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Voorkant Durham 'The Lolita Effect - The media sexualization of young girls and what we can do about it' Meenakshi Gigi DURHAM
The Lolita Effect - The media sexualization of young girls and what we can do about it
New York: The Overlook Press, 2008, 484 blzn.
eISBN-13 : 978 15 9020 5945

[Opnieuw een boek met de VS als achtergrond. ]

(8) Preface

"The Lolita Effect begins with the premise that children are sexual beings. As they mature, they deserve to be furnished with factual, developmentally appropriate, and useful information about sex and sexuality. They need safe environments and lots of room in which to grow and learn about sex in ways that benefit them in the long term.(...)
So the starting point for this book is the fact that sex and sexuality are normal, natural, and, at best, wonderful aspects of being alive, and that the diverse range of expressions of sexual feelings can be both inspiring and valid. At the same time, it is important to recognize childhood as a time of learning and growth, and to acknowledge that caring adults have a responsibility to guide children toward healthy, fulfilled, and capable adult lives."(8)

[Zucht, daar gaan we weer. Zo'n standpunt zegt in principe dus niets als dat later weer gevolgd wordt door de uitwerking dat het inderdaad alleen om het informeren van kinderen gaat, maar dat ze vooral niets moeten doen voordat ze achttien zijn of zo. We zullen zien ...]

"This book homes in on the ways that the mainstream corporate media construct sex and sexuality in ways that actually limit and hamper girls’ healthy sexual development."(9)

"Because children are engaging in sexual activity at earlier ages, rates of teen pregnancy are rising in the United States and elsewhere, and the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers is extremely high." [mijn nadruk] (9)

[Dit is een totaal verkeerde manier van oorzaak-gevolg-relaties leggen. Vroege seksuele activiteit zou heel goed kunnen als jongeren goede seksuele voorlichting kregen en ten allen tijde toegang hadden tot voorbehoedmiddelen. Het feit dat die twee zaken in de VS nauwelijks gerealiseerd zijn maakt die tienerzwangerschappen en SOA's. ]

Ze heeft het vooral over meisjes in de leeftijd van 9 tot 14 jaar.

[Ja, maar waarom ze het alleen over meisjes heeft is onduidelijk. Vervolgens een eindeloze reeks dankbetuigingen die uiteraard eindigt met haar man met wie ze al twintig jaar samen is. Moet dat nou? Daarmee laat je dus al zien waar je waarden en normen liggen en dat je er traditionele ouderwetse opvattingen op na houdt.]

(23) Introduction - Sexy girls in the media

"Increasingly, very young girls are becoming involved in a sphere of fashion, images, and activities that encourage them to flirt with a decidedly grown-up eroticism and sexuality — and the girls playing with these ideas are getting younger and younger every year.
So why am I perturbed by this trend? I am a pro-sex feminist, by which I mean that I don’t see sex as taboo or hush-hush; I think sex is a normal and healthy part of life, even of children’s lives. I want my two young daughters — indeed, all girls — to grow up unafraid of and knowledgeable about their bodies, confident about finding and expressing sexual pleasure, able to be both responsible and adventurous in the realm of sex." [mijn nadruk] (24)

[Ja, maar wat betekent dat concreet? ]

"The turn of the new millennium has spawned an intriguing phenomenon: the sexy little girl. She’s an all-too-familiar figure in today’s media landscape: the baby-faced nymphet with the preternaturally voluptuous curves, the one whose scantily clad body gyrates in music videos, poses provocatively on teen magazine covers, and populates cinema and television screens around the globe." [mijn nadruk] (28)

"The sexy girl fascinates us and repels us; she haunts our imagery and our imaginations, and we know her best by a nickname that evokes meanings far beyond their literary origin: she is Lolita.
The term has become an everyday allusion, a shorthand cultural reference to a prematurely, even inappropriately, sexual little girl — that is, a girl who is by legal definition not yet an adult and is therefore outlawed from sexual activity. Because of this legal and cultural taboo, she is also wrong—wicked, even—to deliberately provoke sexual thoughts. And the “Lolitas” of our time are defined as deliberate sexual provocateurs, turning adults’ thoughts to sex and thereby luring them into wickedness, wantonly transgressing our basic moral and legal codes. Everything about this Lolita is unacceptable, and therein lie both her allure and her ignominy." [mijn nadruk] (30)

[Ze komt met Nabokov's Lolita, maar zet Dolores neer als iemand die er niet actief op uit was om seks te hebben met haar stiefvader: "the original Lolita, who neither initiated nor provoked her nonconsensual sexual relationship with Humbert". Dat is onjuist. Wat overigens heel goed samengaat met dat ze toch het slachtoffer wordt van Humbert Humbert.]

"Rather than offering girls — and the rest of their audiences — thoughtful, open-minded, progressive, and ethical understandings about sexuality, our media and our culture have produced a gathering of “prostitots” — hypersexualized girls whose cultural presence has become a matter of heated public controversy. This is the Lolita Effect."(33)

Het conservatieve klimaat wat betreft seks in de VS en de alomtegenwoordige seksualiserende media lijkt een tegenstelling, maar dat is niet zo. De beeldvorming in die media is in feite nog steeds traditioneel: vrouwen moeten er mooi uitzien en mannen moeten stoer zijn.

