"Empowered Erotica"? : Objectification and Subjectivity in the Online Personal Journals of the Suicide Girls.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
SuicideGirls.com, an "alternative" softcore pornographic website, claims it presents "empowered erotica". It claims that it provides a voice for its models through the establishment of personal online journals alongside the photosets of the models. In so doing, the website presents an apparently contradictory juxtaposition between two common forms of representation of the female; the objectified female body and the subjective female psyche. This thesis textually analyses selections from the personal online journals of the SuicideGirls.com models in order to examine how the resulting tensions between the apparently binarily opposed categories of female object and female subject are negotiated on the website. In particular, this thesis concentrates on SuicideGirls.com's attempts to situate itself as representing "alternative" youth subcultural groups, such as punk and goth, and examines its actual business practices as compared to its feminist rhetoric. This thesis argues that SuicideGirls.com does not provide "empowered erotica" and a genuine attempt to combat the narrow mainstream aesthetic of the beautiful female through its "alternative", "anti-mainstream" stance. Instead, it finds that SuicideGirls.com commodifies the image of the female body, standardises "alternative" style as a "lifestyle brand" and writes its models as commercial objects of desire, all while it hypocritically claims "alternative" empowerment.