No Boys Allowed! Introducing the All-Grrls Suscon [Guest Column - Stepping Back]

“Love and respect woman. Look to her not only for comfort, but for strength and inspiration and the doubling of your intellectual and moral powers. Blot out from your mind any idea of superiority; you have none.”

Giuseppe Mazzini

There is something special about a group of women. There’s a particular vibe, an energy. Together, women are gentle, honest, open and sensitive. We easily comfort each other, we’re attentive and supportive. Topics of conversation, body language, our voices are different, and the presence of even one man can change everything. There is a connection that goes beyond our anatomy, beyond any common interests or friendships. Women don’t even have to like one another in order to feel the bond. We are different than men. No better, no worse, just different.

With this knowledge and their love of suspension, Jill (IAM:feisty) and Rachel (IAM:tigertante) created and hosted the first All-Grrls Suscon last year, and it was a success. It was so successful, in fact, that they’re at it again!

This year’s event will be held in August in Toronto. Suspensions cost $100 and pulls cost $50, and any woman, experienced or not, is welcome to come. The exact location is still to-be-announced, so keep your eye on the All-Grrls Suscon event page. To reiterate: there are NO BOYS ALLOWED!

As smoothly as last year’s event went, the idea of a women-only Suscon did stir up some controversy. There were a few members of the suspension community who felt it was unfair to exclude men. Jill and Rachel want to emphasize that this is not anti-men, but rather pro-women. They had been frustrated by the way they’d been treated by men at other events when they first entered into the community, and wanted to show themselves and others that women are just as capable as organizing, setting up, and suspending as their counterparts. They surpassed their goal, proving to everyone that an All-Grrl’s Suscon wasn’t just a great idea, it was great in practice too.

Jill and Rachel working at last year’s All-Grrls Suscon.

BME:  Hi girls! Can you tell me a little about yourselves?

JILL:  I grew up in Belleville which is a small Ontario town, with my mom and brother. I left when I was eighteen to move to the greater Toronto area for college. I’m twenty-seven years old, and am currently working at one of the largest bike stores in Canada. I am part of a trio of wimmin who publish SMUT Magazine, which is a quarterly, pansexual and erotic magazine. It’s featured many BME members like Rachel, Phil (IAM:PhilipBarbosa), Joel (IAM::Hooch). I also am the owner of a promotions and event production company, Feisty Productions. Rachel has been a key component to all of my shows, and the shows wouldn’t have had the same caliber if it wasn’t for her many talents like fire spinning and suspension..

RACHEL:  I am a dual Canadian/American citizen— I was born outside of Seattle and grew up all around the States. I finished high school in Berlin, Germany and have been living in Canada since starting university in 1996. I did a Bachelors degree at the University of Guelph in Biological Science and have just completed a Masters of Science specializing in developmental genetics at the University of Ottawa. I’ll probably do a PhD next year, though I’ve also been working my way towards medical school for the past five years. My newest hobby is running marathons— including Berlin last year and Boston this year— and riding motorcycles. I’m also a classically trained cellist with eighteen years experience and have performed in Canada, the United States, Germany and England with various bands, dancers, and theatre groups. I’m also twenty-seven.

BME:  How did you two meet?

JILL:  I was living in Toronto in the spring of 2002, after returning from living in Australia and was working in an outdoor store when she walked in looking for climbing equipment. After asking what the supplies were for, she and her friend, Philip Barbosa, told me that it was for a suspension performance that evening and I should check it out.

RACHEL:  Yup, and we totally hit it off as friends from the very beginning. Both Phil and Jill are incredibly chatty types, so that day Jill got the whole scoop on what we did and she mentioned that she was interested in getting involved with our rigging projects. Our friendship has really developed into something very strong, loving and deeply respectful over the past few years.

Jill and Rachel. Friends through the ages.

BME:  Jill, did you have any experience with suspensions before meeting Rachel?

