3rd Scholarly Critique
November 15th 2007
1-Research topic and Researchers
Feminist sexualities, race and the internet: an investigation of suicidegirls.com” by Shoshana Magnet. New Media & Society, August 2007, Vol. 9, Issue 4, pp. 577-602. Retrieved November 13th 2007 from SAGE communication journals.
2- Rationale of the study
This study was aimed at analyzing the website Suicide Girls. The article talked about how the site is changing the contemporary photographic practice which in turn is changing the male gaze. It also talks about how the feminist potential of this site remains constrained by the inclusion of women of colour. The article also talks about the sites marketing strategy and whether the site is out to make money or make a feminist site.
The analysis was attempting to see how feminist representations of sexuality occur on the website suicide girls and the understanding of these representations by the members of this online community.
3- Literature Review
This study performed some prior research in the areas of cyberfeminist approaches to cybersex. When it comes to the positive aspects of cybersex the study talked about how you cannot receive any diseases from cybersex. The study also found that cyberfeminist argues that women are freed from the rigid norms that traditionally restrict female sexuality. Such as how they mentioned in the virtual world the female body is intelligent and polymorphously sexual
The study also focused on the cybertopian perspective on the fluidity of gender and sexual orientation online. When women are online they are able to experiment with sexual orientation more readily. A woman being able to do this online provides a safe place for queer women to come out. The cyberspace also provides a place for the shy woman to come out and make comments about other woman or life.
The study did some research on how marketing to different communities would affect that community. In the research they did they found that if you market to the gay community that this would lead to an un-healthy functioning economy. Marketing to this niche market could potentially reduce an inclusive queer community to a monolithic, white male affluent customer.
Another study the looked into was the multiculturalism in the area of Barbie dolls. When Mattel was asked why they didn’t remake the Barbie doll to look more like an African American they said that it would be more expensive and people would buy it. So they ended up dyeing the Barbie doll a different color and they called this the African American Barbie doll. This only reinforced the norm and didn’t help change it.
4- Research Methods
The research methods this study did were a content analysis. They did this by analyzing the suicide girl’s website very carefully. They looked into the different comments people made and they also looked at the blogs the different models would write. They also did some previous research to gather a greater knowledge on this topic.
5-Subjects of the study
The subjects of the study were many different people. They focused some time on the creators of the website and the mission the creators set forth. They also focused on the models from suicide girls. They also spent some time looking at the members of suicide girls. These members I’m guessing are from all over the world. I know they mentioned sometimes that there is a model from
Some of the findings that they found were along the lines of racism on the internet. One really interesting thing that I have never thought of or noticed is when you enter your information onto a website the default ethnicity is set to white. They mention that they don’t classify gender though, meaning when you go to click on gender it says click one and when you go to ethnicity it already says white. This means when they are programming this site they don’t even think about other races.
Another interesting point they brought up is when they were talking about cybersex. The study spoke to that when you are in a chat very seldom do you mention your race. Then when a person mentions something about how they are licking the creamy back of a person. Now the person on the other side has to stop and interrupt the spontaneous sexual flow by coming out as a colour woman or cybersex as a white women. They continued on to mention how this is racism. They said that more often than not if they come out they will receive some sort of backlash for this. The person on the other side will become upset and frustrated. So what was once a pleasurable cybersex has now become a living hell for the person of colour.
I would like to quote this next section because I think it so powerful! “For the global consumer who is depicted as white, the internet serves as a glass window from which ‘users can consume the sights of travel as if they were tourists’ (Nakamura, 2000: 19). The queer user may enjoy the ‘anonymity of the closet’ while remaining ‘connected to the sociality of public spaces’ (
Suicide girls was found to be a place where whiteness was made to be a normative. They spoke on how when a woman of colour is profiled, her body becomes a signifier of exotic. When an Asian Canadian posted photos on the website comments were made on how this person loves Asians, and how this Asian was so small and cute.
The part that stunned me the most was when the researcher spoke to how Suicide girls and its community won’t speak out when someone is racist. When rude comments are made nobody will speak up and say anything. When a person asked how a model was accepted into suicide girls nobody made any comments afterwards.
They also found that while suicide girls says they value diversity they fall back on the common marketing practices of the gendered and racialized body. This results in the commodification of women of colour in order to diversify their product offerings in order to maximize their profits. It wouldn’t be any more expensive to diversify their bodies on the website. But they still haven’t done it, only solidifying the fact that racism is present on suicide girls.
The final example they used I think really sums up this site. They found a model who blogs very commonly about racist things and homophobic comments. Even when suicide girls discourages this type of chatter. This model although is very popular and many members follow this model. To this date suicide girls hasn’t put a stop to this model and hasn’t deleted her account. They are just solidifying the comment that suicide girls is racist.
This article did well in the area of bringing up a subject not many people would like to talk about or even look into. For one main reason in my mind because there is nudity involved. They did bring up some good ideas that I will think about in the future but I think my next paragraph sums up my opinion of the article.
This article was very hard to follow. There were times when I was on dictionary.com just to look up the meaning of the word they were using. I read this article three different times and I still feel I missed something. I didn’t like how they didn’t elaborate on their method of research. I just don’t think this was that great of a research article.
This was an interesting topic they looked into. I thought this website would be very open and accepting of others. While after reading the article it was the opposite. I would be interested in looking into other sites that help promote feminism; if these sites are constrained by the inclusion of only a limited number of women of colour.