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Catherine Hakim - Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital

(97 Posts)
Bonsoir Sat 27-Aug-11 08:39:54

Reviews here

NormanTebbit Sat 27-Aug-11 08:46:09

Zoe Williams did a bit of a hatchet job on her in The Guardian last week.

Valetude Sat 27-Aug-11 08:52:30

That Zoe Williams article had me in stitches last week. Nice one Zoe grin

sunshineandbooks Sat 27-Aug-11 08:54:01

I'm always reluctant to discuss a book without having read it first, but glancing at those reviews and the synopsis my first impression is that this is just yet another way to tell women that they can have it all if they just do x, y, z (i.e. tips for how to get on in a patriarchal society).

There's been a lot of research to show that attractive charismatic people tend to better in life. I don't actually have a problem with any book coaching someone how to make the most of those skills. My concern would be with the value and importance based on those skills. Inter-personal skills are valuable. A well-groomed appearance can be too. That doesn't necessarily mean that the presence of both qualities in spades mean you are a decent person.

Also, I wonder if the book deals with the fact that erotic capital may give you more negotiating power in various social/professional situations but can it help with other things that particularly effect women? Such as:

How does erotic capital help the working mother deal with childcare issues?
How does erotic capital help the SAHM keep some degree of independence?
How does erotic capital help a woman get her H to stop beating her?
How does erotic capital help a woman pass an exam (which is marked blind)?
How does erotic capital stop a woman getting raped?

It just seems to be another way of placing responsibility on women to fit in with our cultural norms instead of recognising that some of our cultural norms are inherently unfair to half the population and maybe should be changed for the good of all.

But admittedly I haven't read it.

NormanTebbit Sat 27-Aug-11 08:59:12

Erotic capital, according to the book, can be used by women and men, but as a result of the "male sex deficit" – men want sex much more than women, a "new social fact that social scientists have mostly sidestepped" – women have more scope to exploit it. "In sexualised, individualised modern societies," she writes, "erotic capital is becoming more important and more valorised, for men and women. However, women have a longer tradition of developing and exploiting it." And yet, for all our noble history of accessorising and being lively, we have never as a sex been encouraged to exploit it, because of the "patriarchy". "Patriarchal ideologies have systematically trivialised women's erotic capital to discourage women from capitalising on it – at men's expense." Furthermore, "unfortunately, radical feminists today reinforce patriarchal 'moral' objections to the deployment of erotic capital." And "one reason why erotic capital has been overlooked is that the elite cannot monopolise it, so it is in their interest to belittle it and sideline it."

I don't think I buy the idea that men are slaves to women's 'erotic capital' I think a woman can be as sexy as she likes, it still won't get her invited to the golf club.

BerryLellow Sat 27-Aug-11 09:00:36

That article was great grin

LeninGrad Sat 27-Aug-11 09:20:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bonsoir Sat 27-Aug-11 09:33:24

LeninGrad - the most patriarchal societies (Saudi Arabian, anyone) are the ones where women are least free to display and exploit their own erotic capital, surely?

Bonsoir Sat 27-Aug-11 09:35:24

"I don't think I buy the idea that men are slaves to women's 'erotic capital' I think a woman can be as sexy as she likes, it still won't get her invited to the golf club."

That's a bit of non-sequitur!

LeninGrad Sat 27-Aug-11 09:37:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bonsoir Sat 27-Aug-11 09:39:08

sunshineandbooks - if you are born beautiful and with lots of erotic potential, Catherine Hakim is urging you to make the most of it as it will help you get on in life. What is unfair or lacking in decency about making the most of all your personal assets?

LeninGrad Sat 27-Aug-11 09:43:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bonsoir Sat 27-Aug-11 09:45:12

Catherine Hakim claims (and I agree with her) that in the UK and the US, women are not systematically brought up or encouraged to develop their erotic capital along with their intellectual capital. Brains or beauty is the Anglo-Saxon way, whereas brains and beauty would be more to women's advantage (à la française).

LeninGrad Sat 27-Aug-11 09:49:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GothAnneGeddes Sat 27-Aug-11 10:04:33

Bonsoir - because 1, looks don't last and headpats don't win prizes and 2, It encourages women to buy into the crap pyramid scheme of being thin and pretty is everything.

NormanTebbit Sat 27-Aug-11 10:04:37

What I mean is that you can be as charismatic and erotic as you like but it doesn't mean you will be allowed access to bastions of maleness such as the golf club ( where alot of business is done) - it's all very well looking smart and being agreeable, but doesn't address major social gender inequalities.

I don't think she is presenting this erotic capital theory as some sort of silver bullet but I think that if men continue to view women in terms of their appearance and disposition then it will promote inequality as men are not judged in this way

Valetude Sat 27-Aug-11 10:12:41

Basically, the kind of people that people enjoy doing things for (this is what it's about, making people do what you want or need) are those who are engaging and able to engage back. They're often good looking or acceptable looking, very good at laughing, being witty but appropriate, knuckling down when they need to and not giving away their insecurity. This is no secret.

What 'erotic' has got to do with it is anyone's guess. Why women need to use their 'assets' any more than men is not clear to me.

Bonsoir Sat 27-Aug-11 10:24:47

Ah, but Catherine Hakim thinks men are increasingly judged on their erotic capital and I strongly agree with this thesis.

Men of my own generation invest in their appearance (hairdresser, skincare, clothes, gym, manicures/pedicure etc) significantly more than did men of my father's generation.

Valetude Sat 27-Aug-11 10:34:46

I've thought a lot about this since reading the ZW review last week and a couple of others.
I can't get my head around it as a specifically feminist issue - not the way it's been interpreted in reviews.
I think it looks like a book where she's desperate to give structure to something that's very variable and depends on that magic ingredient, chemistry.
I don't understand the use of 'erotic' unless she is seriously suggesting that women dress provocatively and flirt with men to get what they want from them? Or that it makes the world a nicer place somehow?
In any case this is a book I won't be reading, it looks faintly ridiculous and she comes over horrendously.

Hardgoing Sat 27-Aug-11 10:35:08

Basically, she's saying we should all just be French and have done with it.

Valetude Sat 27-Aug-11 10:36:37

grin I'm pretty sure being a French woman isn't for me. All that falsetto!

Hardgoing Sat 27-Aug-11 10:50:26

Well, that's the point, Valetude. I'm not sure what I would gain by increasing my erotic capital and I would like her to tell me (apart from the obvious truism that better looking and charming people tend to do better in life than not attractive monosyllabic ones).

BrawToken Sat 27-Aug-11 11:01:17

I disagree entirely with the premise of this book. My goal as a professional woman is to be admired/respected for the role I carry out and not for the way I look/smell/flirt while doing it.

On the other side of this argument... Men are starved of sex, women should exploit this? This isn't helpful and if we are to move our society on from the way the sexes interact, we need to stop perpetuating it.

Pity Zoe having to interview her - was funny, though.

NormanTebbit Sat 27-Aug-11 11:31:51

I think a certain section of male society pay attentionto grooming but you can't pretend we are on a level playing field here. Women are judged far more on appearance/ pleasing disposition than men.

I also don't but this male desire for sex thi g either

NormanTebbit Sat 27-Aug-11 11:34:34

Sorry am in a hurry - I think biological determinism - that men are programmed to have sex with as many females as possible to spread their genes, is questionable.

Men are as different from each other as they are from women.

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