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 (2,032 Responses)
  1. Santos Poisel

    Hi would you mind stating which blog platform you're using? I'm going to start my own blog soon but I'm having a difficult time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

    https://zenwriting.net/elder-care59/senior-home-care-braintree-ma-3l09

    June 10, 2021 at 05:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Laurine Bartlow

    I'm commenting to let you be aware of what a magnificent experience my child undergone visiting your web page. She figured out several things, which include what it's like to possess an awesome helping nature to get most people without hassle fully grasp a variety of impossible things. You really surpassed visitors' expected results. Thanks for showing those insightful, healthy, revealing and easy tips on that topic to Gloria.

    https://writeablog.net/downtownboston-ma-news-online85/boston-ma-to-new-york-city-moving-recommendation

    June 10, 2021 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Buddy Rissanen

    Wow, awesome blog format! How long have you ever been blogging for? you made running a blog look easy. The overall glance of your site is fantastic, let alone the content material!

    https://zenwriting.net/downtownboston-ma-beat-friends54/boston-massachusetts-to-new-york-city-moving-recommendation

    June 10, 2021 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Karoline Papazian

    Greetings, I believe your site might be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, excellent blog!

    https://rylanv14z3.vidublog.com/4371176/time-for-kitchen-area-remodeling-5-symptoms-that-show-you-it-s-time-to-remodel

    June 10, 2021 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. rv repair shops

    Very good post. I definitely love this website. Keep writing!

    http://ww17.wayfaring.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=freeimagedownloadhd-162.blogspot.com/2021/01/print-shop-near-me-stop-and-shop-near.html

    June 10, 2021 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. appomannoni

    erectile vacuum systems kayamy help with erectile dysfunction naturally
    erectile over the counter products slilicy erectile exercises video
    does erectile dysfunction end sicAdofs erectile medication where to purchase

    June 10, 2021 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 울산 출장안마

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!

    http://wyposazenie-kuchni.forum-opinie24.pl/member.php?action=profile&uid=58489

    June 10, 2021 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. 대구출장

    Spot on with this write-up, I really think this amazing site needs far more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!

    https://unsplash.com/@dreamrat20

    June 10, 2021 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 울산출장안마

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

    https://www.4shared.com/office/y4S0AG7Bea/453064.html

    June 10, 2021 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. 부산출장마사지

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the best blogs online. I am going to highly recommend this blog!

    https://www.file-upload.com/36s4mry31f7k

    June 10, 2021 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 부산출장안마

    Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

    http://isms.pk/members/motherball85/activity/726673/

    June 10, 2021 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dori Bardin

    very nice publish, i definitely love this website, carry on it

    https://cse.google.co.ao/url?q=https://www.blogger.com/profile/18323726891786638185

    June 10, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Otha Segee

    Pretty component of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to say that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing on your feeds or even I fulfillment you access consistently rapidly.

    http://www.google.co.bw/url?q=https://www.pinterest.com/msquarevn

    June 10, 2021 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Alla Landrith

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a means you can remove me from that service? Kudos!

    http://rylanx25d7.mybuzzblog.com/5296286/an-unbiased-view-of-sign-stores-near-me

    June 10, 2021 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. 울산 출장

    Good web site you have here.. Itís hard to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    https://www.instapaper.com/read/1410760501

    June 10, 2021 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. appomannoni

    erectile products kayamy erectile wow video
    erectile 20170 elderly slilicy erectile disorder mayo clinic
    which erectile dysfunction pills work sicAdofs bladder cancer erectile beefs function

    June 10, 2021 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Shaniqua Renzelman

    http://www.bshare.cn/share?url=https://dallass63o2.digiblogbox.com/26488590/considerations-to-know-about-mechanic

    June 10, 2021 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Gaynelle Shivy

    Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog loading? I'm trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    https://postheaven.net/boston-massinsight-group35/long-distance-movers-from-boston-ma-to-chicago-illinois-why-you-need-to

    June 10, 2021 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    Best view i have ever seen !

    https://www.google.com.pa/url?q=https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    June 10, 2021 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Albert Grenway

    With the whole thing that seems to be building inside this specific subject material, all your viewpoints are actually somewhat refreshing. Having said that, I appologize, because I can not subscribe to your whole suggestion, all be it stimulating none the less. It would seem to everybody that your commentary are generally not entirely rationalized and in actuality you are your self not really wholly confident of the point. In any event I did appreciate looking at it.

    https://blogfreely.net/bostonmass-news-friend3/housemovers-from-boston-massachusetts-to-chicago-illinois-why-hire-a

    June 10, 2021 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 울산 출장마사지

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and the rest of the site is very good.

    https://fabnews.faith/wiki/Forms_of_Care

    June 11, 2021 at 00:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. 울산 출장마사지

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!

    https://issuu.com/t6sawsu737

    June 11, 2021 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Tammy Zausch

    http://andyx25b3.thelateblog.com/5234565/5-easy-facts-about-digital-marketing-course-described

    June 11, 2021 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. shopping discount code

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this
    website yourself or did you hire someone to do it
    for you? Plz respond as I'm looking to construct my own blog and would
    like to find out where u got this from. thanks a lot

    Here is my homepage shopping discount code

    June 11, 2021 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 울산 출장마사지

    Good post. I certainly love this website. Keep writing!

    https://hdvolt.me/user/w9sseqk460

    June 11, 2021 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 울산출장안마

    Everyone loves it when individuals get together and share views. Great site, continue the good work!

    http://uzmuz.tv/go.php?url=http://anma6edgarxkrb773.trexgame.net/25-surprising-facts-about-ulsanchuljang