" ... desirability is still very much a matter of appealing to a traditionally defined male gaze, despite the fact that most of the audiences for these images are female.
In terms of a politics of liberation, these themes work against the utopian vision of a world in which all women — regardless of race, age, weight, physical ability, or other categorization — might freely relish, express, and experience the joys of sex in ways they actively define, and in which all women have access to accurate, comprehensive, and beneficial knowledge about sex. This diverse and emancipated version of sexuality is the opposite of what I have identified as the Lolita Effect, a construction of sexuality that both exploits and limits sexual expression and agency, and is deliberately focused on young girls." [mijn nadruk] (48)

[De rolverdeling die de media afbeelden is inderdaad bijzonder traditioneel. In het vervolg is de auteur wel erg allerlei tegenstellingen aan het wegpoetsen om iedereen aan boord te houden - zelfs religieuze instellingen doen wel iets goeds. Nou ... En het is niet alleen maar kommer en kwel, ze wil nadrukkelijk positief blijven blijkbaar: er zijn ook meisjes die kritisch omgaan met al die mediaboodschappen en zelfs activistisch worden, er zijn ook kritische media die het goed doen. Ja, maar de 'mainstream'-benadering van de media is totaal fout en dominant aanwezig, zoals ze zelf ook aanduid.]

"To help with that process, this book will provide a grounded, step-by-step approach to strategies for analyzing the myths of adolescent female sexuality in the media. I’ve identified five core “myths of sexuality” at work in the Lolita Effect: the myth of sex as girls’ exhibitionism, the myth of sex in terms of an ideal body type, the myth of sex as linked to youth, the myth of sex as violence against women, and the myth of the male gaze. Each chapter of this book explores and explains a specific myth and how it works, while offering effective ways to challenge the detrimental effects of these myths in girls’ lives."(59)

"In real life, sex is at its core a relationship, and a very complex one." [mijn nadruk] (59)

[Ik vind dat je dat vandaag de dag niet meer kunt zeggen. We leven niet meer in een tijd van 'seks voor de voortplanting'. Seks is tegenwoordig gewoon plezier hebben met jouw lichaam, met een anders lichaam, al naar gelang. Het idee relatie is secundair, maar wordt nog steeds bovenmatig belangrijk gevonden. ]

"It is important not to buy into the Lolita Effect. There isn’t a lot of existing research on how adults deal with these messages about girls, but it’s clear that some parents accept and even encourage these ideas." [mijn nadruk] (59)

[Goede opmerking. Ik hoop dat Durham daar meer aandacht aan zal besteden. Denk aan al die ouders die hun kind naar 'pageants', naar schoonheidswedstrijden sturen. Denk aan de ouders die ontzettend kwaad worden als een school regels stelt voor kleding en hun dochter verbiedt om bv. thongs te dragen of andere uitdagende kleding. Ik zou wel eens willen weten hoeveel ouders zich verzetten tegen of zorgen maken over de 'mainstream' beeldvorming in de media en hoeveel ouders daar enthousiast in meegaan en alles doen om hun kinderen er bij te laten horen. ]

(62) Chapter 1 - How long has this been going on? Girls and the myths of sex

[Aan de voorbeelden zie je hoe gebrek aan seksuele voorlichting tot de wildste foute opvattingen leidt. En alle abstinentie-promotie in de VS-scholen heeft niet geleid tot minder seksuele activiteiten natuurlijk.]

"Groups that monitor teen sex recognize that sexual activity now begins at eleven or twelve in the United States.(...) Overall, the rate of teen sex in the United States has remained steady (at about 46 percent) since 2001, apparently unaffected by aggressive abstinence-only campaigns in the schools."(65)

[Bedoeld wordt dan waarschijnlijk seks met anderen.] ]

"These are not negligible numbers. Sexual activity is rapidly becoming a reality of childhood and adolescence; sexual awareness and activity are occurring at earlier and earlier ages. We need to face the facts.
But in most contemporary societies, we have a tendency to be scandalized by the idea of children and sexuality, a reaction that I see as the root of our problem."(67)

"We’ve got to wake up. To imagine that childhood is a pure and innocent state, closed off from the rest of the world, is to live in a fantasy of denial ..."(67)

"But in one study, survey data showed that while 58 percent of students at a middle school were sexually active, 98 percent of their parents thought otherwise."(67)

[Daar ben ik het geheel mee eens. Je ogen dicht knijpen voor de feiten maakt niet dat ze verdwijnen ... Maar je ziet hoe vaak dat voorkomt.]

"Being horror-stricken by children’s natural curiosity about sex is a dysfunctional response to a complex reality that calls for intelligent, proactive engagement on the part of involved adults. This is not to condone early sexual activity. But instead of wringing our hands or shrugging our shoulders helplessly, we should be thinking about how best to enable kids to develop healthy, sensible, and responsible understandings of sexuality at appropriate stages of their development." [mijn nadruk] (68)

[Zo vaag weer. Kinderen mogen dingen weten, maar ze niet doen? Wat is vroeg? Wat is passend bij de ontwikkeling? Ik weet nog steeds niet wat Durham concreet accepteert. ]

"Sex is complicated: physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially, and politically. Sexuality can’t be addressed without a clear recognition of its place in the human experience and an acknowledgment of all its potential pleasures and risks. But when these issues are raised with respect to young kids, all hell breaks loose.
When pediatricians, policymakers, or parents’ groups take progressive steps to deal with the realities of children’s sex lives, they are met with vocal opposition, most often from conservative groups that seem to object to any public discourse about children and sex."(76)

[Het gevolg is - zoals de auteur beschrijft - dat de VS door een totaal gebrek aan seksuele voorlichting en zo meer meer dan welk land ter wereld te maken heeft met tienerzwangerschappen, abortussen, SOA's, en dergelijke ellende. Alle onderzoeken laten zien dat Europa het eindeloos veel beter doet op dit punt dan de VS.]

