By Ness Fraser
As a recent college graduate, I know first-hand how hard it is to get a job. I applied to numerous companies without so much as a “no thanks” in return, had a couple of interviews that turned into nothing, and it wasn’t until I got pretty close to my “oh shit I can’t afford rent” point that I finally landed a job as an administrative assistant.
While I frustratingly blamed my unemployment on the bad economy and tough urban-centre job market, Catherine Hakim would probably say that if I would’ve just gotten a little liposuction and maybe some implants, I wouldn’t have had a problem finding a job. Who knew?
In her new book Erotic Capital, Hakim writes that that women should not only use their looks to get ahead in the workplace, but perhaps even go as far as to mutilate them with plastic surgery in order to make them more appealing to the men who are leading the corporate world. Hakim even told a reporter for The Daily Beast that “anyone, even quite an ugly person, can be attractive if they just have the right kind of hairstyle, clothes, and present them selves to the best effect” — isn’t that kind of her?
Hakim, like many other misogynists, believes that a woman’s worth comes from her external beauty. Women, though valuable in the workplace, are only really valuable when they are acting as something attractive to look at.
While Hakim proudly calls herself a feminist (while deriding the work of “traditional feminists” because they don’t believe in her bullshit “erotic capital” theory) she is only serving as a female voice for the same-old “women are useless” brand of misogyny. Though, I’ll give her some credit for taking it a step further — she believes that women are so worthless, that if they don’t have beauty (which is obviously the only thing women have to give) we should at least make the effort to pay someone to make us attractive. Because our bodies aren’t valuable anyways so we might as well mutilate them. And if we don’t do that? Lazy! Disgusting! UGLY!
Hakim is not a feminist, and I sincerely hope that those reading her book understand that this is not what modern feminism is about. Feminism is about choice and freedom, not the responsibility to look good for others even if it means permanently altering your body. What’s more is that feminists typically don’t encourage women to sculpt their lives around the desires of men; we encourage women to shape their lives around what’s best for themselves.
There’s nothing wrong with women who value attractiveness — if dressing in expensive clothes and using botox like it’s going out of style makes you feel good about yourself, all the power to you. The problem with Hakim’s message that women must be beautiful to get ahead in the workplace follows the same train of thought that believes women are automatically less than men just by virtue of being women, and to make up for it we owe the world our beauty.
We don’t owe our bosses, partners, friends, or strangers on the street our attractiveness because they’ve taken the time to interact with us. We can bring something to the work force — or community, or relationship — that has nothing to do with our looks. We can be smart, funny, articulate, creative, and a vast array of other positive adjectives without subjecting ourselves to strict diet regimens, plastic surgery, and designer-clothing related debt.
Our beauty should be an added bonus not a top-priority expectation.