The Lolita Effect and It’s Impact on Female Self-Esteem in Business

There is a term called “the lolita effect” which refers to the idea of the sexualization of a younger female in relation to an older male, often an underage female to an adult male. More importantly, is the nature of the term.  It’s a negative term places on the female; not the male.  As if she is the aggressor and the male the victim.  However, in the movie Lolita, the female was pursued by an obsessed older male.  So why isn’t the concept flipped?

In the world of working business men and women, “the lolita effect” may exist as well, and while the younger women may not be legally underage, she is still sexualized in the workplace. This can potentially cause some tension between men and women working together in business.  According to an article by writer Kate Ashford, a study is cited explaining that two thirds of men would rather not mentor younger women in the workplace and half of women would rather not be mentored by an older man due to the fear of projecting the appearance of having an affair.

It is important within our society that women are able to be seen as professional and respectable employees to a company. The 2011 documentary Miss Representation, a film about women and media, goes in to explore how women are sexualized in the professional environment and how this can affect how many women are running for office and following through on reaching other career aspirations. If women are conditioned to be seen primarily as objects of desire which can damage their self esteem it can also sidetrack them from accomplishing their goals. If this is true, it would also make sense that if women fear being accused of having an affair with a male colleague, she might opt out of applying for that position entirely. She won’t be working where she might have otherwise. If she does and is then accused of becoming involved with a colleague, that will damage not only her confidence and self esteem but may jeopardize her position entirely.  Sheryl Sandberg talks about the importance of having a mentor in her own professional development. Yet, her mentor was male and there seemed to be no problem. Companies may lose valuable female employees and men may miss an opportunity to improve and expand their professional horizons by mentoring a young woman. So…..is “the lolita effect” real or just an inflated excuse to exclude women from mentoring relationships that may help them excel in their careers?

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The 20% Teens Don’t Tell Their Parents

I have to say, one of my favorite questions to ask a teens is “What percentage of information do you not share with your parents?”  I get a lot of surprised looks from teens when I ask this question, but none of them refuse to answer. If fact, just the opposite. They want to tell me. Usually they take a moment, and with a smirk on their face…..they say “20%”.  Now this 20% usually relates to one of more of the following areas, so parents take note.

1) Friends– Do you know all of your teen’s friends? Probably not, but I’m sure you are aware of the ones getting good grades and playing on the soccer team. What about the other friends…. the ones smoking, getting kicked out of school or passing out at the party. These are the friends that your teen knows you wouldn’t approve of and so they don’t tell you about them. However, these friends are highly influential with your teen.

2) Drinking/alcohol- I have yet to hear one story from a teen where alcohol was NOT at the party.  Your teen may or may not choose to drink, but the alcohol is ever present.  They are usually attending the parties because that is what one does to be “popular” in high school.  If they don’t want to drink, the smart ones designate themselves as the driver, so they don’t get peer pressured into a drinking game or a bottle of beer.

3) Stress/anxiety- Kids today are stressed out.  I’m not really sure how or when this happened, but they are all constantly talking about how stressed out they are. Their anxiety usually relates to school and getting good grades if college is on their mind. Or it’s related to  being well liked by their peers and socially accepted by those in class or on their team. Plainly put….being popular. This anxiety occupies a lot of their time.

4) Boys- Girls worry or “wonder” about boys. It’s a fact. Having a boyfriend, not having a boyfriend and the expectations from boys these days. Many girls are seeking advice, but don’t know where to go.  Even if your teen tells you that they don’t care, trust me…it’s on their mind.

5) Body image– I’d say at least 90% of the girls I have spoken with, wish they were thinner.  At least 50% of those same girls also have experienced eating disorders at one time. Many feel a silent pressure from media, friends, and/or family about being disciplined, staying thin and not over indulging.

Teens today don’t want to bother their parents with these issues. They see their parents as too busy, stressed out, working late and don’t want to burden them.  So, they are constantly saying that “everything is fine” when in fact, it’s not.  They are worrying about a lot of things on the inside, but you would never know it. Why? Because they don’t want you to see it.  In the words of one 16 yr. old teen that I interviewed, “you can hide a lot behind a smile.”

Parents, take the time to sit down with your teen and talk to them. Don’t let them off the hook so easily when they say “everything is fine.” Let them see that you care about this 20% and that you are there for them.