Synopses & Reviews
Americans are bombarded with perplexing and alarming media images: brand name thong underwear for ten-year-olds with the slogans "Wink Wink" and "Eye Candy" written on them; oversexed and underdressed celebrities gone wild; Bratz dolls and their "sexy" clothing line for preteen girls. How do we raise sexually healthy young women in this kind of environment?
In The Lolita Effect, University of Iowa professor and journalist M. Gigi Durham offers new insight into media myths and spectacles of sexuality. Using examples from popular TV shows, fashion and beauty magazines, movies, and Web sites, Durham shows for the first time all the ways in which sexuality is rigidly and restrictively defined in media often in ways detrimental to girls' healthy development. The Lolita Effect offers parents, teachers, counselors, and other concerned adults effective and progressive strategies for resisting the violations and repressions that render girls sexually subordinate. Durham provides us with the tools to navigate this media world effectively without censorship or moralizing, and then to help our girls to do so in strong and empowering ways.
"We've all seen it the tiny T-shirts with sexually suggestive slogans, the four-year-old gyrating to a Britney Spears song, the young boy shooting prostitutes in his video game and University of Iowa journalism professor Durham has had enough. In her debut book, she argues that the media from advertisements to Seventeen magazine are circulating damaging myths that distort, undermine and restrict girls' sexual progress. Durham, who describes herself as 'pro-girl' and 'pro-media,' does more than criticize profit-driven media, recognizing as part of the problem Americans' contradictory willingness to view sexualized ad images but not to talk about sex. Chapters expose five media myths: that by flaunting her 'hotness' a little girl is acting powerfully; that Barbie has the ideal body; that children especially little girls are sexy; that violence against women is sexy; and that girls must learn what boys want, but not vice versa. After debunking each myth, Durham offers practical suggestions for overcoming these falsehoods, including sample questions for parents and children. In a well-written and well-researched book, she exposes a troubling phenomenon and calls readers to action." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Dr. Durham offers insight, information, and instruction on combating early sexualization and allowing girls to just be girls. Her scholarly expose of the 'Lolita-ization' of young women describes why cleavage is the new yardstick for female achievement. Women young and old can benefit from the wisdom in this book." Cheryl Dellasega, Ph.D., author of Surviving Ophelia, Girl Wars, and Mean Girls Grown Up
"A fascinating book that explores the charged topic of sexuality beyond moral clichés...An important advocate for healthy sexuality, education, and media literacy-key ingredients for ushering into a safe, empowered adulthood." Ophira Edut, Editor of Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image
"Durham's provocative and erudite study of the demeaning way society views girls serves both to alarm and educate; consider it required reading for parents and their daughters." Booklist
In this expos of how young girls are sexualized in today's media, the author uses examples from popular TV shows, magazines, movies, and Web sites to show for the first time all the ways in which sexuality is defined in media often in ways detrimental to girls' healthy development.
About the Author
M. Gigi Durham, Ph.D., is a professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Iowa. Her research on adolescent girls and media has appeared in Youth & Society and Critical Studies in Media Communication, and she served on the editorial board of The Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents and the Media. A passionate advocate for children's rights and social justice, she lives with her husband and two daughters in Iowa City.