Catherine Hakim's new book, Erotic Capital, makes an interesting case that beauty, charm, and sexiness are an important personal asset - right up there with money, education, and connections.
She further argues that erotic capital is the great asset that women have more of than men. She thinks this is so in part because women work more at developing their attractive assets. Mostly, though, women's advantage comes from the fact that, on the whole, men desire sex more than women do.
Hakim cites studies showing that beauty confers an advantage in pay of 10 - 20% across industries. This is comparable to the pay advantage that comes from being taller.
Hakim thinks that an unholy alliance of patriarchy and radical feminism has suppressed the idea that erotic capital is powerful and is just as honorable as any other kind of capital.
The book, as a whole, is disappointingly thin in its empirical support. Nonetheless, I think the basic idea is true and worth developing.