Review: The Lolita Effect by M. Gigi Durham
So, I randomly came across this book at the library the other day and the cover alone made me grab it instantly. According to urbandictionary The Lolita Effect is the sexualization of young girls and projecting girls as sex objects before they have even reached puberty and are sexualized beings. It is perpetuated by the media. The title comes from the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Durham uses this book to expand on the different way that this is taking place right under our noses today. The first thing explained is the difference between the actual “Lolita” and the way that we use the term today. In Nobokov’s book, Lolita is a young woman who is unassumingly sexual. She isn’t dressing in a sexual way and she has no clue that her behavior is much older than her years. Today, we use the term Lolita to describe little girls who are purposely dressing and acting beyond their years.
Durham also blames (a little too much) the media. Don’t get me wrong- as seen in some of my previous posts, I’m the last person to think that the media is harmless. I completely agree that with the emergence of the Bratz dolls, etc we are doing nothing to help little girls think that it’s not only ok, but expected to view sex as a proverbial bargaining chip for womanhood. But I think that more of the blame needs to go to the parents, and well- the rest of us. In situations like this, silence is the biggest crime of all.
But back to the book. Durham does make some really good points about the lack of a “middle ground” in our society. We either encourage indulgence, or complete abstinence- which, I think is completely true.
The book revolves around 5 myths that Durham identified as the leading causes of the Lolita Effect:
-If you’ve got it- flaunt it– school hallways are seen as a giant catwalk, and children’s cognitive maturation is not keeping pace with their physical changes
-Anatomy of a Goddess– desired body type is virtually unattainable, making girls think that they can only achieve it if they “try hard enough”
-Sex equals youth– We only think that we are sexy when we are younger, no thanks to Britney Spears little school girl outfits
-Violence is Sexy– When we see movies where killers are attacking women, girls think it is cool because they connect with the woman who ultimately vanquishes the killer
-It’s What Boys Like– Magazines with articles giving girls ideas on how to make a guy take you seriously doesn’t represent relationships in a mutually respectful way, and only pertains to traditional heterosexual relationships.
Durham also provides examples of ways for the public to recognize when and where these things are going on, as well as certain ways that you can start talking about them with children. All in all, I’d say the book way just so-so. I mean, it was informative, but it was a little hypocritical, in my opinion. When Durham is giving examples on how to talk to teenage girls about these problems, she provides adults with little tricks, like, pitting girls against the boys, and offering them shopping trips and other treats if they are willing to dress more demurely. I get that teenage girls are tough, trust me, I was a monster when I was that age, but it still seems silly to write a book about empowering young women, and then bribing them with clothes–kind of defeats the purpose. Durham made some good points, and it’s definitely an interesting read- but not a “must read”.