A Rhetoric of Contradiction: SuicideGirls, Female Empowerment, and Sexuality

  • Lara C. StacheEmail author
  • Rachel D. Davidson
Original Paper


The intersection of female empowerment and sexuality is prevalent in contemporary public discourse. In this analysis, we critique the rhetoric of female empowerment from the SuicideGirls, a soft-core pornography website that claims to promote an alternative beauty. Existing literature on SuicideGirls provides consensus that the website promotes female empowerment. We critique SuicideGirls’ rhetoric as an example of why consistency between rhetoric and action are important to analyze in a sex-positive culture that embraces contradiction as empowerment. A rhetoric of contradiction emerges when the language of empowerment is not supported with empowering action, and ultimately we argue that this undermines the goals of a sex-positive culture for women. Our conclusions address the complexity of cultural texts that equate sexuality with power, and to ultimately illuminate the boundaries to challenging the status quo in a society that embraces a rhetoric of contradiction as female empowerment.


Rhetoric SuicideGirls Empowerment Pornography Sexuality 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Governors State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Hanover CollegeHanoverUSA

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