"This recognition [in Europa - GdG] of adolescents as vital members of society who should be trusted and treated with respect is a very different cultural position from the simultaneous panic and reverence that frames adolescence in the United States."(82)

"Does this mean that childhood sex is okay as long as the kids don’t get pregnant or contract a disease? My answer is an emphatic no, because overall, the risks of early sexual activity are greater than the benefits." [mijn nadruk] (82)

[Opnieuw vaag. ]

"One clear consequence of underage sexual activity is the impact on public health, along with the related economic impact. Teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease pose enormous health risks and costs to any society." [mijn nadruk] (83)

[Opnieuw vaag en fout: dat is niet het gevolg van 'underage sexual activity', maar het gevolg van slechte voorlichting, geen voorbehoedmiddelen, gebrek aan openheid en seksualisering in de media, dus van de omstandigheden waarbinnen in de VS 'underage sexual activity' plaats moet vinden. Durham lijkt stiekem toch niet zo open over seks bij jongeren, niet wat betreft wat ze doen, wel wat betreft voorlichting en zo. Het komt in ieder geval heel dubbel over. Het heeft ook iets te maken met dat Durham geregeld alle kanten uitschiet in haar verhaal. Wat wil dit hoofdstuk nu precies naar voren brengen?]

"Research shows that many adolescents and preadolescents are aware of the basic “facts of life” but are ill-equipped to deal with real-life sexual situations. They lack the confidence to either refuse sexual activity or to insist on the use of contraception. They are terrified of seeming naïve or inexperienced."(85)

[In omstandigheden als de VS die kennen ligt dat voor de hand. Zo lang kinderen en jongeren niet weerbaar gemaakt worden zal dat wel zo blijven.]

"Girls see their sexual role as providing boys with sexual satisfaction. Some girls report feeling a sense of power from initiating and providing sexual favors, but they don’t appear to experience any physical pleasure or emotional fulfillment themselves. These trends are harmful for girls and get in the way of equitable, mutually fulfilling sexual and other relationships." [mijn nadruk] (86)

"Why, we ought to be asking, are violence and coercion so prevalent in adolescent sexual relationships? Why are the victims usually girls? And why won’t they report it?"(87)

[Hierna volgen dan eindelijk de vijf hoofdstukken over de vijf mythen die Durham op p.59 noemde. ]

(98) Chapter 2 - The first myth: if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

"The goal of hotness is pervasive in girl culture ..."(98)

"To be hot is to be sexy. Of course, there’s a progressive and exciting element to this—for too long, we’ve failed to recognize the importance of girls’ sexuality. It shouldn’t be shameful or scandalous for girls to acknowledge and express their desires, and it’s important for girls to be conscious of themselves as sexual beings who deserve to find pleasure through sex.
But are four-year-olds, or nine-year-olds, or even middle-school girls entering their teens, in a position to think through the ways in which they are expressing their sexuality, anticipate the responses to it, and handle the implications of their decisions? Is it repressive — or patronizing—to have qualms about young girls’ gleeful embrace of the “hot” body and its accoutrements? Is it best to give them free rein in the blissful belief that the pursuit of “girl power” will enable them to make all the right moves? Of course not."(100)

[Opnieuw vaag en tegenstrijdig. Wat is seks hier? Wat 'pleasure through sex'? Blijkbaar mogen kinderen en jongeren een seksueel wezen zijn en plezier vinden in seks zo lang ze maar niets doen voordat ze 18 zijn of zo. Het woord 'masturberen' duikt nooit op, doktertje spelen met je buurjongetje bestaat blijkbaar niet. Dat is ook seks. Durham projecteert een volwassen seksualiteit in relaties op kinderen en jongeren. Zoals zo veel anderen gaat ze uit van een biologisch gefundeerde ontwikkeling van kinderen waarbij de nieuwsgierigheid naar seks toeneemt als het lichaam hormonaal en uiterlijk verandert. Dat is al een zwaktebod. Maar bovendien heeft ze ook nog eens weinig vertrouwen in het vermogen van kinderen en jongeren om in te schatten wat ze op dat vlak doen, terwijl ze op andere plaatsen zo hoog opgeeft over hoe kritisch kinderen kunnen zijn en het zo geweldig vindt dat jongeren in Europa zo serieus genomen worden. ]

"Sex is complicated and emotionally fraught; it is intriguing; it can feel pleasurable and transgressive, but it carries consequences and risks that young children are not well prepared to recognize or handle." [mijn nadruk] (103)

[Wat een negatief waardeoordeel. En seks is dus duidelijk altijd iets met anderen bij Durham. Er zijn geen consequenties en risico's aan masturberen in je eentje.]

"Walking the line between acceptable hotness and unacceptable sluttiness is the almost impossible challenge presented to today’s girls."(106)

"For children to take an interest in sex is not out-of-the ordinary or scandalous. Even toddlers “play doctor” to explore each others’ bodies and mimic intercourse, though scholars are still debating what constitutes “normal” sexual behavior in young children. Sex is part of life, so it is bound to surface in different ways at different developmental stages; it is not cause for alarm unless there is harm or abuse involved. Of course, sexuality needs to be dealt with in ways that are appropriate for the age and maturity of the child, the cultural and social context, and above all, the ethical implications of the situation, but sex per se cannot reasonably be viewed as harmful to minors.
And yet, there is widespread (and well-founded) consternation about children’s sexuality in current times — particularly girls’ sexuality." [mijn nadruk] (108)

[O, doktertje spelen mag misschien wel. Dat is nog geen echte seks. ]

"Adult concern about girls’ sexuality is not generally about sex (though that is the terror that lurks beneath the feelings of panic). Rather, it’s about the projection of sexuality — the signals that girls send out about their sexuality, often naïvely, in response to the prevailing media and marketing trends, signals that adults fear will attract harmful sexual attention." [mijn nadruk] (109)

[O, daar komt de morele paniek over pedofielen weer aan.]

