Thursday, 16 February 2012

Lolita fashion is not about paedophilia!

Apologies for my absence yesterday... the lovely boyfriend shared his sickness bug with me and I was sadly bedridden... ugh. :-/

SmashedDoll brought to my attention the following petition regarding the poster for a documentary due out this year, entitled Are All Men Pedophiles?, which features a young girl with a 'teasing' expression, clad in Lolita fashions.

Unfortunately the name Lolita and the associated childlike elements in Lolita fashion have often led to misunderstandings between aficionados of this Japanese street fashion and those in Western society who assume that this Rococo-inspired frilly fashion is intended to be sexual, largely due to the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. As the book pre-dates the Lolita fashion and community, the title clearly does not refer to what we generally think of as 'Lolitas' but simply to the nickname of a character in the book.

The book is about a less-than-appealing subject matter; paedophilia, to be precise. I did once try reading it as it is considered to be a classic, but it made my skin crawl and I didn't get halfway through. Since the publication of the novel, the word 'Lolita' has become commonplace to describe sexually precocious young girls, which strikes me as ironic since the fashion of the same name has  enormous focus on modesty and decorum.

Holly Reynolds, organizer of Lolita fashion shows and proud Lolita herself, says, "There’s been a lot of disputes with where [the name] came from, but usually people think the Japanese just took the word as an association with being youthful and not really how it’s interpreted in Western society."

Such misunderstandings about Lolita fashion and those who wear it are unlikely to be helped much by the Are All Men Pedophiles? poster. Isa Baca has created a petition at to ask for the removal of the misleading poster and an apology from the movie's director, Jan-Willem Breure, and the production company, JW Productions.

The offending poster
She says, "The community has been fighting really hard to make people understand that, no matter the personal idea of what Lolita is (a fashion, a lifestyle, an aesthetics), it is NOT about sexualising women, but completely the opposite, it is about women feeling comfortable with themselves in clothes that make them feel pretty and that do not relate with attracting men. Moreover, Lolita is not about ageplay. It does not try to make young women look like little girls, hence it's not focused on attracting pedophiles. It might make the girls look a bit childish depending on the style, but that is not the point for a lolita.

"With the promotional poster in which a girl is shown wearing Lolita clothes, her expression being overtly provocative and teasing, the productor and director are causing a massive harm to the Lolita community, leading people who does not know the movement to think that it's about sex and ruining the hard work that thousands of girls have done during years. Due to this, we ask for the removal of the poster plus a formal apology from both of them."

Comments on the petition include the following:

Agnes Lopez: "Do you have any idea what harm this would do to a wonderful street fashion (and to the MEN who are married or dating women who wear lolita) if it continues to circulate? My husband is not a pedophile, when we married I didn't even wear lolita; I would like to see this apology through, because I have no idea what my friends now think of HIM. "

Amy Brewster-Cotell: "Paedophiles are attracted to prepubescent children, not grown women in flouncy dresses! What a ridiculous and offensive idea to be propagating, this poster can only spread misunderstanding and reflects very badly on your documentary."

Please click here to sign the petition.


Anonymous said...

I've signed up for the petition, Amy. I'm in to remove this ridiculous lolita misconception and I hope your boyfriend Dan gets better as well :)

Miss Eva Morgan Reeve said...

My issues with this poster is slightly different I think.
I don't mind, not that I agree, associating Lolita fashion with peadophilia as much as I mind about associating peadophilia with Lolita.

''A woman, dress childishly is still a woman with a lot of ruffles, not a child. In a paedophile mind's it just won't do. The reason I am so upset about this promotional poster is that it suggest that child abuse could be replace by age play. I don't mind people being confuse about what I wear. I mind that some people don't see paedophilia as what it really is, a mental illness, not some little sexual fantasy that can be satisfy by your girlfriend dressing up like a doll.''

Most girls seem offended that Lolita Fashion was confused with age play because it does wrong to the fashion, not because it's a misconception about peadophilia, which is in my opinion a greater matter than people thinking we're cheap whores in ruffles.

I think the emphasis is should be more about understanding that peadophilia has doing to do with a grown-up dressing childishly, Lolita or not, it's about real little boys and girls.

Allison Paige Eckfeldt said...

The girl in the poster is actually only about 16 years of age or rather, and she was tricked into the photoshoot...they told her it was for japanese fashion... On egl_com you can read more on it.

Miss Eva Morgan Reeve said...

16 is legal in some country and not considered as paedophilia if the age difference is under 5 years.

What did her contract said?

†Niesje7002† said...

Actually, she is older than 16. But besides that, she was indeed tricked into the photoshoot, saying it was about Japanese fashionstyles. So, the fault lies with the photographer, and not with her. She didn't know, otherwise she would never agreed to this.

Miss Eva Morgan Reeve said...

Actually, the photograph was probably under a contract too and not the one to blame. It's the movie's Producers that hold the contracts I would guess.

MakeupAriel said...

