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Erotic Capital: The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom Hardcover – September 6, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Publishers Weekly
“This enthusiastic book…succeeds in marrying economics with eros.”

Financial Times (London)
“Poets and novelists have always sensed that sexual attractiveness is a kind of capital…. But few sociologists have studied erotic capital outside the marriage market…. Hakim’s concept of erotic capital…offers insight into an age that has, as Philip Larkin once put it, ‘burst into fulfillment’s desolate attic.’”

The Observer (London)
“An extremely important new socio-economic concept….Hakim’s real argument is that in modern consumer societies the ways we define success (and hence the ingredients needed to achieve it) are becoming more fluid. Intelligence may still be one path do doing well…but there’s been an explosion of other routes….In marketing, public relations, television, even the law and banking, being physically attractive is the way to get ahead.”

The National Review Online
“Hakim provides a valuable framework for understanding the phenomenon [of erotic capital]. The attractiveness gap in earnings… suggest[s] that investment in erotic capital is a particularly shrewd strategy for those who suffer from deficits in economic, cultural, social, and human capital… Hakim’s concept of erotic capital is a useful reminder that inequality is a multidimensional phenomenon.”

The Australian (Sydney)
“Rarely do social theorists cause a public furor outside their ivory towers—except for Catherine Hakim.”

“This is controversial stuff.”

Telegraph (London)
“Hakim is absolutely right; more than that – her book should be read out to young girls as part of the national curriculum. Because it states something important that mothers have been frightened to tell daughters for fear of undermining their intelligence: that you can be a feminist, you can be strong and independent and clever, and you can wear a nice frock and high heels while you do this.”

Harvard Business Review
“Force[s] us to confront a reality that American human resources departments…would like to ignore.”

About the Author

Catherine Hakim is a sociologist and Professor at the London School of Economics. An expert on women’s employment and family policy and the author of numerous books and more than one hundred papers on social science, she lives in London.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780465027477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465027477
  • ASIN: 0465027474
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By V. E. Lane on July 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
1) Introducing Erotic Capital

Catherine Hakim - proudly displaying her own 'erotic capital' in a photograph on the dust jacket of the hardcover edition - introduces her concept of 'erotic capital' in this work, variously titled either 'Money Honey: the Power of Erotic Capital' or 'Erotic Capital: the Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom'. Both editions appear to be essentially identical. (Page numbers cited in the current review refer to the former edition.)

Hakim works hard to convince us that her concept of erotic capital is original. However, it appears to be little more than social science jargon for sex appeal - a new term invented for a familiar concept, introduced to disguise the lack of originality of Hakim's thesis. (One recalls Richard Dawkins's 'Law of the Conservation of Difficulty', whereby 'obscurantism in an academic subject expands to fill the vacuum of its intrinsic simplicity'.)

Hakim tries to substantiate her claim that erotic capital is broader than mere sex appeal by suggesting that even heterosexual people of the same sex admire and enjoy the company of individuals with high erotic capital, despite not being sexually attracted to them, claiming "women often admire other women who are exceptionally beautiful" and "men admire other men with exceptionally well-toned... bodies [and] handsome faces" (p153). However, I suspect people are just as often envious of and hence hostile towards people of the same sex whom they perceive as more sexually attractive than themselves.

Certainly economists and sociologists have often failed to recognise the importance of sexual attractiveness in human relations. However, this reflects the prejudices of economists and sociologists rather than the originality of the concept.
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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Catherine S. on September 6, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I discovered this book while reading The Economist a few weeks back; they had reviewed it and had given it favorable reviews. I found this book to be very informative and incredibly provocative. I could not put it down. I finished it in less than a day, and I was so sad for it to end. The arguments that Ms. Hakim presents are sometimes upsetting, but upon reflection, a lot of what she writes is regretfully true and accurate to what I have seen, being a female in the work force now for over 6 years.

I consider myself a true feminist, in that I don't believe that women need to act like men, in order to succeed in our society. Women should celebrate being women, and all that this entails. I also don't think that being a women, per se, means that you are a floozy. It means that you understand that appearances do matter (especially when it comes to finding a mate), and that women should take pride in the fact that we are the fairer sex.

This books basically presents the argument that women are born with a comparative advantage over men, and this comparative advantage is what Ms. Hakim refers to as "Erotic Capital." Women have this advantage because the female libido is much lower than our male counterparts (studies have proven this time and time again). What Ms. Hakim argues, is that our modern patriarchal society tries to deny women of this advantage, and that we are basically brainwashed into thinking that making ourselves more attractive is somehow bad or vain or oppressive. By women believing these ideas, we are unknowingly depriving ourselves of a valuable and tangible asset. By striving to be healthy (something we should do anyway), well groomed, and socially aware, we will make far more money in our lifetimes, and also increase the chances of finding a mate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BBRex on December 30, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
If you want to read a book that will at some point say something that you disagree with, look no further. There is plenty to think about, too, and that makes it a book worth reading.

Hakim's theory on erotic capital hinges on two main points: That there is a sex deficit that exists because heterosexual men desire more sex (or sex with more partners) than women, and that because this deficit offers women an advantage based on supply and demand, male-dominated societies try to limit the value of sex or the advantages it can convey. From these two points, Hakim ventures out to take swipes at the status quo in the Western world, aiming in particular at feminists and those who practice religion. The result is that her better ideas are often lost in the some of the wackier notions.

Hakim outlines different areas that make up erotic capital, including facial beauty, physical fitness, social poise, and good fashion sense. All of these traits, at least on face value, seem to fit together well. Further research would be needed to see how well this aspect of the theory holds together. And, contrary to what some other reviews I've read imply, Hakim does suggest dressing proper for the workplace and remaining professional. She also points out research that shows women who are more attractive seem to earn less in professional jobs.

But other parts of the book do seem to get a little more difficult to follow. She fully advocates for the legalization of prostitution, saying that it can offer better pay than many other jobs, particularly for women with limited education, and that removing the stigma could allow more women to move in and out of sex trades (such as prostitution, phone sex, or pornography) to improve their financial situations.
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