"It’s all about looks and arousal; hot girls are “eye candy,” and sexuality involves public sexual performance."(115)

"The message there is that exhibitionism is daring, while conservative clothing is childish and boring."(118)

"Gone, too, is the notion of mutual attraction: the women are on display for the men, and the men are the arbiters of women’s hotness. How, then, are women sexually empowered, when the only path to empowerment lies in attracting male lust by conforming to the conventions of the striptease?"(121)

"Any acknowledgment of women’s active role in the dynamics of attraction would put sex on a more equitable footing, but this role is never acknowledged as viable in the mainstream media. Women’s bodies are to be displayed, and this display is the basis for sexual attraction, according to the myth."(126)

"Early European anthropologists photographed naked natives of non-Western cultures in order to demonstrate their inferiority and reinforce the superiority of the clothed, “civilized” Western spectator. These portrayals and the power politics they supported used nudity as a strategy for establishing superiority and inferiority, with the clothed “superior” always in the position of gazing at the unclothed “lesser being.”"(128)

[Nu draaft Durham toch echt door. Die foto's registreerden hoe het was. Wat er door andere mensen 'aangehangen' werd is een ander verhaal.]

"No one stops to question why boys are never the objects of the gaze; why, if being on display is so empowering, males don’t embrace this form of sexual expression, too. The baggy jeans and oversized T-shirts popular among boys today are designed, in fact, to conceal the body as much as possible. Boys are in the relatively comfortable position of observing and evaluating without themselves being observed or evaluated. And girls are bombarded with the myth that semi-nudity constitutes “girl power.”" [mijn nadruk] (129)

[Daar heeft ze zeker gelijk in. Ik denk dat veel mannetjes doodsbang zijn om dezelfde objectiverende en beoordelende blik over zich heen te krijgen als waarmee ze vrouwen bekijken.]

Meer over de culturele rol van kleding in de relaties tussen de seksen. Over de zogenoemde 'hooker chic':

"When these clothes and these body displays enter the realm of children’s media and marketing, it’s the associations with sex work that are most troubling. The principal complaint about Bratz dolls and fashions is the way the clothing hints at “gentlemen’s clubs” and “pole dancing”;"(135)

"It’s not that bodies are indecent or that girls should cover themselves head to foot to fend off lecherous glances. It’s not that femininity itself is a problem or that wanting to be attractive is wrong. It’s that ideal girlhood in children’s media is construed in terms of sex work — in terms of the commercialized, often exploitative and illegal, realm of sexual commerce. The mythmaking machines of media and marketing persistently tie ideal femininity and attractiveness to a very specific mode of sexuality, one that involves exhibitionism and a submissive appeal to the male gaze, without any consideration of the girl’s own interests, ideas, or sense of well-being." [mijn nadruk] (137)

"Focusing girls’ attention so insistently on this aspect of sexuality — the presentation of their bodies in ways that attract boys’ sexual interest — also diminishes their ability to see that other aspects of their lives are important, too. “Hotness” as an imperative belittles the value of intelligence, artistic ability, spiritual growth, political awareness, or indeed any other aspect of personality that could enrich girls’ lives and translate into potent adulthood." [mijn nadruk] (137)

[Dat is zonder meer waar, lijkt me. Als alle aandacht uitgaat naar uiterlijk, tja, dat is bijzonder oppervlakkig en materialistisch ]

"So the first myth of the Lolita Effect is the translation of girls’ sexuality into the visual metaphors of sex work."(138)

[Duidelijk. Dit wordt gevolgd door adviezen voor hoe men er mee om kan gaan. Praten is natuurlijk het centrale punt. Alleen vraag ik me af wie van ouders en kinderen in staat is met zo veel reflectie te praten. Ik zie dat donker in.]

(155) Chapter 3 - The second myth: anatomy of a sex goddess

"“Perfect girls” in the new millennium, apparently, still look like Barbie."(156)

"But it’s also clear that Barbie’s body stays the same throughout all her incarnations: translated to human scale, in a now-infamous formulation, she would be a 5-foot 9-inch woman with an 18-inch waist, 36-inch breasts, and 33-inch hips, and she would weigh 110 pounds. That’s too skinny to menstruate, according one medical analysis of the doll. She may even be too skinny to stand upright."(156)

"So it’s not surprising that on MySpace and Facebook, young girls are asking each other about diet pills and laxative treatments that will help them lose drastic amounts of weight, or that the number of girls under eighteen getting breast implants has tripled in the last five years." [mijn nadruk] (158)

[Maar dan zijn er toch ouders die dat betalen? Gaan die daar dan zo maar in mee?]

