Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Unrestrained Capitalism College

Taking as a departure point Pierre Bourdieu’s well-established analysis on the forms of individual capital, Catherine Hakim theorises the existence of a fourth personal asset—erotic capital. She contends that women “generally have more erotic capital then men because … [they] have a longer tradition of developing and exploiting it” (499). Controversially, Hakim considers erotic capital to be an entirely legitimate form of self-advancement, which has been forcibly stifled by patriarchy’s “construction of moral ideologies that inhibit women from exploiting their erotic capital to achieve economic and social success” (499). However, as Mike Featherstone argues, in today’s consumer culture the body has become increasingly commodified, to the point of becoming a unit of exchange. I argue here that Fifty Shades of Grey sells a romanticised, neoliberalist fantasy of a rewarding relationship, “not only between a man and a women, but also between global capital and female workers” (Loh 2), in which erotic capital can be traded for upward socioeconomic mobility.

While Sarah Brouillette acknowledges “that the kind of sex in Fifty Shades could be—in the right hands—plenty healthy” (607), Ana and Christian’s relationship is profoundly...

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