    June 11, 2021 at 01:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. appomannoni

    erectile medicine kayamy erectile dysfunction exercises
    erectile lubricants slilicy help with erectile dysfunction naturally
    acupuncture for erectile sicAdofs erectile prosthesis

    June 11, 2021 at 02:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Jeanice Karnath

    I was more than happy to search out this web-site.I wished to thanks to your time for this glorious learn!! I positively enjoying each little little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

    http://onlineklubben.dk/site/members/movingguyblog33/activity/306431/

    June 11, 2021 at 03:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Elroy Spurrier

    Great post. I used to be checking constantly this weblog and I am impressed! Very helpful information particularly the final phase 🙂 I deal with such information a lot. I used to be seeking this particular info for a very long time. Thanks and best of luck.

    http://topmovesblog86.xtgem.com/__xt_blog/__xtblog_entry/__xtblog_entry/21427370-boston-ma-furniture-movers-helps-make-your-move-easy?__xtblog_block_id=1#xt_blog

    June 11, 2021 at 04:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. rv repair shop near me

    http://chat.kanichat.com/jump.jsp?https://tubularbrass.com/with-guitars-cd-review/with-guitars/

    June 11, 2021 at 04:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Homer Creese

    you are the boss it is a really helpful article. I had visited many websites but you arricle really helps me.

    http://games2.blogspot.com

    June 11, 2021 at 07:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Mitzi Pomeranz

    Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks a lot

    https://schultz-wichmann.technetbloggers.de/getting-your-elderly-loved-one-into-a-boston-mass-medical-home/

    June 11, 2021 at 07:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Boston Massachusetts Private Care

    It is best to take part in a contest for the most effective blogs on the web. I will advocate this site!

    https://zenwriting.net/privatecaregiver04/improving-well-being-and-independence-for-elderly-members-of-the-family

    June 11, 2021 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Joie Goode

    There is certainly a great deal to know about this topic. I love all the points you made.

    http://www.shinobi.jp/etc/goto.html?http://elliotl81r9.livebloggs.com/5449279/mechanic-secrets

    June 11, 2021 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Damian Bellefleur

    I needed to thank you for this fantastic read!! I absolutely loved every bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff you postÖ

    https://www.bing.com/news/apiclick.aspx?ref=FexRss&aid=&url=https://jaredo30g9.blog-gold.com/5641991/top-rv-body-shop-secrets

    June 11, 2021 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Krysta Donat

    you are the boss it is a really helpful article. I had visited many websites but you arricle really helps me.

    http://games2.blogspot.com

    June 11, 2021 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Joesph Rieske

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the website is also very good.

    https://fernandoz48n9.blogaritma.com/4054401/how-vehicle-lettering-near-me-can-save-you-time-stress-and-money

    June 11, 2021 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. appomannoni

    does erectile dysfunction ever go away kayamy cheapest erectile dysfunction drugs
    what erectile dysfunction drug works best slilicy erectile health news
    erectile supplements for men sicAdofs which erectile dysfunction drugs cost more

    June 11, 2021 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. 전주출장

    After looking at a handful of the blog posts on your site, I truly like your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site as well and tell me your opinion.

    http://massage2miloshln161.jigsy.com/entries/general/the-most-influential-people-in-the-ECA084ECA3BCECB69CEC9EA5EBA788EC82ACECA780-industry-and-their-celebrity-dopplegangers

    June 11, 2021 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. 울산출장안마

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the finest websites on the internet. I am going to recommend this website!

    https://worknr.com/user/profile/156896

    June 11, 2021 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. near me

    brewery

    June 11, 2021 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. collision repair riverside ca

    Good post. I'm facing many of these issues as well..

    https://www.boemighausen.de/redirect.php?ad=83&to=http://ocrv.tv

    June 11, 2021 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. 전주출장

    Good article! We will be linking to this particularly great content on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    https://www.last.fm/user/i0qmjdk228

    June 11, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. 울산출장

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.

    https://repack-fitgirl.com/user/meatkale2/

    June 11, 2021 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. appomannoni

    erectile tissue histology kayamy erectile vasoconstriction
    erectile medications slilicy erectile function returns as copper decreases
    erectile on demand scam sicAdofs erectile failure

    June 11, 2021 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Technician Riverside

    http://www.harleyridersclub.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvcenter.co/

    June 11, 2021 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. High Top Van Repair Shop Near Me

    https://ipv4.google.com/url?q=http://fleetrepairshops.com

    June 11, 2021 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Mercedes Sprinter Service Locations

    Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a lot and never manage to get anything done.

    http://www.pdxconstruction.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetservicerepairshop.com

    June 11, 2021 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Service

    http://trgoncology.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=campervanrepairshop.com

    June 11, 2021 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. chung khoan fpt ho4

    Thẳng Soccerbàn thắng tiviTrên băng ghế giảng dạy, Lebanon đã bổ nhiệm Ramiro Lopez cơ hội đây 3 tuần. Nhà nắm quân người Tây Ban Nha nhà yếu đuối thực hiện việc tại Ý và từng có thời gian thực hiện việc tại Kuwait.|Và NHM bóng đá Việt Nam đang hóng Minh Trí cùng đồng đội hóa giải đối thủ để tạo lợi thế đến trận lượt về sau đây hai ngày. Chelsea đã cần trải qua 8 phút bù giờ không thở được bảo vệ chiến thắng.

    https://chiefscreolecafe.com/detail/101tv-94708.html

    June 11, 2021 at 20:50 | 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

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.