I signed & posted the petition on my fan page. I hope that one day people will stop encouraging uninformed public opinions that do massive harm to specific subcultures.

OddGhoulOut said...

My mother is one of the people who holds such misconceptions of Lolita. I've tried convincing her otherwise, but she won't hear it. I have read the whole book by Nabokov. I can see where westerners associate Lolita style with pedophilia, because of some similar styles that Dolores wore in the book (and obviously because of the name). However, the novel is brilliantly written. The book does not encourage pedophilia; Humbert recognizes his mental illness. He perceives Lolita as seductive, but she is merely a typical young girl to everyone else.

akumaxkami said...

I put something up on my blog about this a bit ago and now I might actually be kind of regretting it.

F Yeah Lolita posted a very interesting response to this on her blog, I recommend checking out her stance on it.

Anonymous said...

How sad is it in our culture where every type of slight deviation can get such a negative connotation, especially one as sweet and inoffensive as Lolita? A very interesting phenomenon, and as someone not involved in Lolita, one I have never personally experienced.
This is a great article also Amy. I’m glad with your name change you’re able to delve more freely into other misunderstood subcultures, interesting & important! The blog is as great as ever.
Also, feel better :)

Anonymous said...

Do we actually know what this film is about, or are we just jumping to conclusions based on the title? If you look at the very top of the poster, it clearly states "There are two sides to every story". Perhaps this film actually explores the positive of Lolita...

xToxicTears said...

I signed the petition a while back, the poor girl on the poster was told it was just a shoot for Japanese fashion, she had no idea it would be used for this.>_<

Anonymous said...

As far as the photo/photographer, many times photos are commissioned for one thing, but for whatever reason, the project falls through, and the photographer sells the photo (his/her own property) to whoever wants it, for whatever reason.

In other words, this photographer may have been commissioned to do a photo shoot on Japanese fashion, and perhaps the project fell through, the photo(s) weren't selected, etc., and instead this filmmaker wanted the photo, and the photographer made money off his/her art, time, and property.

Standard modeling contracts state that the photos can be used for whatever reason. Did her contract state this? If so, why would she sign it? Does anyone know?

We are jumping to conclusions. Either way, I'm sure this girl got paid what she considered a fair price...

InfiltratorN7 said...

Anonymous said: “Do we actually know what this film is about, or are we just jumping to conclusions based on the title? If you look at the very top of the poster, it clearly states "There are two sides to every story". Perhaps this film actually explores the positive of Lolita...”

^^^ That’s not how I interpreted the tagline. It sounded more like it’s slanted towards a let’s look at both sides of paedophilia, are they to blame for their own behaviour/condition/fetish or is society or the fashion industry or the girls themselves? That was my initial interpretation. But having not seen the documentary myself you could be right (I would hope!).

I found the following blurbs on the documentary and it does sound like it is looking at different perspectives on the causes behind paedophilia. Either way such a documentary is bound to be contentious:-

“For the first time a documentary, by Jan-Willem Breure, examines the global impact of pedophilia from a cultural and professional perspective.

We live in a society that condemns pedophiles, though biological instinct and world cultures throughout history suggest that an attraction to adolescents is as natural as it is unavoidable. The fashion industry on the one hand sexualizes ever-younger girls while those who act on these instincts are reviled. According to Jan-Willem Breure, the apparent hypocrisy at the heart of society forces the question: What do we mean when we talk about Pedophilia? Are All Men Pedophiles?

Director Jan-Willem Breure explores the difference between us and pedophiles. Tackling topics such as the Catholic Church, School Abuse, Islam, Fashion Industry, Female Pedophiles, Child Pornography and Teen Sex.

The documentary reveals the missing link between pedophiles and non-pedophiles.”

“We live in a society that condemns pedophiles, though biological instinct and world cultures throughout history suggest that an attraction to adolescents is as natural as it is unavoidable. The fashion industry on the one hand sexualises ever younger girls while those who act on these instincts are reviled. The apparent hypocrisy at the heart of society forces the question: What do we mean then when we talk about Pedophilia?

This films broad canvas takes in how our evolution and biological make-up have through-out history created cultures where what would today be called Pedophilia has passed without note, and with the complicity of all religions. It also looks at how media definitions differ to scientific ones, whether Pedophilia could be considered a sexuality, how the definition differs between modern societies as well as presenting the testimony of both victims and perpetrators.

In conclusion, we are faced with both the contradiction of a society which fetishizes youth and the question: Are All Men Pedophiles?”

InfiltratorN7 said...

I forgot to add. If it does turn out to have a slant towards blaming girls for being provactive and dressing in a sexualised way I can imagine sites like The F Word and Feministing will be all over this documentary. In feminism there is a lot of work, campaigning and focus on the problem of victim blaming, particularly in cases of rape so if this documentary does end up blaming victims (girls and boys alike) for being targeted by paedophiles I can imagine this would start up a shit storm in the feminist communities.

Jo said...

Just signed it. Thank for for bringing attention to the petition.

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