Business, Finance & Law Honey Money Omnivore review

Published on August 2nd, 2011


Honey Money by Catherine Hakim

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Blurb: Why do some people seem to lead charmed lives? They are attractive, but also lively, friendly and charismatic. People want to be around them. Doors open for them. The answer, this book argues, is in the power of erotic capital — the overlooked human asset that is at the heart of how we work, interact, make money, succeed and conduct our relationships. Honey Money is a call for us to recognize the economic and social value of erotic capital, and truly acknowledge beauty and pleasure. According to Catherine Hakim, this will not only change the role of women in society, getting them a better deal in both public and private life — it could also revolutionize our power structures, big business, the sex industry, government, marriage, education and almost everything we do. (Allen Lane, 2011)

Sarah Vine, The Times

Her scorn for the way the sexual revolution has undermined women’s sexual power by devaluing it, and how ideals of free love have been more sexually enslaving to women — not less — is clearly and convincingly argued … My one criticism is that the book doesn’t quite make the leap from academia to literature; it takes quite a bit of chewing. But if you persist you will find it full of intellectual nourishment.

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Lucy Kellaway, The Financial Times

Reading the book from cover to cover leaves one with the feeling of having been clubbed repeatedly over the head. However, the experience isn’t entirely unenjoyable, nor is it without purpose. Hakim is quite right on one central point: women in the UK and the US are not brought up to make the best of themselves, as French women are. We are taught that beauty is the poor cousin of brains; we are hung up about flaunting it. This book, for all the repetition, annoying jargon and sloppy reasoning, makes one see things differently.

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Will Self, The Guardian

I do think Hakim is largely right about the hypocrisies implicit in contemporary feminism’s attack on female “erotic capital” — and she’s certainly right about patriarchal attitudes. But by advocating that the undoubtedly existent “sex deficit” be made good with prostitution, she exposes the neoliberal calculus implicit in the very term itself. Reading Honey Money, I was reminded again and again of The Communist Manifesto: “It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless and feasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.” We all know what Marx meant by “it”, and it certainly wasn’t some conveniently inter-sex individual.

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Jenni Russell, The Sunday Times

Selling the sex you don’t personally want to have as the route to personal development, confidence and happiness? Driving merciless bargains with men for every erotic encounter? If this is what counts as intellectual discovery at the London School of Economics, or Allen Lane, who publish Hakim, I fear for the future both of universities and of serious books. Don’t bother to buy Honey Money. And if you should pass it in a bookshop, pick up a copy and drop it somewhere where nobody’s likely to take an interest in it. Military history, perhaps, or gardening. You’ll be doing the rest of us a favour.

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