M. Gigi Durham

 

On her book The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do about It

Cover Interview of December 05, 2008

In a nutshell

The Lolita Effect addresses the media sexualization of young girls.  In the book, I draw a distinction between healthy, age-appropriate concepts of sexuality that should develop as children mature, and “sexualization,” the harmful and objectifying version of female sexuality that is propagated by the commercial media, fueled by marketing.  The title itself refers to the set of myths about girls’ sexuality that circulate in the mainstream media and in our culture.  These myths stand in sharp contrast to healthy, factual, progressive notions of sexuality that would be beneficial to girls and to society as a whole.

In the book, I identify the five main myths of sexuality at work in popular media targeted to teens and children and explain why they offer a distorted and unhealthy notion of sex to kids.  The book is theoretically based, drawing on the work of the French scholars Roland Barthes and Guy Debord as well as on feminist scholarship, but it is written for a general audience.  In a way, it is critical feminist media theory in the guise of a parenting manual.  Each chapter ends with practical, realistic strategies that parents and other caring adults can use to talk to children and guide them through the rough straits of our media-saturated environment.