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This article was published 14/10/2011 (3385 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Power of Erotic Capital
By Catherine Hakim
Allen Lane, 248 pages, $28
'No money, no honey' say ladies of the night in Jakarta to leering tourists.
Given all the attention British author Catherine Hakim has earned for her sociological treatise, you may think you are in for a saucy read.
But no such luck. Honey Money reads like a master's thesis. It's been given a hot title, but it's dry inside.
Hakim is not selling anything new here, except to recognize the phenomenon that good-looking, charming people get more career advancement, notice and money than others. Take Sarah Palin, Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- please!
The part that's galling is that Hakim has made so little effort made to write the book in a popular style, when the topic lends itself so easily.
Still, the first page is a teaser. It relates a story of a with-it chick who loses her job and preps for a job hunt like she's stalking a new love partner.
She loses weight, buys new clothes and ends up making 50 per cent more at the new job.
This opening is written with some pep and verve, but then we're right into university thesis style -- strings of 75-cent words that educated folks will understand but not appreciate.
Hakim, the way, is a senior fellow of sociology at the London School of Economics, and it shows.
"Western radical feminism," she writes, "must come out of its elitist cul-de-sac that denigrates everyone without higher education (the majority). Patriarchal and radical feminist prejudices against erotic capital currently impede full valorization of this asset in public life."
Translated from socio-babble, Hakim is saying we should all be realistic about the importance of sex appeal and get with the program.
Forget the guilt about using sex to help you in the work place -- just work with it. Dump the baggy clothes. Smarten up your looks, get a modern haircut and eyewear, smell great, be warm, funny and, hey, even a little flirty, and reap the benefits.
This smart advantage-seeking goes twice for women, who are still being paid up to one-third less than their male counterparts. This is partly because they don't ask for raises like guys do and partly because they don't use their charm.
Hakim is not saying people should put out -- just work it a little.
In fact, she thinks women have overlooked something, well, huge. That's the male "sex deficit." She thinks women could easily use sex appeal to their advantage because men never get enough sex at any stage of their lives, save for a short spell.
Marriage is not a guarantee of regular hot stuff, she notes, especially after 30 when there are usually kids in the picture and women are too tired to be interested. Hungry men experiencing a lifelong sex deficit can easily be manipulated with some charm.
There's nothing ground-breaking in this book, except that someone's finally saying it's all right for women to look good while they are being so dang smart at work.
Hakim advises you to be one of those people who get more than the others. Women, she says, should jump on those rungs, ask for raises and climb that corporate ladder in their high heels without a moment of embarrassment about who's behind them, looking up.
Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyheart column in the Free Press.
Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.