"The model — the adored ideal — is both a genetic anomaly and a fabrication of technology, constructing a physical type that is unattainable for almost all girls and women." [mijn nadruk] (164)

"Multiple industries depend on girls’ yearning for the Barbie body: the fashion, diet, exercise, cosmetic, and plastic surgery industries all generate multibillion-dollar annual profits. These are the very industries that advertise in the media that promote this ideal body." [mijn nadruk] (165)

"Corporations from food manufacturers to lingerie retailers spend literally billions of dollars every year advertising to the youth market. This extensive network of interrelated corporations would collapse if girls and women stopped their pursuit of the “curvaceously thin” body." [mijn nadruk] (166)

"One might ask, is there anything wrong with this? Girls just want to look pretty, and they get both pleasure and self-esteem from enhancing their appearance.
In fact, the concepts of pleasure and self-esteem are double-edged swords. The purchase of beauty products is a pretty questionable way to get a confidence boost: hair color fades, weaves fall out, breast implants need replacement. The artificial supplements have built-in shelf lives that guarantee the frequent outlay of money. And the temporary buzz they bring is built on insecurity, the constant anxiety that one’s body is not good enough without these aids." [mijn nadruk] (171)

[Er is niet zo veel mis met er leuk uit willen zien, er is wel een heleboel mis als je je zelfvertrouwen laat afhangen van je uiterlijk. Nog erger wordt dat inderdaad als het uiterlijke ideaal racistisch - blank, blond en blauwe ogen is de maatstaf - en klassegebonden is - je kunt alleen aan dat uiterlijk ideaal voldoen als je geld hebt, de kosten zijn enorm. ]

"For a girl with a physical or visible disability, the message is clear: You can’t be sexy if your body is differently abled. If you have crutches, a birthmark, a prosthesis, or a hearing aid, your desirability instantly plummets, at least by media standards."(172)

"Media myths of sexiness thus influence girls’ relationships with themselves and their own bodies, their relationships with other girls on the basis of their bodies, and their perceptions of human sexuality, which in fact is not dependent on body contours. Sex is a gift available to every human being." [mijn nadruk] (179)

[Daarna weer adviezen hoe met deze mythe om te gaan. ]

(187) Chapter 4 - The third myth: pretty babies

Vele voorbeelden van kinderen en jongeren (meisjes dan) gefotografeerd en gefilmd in de rol van stoute stoeipoezen en zo, van Shirley Temple tot Britney Spears. Ook de bekende films worden weer genoemd.

"This emphasis on youthfulness as the mark of beauty and desirability has led to the increasing use of very young girls as models in fashion and advertising, often in very sexually suggestive contexts."(195)

"There’s a real problem here: children cannot and should not be seen as willing participants in sex work.
But the clothing trends and media portrayals of sexy children are, in fact, promoting that very idea, and young girls in particular are increasingly posed in commercial photography and other media as sexual objects of the adult gaze."(197)

"These depictions, and their ultimate conclusion, do nothing to foster a healthy, balanced understanding of sex as a normal part of human life that is best experienced in adulthood. This idea alone is still being publicly debated. Sex as an adult activity is a feature of advanced civilizations. In the Dark Ages, children were seen as fair sexual game for adults... (...) In most ancient cultures, both Eastern and Western, incest, adult-child sex, and pedophilia were commonplace."(199)

[Tjonge, hier worden wat gemakkelijke waardeoordelen uitgesproken ... En weer vaag: wat betekent 'adulthood' hier? En dan het idee dat het Westen van nu een 'geavanceerde beschaving' zou zijn. Niet erg sterk, als je denkt aan al het geweld tegen kinderen, het seksueel misbruik van kinderen, de uitbuiting van kinderen zoals beschreven in dit boek. Erg beschaafd, ja.]

"The essayist and journalist Judith Levine points out that among teenagers, at any rate, there is widespread consensus that early sexual experiences can be both pleasurable and harmless. She argues for lowering the legal age of consent to twelve. There are multiple complications to this position, of course: in addition to the need to ensure that there is no coercion involved in such encounters, the health risks of early sex are significant. Are twelve-year-olds really capable of distinguishing between coercive and noncoercive sex? Do they have the judgment to take precautions that will prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and serious emotional aftermath? In most cases, probably not." [mijn nadruk] (2011)

[Waaruit maar weer eens blijkt dat Durham niet zo veel vertrouwen in jongeren heeft als ze de hele tijd suggereert en nogal conservatief denkt over seks en jongeren. Het valt elke keer op: ze mogen er over praten, maar ze mogen niets doen.]

"The media’s sexual objectification of girls includes girls much younger than twelve these days, anyway. Even Levine could not argue that a child of ten or younger could, with clarity, initiate, participate in, and control a sexual encounter with an adult."(201)

[Dat hangt er van af. Durham projecteert opnieuw de volwassen seksualiteit op jongeren, seks is voor haar blijkbaar neuken. Ze is zo dubbel. Ze zegt daarna van die dingen als dat al die marketing een verkeerd beeld oproept van meisjes en tegelijkertijd zegt ze dat ze niet wil censureren. Nou, die bedrijven zullen niet vrijwillig hun melkkoe slachten. Regulatie van bovenaf is nodig en dat zal betekenen dat bepaalde beeldvorming niet toegestaan kan worden en dus gecensureerd zal worden. En daar is niets mis mee.]

"Sexual curiosity and even some experimentation — playing “doctor,” playing “house,” and noticing physical differences — are ordinary features of childhood, and sex as a topic of interest will unquestionably become more salient as children enter and progress through adolescence. But most contemporary societies are in agreement that sexual intercourse is best delayed until physical and psychological maturity is reached. There is widespread legal consensus that it is necessary to establish an “age of consent” as to when a person can voluntarily engage in sexual conduct."(203)

[Weer zo vaag: 'until physical and psychological maturity is reached'. Ja, maar het punt is nu net dat samenlevingen / landen nogal verschillend denken over wanneer dat het geval is - over die 'age of consent.]

