In this essay I conduct a close reading of Hakim’s thesis which considers the correlation between sexuality, power and gender inequality. I suggest that Hakim’s work merits attention as it reflects the current debate concerning women’s sexuality and power within the sex industry. Using prostitution as my main argument, I will outline her central theme erotic capital—is overstretched and downplays structures of race, class and age that largely effect women’s access to socio-economic capital. Furthermore, I communicate ways that Hakim might counteract her critics, but conclude her theory as being indefensible.
The central thesis of this book builds on Bourdieu's analysis of the forms of capital –economic capital, social capital and human capital. Hakim proposes another asset: 'erotic capital'. Erotic capital consists of six distinct elements - beauty, sexual attractiveness, social ability, liveliness, sexual competence and social presentation. Erotic capital has developed progressively in the sexualised culture of affluent modern societies and is closely linked to characteristics of a market economy. Just as any capital asset in a competitive market has transactional value; Hakim argues that women should seek maximum return in exchange for their services. Hakim maintains that in general, women posses more erotic capital than men based on the fundamental fact that they work harder on the soft skills. She proposes that due to the large discrepancy between men and women in terms of sexual interest; women are well positioned to exploit their erotic capital.
The notion of the male sex deficit is essential to Hakim’s thesis. She argues that male sex deficit refers to the strong innate sexual desires of men. To prosper in a male-dominated culture, Hakim advocates that being aware of the male sex deficit is central for using your erotic capital to gain social benefits and meet their ends. From her findings, she concludes that men have a propensity to report not being sufficiently sexually satisfied and this impacts their social behaviour in a variety of social situations including the work place. As men possess more structural power than women and are compelled by sexual desire for extensive periods of their lives; women should seek to exploit this vulnerability. In conclusion Hakim maintains that in order for women to get ahead in life and bridge the gender gap, women would benefit from being alluring.
Hakim's manifesto is ingrained in a neoliberal market economy in which individuals contain innate power to construct their own identities and are no longer bound by social constraints. Hakim states that Western economies are based on meritocratic principles. As erotic capital is a meritocratic characteristic a woman who is not born with beauty or sex appeal can still attain it by developing those components that rest within her personal control. The cornerstone of her argument is that Hakim democratises erotic capital and goes on...