In 1986, the French philosopher and sociologist Pierre Bordieu claimed, in his book The forms of capital, that the three personal resources of each person are economic capital (money and related goods), human capital (knowledge and skills) and social capital (knowledge, friendships, social status, etc.).
In this book, Catherine Hakim, sociologist at the London School of Economics, argues that Bordieu neglected a fourth, very important component: erotic capital.
The book will be helpful to those, women and men, who want to answer questions such as:
What is erotic capital?
And what is it made of?
Should women use sex appeal in their careers or not?
Why do we have a critical sentiment of women who do this, when men are the first to use charm as a ‘facilitator’ for social climbing?
For Catherine Hakim, erotic capital is made of seven components:
ability to interact socially
What value can erotic capital have in a person’s life? Is it worth investing in it?
For the author, erotic capital has the same value as other forms of capital and is under-exploited by those who hold it most: women.
Through an enormous amount of rigorous research carried out all over the world, the author presents an original and, in many ways, surprising picture, giving a close-up look at a world in which we can see:
erotic capital is not only beauty and sexual appeal, and can be cultivated by everyone by improving the quality of life;
for men, beauty and height are rewarding factors for career and salary, while for women, beauty can even be a handicap;
attractiveness has a decisive influence on our lives from an early age, creating a gap that can have a positive influence throughout our lives;
the male sexual deficit, understood as the greater sexual desire registered by men compared to women, plays a fundamental role in prostitution and violence against women in many parts of the world;
women are paid less than men even when they are better prepared and could aspire to more interesting positions, but they prefer not to ask and wait for their value to be acknowledged;
For women, erotic capital is the least critical component of human capital and is systematically devalued; therefore, the attainment of positions of power or attractive salaries too often leaves the suspicion that they have exploited their attractiveness.
These are just some of the points you can learn more about by reading this book, in which even the most sceptical will find a reason to reflect that beauty and intelligence can coexist in a person, and even in a woman.
“Erotic Capital” is a book that must be read without prejudice and with openness to what we might find different from our own convictions: a book that should not be missing from the desk of every consultant and every HR manager.
To close, two notes:
I very much appreciated Catherine Hakim’s pragmatic attention to the quality of the research, which often led her to argue with colleagues who were not rigorous enough;
I would have liked to read in the book a reaffirmation of the importance of human capital which, in my opinion, is essential in the construction of a more effective erotic capital.
Not to be missed.
Here is a clip where Catherine Hakim talks about erotic capital, then we’ll go through the contents of the book.
Table of Figures
List of Tables
PART I – The Fourth Personal Asset and the New
CHAPTER 1 – What Is Erotic Capital?
The Six (or Seven) Elements of Erotic Capital
The Fourth Personal Asset
Can Money Buy You Erotic Capital?
Can Erotic Capital Be Measured?
Erotic Capital as a Performance
The Rising Importance of Erotic Capital
CHAPTER 2 – The Politics of Desire: The Difference Between Men and Women
The Sexual Revolution
Let’s Talk About Sex
The Male Sex Deficit
Long-term Relationships and Differing Levels of Desire
How Important Is Sex?
Women’s Second Advantage… and Its Suppression
CHAPTER 3 – Denial: Why Erotic Capital Has Been Suppressed
The Male Bias in Perspective
The Role of Religion
The Male Sex Right
The Failure of Feminist Theory
The Elitist Bias
Sex and Gender
The Unholy Alliance
The Erotic Playground
PART II – How Erotic Capital Works in Everyday Life
CHAPTER 4 – The Lifetime Benefits of Erotic Capital
Cinderella Goes to the Ball
The Golden Glow View of the World
The Social Benefits of Erotic Capital
Beauty and Brains
Social Skills and Emotion Management
Charisma and Leadership
Erotic Capital in Sport
The Two Ugly Sisters
The Social Magic of Smiles
CHAPTER 5 – Modern Romance: How Erotic Capital Changes
The Rising Status of Women
Self-Service Mating Markets
Modern Mating and Marriage Markets
Power Within Relationships
Sexuality and Successful Lovers
Gays and Geishas: Homosexual and Heterosexual Cultures
The X Factor in Relationships
CHAPTER 6 – No Money, No Honey: Selling Erotic
The Erotic Appeal in Advertising and Marketing
Slipping In and Out
Buying Erotic Capital
Men Who Buy Sexual Services
Trafficking, Drugs, and Pimps
The Value of Erotic Capital
CHAPTER 7 – Winner Takes All: The Business Value of Erotic