Last week, with a conspiratorial grin, a friend handed me a book. “Destroy it,” she whispered.
I held in my hands Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital by a certain Dr Catherine Hakim, who is best known for her ludicrous theory which suggests that feminists have already won and any oppression experienced by women is because they’re not trying hard enough. Honey Money is rooted in this theory, but adds more.
Its central thesis is the existence of a type of social asset called “erotic capital”, fitting alongside economic capital, social capital and cultural capital. Erotic capital is made up of beauty, sexiness, charm, liveliness, social presentation (i.e. how one dresses) and sexuality, including sexual competence. One might notice that erotic capital is all about sex and sex appeal, as its title suggests, yet Hakim spends a good portion of the book arguing that it is definitely not all about sex. If it isn’t, then she hasn’t found anything new, as all of these facets of erotic capital would fit in with the other three social assets. The only way for this theory to be distinct and new is if it is all about sex. Which Hakim reckons it isn’t.
The second major concept explored in Honey Money is the “male sex deficit”. Just say those words out loud to yourself a few times. Male sex deficit. Male sex deficit.
Couched in its economic-sounding language is a concept as old as the hills: men want more sex than women. This notion is unquestioningly asserted repeatedly, and used to explain pretty much everything in the book. Men are randy old goats, while the women just aren’t that into sex. But it’s OK, girls! We can just tease and we’ll get what we want, because our erotic capital’s a scarcer resource.
As I read the book, I became more and more furious that someone wrote this, then someone published this, then people read this and some of them might agree with the thesis put forward. I scrawled angry notes over it with a biro. NO! carved out in blue in the margins.  dotted all over unreferenced assertions.
It became my nemesis.
This week, therefore, I present a treat for you. I read Honey Money so you don’t have to. For the next few days, I will utterly demolish everything which is wrong with Hakim’s thesis, from the unfortunate insights into Hakim’s tortured psyche, to her fraught relationship with interpretation of data, to the horrifying implications of what she believes she has found.
In the meantime, I leave you with this screencap from Disney’s Aladdin, which I think sums up the work rather well.
Das erotische Kapital: