Sexonomics: Putting your 'erotic capital' to work
Madonna performs during a concert as part of her MDNA world tour on July 4, 2012.
July 12th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Sexonomics: Putting your 'erotic capital' to work

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex weekly on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

Madonna’s got it. So do George Clooney, Tina Turner and Robert Redford.

These celebrities are certainly good-looking, but they also possess what sociologist Catherine Hakim has dubbed “erotic capital” - a term that describes a certain je ne sais quoi that includes, but isn’t limited to, sexual attractiveness.

Harness your erotic capital, Hakim boldly suggests in her recent book by the same name and you’ve got the potential to not only land a mate, but to get ahead at work and in society as a whole.

Sociologists and economists have long recognized three main types of capital: social, economic and cultural. Your capital depends on the assets and resources you can potentially use for gain, whether that means making more money or making more friends. But we’re neglecting a fourth important kind of capital, Hakim argues.

By her definition, erotic capital is more than just good looks and has six main facets:

1. Beauty

2. Sexual attractiveness

3. Social skills/likeability

4. Liveliness

5. Style

6. Sexual competence

While one of these characteristics might make you gorgeous or funny or fun, you need the whole group to maximize erotic capital. And you don’t have to be born with it - erotic capital is cultivated and learned and has a lot to do with your self-esteem.

Even if you’ve got “it” you might not be capitalizing on it. Hakim says women have more erotic capital than men do — and that they should be exploiting it more as a result.

She bases this idea partly on studies that suggest that men tend to have stronger libidos than women.

“Men’s demand for sexual activity and erotic entertainment of all kinds greatly exceeds women’s interest in sex,” Hakim writes. In this line of thinking, sex has a market value, and women have the potential to leverage their ability to supply men’s demand for it.

I find this theory interesting, although I certainly don’t agree with it fully. As I’ve discussed in an earlier column on low male libido, there are plenty of couples in which the woman wants more sex and is coping with a male partner who has a low sex drive. And as the recent frenzy for the erotic trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey” makes clear, women have a voracious appetite for sexual entertainment.

At the same time, we live in a culture that has become increasingly centered around sex. Many women already feel as if they need to compete with porn stars, strippers and celebrity sex tapes for male attention. Are we really suggesting that society needs more of this, not less?

Just as sexism still exists, so too does “looksism.” People considered attractive, regardless of their gender, tend to be treated more favorably than their less-attractive counterparts.

In his book “Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful” economist Daniel Hamermesh contends that good-looking men earn approximately 17% more money than not so good-looking men, while attractive women earn 12% more; as a whole attractive people earn a total of $230,000 more than those considered unattractive (based on average wage of $20 per hour), according to Hamermesh.

While most would respond that “appearance-discrimination” is an unsavory aspect of our society that we should be seeking to transcend, Hakim maintains that erotic capital has been largely ignored because “it is held mostly by women, and the social sciences have generally overlooked or disregarded women in their focus on male activities, values, and interests.”

Yet she also blames feminists for neglecting an opportunity to exploit female erotic capital; feminist theory, she says, encourages women to choose between using their looks and using their intelligence to succeed.

As you might imagine, critics bridle at many of her claims. As Anna North writes on the post-feminist blog Jezebel, “The bottom line is that ‘erotic capital’ is all about others’ perceptions of women, rather than about things women themselves can do or acquire. That’s the main reason ‘soft power’ isn’t real power — because when your influence is based on someone else’s desire, he’s the one who’s really in control.”

I do think Hakim makes some compelling points. Sure, strippers, porn stars, cocktail waitresses and even geishas are financially dependent on their ability to take advantage of their erotic power by making themselves appealing to men. But erotic capital may have subtler effects, too.

Who among us — male or female — hasn’t found that a smile, laugh, and a little harmless flirting can have the potential to open doors, whether that means getting a better table at a restaurant, a raise at work or securing a second date?

And erotic capital isn’t solely the domain of women. “Men now find it necessary to develop their erotic capital as well,” admits Hakim. “They are devoting more time and money to their appearance, work out in gyms to maintain an attractive body, spend more on fashionable clothes and toiletries, and display more varied hairstyles.”

Perhaps they’ve realized that a little erotic capital never hurt anyone. And if the success of the hit male stripper film "Magic Mike" is any indication, women are happy to share the power.

Post by:
Filed under: Living Well • Sex

soundoff (2,225 Responses)
  1. Google

    I'm pretty pleased to uncover this great site. I wanted to thank you for ones time for this
    wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and I have you saved as a
    favorite to see new stuff in your web site.

    April 29, 2021 at 06:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. http://telescopicladders.xyz/

    The only point I lament is not having found your blog site earlier.


    April 29, 2021 at 07:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 바둑이게임

    I needed to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you book-marked to check out new things you postÖ


    April 29, 2021 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 바둑이게임

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful sites on the net. I will recommend this website!


    April 29, 2021 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. https://www.songmanhits.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    April 29, 2021 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 온라인바둑이

    Spot on with this write-up, I really think this site needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the info!


