Monday, December 26, 2011

The Power of Erotic capital.

French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s distinction between economic, social and cultural capital missed out a vital additional aspect of what makes up all human beings, namely Erotic capital. Catherine Hakim calls it the ‘fourth personal asset’. Erotic capital comprises six elements or seven in some cultures where fertility is highly valued. The six elements are beauty, sexual attractiveness, social ability, liveliness (physical fitness, social energy and good humor), social presentation and sexual competence.

Hakim explained the existence of a ‘male sex deficit’; essentially, the idea is that, in general, men want more sex than women (shock horror). This means that women have more bargaining power and therefore a higher level of erotic capital than men do. Feminist theory often erects a false dichotomy: either a woman is valued for her human capital (her brains, education, work experience and dedication to her career) or she is valued for her erotic capital (her beauty, elegant figure, dress style, grace and charm). Women are not encouraged to do both.

Catherine also states, quite rightly, that ‘men who buy sexual services are not deviants but ordinary, normal people’. While she does put men’s demand for sexual services down to the elusive ‘male-sex deficit’, she also makes an important point that is often overlooked. Too often men who pay for sexual services are seen as monsters rather than human beings capable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality. She points out; many women (particularly migrant workers) see the sex industry as a crucial source of employment, as something that enables them to gain some independence.

Feminists who seek to take this choice away on the grounds of supposed exploitation are not empowering women. In fact, they’re doing the complete opposite by seeking to undermine the choices we all make.Today’s feminists are squeamish about the idea of women using their feminine wiles to get ahead.The meritocratic capitalist values of the Western world invite us to admire people who exploit their erotic capital for its full value should not be equally admired. Honey Money by Catherine Hakim

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