Suicide Girls Hopefuls: feminist freedom or marketing trap?

In 2001, a massive buzz started to flow for an alternative community, Suicide Girls.  Founded by photographer Selena Mooney (Missy Suicide) and her partner Sean Suhl (who’s now also a founder of a Tinder-like app), the core idea is that women commit “social suicide” by refusing to conform to the American ideal of a beautiful woman, by refusing to “fit into the mold”.

The media embraced this interesting positioning; sending a photo was an act of commitment; a lot of pioneers were sincere activists ant the supposed authenticity of the founders was a good driver for editors and journalists.

But things have quickly changed; not only in the American society (one in five adult American has a tattoo which makes us wonder: what is the new mainstream?) but on the way the SG community is used.

The Feminist Atheist pointed a lot of scaring points when a girl is finally accepted to become a Suicide Girl:

“This has resulted in the resale of ex-models images to porn sites that are far from feminist and pro-woman”.

The link between porn and…feminism is in this matter at least pretty bizarre. Even former models start to complain:

“A group of angry ex-models is bashing the SuicideGirls alt-porn empire, saying its embrace of the tattoo and nipple-ring set hides a world of exploitation and male domination”.

The SG staff argues that it’s only a minority of models who complain versus an active community of happy women…But still.

More recently, with the rise of Instagram and visual sharing networks, I was pretty amazed by a trend: SuicideGirl Hopefuls. Basically, young Instagram users spread willingly photos of themselves, most of the time in “hot” positions. A trend very similar to #dedipics … despite the curation of only professional and politically-correct snapshots on the official account.

Maybe I’m too old-fashioned or it’s maybe because I work in digital marketing but this trend sounds a lot, a LOT like a marketing trap dedicated to the modern exploitation of women. The argument that 51% of the members of the site are women does not seem very relevant to lower my feeling.

What do you think about that?

3 Comments
  1. Marketing trap. The scenes depicted in each set on the Suicide Girls page are nearly all sexual in nature. Everything from the setting in which the shoot takes place, theme, vestuary, is meant to appeal sexually to the viewer. The photos start off with the subject completely clothed and progress into nudity with the shedding of layers of clothing. The site is so sex- centric that it’s inpossible to deem its ethos as feminist in any way. It’s just soft – core with tattoos. The only way I can see it as being “alternative” is to compare it with the conventional, commercial modeling industry where tattoos are dicouraged but you can’t even fairly make that comparison because these girls arent really “models”. They’re regular girls with tattoos getting naked under the shallow guise of self empowerment who are diluted into thinking that they’re coherently challenging conventional constructions of beauty when they’re really just acting out as objects for their male viewership. Pretty sad.

    1. Dear Moz’,

      thanks for your comment. I tend to agree with your point; what used to be probably very “alt” is now becoming a real porn business, attracting girls (therefore boys?) through a sort of fake coolness.

      Nonetheless, most of the SG I’ve met tell me the opposite…

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