Review by Choice Review
British sociologist Hakim (London School of Economics) makes the case that erotic capital should be considered a fourth kind of personal asset, along with economic, human, and social capital. The elements of erotic capital are beauty and handsomeness, sexual attractiveness, social interaction skills, liveliness, social presentation, and sexual skill. In some cultures, fertility is also an element of erotic capital. Hakim's other basic claim is that there is a "male sexual deficit"; that men, as a group, desire sex more than women do. This means that erotic capital is women's great asset, balancing male domination of economic capital. Hakim argues that an unholy alliance of patriarchy and radical feminism has suppressed the idea of erotic capital. She thinks people who successfully develop and profit from their erotic capital should be celebrated, which would include normalizing all forms of prostitution. Hakim's idea is interesting, but her empirical support is spotty. Much of the book is given to a repetitive polemic against patriarchy, radical feminism, and Protestantism for suppressing both sex and knowledge of erotic capital. Summing Up: Recommended. General collections/public libraries. B. Weston Centre College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
This enthusiastic but unpersuasive book succeeds in marrying economics with eros, but suffers from its shallow analysis. Piggybacking on Pierre Bourdieu's concept of "social capital," Hakim argues that in addition to our economic and social privilege, our attractiveness (or lack thereof) plays a powerful role in the public as well as private sphere. While readers might expect Hakim's multidisciplinary approach to make surprising connections, her book, aside from its provocative premise, contains no eureka moments. The author, an expert on women's employment and family policy, has a surprisingly thin understanding of feminism's relationship with sexuality. She writes, "Even attractive feminists like Gloria Steinem, who once worked as a bunny in a Playboy club, have never championed women's erotic capital"-without addressing how the sex-positive movement explicitly addressed the positive side of women's sexuality (in and out of the workplace). Some of her reported research is fascinating-say, while attractive women and men are more likely to get hired, attractive women are less likely to be promoted than good-looking men-she rarely investigates the broader ramifications of such behavior. She falls back on such dubious claims as, "Physical attractiveness enhances productivity in management and professional occupations... mainly because attractive and agreeable people are easier to work with, and more persuasive." (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved