In the discussion thread: “Feminism made women too picky”: more on male rage, sexual entitlement, and backlash [View all]
Response to iverglas (Reply #14)
Fri Apr 20, 2012, 08:14 AM
seabeyond (94,051 posts)
16. Exploiting Beauty in the Workplace
Hakim argues that while we have no problem exploiting our other advantages — money (economic capital), intelligence and education (human capital), and contacts (social capital), women especially still shirk from using erotic capital. Why should that be? Women, she says, are more charming, more graceful in social interaction, and have more social intelligence than men, but they don't exploit those advantages. Men, on the other hand, have no compunction about using every asset to get ahead in their careers and have no embarrassment about reaping the benefits. Hakim says women feel shy, embarrassed, and ambivalent about admitting that they trade on their looks, and for good reason given the prevailing attitudes: "Women who parade their beauty or sexuality," Ms Hakim writes, "are belittled as stupid, lacking in intellect, and other 'meaningful' social attributes."
"Meritocracies are supposed to champion intelligence, qualifications, and experience. But physical and social attractiveness deliver substantial benefits in all social interaction — making a person more persuasive, able to secure the co-operation of colleagues, attract customers and sell products," she writes in a column for a London newspaper. Controversially, Hakim argues that the financial returns of attractiveness now equal the returns of qualifications, with many young women now believing that beauty is just as important as education. And while she offers up Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF as an exemplar of a woman who exploits her intelligence, qualifications, and erotic capital, she also champions Katie Price, a British media personality and former model who has built a successful career on her looks, an aspirational figure.
In my experience, there is a more complex picture at play than Hakim presents. I have worked on newspapers where women have played the "sex card" to spectacularly successful effect in their careers, but I have also worked in other offices where flaunting sex appeal would have meant instant career death. I have come across male managers who have been shamelessly charming and sexually obvious, while others have been branded as pathetic "himbos." And I have watched as women have consciously downgraded their looks and appearances, while their male have consulted image experts or have undergone facelifts and hair transplants.
My view is that the beauty premium is quite culturally specific: what works in one country, company, or culture doesn't always transfer to another. But I think the basic premise is right: if people can invest in education, training, qualifications and work experience, why can they also not invest in themselves? In Europe, especially France, Italy and Spain, it is accepted for men and women to pay attention to their that attractiveness, self-presentation, and grooming, and this is highly valued. One of the most delightful companies I have ever worked for was a luxury goods group where everyone, without exception, was well-groomed, charming and flirtatious.
yes, i think men, women and societal conditioning as a whole get to take responsibility for this one. for me, we have our guys so mixed up in so many ways. but, i think our women are, too.
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