Look, we’re as baffled by the whole “Gothic Lolita” movement as anyone, and a New York Times profile is usually a sign something has jumped the shark:
The Lolitas are here and in full bloom. Theirs is a world in which the childhood fantasy of Alice in Wonderland seems to collide full force with the Addams Family. Its myriad influences include Victorian children’s wear, the French Rococo period, goth-inspired darkness and Japanese anime. Many Lolitas make their own clothes or have them specially commissioned.
However, a letter to Jezebel by an actual Goth Lolita may shed some light:
We certainly do not do this for the attention of men. In fact, the fashion frequently alienates them. Frequently, female sexuality is portrayed in a way that is palatable and accessible to men, and anything outside of that is intimidating. Something so unabashedly female is ultimately kind of scary—in fact, I consider it to be pretty confrontational. Dressing this way takes a certain kind of ownership of one’s own sexuality that wearing expected or regular things just does not. It doesn’t take a lot of moxie to put on a pencil skirt and flats. It’s not, as some commentors have suggested, some sort of appeal to men’s expectation that women should be childlike, or an attempt to pander to pedophiles. Pedophiles like little girls. They don’t like grown women who happen to like dresses with cakes on them. I’ve never been hit on by a pedophile while in Lolita. We don’t get into it because it is some sort of misplaced pedo complex or anything, and the objective isn’t simply to emulate little girls, despite the name Lolita.