Ladies, this is a must read. With women’s rights where they are now, things still aren’t how they should be. But that just means we have to fight SMARTER, instead of HARDER. It’s really just a game, and if you learn to play it right, you can end up on top (no pun intended).
‘I use my sex appeal to get ahead at work… and so does ANY woman with any sense’
By Samantha Brick
The truth is, I’d much rather work for a man than a woman. I’ve always dressed with the express intention to please and gratify my male bosses in the workplace.
If I had a choice of how to spend my ideal lunch hour, it’s a no-brainer. Each and every time I’d choose to flirt over lunch with a male superior rather than engage in mindless gossip with the girls over a Pret sandwich.
Yet I’m no meek, all-serving geisha or someone hellbent on sleeping their way to the top. I am university educated, reasonably intelligent and, so I’ve been told, attractive. I’m easy on the eye — and I use it to my advantage every single day. Before you roll your eyes in disgust and write me off as a shameless gold digger, little better than a WAG, consider this.
By the age of 30 I had a three-quarter-of-a-million-pound house, a Mercedes convertible (and a Mercedes estate for when I took my dogs out), a walk-in dressing room crammed with clothes that Carrie Bradshaw would be envious of — oh, and I had a generous six-figure salary and a high-ranking position in my chosen industry.
For 16 years I worked in television. While women dominate many of the senior roles; it is men who are the gateway to million pound budgets, to salary hikes, to whether you succeed or not. Like it or not, the reality is this: they hold the purse strings of the broadcasting industry. Whether you are working for a guy in London or LA, they are one and the same.
They adore being flirted with, love to have their egos stroked and — above all else — they yearn for the attention of an attractive woman. I learned very early on in my career how to clock within seconds who the important male was in any room and pandered to him accordingly. And it paid off.
Without realising it, I was just obeying the principles outlined by sociologist Dr Catherine Hakim in her new book called Honey Money: The Power Of Erotic Capital. Serialised in the Mail last week, it’s caused quite a stir with its suggestion that knowing how to use your sexuality is as crucial to success at work as intelligence, skill and professional qualifications. My only surprise is that erotic capital hasn’t been flagged up before as a crucial office asset.
Certainly in the TV industry, there aren’t any successful women who don’t possess these skills — and utilise them to the max. But you don’t have to be born beautiful to learn how to use your erotic capital. I was a shy, overweight, dumpy child, who grew into a self-conscious, spotty, plump teen, the proverbial ugly duckling. To my surprise, at 16 I transformed into a swan. The puppy fat disappeared, my complexion took on an enviable glow and I reached the 5ft 11in height I am today.
Almost on cue I was whisked into the Queen Bee in-crowd. Male friends fawned after me (they still do), and I received countless date invitations.
After years of being looked over, I was finally being looked at. My confidence grew, along with my flirting skills, my social charms were finessed and, after years of being the wallflower — someone guys confided in rather than chatted up — I was at ease in male company.
By the time I arrived in London to go to university, my skills had been honed even further. I groomed a relationship with a professor whose cousin worked in TV. He was reputed to occasionally put forward favoured students who would automatically go on to be granted that much-sought-after first rung on the ladder. Inevitably, he put me forward for my first position in TV.
My investment in my sexuality was already paying off. Do I regret those hours spent listening to him rabbiting on about his career, his successes, of a life lived aeons ago, while my fellow students were out having a good time? I do not. I’d have spent double that time with him. He had the power to open doors because he found me attractive. Neither of us was in any doubt about the trade-off.
My own allure grew from the get-go of my professional life. Working in TV meant being around young, single, sexually available men and women. But they were primarily interested in each other; their bosses were rarely on their radar. Typically a generation older than me and my peers, our bosses wanted someone to listen to them moan about their wives or kids. They wanted to feel valued as a man — and I was always more than ready with the right words.
I engineered such opportunities. I’d arrive early — looking perky — to have that valuable 30 minutes of chat with the guy who controlled my wages and the path my career took. It paid off — I went from job to job, with a salary increase each time. I was soon invited to award dinners, networking events and one-to-ones with superiors; I’d been spotted and my star was in the ascendant.
I discovered early on there is no such thing as a free lunch. It is a transaction between you and the man you are dining with. The food is irrelevant. Conversation, flattery, where you’re seated, who your fellow diners are, and, tellingly, who you’re introduced to are what’s important. In return, the man gets to sit with an attractive woman, who makes him feel good about himself. Such conversations are never restricted to a restaurant; on transatlantic flights, in an elevator, even at a Pilates class — you grab every opportunity to trade on your erotic capital in order to benefit your own lot in life.
While you might be thinking I’m little better than a prostitute, I’d argue that’s far from the case. Dr Hakim says erotic capital has real value in the job market and refers to countless studies which back this up. Why anyone else wouldn’t behave as I did is beyond me. While I never slept with anyone, I deliberately wore outfits that the decision-makers appreciate — for example, a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress never fails to work with a man.
You might think my friends would be outraged. Not a bit of it. Platonic male friends were full of admiration when they clocked how my career and salary soared above theirs. As for my girlfriends, in shared moments over a bottle of wine, when alcohol had paved way for confession time, I discovered a perhaps not-so-surprising thing.
One girlfriend regularly re-adjusts her bra before going into a meeting with her male boss. Yet another female co-worker let it be known in every professional encounter with a man — whether job interview or formal meeting — that she had once worked as a Playboy bunny. Far from me being a one-off, if we women are honest, we’re all at it in our own unique, albeit secret, way.I’m sexually attentive to my husband and in return I know I can splurge in the Mac make-up store or online at net-a-porter
It hasn’t always been easy to marry this strategy in my home and professional life. My first marriage lasted two years. Was it a casualty of my erotic capital? Yes. My then-husband couldn’t cope with my success or with the fact I paid so much attention to nurturing my relationship with the right bosses. He would comment on my appearance when I left the house each morning, awkwardly joking that I made more of an effort for my employers than I did for him. He was right. Of course I did — I’d argue most women do this, too.
Did I ever cross the line? Yes, but not in the obvious way. I’d put friendships on the backburner while in pursuit of the man or woman with the bigger, better job prospects. Friends, for a while, did stop calling. When you step over that line you move away from the sisterhood and your peers. Today I live in France and no longer work in TV — but that’s not to say I don’t use my erotic power.
Happily married for three years, I’m sexually attentive to my husband and in return I know I can splurge in the Mac make-up store or online at net-a-porter without guilt — I don’t have to justify or even hide my purchases.
Dr Hakim states in her book that for a woman to be successful in all areas of her life she must use her feminine wiles constantly. I’m 40 and have no intention of letting my erotic power diminish.
I exercise daily, use anti-ageing creams and am mindful about what I eat. If I need to secure a reservation in my local busy restaurant I will see the owner and ask him for my favoured table. We inevitably pass several minutes chatting, flirting and catching up on family life. Unsurprisingly, he always frees-up my preferred spot. The secret to any woman’s successful use of their erotic capital starts with a long, hard look in the mirror. If you don’t like what you see, do something about it.
Define what your best assets are: long legs, lustrous hair or even if you have a particular talent, exploit it. It’s time to be realistic because that is the way the world works for successful women.