home
RSS
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 (2,224 Responses)
  1. Alfredo Bollom

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

    https://google.mk/url?q=https://getpocket.com/@rocvietnam

    June 4, 2021 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Charita Formento

    hi!,I like your writing so much! share we communicate more about your post on AOL? I need an expert on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that's you! Looking forward to see you.

    https://google.gr/url?q=https://getpocket.com/@rocvietnam

    June 4, 2021 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. https://w88vn.biz/w88hn-gioi-thieu-cac-san-pham-noi-bat-cua-nha-cai-w88hn

    Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?
    I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked
    hard on. Any suggestions?

    June 4, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. cialis without a doctor prescription

    tadalafil peptides cialis side effects of tadalafil

    June 4, 2021 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. motorhome body shop

    Hi, I do believe this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit once again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

    https://www.google.si/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&docid=tvesbldjjphkym&tbnid=isrjl50bi1j8bm:&ved=0cagqjrwwaa&url=https://youtube.com/watch?v=HlZ8T97uSb8

    June 4, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. appomannoni

    erectile discussion kayamy does erectile dysfunction pills work
    erectile massage therapy slilicy erectile disorder causes
    are erectile dysfunction pills dangerous sicAdofs erectile at 43

    June 4, 2021 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. nectar collector kit

    Bong Coasters & Bong Padscool one hitter14mm 45 Degree Showerhead Ash Catcher By DiamondThis is because the ash catcher would make your piece top-heavy, increasing the likelihood of an accident and breakage. On the contrary, massive bongs are usually paired with large ash catchers to keep the aesthetic consistent.

    https://pilotdiarystore.com/collections/silicone-glass-nectar-collectors

    June 4, 2021 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. camper inspection near me

    http://getfuzzy.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.info/

    June 4, 2021 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Content Marketing Companies

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Thanks for providing this information.

    http://wtp.takhlis.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.lifebusinessfitness.com/

    June 4, 2021 at 02:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rv mattresses near me

    Hi, I do believe this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will come back once again since i have saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

    http://old2.mtp.pl/out/theocrv.com/rv-repair-shop-pacoima-california

    June 4, 2021 at 03:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. massage places near me

    That is a good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise informationÖ Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!

    http://www.launchwizard.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestshopnearme.com

    June 4, 2021 at 03:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dodge Sprinter Repair Shop

    Itís difficult to find well-informed people for this topic, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    http://www.remontmix.ru/out?t=1&mid=19521&url=http://www.commercialvanrepairshop.com

    June 4, 2021 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. EncoxAni

    good pharmacy [url=https://pharmacyken.com/ ]Plendil[/url] canada pet pharmacy no prescription

    June 4, 2021 at 04:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sprinter Heater Valve Repair

    https://glowing.com/external/link?next_url=https://www.sprintervanrepairnearme.com

    June 4, 2021 at 05:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. API 5CT drill pipe Distributors

    Manganese resembles iron in its chemical and physical buildings, yet it is harder and more fragile. Manganese is perhaps one of the most flexible aspect that can be included in copper alloys.

    https://stackoverflow.com/users/15933447/u5zgzpt216?tab=profile

    June 4, 2021 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Waltraud Loomis

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 4, 2021 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Lynsey Jaecks

    Does your blog have a contact page? I'm having trouble locating it but, I'd like to shoot you an email. I've got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

    https://google.co.nz/url?q=https://dribbble.com/rocvietnam/

    June 4, 2021 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. appomannoni

    best erectile dysfunction remedies kayamy order erectile dysfunction pills from india
    erectile ointment slilicy erectile disorder mayo clinic
    erectile solution ratings sicAdofs erectile aids

    June 4, 2021 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. collision repair shop near me

    I truly love your website.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you create this web site yourself? Please reply back as Iím trying to create my own website and would love to find out where you got this from or what the theme is named. Appreciate it!

    https://board-en.drakensang.com/proxy.php?link=https://www.ocrvmotorsports.net

    June 4, 2021 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. EncoxGtv

    cvs pharmacy in target store [url=https://pharmacyhrn.com/ ]pharmacy rx one coupon[/url] online pharmacies of canada

    June 4, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 출장 안마

    This is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!

    http://www.uchus-rostu.net/user/w6trzzu342

    June 4, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mercedes Sprinter Diesel Repair Near Me

    That is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate infoÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!

    http://www.ecommercebytes.com/R/R/chart.pl?CHTL&101107&AmazonPayments&https://ocrv.rocks/rv-repair-shop-commerce-california

    June 4, 2021 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. chase near me

    http://ww5.libdd.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=quotenearme.com/

    June 4, 2021 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sprinter Door Repair Panel

    Can I just say what a comfort to uncover someone who truly understands what they're talking about online. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people have to look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you're not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

    http://rondomusic.com/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=bwcornwell&page=http://fleetautorepairshop.com/

    June 4, 2021 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 구미출장안마

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this matter here on your web site.

    https://mathoverflow.net/users/199608

    June 4, 2021 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Mercedes Benz Dealer Service Sprinter Near Me 91605

    http://endovenouslaser.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprintervanrepair.com

    June 4, 2021 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. appomannoni

    erectile discomfort kayamy best erectile dysfunction
    erectile stimulator slilicy can erectile dysfunction be psychological
    erectile pills china sicAdofs erectile pills from canada