JILL:  None at all. After meeting her, I hosted an event where I had iwascured (IWC) perform, and then I headed down to the 2003 Rites of Passage (ROP) Suscon where I was the Canadian rigger for the weekend. I was there to replace Jon (IAM:wild zero), which are some pretty huge shoes to fill. I felt honoured and everyone welcomed me with open arms because both Rachel and Phil believed in my skill level and the other staff took an instant shining to me. I think I proved myself that weekend by rigging a human zip line that Rachel went down on hooks. We’ve been told that it was the highlight of some people’s weekend.

BME:  Rachel, what is your experience with suspensions and pullings?

RACHEL:  I first became involved in suspension through iwascured in March 2001 when I saw Martini’s (IAM::martini) torture with huge bent bar-b-q skewers as hooks. After that experience I was hooked (ha! ha!) and immersed myself in helping out with shows at BME events, like the one in Shannon’s (IAM:glider) backyard in Toronto as a piercer, rigger and performer. I’ve performed a number of times in Toronto with IWC at various clubs and at BMEfest in Tweed. I attended the first Dallas Suscon, some ROP Suscons in Massachusetts, and the Rhode Island ROP Suscons consistently for the past three years and worked closely with the ROP, Traumatic Stress Discipline (TSD), and IHUNG crews.

BME:  How long have you been in the body modification scene?

JILL:  I have had piercings and tattoos since the mid 90’s, but wouldn’t say that I have been involved in the modification industry until I met Rachel. She opened my eyes to a world of incredible people.

RACHEL:  I’ve never really considered myself part of a scene, but before joining IAM in January of 2001, I got my first tattoo and piercing when I was eighteen (other than my lobes, which were done at age five). I have really downsized my modifications in the past year but I’ve got several piercings, scarification, and four tattoos. My most recent body ritual is fasting. It’s a mental and physical challenge, much like training for my marathons. I don’t get to suspend very often because I can’t afford the time it would take for my body to heal from one and because I’m scared my body might go into overload. Preparing for a marathon takes a lot of discipline, training and recovering.

Rachel doing a couple of her own suspensions at previous events.

BME:  Off the topic a little, but I noticed you spell “women” and “girl” differently, why is that?

RACHEL:  Basically it creates words not based on “man” or “men.” Similar to not using “he” as a general term supposedly encompassing all, but instead he/she or one. Grrl is just a fun way to spell “girl.” It looks more tough and in your face.

BME:  Okay, fair enough. Onward.
Last year, you two hosted the first All-Grrl’s Suscon, and it was a success! Whose idea was it?

JILL:  The day that I met Rachel in my store she mentioned wanting to do an all wimmins suspension event. I told her that I would be glad to help her out if she needed it, which she did. A year later, we were executing the first ever All-Grrls Suscon. I was glad to help her bring one of her dreams to reality.

RACHEL:  I had thought about doing an All-Grrl suspension event/team when I was just getting involved in the suspension community. Around November 2001, Carrie (IAM:alisinwonderland) and I attended the first Dallas Suscon as part of the IWC team. It was there that we realized we were practically the only females within the suspension groups attending who actually participated in getting people off the ground. Our attempts to jump in and help were met with at lot of resistance like, “You can hold stuff when our hands get full.”

BME:  How did you deal with that at the time?

RACHEL:  I almost didn’t go back the second day because I was so unimpressed and I felt totally powerless. I got the impression that the boys were having trouble realizing we weren’t just someone’s girlfriend watching from the sidelines. My first response was to get fuming mad and storm off but I knew that wouldn’t help anything. Instead, Carrie and I took that energy and transformed it into something good: she and I decided to create a space that would be more womyn-positive, and the idea for the All-Grrls Suscon was born.

That event ended up being an incredibly amazing experience as the IWC crew was really supportive of us as crew members. Some members of the TSD briefed us on some rigging techniques, and so began our beautiful friendship with those wonderful Texans! I believe that since then a lot has changed in terms of women’s involvement in the suspension community. There are definitely lots more women participating in suspension events and crews on all levels.

