The Brief, Exhilarating Eroticism of Youth
"With girls, Nature has had in view what is called in a dramatic sense a 'striking effect', for she endows them for a few years with a richness of beauty and a fullness of charm at the expense of the rest of their lives; so that they may during these years ensnare the fantasy of a man to such a degree as to make him rush into taking the honourable care of them, in some kind of form, for a lifetime – a step which would not seem sufficiently justified if he only considered the matter." _Schopenhauer, "On Women"
Catherine Hakim, a research fellow at the London School of Economics, has published a book entitled "Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital." The book discusses the erotic power that women are capable of wielding, and bemoans the lack of awareness of this power on the part of too many young women.
According to Hakim, there’s a ''beauty premium’’ in the workplace – she cites a US survey that found good-looking lawyers earn between 10 and 12 per cent more than dowdier colleagues. Hakim also claims the ''beauty premium’’ makes it more likely that an attractive person will land a job in the first place, and then be promoted. And, says Hakim, erotic capital isn’t limited to the boardroom – ''marriages where the wife is more attractive are happier than those where the husband is the more attractive’’. _Telegraph
...erotic capital – has until now been ignored but, according to Hakim, is just as important as the other three [ed: economic capital, social capital, human capital] and may be even more so because it affects you from the moment you are born. This last point, like much in the book, is dubious. Money surely makes a big difference from early childhood too, as does intelligence.
Hakim has assembled a good deal of evidence to show what we know already: that life tends to be easier and more rewarding for the beautiful. But far from saying that this is unfair, she argues it is just as it should be: the attractive are nicer to be with, get on with people better and are, therefore, more productive.
And so Hakim urges women to make the most of their erotic capital. Don't waste your years of beauty on frumpiness and grumpiness, she urges young women. Maximise your assets and use them to get ahead.
Some of this reminds one of maverick feminist Camille Paglia -- particularly Hakim's emphasis on erotic power and capital.
For young women, puberty is a treacherous passage which is only rarely traversed in optimal fashion. Peer pressure, popular culture, and dysfunctional ideology combine in oppressive fashion to flog the unprepared youth along from hazard to hazard. And when the accoutrements of eroticism -- desire for companionship, home, family -- are not skillfully integrated with the passion -- the eroticism can tend to die too early. The desire for home and family can then either remain unfulfilled, or be realised in a tragically sterile and passionless way.
Sex and eroticism need to maintain elements of both daring and innocence. Of the forbidden and of the earned adventure. When eroticism is hobbled by dogma -- either religious or political (as in leftist feminism) -- the fun and excitement drains away.
No one can tell you what to do with your erotic capital. But you should know what it is, and how to use it if needs be. Everyone should be given that opportunity.
Too many young women begin to lose their erotic appeal, just as they are beginning to learn how to use it in a functional way, for their long term benefit. Most likely, they have received very little help from their parents in understanding their erotic capital. Modern child-raising methods too often either ignore a young woman's burgeoning sexuality, or try to suppress it as long as possible. A father is not supposed to notice his daughter's sexuality, and a mother is frequently too envious of her daughter to give her proper assistance in understanding what is happening to her.
Because eroticism is tied in to sexuality -- and sexuality is tied in to pregnancy, emotional turbulence, and STDs -- parents are naturally cautious when introducing their children to erotic ideas. This leaves the field of eroticism open to popular culture and peer pressure, which almost never have the best interest of youth in mind.
Advertising culture and popular entertainments geared toward youth distort sexuality and eroticism in a manner meant to induct youth into unthinking habits of consumption and counter-productive approaches to sexual exchange. When dysfunctional feminist anti-eroticism and anti-femininism are thrown into the perverse mixture, a young woman is quite lucky to have any erotic thoughts or feelings which she can call her own.
Still, as Tom Robbins said, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." But it would be better if it were to happen the first time through, in the context of wise and loving parents, in the midst of a wise and functional culture.
Adapted and expanded from an article previously published at Al Fin, You Sexy Thing!