"Currently, in Japan, the practice of “enjo kosai,” in which older men pay teenage girls with money or expensive presents for sex as well as other kinds of companionship, is a culturally sanctioned form of child prostitution, and in Kenya child prostitution is “accepted as normal,” according to an article in the British medical journal Lancet." [mijn nadruk] (204)

[Volgens mij is dat nu verboden in Japan.]

"We seem to be reverting to a time when childhood was indistinct from adulthood, when the concept of “child abuse” was unknown. In our justifiable fear of censorship, and the insidious push of a commercial culture intent on sexualizing girlhood, we are terrified of talking about what constitutes appropriate boundaries of sexuality, especially in relation to children." [mijn nadruk] (205)

[Durham zelf in ieder geval wel. Vandaar dat ze daar de hele tijd om heen draait. ]

"In line with all this, the Lolita Effect in contemporary society hinges on a third myth: the idea that female sexuality is the province of youth. Because of this, it has come to seem almost natural that very young girls should be groomed to project sexual desirability."(209)

"The problem is not with children, but with adults: with marketers who knowingly sell products and images with powerful sexual overtones to young girls, and with adults who then interpret girls’ bodies as sexually available. And there’s a larger, social problem, too, in that because of the increased sexualization of girlhood, children are engaging in sexual activity at younger and younger ages. This has fallout that’s expensive both to the kids and to society as a whole." [mijn nadruk] (211)

"But experts usually draw a line between sexual desire and other aspects of sexuality, such as sexual response or arousal or even sexual activity. Sexual desire is about a person’s motivation to engage in sex; it’s about acting on sexual feelings; it’s about self-will. This is different from sexual arousal, which is fairly reflexive; even infants have been observed to be aroused, but we can’t attribute any knowledge about sex to them. But desire is different. Biologically, sexual desire is tied to the onset of pubertal hormones, especially androgens, so girls usually don’t experience sexual desire until adolescence." [mijn nadruk] (213)

"By contrast, the research indicates that prior to puberty, children do not experience sexual desire. In addition, they are not in control of their lives or decisions, especially their sexual decision making, and they don’t have the knowledge or judgment to make such decisions anyway."(214)

[Opnieuw wordt seks gedefinieerd als seks met anderen: 'desire' betekent dat je seks met anderen wilt, het wordt stiekem weer gekoppeld aan je willen voortplanten. Ze heeft het woord 'masturberen' nog steeds niet uit haar mond laten komen. Dat is verlangen ('desire') naar het genieten van je eigen lijf. En dat verlangen is er al veel eerder dan de adolescentie - wat ze daar ook mee bedoelt. Hierna volgt weer een reeks adviezen.]

(228) Chapter 5 - The fourth myth: violence is sexy

Over horror- en slasherfilms waarin het vrijwel altijd meiden zijn die het slachtoffer zijn omdat ze iets met seks doen. Er is vaak veel sadisme in die films en ook 11-15 jarigen kijken er naar al is dat niet in overeenstemming met de R-ratings.

"Again, it’s the young men’s sexual desires and the young women’s promiscuity that sets up the violence."(233)

"The violent content of even PG-13 films has been steadily increasing since the year 2000, and surveys show that parents are concerned about this — more concerned, to their credit, about violence than about sexual content. In all of these films, which are enormously popular with even young teenagers, male sexuality is linked with sadism, while girls’ sexuality is victimized. These films have been celebrated by film critics as slyly postmodern, technically sophisticated, and even politically progressive. But there’s nothing progressive, healthy, or humane about the repeated instances of sexual violence against women; at their core, these movies carry really repugnant sexual themes."(236)

"Boys tend to enjoy slasher films more than girls, as audience research shows; and viewers with the lowest empathy levels — the least capacity to sympathize with others — enjoy them the most."(237)

[Mannen - laag invoelend vermogen - gewelddadig. Ik vind het veel mannen wel goed karakteriseren. ]

"This is not to argue that such a connection is necessarily causal: it is impossible to demonstrate that exposure to sexually violent media causes real-life sexual violence. Sexual violence was around long before these media were invented. But it is also undeniable that most published research on the topic reports long-term and cumulative negative effects of video game violence."(242)

[Directe causale verbanden op individueel niveau zijn vrijwel niet te bewijzen, maar in het algemeen is er wel een samenhang en heeft het spelen van gewelddadige spellen een negatieve, een gewelddadige houding stimulerende invloed op het gedrag van mensen, van mannen, waarschijnlijk ook van vrouwen.]

Videoclips en televisieprogramma's zitten vol met geweld.

