AJ's Reviews > The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It

The Lolita Effect by Meenakshi Gigi Durham
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Nov 15, 2014

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bookshelves: do-not-own, nonfiction, 2010, feminism, women-cant-win
Read in January, 2010

An interesting look at the sexualization of young women and girls in today's society. This book is sort of like a mix between Female Chauvinist Pigs Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture and The Beauty Myth How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women with a little bit of The Body Project An Intimate History of American Girls thrown in.

The book tackles 5 myths brought about by Lolita culture - hotness is ideal, the perfect body and how it is unattainable, looking young is the only acceptable way to look, violence and sex are intertwined and the male gaze. Durham tackles how these myths disempower women, even though they are usually hidden in a rhetoric of empowerment. However, she keeps a progressive and realistic view of male and female sexuality in focus. She also writes about how the Lolita Effect disempowers (by virtually or completely ignoring) differently-abled people, homosexuals, people of color and people who generally don't conform to the young, white, blond and thin "ideal."

The one thing I dislike about books like this is the idea that "girls are having sex so young" or "girls are dressing in miniskirts so young" as if women and girls haven't suffered from problems of sexualization in middle school for a long time, or as if we haven't felt pressure to flaunt our bodies until recently. I know that it was a problem when I was a child, and I'm sure it was a problem in my parent's generation, and I'd be surprised if it weren't a problem in my grandparent's generation. I guess the only big thing that's changed since the start of the 20th century is how pervasive mass marketing has become, and the impact of media on children. But I would hardly call the Lolita Effect a new problem.

Definitely a good book and I'd recommend it to anybody with a daughter, as Durham does offer some good talking points to bringing up the issues of Lolita culture with girls and young women to allow them to bring a more critical eye to their media interactions.
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