BME:  What do you think changed that made women more “accepted” in the events?

RACHEL:  I believe that because of the increase in women suspending at events has helped. When grrls come to the events and see other women suspending, piercing, rigging, and performing it boosts their self-confidence in that, “hey if she can do it, I can too” way. It was very inspiring for me to see women suspending at a BME bar-b-q. I also think that a lot of the core members of crews like TSD, ROP, IHUNG, and of course IWC have been accepting of wimmin working within their group, and some of the negativity we experience may come from the periphery.

JILL:  I agree. The more wimmin suspend, the more we’re able to let the men know that we can do things just as well as them.
BME:  Do you feel the need to “prove” yourself at mixed-gender events?

JILL:  I think women have had to prove themselves in every aspect of society, and it’s no different with suspensions. Personally, I had to walk in to an already-established community and introduce myself as part of IWC and just start rigging. I think I earned their respect right away when they all realized I knew what I was doing, and like I said, Rachel helped me ease into the scene because she was already established within that group.

RACHEL:  I’ve only really felt that I need to prove myself once, at the first Dallas Suscon. It’s possible that our entire group was kind of under the microscope considering it was a TSD-run event and they had never worked with us. Since then, I think our reputation has somewhat preceded us and I haven’t felt any need to prove myself, though I still run myself ragged at Suscons. I’m not good with just standing around because there’s always something that needs to be done!

BME:  What were the steps from taking the All-Grrls idea to an actual Suscon?

JILL:  Finding a location was the hard part. We only wanted wimmin there— there were to be no boys involved at all, so it was very hard to find somewhere that’s suspension-friendly and men-free. We decided to hold it at my business partner’s yard, which turned out to be an incredible location because it was outside and the weather was amazing. We had to get our own supplies which are quite costly, and devise a free-standing unit that we could use to suspend from. Because there were no trees that we could use in the yard, I had to make a huge rig designed for two suspensions beside each other at one time.

The other important factor to make the event a success was finding staff. The wimmin we knew that were qualified were from all over North America. Getting them all into my yard was the trick. We decided to hold the event on the weekend of BMEfest of last year because we figured that a lot of wimmin would be coming for that already, so it was a perfect opportunity.

As for running the actual event, Rachel and I had no problems. Many people helped with the prep work and the set up of the event. Rachel’s experience with suspension and my experience running events, it just sort of happened. Flawlessly I might add.

BME:  How many girls attended?

RACHEL:  I believe there were about twenty-five people who attended (including staff) from all over the world including England, Australia, US and Western Canada…

JILL:  …and we did about nine suspensions and two pulls. We put out juice and water and food for the staff and the day went by smoothly. Rachel and I started the prep at around 8:00am, and the staff started showing up at 9am. Our first suspension started by 11:00am or so, and we continued until just after 6:00pm. All of the suspensions were suicide, and we even had a couple go up at the same time. It was really amazing. They had a really profound experience.

BME:  Why was it profound for them?

JILL:  The grrls had wanted to suspend together since they met me a year earlier. One of the most influential wimmin to them was Liz Spencer, who I’d suspended a year earlier. Once they saw that suspension and how it changed Liz’s life, they wanted to suspend together. Liz was supposed to be there for their experience, but sadly, she passed away that spring and didn’t get to see them. I was happy to have helped in give her that experience and then share it with two of her friends.

BME:  Did you notice any difference in the atmosphere? Certainly girls act differently when they’re with just girls, so was it the same sort of thing at the event?

JILL:  Of course it was. A group of wimmin is just different. It’s an emotional thing, an estrogen thing. It was just a really nice calm atmosphere.

RACHEL:  It was totally different. I found it was a more peaceful and calm environment. Everything ran really smoothly— like clockwork. There was no running around or stressing about who was going up next. Maybe it was because it was a smaller event than most Suscons, but I didn’t sense any hesitation from the suspendees when it was their turn. There was no competition or feeling that you had to put a show on for anyone. There is an inexplicable comfort that comes with working in an all-wimmin’s space.