"All of this adds up to the fourth myth of the Lolita Effect: that violence against women is sexy. Images of violence against women are pervasive ..." [mijn nadruk] (248)

"While the media may not cause our behaviors, they are culture mythmakers: they supply us, socially, with ideas and scripts that seep into our consciousness over time, especially when the myths are constantly recirculated in various forms. They accentuate certain aspects of social life and underplay others. They are a part of a larger culture in which these myths are already at work, making it possible for the myths to find fertile ground in which to take root and flourish. They can reinforce certain social patterns and trends, and invalidate others. They can gradually and insidiously shape our ways of thinking, our notions of what is normal and what is deviant, and our acceptance of behaviors and ideas that we see normalized on television, in films, and in other forms of popular culture. The myths are sugarcoated: they are aesthetically appealing, emotionally addictive, and framed as cutting-edge and subversive. But violence against women is neither edgy nor subversive: the violent abuse of women has been around for a long time. It’s important to recognize that media-generated sexual violence against girls highlights and perpetuates a well-established system of brutalization." [mijn nadruk] (250)

"According to the human rights group Amnesty International, one in three women — or one billion women worldwide —have been “beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetimes. Usually, the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her.”"(253)

"We have to take a hard look at these media and think about what they mean. We need to understand the role they play in an increasingly violent world. They are not going away anytime soon — but we can use them as teaching tools in antiviolence activism."(256)

[Dat klinkt tamelijk defaitistisch. Nu volgen weer adviezen. Uiteraard staat het ter discussie stellen, erover praten in groepen weer centraal. Op dat niveau werkt dat bewustmakend. Maar of dat zoden aan de dijk zet weet ik toch niet zo. Al deze dingen zijn diep verweven met het kapitalistische economische systeem. Zo lang dat niet fundamenteel veranderd wordt in iets socialers zal er niet zo veel veranderen, denk ik.]

(264) Chapter 6 - The fifth myth: what boys like

De boodschap van de media:

"Girls would be well advised to plan their activities, clothes, and behaviors with boys’ tastes in mind. (...)
The articles never point the other way: that is, there are never articles on what boys can do, or should do, to please girls, and such articles are not to be found in the magazines boys tend to read, whether that’s Playboy or Maxim or Sports Illustrated. In the realm of love and sex, it’s girls who are in the position of working hard to adapt themselves to the needs and fantasies of the mercurial males whose approval and attention they seek. And, as we know, this trend is carried over to the media aimed at older girls and women;(...)
Magazines for younger girls, too, offer one constant message: that it’s imperative for girls to learn how to please boys in order to get their attention."(265-266)

"These magazines are oddly anachronistic: they offer a prefeminist vision of a girl’s life, where girls require male admiration and attention and can gain it by learning to fulfill male pleasure in very traditional ways: by paying breathless attention to boys’ needs and then offering services that provide for them. These services are often highly traditional ones: primping, cooking, and supplying limitless emotional support without expecting any in return."(269)

Het is allemaal niet bepaald emanciperend, zegt Durham.

"If sex is always represented in negative terms, then girls who are thinking about engaging in sexual activity or who want to understand more about their desires may feel they have no place in the discussion. If girls’ sexual feelings are always cast in a negative light, there is no way for girls to be able to express such feelings without embarrassment or shame. Interviews with girls show that there is active social censure against girls who display an interest in sex: they become “sluts” or “skanks.” As twelve-year-old Melissa put it, “They call all the girls sluts . . . that is, if they’re interested.” On the other hand, girls are supposed to attract boys’ sexual attention through their dress and by giving the appearance of sexual availability. The cultural messages about girls and sex are wildly contradictory." [mijn nadruk] (274)

"Many aspects of sex are missing from teen magazines, including an acknowledgment of different sexual orientations. In teen magazines, gay and lesbian kids almost don’t exist. Sex is framed as heterosexual, with little room for alternative sexualities as viable possibilities."(277)

"The magazines are, for the most part, staffed by women, written by women, and targeted to girls — but the phantom male’s influence is unmistakable and oppressive." [mijn nadruk] (279)

[Wat weer een voorbeeld is van vrouwen die collaboreren met de verkeerde mannen / mannelijkheid. ]

"This is not a new phenomenon. The art critic John Berger, in a classic essay, illustrates how women’s bodies have traditionally been displayed for men’s scrutiny. He argues convincingly that this is the premise of most Western works of art, from the Renaissance on. “The ‘ideal’ spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of the woman is designed to flatter him,” he writes, using examples from Tintoretto, Mabuse, Ingres, and others. And, tellingly, he points out:
Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly, an object of vision: a sight. [italics added]
Girls and women internalize this imaginary male gaze: they learn to see themselves as they think men would see them. The irony of this is that men and boys seldom scrutinize girls or women as minutely as females do. Sometimes girls admit this—“We dress for each other,” they say; and only girls notice the half-inch of a hemline or a shape of a heel that distinguishes the hip from the uncool. But this intense self-scrutiny is motivated by the imaginary male surveillance that the magazines conjure up, in the same tradition as the nude in Western art. Berger’s argues that this relationship of gazing, where men gaze at women, is a power relationship: the gazer is ultimately the one who gets to judge, reject, or approve the object of his gaze. The power lies with the gazer, and culturally, men are given this privilege. Things are changing a little, and men and boys are becoming increasingly conscious of women’s appraisal of their bodies, but the female gaze is still not the pervasive cultural norm. The imaginary male gaze — adopted by women — is what lurks beneath many of our cultural images, messages, and institutions." [mijn nadruk] (280)

[En ook daar zie je dus dat vrouwen collaboreren met mannen op een manier die helemaal niet in hun voordeel werkt en uiteindelijk ook niet in het voordeel van mannen. ]

"The myth of traditional heterosexuality is the fifth myth of the Lolita Effect. The myth casts girls in roles that are geared to fulfilling male fantasies and paying obsessive attention to male needs. These roles render girls subservient to boys. The notion of a mutual, reciprocal, and equitable heterosexual relationship is not part of this myth. The myth does not acknowledge that boys have responsibilities toward girls. It does not recognize the idea that boys can be caring, respectful, and sensitive beings. Rather, boys are constructed as sexual aggressors whose goal is to coerce girls into physical relationships, while girls are positioned as defenders of their virtue.
A secondary myth at work is that girls don’t feel desire or have an interest in sex. The myth effectively prevents girls from taking charge of their own sex lives. In this fifth myth, girls have no voice in creating relationships that work according to their needs, ethics, and desires." [mijn nadruk] (291)

