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… “the lolita effect” real or just an inflated excuse to exclude women from mentoring relationships that may help them excel in their careers?