BME:  What types of girls did you attract at the event? Was it people who’d never suspended or pulled before? Do you a lot of women came specifically because there were no men present?

JILL:  I don’t think that any of the participants were against men being there but they were definitely excited that it was only going to be only wimmin there. None of the staff are anti-male. But we all wanted to have a positive female environment. Wimmin and men are different. No matter what you say, they are different creatures. So, when you get only females at an event, it just feels different. There’s less ego and more mental energy, plus, there’s no testosterone.

We had wimmin who had never suspended or pulled before and we also had ones that had, and the general consensus was that the vibe was great! I know many who couldn’t make it last year are making it a priority this year. I think lots of grrls were just happy to have a venue to be able to let go of any inhibitions.

I don’t really think there was a specific type of person who came to our event. I assume that the wimmin wanted to try suspending in an all-grrl environment, whether it was because they wanted to be in the company of females or because they specifically didn’t want men to be there, I have no idea. It was never about excluding men, but rather about including wimmin.

Jill with IAM:stumbleine

BME:  What are some common inhibitions that women feel at a cross-gender event?

JILL:  I think that most people don’t like to suspend for the first time in a large group because it’s something that’s so potentially emotional. It’s a proven fact that wimmin and men act differently. When wimmin are around men, sometimes they feel like they have to prove themselves and when you take men out of the equation they can just be themselves because there’s nobody to impress. Plus, it’s easier to suspend without a shirt on and many wimmin aren’t comfortable enough to take their shirt off at a mixed event. The All-Grrls Suscon is not for everyone, but the ones who appreciate it are the ones we hold it for.

RACHEL:  Jill’s right: I often feel compelled to put on a show or prove how tough I am at cross-gender events and it makes me feel self-conscious. If the suspension requires me to be scantily clad, I’m more aware of my nudity and how attractive I look to others. I think other wimmin are also afraid to “fail” in front of such a crowd— whether it’s not being able to suspend as long as everyone else, or being unable to fulfill some other goal they feel they need to achieve to have a “successful” suspension. I think some grrls are preoccupied with being sexy or attractive, and these things may take a bit of focus away from themselves and the experience their body is going through.

BME:  For people thinking about going this year— whether it’ll be their first time attending or their second time— why should people attend your event?

JILL:  "Why shouldn’t they?" is a better question. An All-Grrls Suscon is a really nice experience, especially for those who’ve never suspended before. It’s not going to be for every female out there, but I know a lot of grrls find it comfortable and welcoming. Wimmin can connect with each other on a level that men can’t. That doesn’t make us any better than men, but it certainly gives us the opportunity to empathize with each other and what we are feeling.

RACHEL:  Plus, for the same reasons why people would attend any other suscon-type event— to hang!

BME:  What has your feedback been from men about this event?

JILL:  The feedback was great. I think there were a bunch of men that couldn’t believe that we actually did this. We sure showed them! The men in both Rachel’s and my life are very supportive and they respect us for what we do. They know we are highly skilled in suspension and rigging collectively and put on a great, successful event. We definitely had a bunch of grief from men out there that don’t think there are enough trained wimmin out there to work the suscon.


I had to talk to the men who disagreed with the idea, and I found two who were willing to speak out. Cere (IAM:Cere), a member of the ROP (but whose opinions don’t represent anyone’s but his own) admits that his point of view is very unpopular, but he does not like the idea of the All-Grrl’s Suscon. Rachel, Jill and Cere are all very good friends, but his opinion differs dramatically from theirs.


Cere: Simply put, I am completely against the idea of it. I understand the idea that a woman might be more comfortable around other woman suspending and the idea that at a large event that might have a woman suspending topless or nude may bring gawkers from the male gender. I call bullshit on it. You are just as likely to have a bisexual or lesbian woman admire a naked girl as you would a guy. Also at every single event that we have thrown there has been nudity or toplessness and we have never had a problem with someone being rude or leering. If you are uncomfortable with your body, set up something private.

