- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Overlook Books; Reprint edition (June 30 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590202155
- ISBN-13: 978-1590202159
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,323,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It Paperback – Jun 30 2009
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"Educational, informative, and extremely relatable."-Feminist Review
"In a well-written and well-researched book, [Durham] exposes a troubling phenomenon and calls readers to action.+ -Publishers Weekly
-Serves both to alarm and educate; consider it required reading for parents and their daughters."-Booklist
About the Author
M. GIGI DURHAM, PH.D., is a professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Iowa. A passionate advocate for children's rights and social justice, she lives with her husband and two daughters in Iowa City.
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"conservative groups insist that parents be notified despite the health risks and other potentially threatening fallout for the girls, who may delay the procedure or attempt to "take care of" the problem on their own." (p.51, hardcover edition)
It's hard to know where to start on the obvious bias in this statement. What about the health risks of abortion? What is this "potentially threatening fallout"? Sounds ominous, but it's so vague as to be meaningless. What about all the "potentially threatening fallout" of having an abortion, particularly doing it without parental knowledge and, therefore, further isolating herself from her parents? Isn't "taking care of the problem on her own" exactly what the pregnant teen is doing by going under the parental radar? It's not like Planned Parenthood cares more about your daughter than you do. How is delaying (as if the abortion is a foregone conclusion) the "procedure" (pro-abortion* rhetoric) even for a week or two to give the girl time to consider what she's doing, so bad? The only reason "take care" is in quotes seems to be because in this context it is a euphemism for a coat hanger abortion (puhlease!). [*I say pro-abortion and anti-abortion because that is really what the issue is about - everyone is "pro-choice" and "pro-life"; these terms don't help the discussion.]
I can see it as a valid issue in the context of the book, but not presented like something out of a "pro-choice" pamphlet. I was quite shocked and disappointed to read such a narrow and one-sided approach in a book like this.
Another example is on the same page of the introduction where she criticizes Bush's anti-AIDS program funding in Africa as being too constrained and then as an "on the other hand" she compliments the Planned Parenthood Federation of America's website as an "excellent resource for teenagers." Why the criticism of Bush here? What does this have to do with the subject of the book? Another is the assertion that the media portrayal of hypersexualized girls is actually conservative in nature. I see what she's trying to say - that it's the 'traditional' narrow view of women - but it really misses the point. Politicizing it is counterproductive.
My other problem with this book is that it takes forever to get to the point. There's a lot of repetition and rambling about halloween costumes and the like - it's all rather "you don't say" and strikes one as a Media 101 course, or Media For Dummies.
As an alternative, "Packaging Girlhood" by Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown is a far more useful book in my opinion.
As a final thought, what about the cover of The Lolita Effect? Isn't that just another use of the "sexy girl" the author is upset about?
Oh wait, one more thought: The author cites Alfred Kinsey's "research" on childhood sexuality. Google Dr Judith Reisman and the film "Kinsey's Pedophiles" and you'll find that his "research" has pretty much been discredited.
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I remember wondering, when I was just entering my teens myself in the mid-1970's, why grown men suddenly began "bothering" girls right around the time they entered the 7th grade --why was it that at that age my peers and I were cruelly scrutinized, rated, berated, and preyed upon in loudly obscene vocal summaries and threatening lurking by adult males either passing by on the street, or when we were in shopping centers, etc., when a year prior to jr. high - the last year of elementary school -- none of us were pursued or even noticed by them? (But at least we were spared the horror of attention from pedophiles.)
It was as if the moment a girl became even vaguely pubescent in appearance, it was open season not only for boys to judge and harass us, but for adult men to do so. Male teachers in my junior high school approvingly favored and flirted with the prettiest girls whom they openly referred to as "sexy" and "foxy" [hey, remember that term, 70's nostalgia buffs?]and insulted or even bullied the unattractive girls in their classrooms. This tawdry behavior by adults set the tone for boys to cruelly demand unreasonable criteria for pulchritude in their female peers, and make them miserable if they didn't meet the set standards. It also gave carte blanche for girls to humiliatingly mock and bully other girls for the same reasons, and thus the ascribed behavior continued throughout the rest of the teenage school years.
I don't see the media being entirely to blame for this, whether 40 years ago or now, although it certainly always has fed into the culture and glutted the market with a disgusting and very prurient objectification of girls. I blame "men in control" who are so threatened by women having any sort of power or autonomy that they have to prey upon helpless little girls and sexualize them (and yes, that is directly what influences advertising and entertainment).
I also just as much blame the adult women who feed into this scheme of things and complacently comply: in a manner pandering and pimping these very girls they are in charge of by demanding their maintaining a highly seductive physical appeal and making sure girls always please, service, and subordinate themselves to the boyfriends, men teachers, male job supervisors, sports coaches, and so forth in their lives.
Female beauty contest judges, cheerleading coaches, fashion magazine editors, guidance counselors, and therapists are just as guilty for demanding that even very young girls must be attractive in the celebrity criteria and HAVE to be sexually appealing to "make it in life" -- that they won't find boyfriends and husbands, succeed academically, make it through college or have decent careers if they are "failures" in attracting and appealing to discerning males (and I shouldn't wonder if gay/lesbian people must maintain just as cruel a standard of criteria among themselves to obtain the "right" to personal happiness). The author was very correct to point out how fashion magazines for teenagers center around pleasing males and ask nothing of a girl's individuality and interests. Women are automatically disenfranchised from the get-go -- power and apparently one's self respect lies only in appeal and desirability. It is a shameful disintegration of what passes for culture in this country now.