    April 30, 2021 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. canadian viagra cialis

    canadian pharmacy 5 mg daily cialis https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian pharmacy no perscription generic cialis

    April 30, 2021 at 07:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. LrbsEncox

    is levitra safe http://uslevitraanna.com/ discount levitra canada

    April 30, 2021 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. LrbsEncox

    spedra vs levitra https://uslevitraanna.com/ levitra usage

    April 30, 2021 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. aralen for sale

    clorquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine phosphate vs chloroquine sulphate

    April 30, 2021 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. FbsfEncox

    Stromectol http://uspharmus.com/ Copegus

    April 30, 2021 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. 바둑이사이트

    Itís difficult to find experienced people for this subject, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    April 30, 2021 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. avanafil

    buy avanafil usa avanafil stendra dosage

    April 30, 2021 at 19:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. cvs erectile products

    does erectile dysfunction come on suddenly https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile exercises

    April 30, 2021 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. chloroquine phosphate

    choloriquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ aralen for lupus

    April 30, 2021 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. COIN MASTER Hack

    You are able to effortlessly run the game hack from your PC, iOS or Android device without having to spend any real dollars and generate your unlimited resources in only a few mins. Using our game hack tool from any device is absolutely easy. You can run it from Android, iOS, Windows or Mac, and get your resources without having to spend any single dollar or penny.


    April 30, 2021 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. is it legal to bring viagra back to canada from mexico

    generic viagra from canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ viagra in canada

    May 1, 2021 at 02:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Latia

    When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get
    three e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from
    that service? Thank you!

    May 1, 2021 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RfvbZisse

    buy cialis http://cileve.com/ cialis using paypal

    May 1, 2021 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. w88vn.biz

    Hi everyone, it's my first visit at this web site,
    and post is genuinely fruitful in favor of me, keep up posting these types of articles.

    May 1, 2021 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 먹튀검증

    There's definately a great deal to find out about this topic. I like all the points you have made.


    May 1, 2021 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. 먹튀검증사이트

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering problems with your RSS. I donít understand why I can't join it. Is there anybody getting the same RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 1, 2021 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. canadian customs pills vitamins

    canadian diet pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian generic pills

    May 2, 2021 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 먹튀검증

    Great site you've got here.. Itís hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 2, 2021 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. LhdvZisse

    cialis without a prescription https://asciled.com/ cialis pill

    May 2, 2021 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. cialis viagra combination canadian pharmacy

    buy generic cialis without prescription canadian pharmacy https://canadacialisstore.com/ buy generic cialis, canadian

    May 2, 2021 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RfvbZisse

    cialis http://cileve.com/ cialis no prescriotion

    May 2, 2021 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. 먹튀검증

    Good information. Lucky me I ran across your blog by accident (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!


    May 2, 2021 at 19:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. malaraquin

    cloriquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ cloriquin

    May 3, 2021 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 먹튀사이트

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, however I genuinely thought you would have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    May 3, 2021 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine tablet price in india dapoxetine 30mg price

    May 3, 2021 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. LebnEncox

    legitimate mexican pharmacy online http://xlnpharmacy.com/ international pharmacies that ship to the usa

    May 3, 2021 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. FmrfEncox

    buy black cialis http://cialisee.com/ new cialis commercial 2010

    May 3, 2021 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. LebnEncox

    Malegra DXT plus https://xlnpharmacy.com/ no prior prescription required pharmacy

    May 3, 2021 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. 먹튀검증

    Hello, I do believe your web site may be having browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, great site!


    May 3, 2021 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. 먹튀검증

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but typically folks don't talk about such subjects. To the next! Best wishes!!


    May 3, 2021 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Automated smoke testing

    124824 337931hi!,I like your writing so considerably! share we communicate far more about your article on AOL? I require an expert on this region to solve my difficulty. Maybe thats you! Seeking forward to see you. 295612

    May 4, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. 먹튀검증커뮤니티

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes that will make the most important changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 4, 2021 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. avanafil

    avanafil vs cialis avanafil

    May 4, 2021 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Eye Appointment Near Me


    May 4, 2021 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. ram camper van


    May 4, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. mack box truck

    Right here is the right site for anyone who wishes to understand this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which has been written about for ages. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!


    May 4, 2021 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. aika online private server

    I really love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my own personal website and would love to learn where you got this from or what the theme is named. Many thanks!


    May 4, 2021 at 22:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. 출장안마

    After checking out a number of the articles on your blog, I truly appreciate your way of writing a blog. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my website too and let me know what you think.


    May 4, 2021 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Eye Doctor Ahwatukee


    May 5, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. https://topphimhot.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    May 5, 2021 at 05:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. aika online wiki


    May 5, 2021 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Antone Roddick

    The original was way better and gore


    May 5, 2021 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Lonny Milfeld

    It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people for this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 5, 2021 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. GtnbCrulk

    does viagra work for women https://jokviagra.com/ generic viagra coupon

    May 5, 2021 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44

Leave a Reply to 먹튀사이트


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.