Catherine Hakim, a professor at the LSE, has been getting a fair amount of press for her Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital. Though the book has not yet been released Stateside, it’s stirred up considerable controversy in the British press — and stoked the dark fears of Men’s Rights Activists in this country. So it’s the subject of my column today at Good Men Project: “Exploit Men Whenever You Can”: Erotic Capital and the Myth of Male Weakness.
Hakim’s thesis is as insulting to men as it is to women. What she’s hawking, with her crude call for women to exploit the “male sex deficit” to their advantage, is the hoary old myth of male weakness. That myth suggests that men have such a strong sex drive that they can be easily manipulated by women. The myth of male weakness is why we often cast more blame on the woman who sleeps with the married man than on the dude himself; the myth of male weakness is why we blame scantily-dressed women for “distracting” innocent men on the street and in the workplace. Women, as Hakim insists, aren’t that interested in sex to begin with – so they don’t have the same vulnerability to lust. But men’s frailty is women’s opportunity, she reminds us. And it’s an opportunity women shouldn’t be ashamed to seize.
Because men are so weak, good looks and flirtatiousness – the basic currency of erotic capital – don’t just supplement a woman’s intellect. Rather, they can serve to cover up deficiencies in ability or experience. The power of erotic capital lies in men’s willingness to choose sex over anything else. Play your cards right, Hakim seems to be saying, and a male boss will promote you to a position for which you are unqualified based on his attraction to you. Exploit the male sex deficit, she suggests, and your sex-starved professor may just give you a grade you haven’t earned.
Role/Reboot picks up the piece as well, and runs it with a different subtitle and a different image, which changes quite a bit.