The main reason is though is the hypocrisy behind it. If I were to throw an All-White suscon or a No-Minority suscon, everyone would be up in arms screaming about it. But it’s okay that an entire gender is being discriminated against in a community that is supposed to celebrate the oneness of humanity? Fuck that.

That said though, I love Rachel and Jill, and they are awesome friends of mine. I hope their next event goes off without a hitch and I hope that everyone who hangs there has an amazing experience and gets the most out of their suspension.

IAM:Code Zero

Code Zero: I personally didn’t feel like any one-gender event is fair or just. I understand that these women feel more comfortable without any guys there, but I’m a larger guy and I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with a ton of strangers around, but if I had a "Fat guy only" event, it would get protested by women and men alike. The whole BME/IAM scene is about acceptance and togetherness, and this event felt like a slap in the face. Having an invite-only event is one thing because it prevents having people come just to gawk, like the highly secretive MODCON, but to exclude someone based on nothing other than gender, it’s not right. It’s sexist.

Do you think it would be okay for someone to organize a "Blacks Only" Suscon if they felt that black people would be more comfortable doing suspensions without anyone else around? It may not sound like the same thing, but at its core, it’s exactly the same thing.

BME:  What would you like to say to people who view this as an “anti-men” event, instead of how you intended it: a “pro-women” event?

JILL:  I know some people don’t understand why men can’t be there, but this is all about being pro-wimmin. There is an emotional and physical difference between men and wimmin, and if you can’t get that, you have bigger problems than just not being allowed in to our event. I have spoken to many men who will outright laugh at other men who don’t understand the difference between men and wimmin. Many men know that this is an important and necessary event. I had men tell me last year that the only difference between men and wimmin was our genitals. Pardon me as I stop laughing. A few guys retaliated with comments like, “Well, what if there was an all male suscon?” I think, up until a few years ago, the events were an all-male Suscon. Wimmin are just starting to become more prominent in the suspension community. The All-Grrl Suscon is an event where wimmin can feel free to be themselves and not worry about what the men think.

RACHEL:  To them it’s all about us hating men, which is strange considering that these comments come from men we know and love and who know and love us. As much as some of us hate to admit it, our society is still deeply infected with patriarchy, sexism and misogyny. What Cere fails to notice is that every day is white, heterosexual male day. My god, wimmin weren’t even able to vote until 1920, whereas Blacks had the right fifty years prior. I think that speaks miles about North America’s views on wimmin in society. Not to mention wimmin still face a substantial economic inequality. I think that although gender equality is definitely ideal, we’re still working on it, and there is still a need for wimmin to create empowering spaces for themselves. I think it’s difficult for a lot of men to understand that.

Cere suggested that we create a private event, and that’s exactly what we’ve done! I too, have never seen blatant gawking at a suspension convention, however I think one would be hard pressed to find a man who does not consider nudity in wimmin to be a highly sexually charged thing. I think it is difficult for men to look at wimmin’s bodies and not regard them in a sexual context. A breast is never just regarded as any other non-sexed part of the body such as an arm or a leg. I disagree that wimmin who are sexually attracted to other wimmin lack the same discretion. I feel that a wimmin’s only space allows grrls to reveal their bodies in a non-sexual manner.

The majority of the feedback we’ve heard from men has been positive and supportive, which is really great. Of course a few people have their knickers in a knot over the concept of a wimmin-only event and there has been a little backlash, but from what I’ve heard the feedback is primarily positive.


As Jill said, there are men who completely agree with the ideals behind the All-Grrls Suscon.

Graham Wilson (IAM:[tan])

[tan]: Without a doubt, I believe it’s important to have an All-Grrls Suscon. Men dominate the suspension and the modification community in general. Any chance for a minority in a community to get together and share ideas, knowledge and experience can only enhance equality. It may be difficult for some women to be half undressed in front of men (who may or may not care), which can add another mental hurdle that would encourage them to turn away from suspension. Suspension is difficult enough as it is and for first time suspenders feeling self-conscious it is not going to help at all.

