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Erotic Capital 

The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom  

by Catherine Hakim, Basic Books, New York, N.Y., 2011, 304 pp. with index, $26 hardcover


Erotic Capital, The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom, like reading today’s popular Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James, attracts immediate attention by anxious onlookers at the airport wanting to know your thoughts.

Author Catherine Hakim’s core theme adds to French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s well-established and accepted list of assets for success: economic capital, social capital and cultural capital. To his list, she adds erotic capital. The latter, though defined with social science jargon, boils down to sex appeal. Though presented as an original thought, it recalls Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock: “If to her share some female errors fall, look on her face, and you’ll forget them all.”

Hakim introduces the concept of “male sex deficit,” the idea that men have a greater desire for sex than women. Women’s beauty asset gives them leverage over men, Hakim argues, suggesting women use this advantage for their personal success, just as one uses the advantages of economic capital, human capital and social capital. Denying and suppressing the use of erotic capital is a reflection of a Puritanical double-standard.

The book certainly has fodder enough to anger anyone: men, women, gays, feminists, academicians and lay persons. The leaden prose by this stuffy academic sociologist at the London School of Economics includes extensive statistics, annotations, appendices, surveys and repetitions.

Reviewed by Joseph W. Rudnicki, education consultant, Aptos, Calif.



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