s GDP. And still, there are men who see women as nothing but sex objects that can be owned, used and traded off.
Women and success: How men’s gaze ruins it
Criticising women for using sex and sexuality to gain favours has made it difficult for women to be confident about their choices and success. For example, Sushmita Sen was recently trolled to be a gold digger for being in a relationship with the founder and first chairman of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi. This was despite the fact that Sen herself is an independent and empowered woman. The gold digger narrative finds its way to Indian workplaces too, however, instead of partners, women at workplace are presumed to be luring their bosses into giving them promotions. Outside of workplaces too, men, or society at large loves to imply that women trade sex for favours.
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Such a narrative not only discredits women’s hardwork but also keeps society from taking the work that they do seriously. It gives society a reason to never see women as earning individuals but as financially dependent beings who have to resort to asking for favours in order to amass gadgets, finances, assets etc.
Stop assuming that every woman uses her sexuality to seek favours. This not only undermines a woman’s talent but also insults her individuality and self-respect.
It is tiring because women have to work twice as hard as men in reality, to be both taken seriously and to be considered worthy of promotions and wage hikes. But alas, women’s struggles do not matter to bruised male egos, that cannot digest the fact that a woman, someone who they have been conditioned to see has a weaker or dependent gender, is autonomous enough to fend for herself, pay for her own bills and that too because she has worked her way up to be in this position.
Time and again women have voiced their concern over how men feel entitled to play down their success, attributing it to their beauty or attractiveness quotient. However, it seems like we are nowhere close to winning this battle. The best way forward? Perhaps we need to de-condition boys so that when they grow up, they can look beyond a woman’s sexual appeal and focus on her calibre instead.
Views expressed are the author’s own.