Frankly, there are currently very few women staffers. Men throw the hooks, men hang from hooks, and men hold the knowledge. Suspension has become a male dominated experience and if you dispute this, have a look at the suspension galleries and experiences on BME. There is a lack of a female voice and knowledge.

Let’s ask women what they want. If women want to suspend with other women, brilliant, let them go ahead and do it without feeling like they are harming the suspension/modification community. The more people that feel free, comfortable and safe to suspend, the better!

George (IAM:Useless) is a member
of the NY ROP chapter.

Useless: In a way, I think it is good to have an All-Grrls Suscon. There definitely aren’t enough women in the suspension community, so this is a good opportunity for people who want to learn. I’m a bit concerned about the staff, because there are only a few female suspension artists that I trust. I understand how this event is a pro-women but to some extent I do understand how the men (boys?) can see this as an anti-men event. It’s a bit of a tricky situation, but if this can help some females learn more about suspensions, then I’m all for it.

Of all the BBQs, shows and Suscons I’ve been to, I don’t think the female suspension artists have been treated any differently. I have worked side by side with females and felt just as comfortable with working with them as I do a male. I know that people aren’t randomly chosen like a lottery to join these suspension teams; it’s a lot about trust. To the few females that will be working this event, I know they will use their skills and best judgment to make this event a memorable one. Just like the entire suspension community does for every event.

PhilipBarbosa: It’s about time this happened! The suspension community needs to have more well trained practitioners and a much stronger female presence. It’s an asset to what we do! I agree, for too long much of the community has been male dominated, but as time has gone on there has been a growing population of really amazing wimmin with drive, dedication and tough fucking skin! It’s really nice to see, and I’m proud and really just very happy that there is such a positive response to this project.

Occasionally, I tire of being involved in this community, mostly when I encounter apathy, but its events like this one that really make me think about how powerful an experience like this really is and what amazing things we can all do.

That said, I also believe that tigertante is one of the most skilled and best trained suspension practitioners I have ever had the pleasure of working with and I trust her with my life. Following through with her commitment to make an event will certainly do amazing things, not only for the suspension community but for your selves as well. We need new blood to pump into what we are all trying to establish. A stronger female presence is exactly what the community needs right now!

BME:  What if someone has a boyfriend that they really want to go with them, can he come?

RACHEL:  Nope, no exceptions.

JILL:  I think that there are tons of people out there who want their partner to be present when they suspend. Unfortunately, the All-Grrl Suscon is exactly that. All wimmin. There are many other Suscons where everyone can go, and all we’re trying to do with this one is offer something a bit different. If it doesn’t fit into what your ideal experience is, then maybe it isn’t’ the event for you. We know it’s not for everyone. But those who came last year enjoyed it.

BME:  Rachel, last year you said “I’m sick and tired of sausage-fest Suscons and would love to help create a safe, friendly space for wimmin out there who want to suspend but are possibly uncomfortable at boy-dominated events to step out and experience a pull or suspension themselves!” Do you still feel as though Suscons are “sausage-fests”?
Jill: Do you share her opinion on this?

RACHEL:  I think that comment stems from the my experience at the Dallas Suscon, but in the past several years, since working with both ROP and IHUNG crews, the environment has changed into one that’s much friendlier toward wimmin. Thanks to them, I no longer consider Suscons “sausage-fests.”

JILL:  Suscons are, or at least have been, sausage fests. It is a very male dominated community. First off, there aren’t as many wimmin out there that are interested, and wimmin tend to be a bit more timid than men when getting involved in something like suspension. The men that we know are extremely talented at what they do, but not everyone tends to be totally accepting of wimmin in “their” space. Now that there’s an All-Grrls Suscon and more wimmin attending mixed-gender events, I do see a positive change in the community.

BME:  What are you doing differently at this year’s All-Grrl Suscon in comparison to last year’s?

