Sugar Daddies are not a career choice

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian distort reality for young womenRecently, many media outlets that like to think they are above “pandering and exploitation” have rushed to cover Anthony Weiner’s sexting partner Sydney Leathers' every exploit. Leathers – who claims to be educated, politically savvy, and connected – recently shared her "10 Secrets for Seducing Politicians” in XO Jane. I read about in The Daily Beast and the Washington Post. It is easy to explain why the story can’t be ignored and just as easy to argue it should be. Sydney Leathers is not important .She could be any grasping young woman with bad judgment. She will be disappointed when she realizes she is no more than a footnote to Anthony Weiner’s bad judgment.
Sadly her momentary spotlight also makes her a dangerous example for young women.
Research shows that Generation Y is obsessed with fame. According to an article in USA Today, “Eighty-one percent of 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed in a Pew Research Center poll released today said getting rich is their generation's most important or second-most-important life goal; 51% said the same about being famous.
And, many people don’t care how they get rich or famous. Like Leathers, who brags about making “thousands from sugar daddies,” many young women have become convinced that trading sex for money or fame is a workable career path. Their world view has been shaped by reality stars such as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. These are women who shot to fame on the notoriety gained from explicit sex tapes. And since becoming megastars, neither of them blushes at the things that would make any lady cringe. On the contrary, their antics make them millions. I am certain Leathers envisions herself following in their footsteps, buoyed by her sudden fame – never mind that her only claim to fame is phone sex with a married man.
Leathers shows her twisted sense of reality and morality by asking, “Why does having a sexting affair with a married man or even doing porn make someone a ‘bad person’? Give me a break. I'm not a war criminal. I'm a human being who has made certain choices, some of which involve my sexuality.”
Leathers claims her actions are normal and innocent, saying, “I enjoy my sexuality, and it doesn't make me anything other than what I am: a young woman who's enjoying her life to the fullest and going on plenty of adventures with willing partners.”   I don’t agree. Perhaps I am a hopeless romantic, but I remember when being a young woman who enjoyed life and sexuality meant falling in love or having a fling prompted by passion.
Affecting an attitude of pseudo-intellectualism she states, “For me, Anthony Weiner was a weird science experiment. I wanted to see how far it could go. How far could I push it? How long could it go on?”
Leathers' wraps up her self-justification by saying, “My affair with Anthony was almost like my best friend. I started to alienate people. Whatever time I had, I was spending talking to him. We were like a little obsessed with each other. I do feel disloyal to him now, but I don't think I owe him anything.”
Hopefully, Leathers will soon disappear like the others who have tried to parlay sleeping with a famous man into some kind of platform or career. It is not just that I find their behavior distasteful and tawdry, but every time one of them profits she perpetuates the idea that cheap, hooker behavior is a viable career path.
It is damaging for young girls to see anyone appear to profit, even briefly, from this type of behavior. Director Sophia Coppola understands the dangerous lure of these images. She deals with the subject in The Bling Ring, a movie based on real events. "I wanted to show a slice of that world,” Coppola said in a New York Times interview. “But I tried to not be judgmental and leave it open for the audience to decide how they feel about all that”.
Young women see Kim and Paris portrayed as legitimately successful business women and performers. They don’t understand that Kim and Paris would never have reached their heights or even remain unscathed by their behaviour if they hadn’t come from very privileged backgrounds. Both Kim and Paris grew up in powerful, well-connected Beverly Hills families.
The average young woman who tries to sell sex is more likely to end up like Traci Lords or Linda Lovelace than a Kardashian or Hilton, no matter how pretty or smart she is. Most of these sad and misguided women, like Monica Lewinsky and Rielle Hunter, fade away, with their only legacy being remembered as the punch line of a dirty joke.

Don’t confuse the issue

 Some of you may wonder why I didn’t mention Andrew Weiner very much when I wrote about Sydney Leathers. There are two distinct issues at play here, and it is important not to confuse them. One is Weiner’s bad judgement. End of story. I really could not care less about his sex habits. That is between him and his wife. Obviously his bad judgment does not make him a stellar candidate. The other issue is more disturbing to me and that is how accepting we have become of bad behavior in the name of fame and wealth. Sydney Leathers and women like her are becoming common. Somehow young women are getting the message that selling sex is okay, if you do it in a really good neighbourhood and get paid a lot. That is disturbing. 
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