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


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.

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Correspondence to Lara C. Stache.

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Stache, L.C., Davidson, R.D. A Rhetoric of Contradiction: SuicideGirls, Female Empowerment, and Sexuality. Sexuality & Culture 23, 1054–1071 (2019).

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  • Rhetoric
  • SuicideGirls
  • Empowerment
  • Pornography
  • Sexuality