JILL:  We’re going to make small improvements so that more wimmin can go up and stay up longer if they want to, so we’re hopefully going to have more than two stations and more staff. We haven’t decided on a particular spot to host it, but we know it’s going to be bigger. I’m really excited about the great atmosphere it will be. Last year people only wanted to do suicide suspensions, so we’d really like to see different styles at this year’s because I think it’s good to see people try a variety of different things.

BME:  Why was that the only kind done last year?

RACHEL:  I think the fact that it was a lot of these grrls’ first time had a lot to do with the domination of the suicide suspension. The suicide position is definitely the most common style attempted. I believe most people think it’s the “easiest” method because there are a minimal number of hooks and the suspendee can’t see them, which make a lot of people feel more at ease, even though fewer hooks means more weight on each hook. It’s also a relatively comfortable vertical position so people can feel free to spin and swing around.

BME:  What were you most surprised about with last year’s event?

JILL:  How smoothly it went.

RACHEL:  I was probably most surprised with the incredible atmosphere that we created during the event. It was so amazing to be working with an all-grrl team. It ended up being a really heartwarming, positive experience.

BME:  Did you hear back from any of the girls after they left the event? What was the general feeling about the event?

JILL:  I know people can’t wait till this year’s event.

RACHEL:  I heard back from a number of grrls saying how much they enjoyed the experience and thanking us for putting it on. I think I heard from way more grrls saying how much they hated to miss it and to tell them when the next one is coming around! But in general, everyone was incredibly positive about how the event ran.


They’re right, the feedback from the women who attended was extremely positive. I spoke to a few of them about their experiences.

IAM:LilFunky1 (right) and Sandy
hard at work.

LilFunky1: I was a staff member at last year’s All-Grrls Suscon in the bleed-out area and was responsible for removing the air out of the girls that had finished their suspension or pulls, as well as photo-documenting. I was really excited to work at the Suscon because it was the first of its kind, so I jumped at the chance to become a part of history.

I found the atmosphere really calm, friendly and very relaxed. There was no rudeness, attitudes or egos and no one was showing off. The experienced people were really open with their feelings and knowledge about suspending and pulling which was important because the majority of the participants were new to it, and I was new to working at a Suscon. I was comfortable talking about my experiences suspending to anyone who was interested, which surprised me considering I had just met a lot of the people there, but was willing to share a lot that I thought I would never be able to tell anyone.

There was no specific schedule to adhere to because many of the participants had never suspended or pulled before and the staff did not want to push people to go up, but rather to let them go at their own pace. The comfort level was definitely raised because there was no one who might make an ill-timed or inappropriate comment on purpose or by accident. No one seemed self-conscious at all about their clothing choices and they generally seemed very happy at the idea of “girl power” and just being at such a special event.

Badcat: I arrived with a friend of mine, only knowing Rachel and no one else. I initially wanted to try a pull, but by the time it was my turn, I’d changed my mind and wanted to do a suspension instead. It was a very comfortable atmosphere with really friendly and positive attendees, and there wasn’t a competitive aura. I felt a lot of support and acceptance about the girls’ preferences about doing pulls compared to a suspension, and how they were to be done (number of hooks, etc). I was impressed with how safe and health-conscious everything was arranged. They had food, juice and water for people to prepare their bodies with and there was even a hammock to recoup in!

The rig was set up in a private backyard with grass below your dangling feet, the fresh perfume from the flower gardens teasing your senses, and the warm sun on your skin. I couldn’t have felt more secure with my surroundings and it was one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve had. I was dealing with a rough relationship and had been very stressed in the month leading up to the suspension. Once I did mine, I felt crystal clear and very cleansed. I’ve never experienced anything like that before with such intensity. I can’t wait to do it again at this year’s event!

IAM:Alyssa Jane doing her first back pull
with IAM:Dyzcordia.