"The third dimension of this myth of retrograde heterosexuality is that alternative sexual orientations don’t exist, or if they do, they are odd and deviant."(291)

(302) Chapter 7 - The seducers understanding - Myth and spectacle in the media

"Girls’ sexuality is defined, in our media-saturated environment, as a spectacle. The spectacle is driven by the five myths of the Lolita Effect: if you’ve got it, flaunt it — but don’t dare flaunt it unless you have the anatomy of a sex goddess; the younger you are, the better; make sure you’re flaunting it so boys like it; and if you spice it up with a soupçon of violence, so much the better. Using the concept of the spectacle to think about girls’ sexuality gives us a helpful way to understand it in its social context."(303)

[Dit is in kort bestek een betere samenvatting van de besproken vijf mythen dan helemaal in het begin gegeven werd. Vanaf hier veel herhaling.]

"But negotiation is possible. The Lolita Effect can be tamed and controlled, when used in ways that feel right to the user. By educating girls in media literacy, we can encourage the development of their critical instincts and help them gain mastery over the spectacle of Lolita."(308)

"Examples like this abound, and they indicate that local cultures set the standards for beauty in radically different ways — that is, until the mass media became a global phenomenon with the power to define beauty according to rather narrow Western criteria. Such trends demonstrate clearly that a universal, instinctive recognition of beauty or sexual desirability is a myth — one that has been created relatively recently via a media system that adheres to North American and European ideals of beauty."(315)

"The mythmakers slyly suggest that conforming to the myths is edgy, hip, and rebellious. They suggest that criticizing or rejecting the myths is old-fashioned, dull, or censorious. If you think about it, though, it should be quite the reverse: the highly corporate, profit-motivated, mass-circulated images are the conformist positions. True rebellion lies in challenging, dissecting, and thinking through them — and then living your life according to your own values and ideas, not those of the corporate media."(323)

"In a world like this, media literacy is not optional. It is imperative. Understanding the way the corporate media create myths that have a ripple effect on society is the first step toward taking charge of your relationship with the media, with other people in your life, and with yourself."(326)

[Volgt weer een afdeling 'What can we do' met adviezen. ]

(335) Chapter 8 - Superhighway of sex girls, media, and sexuality around the world

Door de globalisering heeft de beeldvorming door de Westerse media ook grote invloed op de jongeren in andere culturen en die beeldvorming werkt daarbij in dezelfde richting als overal met dezelfde negatieve gevolgen voor vrouwen. Durham geeft er heel wat voorbeelden van.

[Maar door het anekdotische karakter van het verhaal krijgt het ook iets van sensatiezucht of een 'moral panic'. ]

"The Lolita Effect operates within a corporate, commercial sphere. Because of this, there are no ethics at work: the Lolita Effect is driven by profit motives. The creators and promoters of the Lolita Effect are those who benefit financially from it. The adults who head up the fashion, diet, fitness, cosmetics, plastic surgery, and media industries profit legally; pornographers, pimps, and human traffickers profit illegally. In either case, girls’ best interests are not at the heart of these constructions of sexuality."(355)

"We can do a lot — and the first step is opening up the discussion. Although there are laws in place, clearly they’re inadequate to tackle the range of problems that have arisen in this context; sex is still taboo and unfamiliar terrain for legal bodies (for example, although rape has been a by-product of war for millennia, the UN General Assembly is only now considering a resolution recognizing rape as a war crime)."(363)

"What would a positive, progressive, socially responsible, proactive concept of girls’ sexuality look like? Right now, we don’t have good models for this."(367)

[Merkwaardige opmerking toch weer. Ze heeft zelf eerder de positieve ontwikkelingen in Europese landen rondom heel deze problematiek beschreven, maar op een of andere manier is ze niet van plan daar een voorbeeld aan te nemen. Het moet blijkbaar iets van de VS zijn? Vindt ze Europa te liberaal? ]

"Recognizing the Lolita Effect and understanding its far-reaching implications can motivate awareness, and then social transformation. It can point us toward the kinds of dialogues about sexual ethics that we have never had, but that should begin immediately."(369)

[Rijkelijk vaag allemaal. ]

(370) Chapter 9 - Confronting the lolita effect: strategies for resistance

"In the United States (and elsewhere), we are squeamish about children’s sexuality, so we have allowed the media to dominate this important discourse. We cling to notions of childhood innocence, but look away when our kids gain sexual knowledge via the sexual media messages that surround and target them. Abandoning children’s sexual education to the media means allowing the Lolita Effect to predominate. But sex and sexuality are so much more than a corporate, mass-media commodity.
At its best, sex is about ethical and positive human connections. In my own view, sex is richest in the context of a loving, meaningful, deeply felt relationship, but I realize that for many people, good sex is defined in other ways. After all, sex is infinitely complex."(374)

[Zoals ik al eerder zei: ze heeft een nogal conservatief beeld van seks als iets van relaties. En het is volgens haar iets dat heel erg complex is - en dus niets voor kinderen en jongeren bedoelt ze ook. Ook dat is beeldvorming. De beeldvorming van de media deugt niet, nee, maar dit soort beeldvorming evenmin. Verder weer veel herhaling in dit hoofdstuk. ]

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