Whether you voted for her or not, the United States now has the first female Vice President in office, Kamala Harris. Because of this, we’re starting to see the age old commentary arise that typically comes with a Woman’s success; the questioning and accusations of her of sleeping her way to the top. But why? Why is it that a Woman can’t just be successful on her own? Why is it that her success has to give credit to a man? This question is a heated one so let’s dive in.
Kamala Harris dated Willie Brown, yes that’s a fact. They met in 1994 when she was the assistant district attorney in Alameda County and he was a speaker of the state assembly. Whether he was still technically married or estranged from his wife doesn’t change the fact that they were connected. The two dated for about a year until she broke it off in 1995. This was right before Brown was appointed the Mayor of San Francisco.
Fast forward to eight years later in 2003, long after the relationship with Brown has ended. She became the district attorney of San Francisco. In 2011 she took the office of attorney general of California and in 2016 she was elected to serve in the United States Senate representing California.
During the time of them dating, Brown did help appoint Harris to two state boards. Now, he may have appointed her, however was he doing her job for her? No. He wasn’t in the office making the day to day decisions that she did. Which means that even if she did get assistance from him in those two circumstances, we can’t strip away her knowledge and hard work that she put in to keep those positions and grow. Also, how can we say that she slept with him solely for the purposes of the power he had? We weren’t in that relationship with them. Maybe she truly did care for him and the little boost in positions was just an added bonus.
Now, let’s also note that her next higher up position came EIGHT years after they had broken up. That is exclusively her hard work that led her to success at that point. Fast forward to today and she is the Vice President of the United States. She is the first Woman to be in this position, and not only that but the first Woman with black and South Asian decent to hold that position. How are we not rejoicing on this amazing milestone that America has reached?
Well, I asked both a female and a male on their thoughts of the backlash that Harris is receiving in correlation with attributing her success to a man. Here are the two different responses that I got:
“Men can’t handle that Women can actually do things for themselves without having ANYTHING to do with a man. For the Women who also accuse her of this are just plain outright haters and can’t stand to see another Woman succeed.” – female friend anonymous
“It’s a narrative that has been playing out out for years. Women have used sex to their advantage and because of that, other Women get placed into that same category. If you’re a beautiful Woman people will automatically think of you as sleeping your way to the top. Especially if your superior is an older White male.” – male friend anonymous
These two responses both bring up very valid issues. Males aren’t the only ones who accuse females of sleeping their way to the top. Females are also doing the same damage. Is it because they’re simply “haters” or jealous that another Woman is achieving status? Or is it because they genuinely believe that the only way to success is determined by who you lay down with?
The other valid issue is that if you’re a beautiful Woman with stature, you’re undoubtedly there because you’re sleeping with the right person. This discounts Women of having any intellect at all just because of what they look like on the outside. The male answer also went as far as to say that if your superior is an older white male, it makes a difference. White man + money = power.
Now, this is not to say that there aren’t Women out there who do use sex to their advantage for positions of power. But also that does not mean that you can generalize this to all Women. The same way some older white men are perverts and will force a Woman into feeling that she can only gain status through her body. We can’t generalize this just because some are.
So the next time you see a Woman receiving a promotion or getting the opportunity for a higher position, think twice before you question if she’s sleeping her way to the top. There are some brilliant Women out there and they don’t need a man to dictate their accomplishments.