What do young women get after winning a powerful man’s temporary affection? Usually, public humiliation and professional ruin. Monica Lewinsky is a national joke. Gennette Cordova will be forever known as “that Weinergate girl.” But the young women who get involved with married politicians aren’t the only ones affected. As a 25-year-old, I know high-profile scandals like these create doubts about young women’s professionalism. There’s pressure to prove you’re not a bimbo or a “skintern”—Washington slang for underdressed, flirtatious interns. Or that you won’t pull a stunt like Jessica Cutler, a 24-year-old Senate clerk who used government computers to blog about her affairs with six different men on Capitol Hill. When she got caught screwing around on the job—literally—Cutler was crass and shameless.
“It's so cliched. It's like, ‘There's a slutty girl on the Hill?’ There's millions of ‘em,” she told the Washington Post.
How many times has a serious young woman been turned down for a job on Capitol Hill because the boss unfairly assumes she’s one of those ‘millions’? Thanks for that, Jessica. Thanks a lot. So, yes, I blame the women. I blame the ones who have everything going for them—a fantastic education, great resume, and lots of brains—but are somehow dumb enough to respond to a married man’s come-ons. I blame the ones who get a bigger self-esteem boost from sleeping with the boss than from getting a promotion. And believe me, there are plenty of these women out there.
“When I look back now, [I know] that there was a portion of what attracted me must have been the awe of him being a powerful man,” That Woman said a year after Bill Clinton cast her off.
Word to young women: stop falling for this crap. There will never be workplace equality as long as you’re willing to sacrifice your professionalism for the privilege of being an adulterous politician’s bimbo.
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