Tell you what, refraining from blogging is a lot easier than abstaining from beer.
I haven’t been around these parts much, but I have had a rich and varied summer: Discussions of aesthetics with John Haldane and Anthony O’Hear. A seminar on marriage and parenthood with W. Bradford Wilcox. Jousting with Timothy Jost on abortion in health care. Trips to the sun-soaked shore with the League’s own David Schaengold and William Randolph Brafford. A reunion with old friends for our third annual celebration in honor of Humanae Vitae, the document that courageously affirmed the consistent Christian teaching against contraception. A discussion with the distinguished Dr. Catherine Hakim on erotic capital.
Erotic capital — the real subject of this post — is a controversial new sociological category proposed by Hakim, a professor at the London School of Economics. She uses it to describe six related traits of market actors: beauty, sexual attractiveness, social charm, liveliness, presentation, and sexual skill. Obviously, erotic capital plays a large role in marriage markets and sexual bargaining. But Hakim also writes in her paper outlining the subject that erotic capital has an unacknowledged influence in the labor market:
The most recent study shows that good looks, intelligence, personality, and confidence all determine income, for men and women alike (Judge et al., 2009). Even after accounting for intelligence, good looks raise income, partly by enhancing educational attainment, personality, and self-confidence. The total effect of facial attractiveness on income is roughly equal to that of educational qualifications or self-confidence, but is much smaller than the impact of intelligence. Attractive people find it easier to interact socially, are more persuasive, and are thus more successful in a variety of jobs.
In her paper, Hakim faults patriarchs and feminists for obscuring the importance of erotic capital. It is, as Jezebel’s response indicates, a theory that seems designed to provoke. But is anyone here inclined to agree with Hakim? If so, how might the phenomena Hakim describes under the heading of erotic capital be addressed in corporate policies and government programs?
And now back to what’s left of summer.