The University of Western Australia
Loathing abounds in the novels of Michel Houellebecq, the greatest amount of which appears to be directed at women. All females in the Houellebecquien universe risk being insulted and labelled as 'sluts', 'tarts', and 'bimbos'. Misogyny in Houellebecq's writing has already been addressed by various scholars, associating it with the denunciation of feminism and modern masculinity, and linked to the cult of the body that is, in turn, linked to a critique of free-market capitalism. This paper suggests that the misogynistic comments in Houellebecq's novels also point to an alternative economic system at play in the Houellebecquien universe. In a world where money and material goods are abundant but time is finite and precious, the intangible commoditity of attention becomes increasingly important. Drawing on the concept of attention economy, this paper explores the possibility that Houellebecq's lonely, attention-deprived male characters loathe the women they see because their unreciprocated gaze confirms their fears that they have no market value themselves.