Marie Claire January 12 CoverEven in a publication seemingly devoted to the cultivation of erotic capital, you hardly expect to find the term bandied about—but there it is, on p. 75 of the January 2012 issue of Marie Claire magazine. In an article called “Celebrity Mistresses: The New Deal” (which bears the lede, “Meet the young generation of entrepreneurial ‘other women.’ They’re not ashamed, they’re not sorry, and they’re cashing in”) author Kiri Blakely compares celebrity dalliances of the past and present.

Blakely writes:

In the past, celebrity mistresses seemed less eager for the public’s attention. If their ultimate goal was fame and a payday, they were far more subtle about it… Back when mistresses could be depended on for discretion, famous cheaters had the upper hand. They got an extramarital roll in the sack, and, with their lovers hidden from view, they could still preserve their images as upstanding married men.

But, she goes on, “Today’s ‘other women’ know how to get media outlets on the line, lawyer up, and negotiate like fortune 500 CEOs… You have to wonder: who is using whom in these affairs?”

Blakely closes her article with a quick summary of one of the mechanisms at work in these high-profile romps:

If, as sociologist Catherin Hakim writes in her book Erotic Capital, men and feminists have conspired to trick women into giving away their sexuality for free, then these women have renegotiated the payoff. And stars like Kutcher are left with the consequences.

As it turns out, other “lady mags” have taken up the topic of erotic capital (look no further than Elle ["Eros in the Office," June 2011]), but so have the “lad mags” (see Men’s Health’s Spark Her Sex Drive,” which tries to help readers “invest in” and “bank” their own erotic capital). No matter how it’s being used, it’s always interesting to watch a piece of a academic jargon make its way into the mainstream. Perhaps it’s just a faster process when the term’s a bit titillating!