    June 4, 2021 at 18:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. rv plumbing parts near me

    https://shoplocal.chieftain.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.org/

    June 4, 2021 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. 진주출장마사지

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I believe that you need to publish more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people don't speak about such issues. To the next! Best wishes!!

    https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/134242967-wren

    June 4, 2021 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. CrulkAsd

    buy cialis online australia pay with paypal [url=https://cialisjla.com/ ]cialis[/url] cialis online

    June 4, 2021 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Viviana Syzdek

    I’m not sure where you're getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful info I was looking for this info for my mission.

    https://www.google.co.cr/url?q=https://twitter.com/roccamping

    June 5, 2021 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Rosenda Glines

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

    https://cse.google.dz/url?q=https://www.pinterest.com/rocvietnam/

    June 5, 2021 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. appomannoni

    erectile capacity kayamy erectile function paralysis
    erectile disorder psychology slilicy causes of erectile dysfunction
    erectile helper sicAdofs erectile strength diet

    June 5, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Internet Marketing Agencies

    http://outlawmailer.com/addfavorites.php?userid=xxjess&url=https://www.spokanevalleyseo.com

    June 5, 2021 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. remodeled rvs interior

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and the rest of the site is also really good.

    https://members.practicegreenhealth.org/eweb/Logout.aspx?RedirectURL=https://ocrvcenter.info/rv-repair-shop-santa-clarita-california

    June 5, 2021 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sprinter Fuel Filler Pipe Repair

    Iím amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís both equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I found this during my search for something relating to this.

    http://www.dentedu.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.sprinterrepairnearme.com/

    June 5, 2021 at 03:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. mattress stores near me

    http://www.conferencebureauthailand.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=wholesalenearme.com

    June 5, 2021 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. all class rv yorba linda

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It's the little changes which will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!

    https://www.autotriti.gr/news/preview_news.asp?home=webnews&url=https://ocrvmotorsports.biz

    June 5, 2021 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. bong bowl for sale

    Bong Coasters & Bong Pads90 degree ash catcherDiamond Glass 18mm 45 Degree Showerhead Perc Ash CatcherThe bag is held closed by strong velcro as well as a rubber lined zipper that keeps smells locked inside. The inside has two roomy mesh pockets with enough space for your stash as well as a lighter, a hand pipe, and even a snack. The inside of the pouch also has 100 carbon lining, making the smell-proof security even stronger.

    https://pilotdiarystore.com/collections/torch-lighters

    June 5, 2021 at 03:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Theodore Cirigliano

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 5, 2021 at 03:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. tadalafil tablets ip

    tadalafil peptide cost tadalafil generic evolution peptides tadalafil

    June 5, 2021 at 04:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Dodge Sprinter Fuel Injector Repair

    http://outdoorworldonline.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.customcampervans.com/

    June 5, 2021 at 05:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. 출장마사지

    You are so awesome! I don't believe I have read anything like that before. So great to discover someone with a few unique thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!

    https://doska-nikoleon.com/user/profile/25988

    June 5, 2021 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. 14mm male to 18mm female glass adapter

    Dabpadzsilicone smoking pipesDiamond Glass 18mm 45 Degree Showerhead Perc Ash CatcherThe bag is held closed by strong velcro as well as a rubber lined zipper that keeps smells locked inside. The inside has two roomy mesh pockets with enough space for your stash as well as a lighter, a hand pipe, and even a snack. The inside of the pouch also has 100 carbon lining, making the smell-proof security even stronger.

    https://pilotdiarystore.com/products/glass-one-hitter-metal-screen

    June 5, 2021 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. dugouts

    Dab Padglass blunt14mm 45 Degree Tree Perc Ash CatcherThis is because the ash catcher would make your piece top-heavy, increasing the likelihood of an accident and breakage. On the contrary, massive bongs are usually paired with large ash catchers to keep the aesthetic consistent.

    https://pilotdiarystore.com/collections/bong-bowl

    June 5, 2021 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. appomannoni

    erectile products kayamy erectile dysfunction symptoms
    erectile function after urethralplasty slilicy erectile health
    discount erectile dysfunction sicAdofs fix erectile dysfunction without drugs

    June 5, 2021 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 파워볼사이트

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Many thanks for providing this info.

    http://www.aleviforum.net/Uye-cakeblue72.html

    June 5, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. 1 hitter pipe

    Dab Pads & Silicone Matsfab egg45 Degree Joint Vs 90 Degree Joint Ash CatcherThe Medicali Ash Catcher with Showerhead Perc has a colored showerhead percolator and is available to order in a selection of colors. Please select your favorite color from the available option in the drop-down thực đơn when you place your order. Please note that you can select the color of the showerhead percolator, it is not possible to select the color or style of the logo. The logos come in a wide variety of colors and styles, you will receive one at random, depending on availability.

    https://pilotdiarystore.com/products/quartz-one-hitter-1

    June 5, 2021 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. 파워볼사이트

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the best sites on the web. I will highly recommend this site!

    https://www.transtats.bts.gov/exit.asp?url=https://britishrestaurantawards.org/members/baccarat0beautytv85/activity/847986/

    June 5, 2021 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Hyun Anand

    I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thanks , I will try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your web site?

    https://images.google.co.tz/url?q=https://www.pearltrees.com/rocvietnam

    June 5, 2021 at 16:12 | 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

Post a comment


 

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.

Advertisement
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.