Alyssa Jane: That day I decided to do my first pull. The atmosphere was a lot different than any other event I have ever attended. There was a general feeling of support in the air even though I had never met any of the other attendees; they made me feel as though I had known them for years and it really put my mind at ease. There were no gawky onlookers, no pressure to act tough or to perform. It’s wasn’t necessarily more “comfortable,” but I did notice a completely different atmosphere than at other events and because of it, I felt very calm. One thing that sticks out is that it was the most organized event I’ve ever seen. If I didn’t live so far away, I’d be at this year’s, for sure!


vampy: I had travelled from England and didn’t know anyone at the event, but I immediately felt welcomed. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and all the girls were walking around talking to each other. I’m not the sort of girl who tends to seek out, or feel more comfortable in the company of women. I do have female friends, but the majority of my friends tend to be male. I felt relaxed and had fun chatting to people, just as I did the next day at BMEfest where there were men around. I didn’t suspend because I need to know someone very well before I can feel comfortable enough for them to suspend me, but if I had, I think the all girls rule would have been more of a hindrance than a help. While I would have been happy suspending in front of all of the people there, I like to have my close friends around when I am suspending, and most of them are male.

In the piercing tent, the atmosphere was very different than what I was used to. Previously, I had only worked alone or alongside men while piercing for suspensions. The atmosphere was a lot more open and relaxed. In my experience, I have felt that when offering a different opinion to male piercers (something like “don’t you think she’d be more comfortable if we lower the marks half an inch?”) they instantly see this as criticism and get defensive. I felt a lot more like everyone was working together for the benefit of the suspendee, and there was much less ego involved. At one point one of the organizers came over and asked me if there was anything we did differently to them and why; I’ve never felt that my opinion was respected as much at an event with male piercers, even by those with less experience than me.

After returning home, I did a small suspension event with another female piercer and mostly girls helping out (though there were a few men around). I found exactly the same thing while working; that we seemed to get along better as a team, and there was continual communication about what had been done and what needed to be done. Having said that, I did another event shortly after where I got to work alongside a wonderful male piercer. I found exactly the same thing working with him, so it’s not exclusively women I enjoy working with, but I do think that in general women accept constructive criticism as it is meant, and pay more attention to the needs of the suspendee.


Dyzcordia: This was my first suspension event and I did a chest pull. I wanted to go because it seemed as though it would be a smaller event than a lot of the others, so I thought I’d feel more comfortable. It was in Toronto, where I live, and it came at a time when I was craving the influence of female energy. I think there is something very different about being in a group of just girls, and it’s as much about how women are different with each other when there are no men around as it is about not having to interact with men.

There was an aura of excitement, that kind of eager anticipation that can be almost tangible. I felt that it was very well organized, but not overly so either. There was no sense of disorganization, but rather a lot of room for flexibility. It didn’t seem like there was any set order that people were suspending in, each person just seemed to go when they were ready. Everything seemed to just flow well. I am planning to go to this year’s event and am pretty excited about it.

I know that there was a lot of controversy surrounding the issue of whether or not excluding men was a negative action, but I don’t feel that the point was to exclude men, but to just focus on women. I can’t imagine how my first experience could possibly have been more positive, and I don’t know if that’s primarily because it was an all female event; I just know that the event was the perfect thing for me and I came away from it totally satisfied.


Having an All-Grrl’s Suscon is a wonderful idea. Women have a strong presence when we’re together, and when you add something as empowering as suspensions and pulls, our bond is strengthened. I wish Jill and Rachel the best of luck with this year’s event, and I hope they’ll continue it in the future, and I’ll see them in August!

— Gillian Hyde (IAM:typealice)

Gillian Hyde (IAM:typealice) is a vagabond, though her roots run deep into Nova Scotian soil. She’s lived and worked on three continents since 2001, and has never lived anywhere for longer than eight months since the age of 16. She loves fonts, puns, being barefoot, and office supplies. Calm to her is the roar of the ocean.

Online presentation copyright © LLC. Requests to republish must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published online, 2005 by LLC from La Paz, BCS, Mexico.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>