Sometimes I find it hard to figure out what I’m going to write about in this blog. Other times something so absolutely outstanding just jumps out and slaps me in the face with a rotten fillet of haddock, and I can’t help but thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the fact that people can be very, very stupid sometimes.
Several of my friends pointed out a post to me from The Hope Blog. The blog, which is dedicated to the art of tattooing, reprinted an article written by news editor Lisa Khoury from the University of Buffalo’s independent newspaper The Spectrum, wherein she took women to task for getting tattoos. In essence, Ms. Khoury explicitly says that any woman who chooses to get herself tattooed is completely without class and is a failure as a feminine ideal.
The article, which was reprinted in its entirety, struck me as incredibly myopic and small-minded. It is more than apparent from this particular woman’s words that she subscribes to a standard of feminine beauty that may have been par for the course in the middle of the 20th century but is woefully out of date in our postmodern society. More upsetting is the fact that there have been, and still are, many cultures around the world that equate tattooing with not only beauty but with social hierarchy, such as the Māori of New Zealand, who have been documented as using their Tā Moko tattooing since Captain Cook encountered them in the 18th century, with both men and women exhibiting the tattoos.
The ethnocentrism demonstrated by Ms. Khoury is only matched by her zeal for generalization and for judging beauty, an intensely subjective and personal matter, in an objective manner. One can only imagine that she would prefer Western women dressed in gingham and crinoline at all times (though they would only be permitted to reside in the kitchen, of course).
Misogyny on this level is always distressing to find, but even more so when it comes from a woman. Additionally, the news editor makes no mention of whether she finds it abhorrent for men to have tattoos or not; through that omission we can only assume that she fully expects men to conform with postwar stereotypes of masculinity.
The thing is, you can’t be against tattooing for one gender and not the other. Either you disapprove of it or you don’t, and splitting your beliefs like that creates the same kind of cognitive dissonance when conservative politicians are in favor of capital punishment but are against abortion; how can you justify preserving the life of the unborn, even to the detriment of the mother’s health, while you are prepared to take the life of a grown human being?
Now I’m not going to sit here and compare abortion or capital punishment to getting a tattoo, at least not without making a reference to the idea that the longer a discussion on the Internet continues, the likelihood of someone comparing something to the Holocaust reaches 1, but the analogy has merit even without having to resort to that kind of reductio ad absurdum. The heart of the matter is that nobody likes being told by someone else that the personal choices they make with their own body are the wrong ones, even if they did decide to get a tattoo of Tweety Bird taking a shit in Sylvester’s mouth on their left ass cheek.
I know plenty of people with tattoos. I’m tattooed myself. The only person to have any problem with my decision was my mother, but I would have been shocked if she hadn’t been, considering, well, she’s my mother.
While this won’t make it any easier for Mom to deal with, I can tell the rest of you with complete certainty that I chose my own tattoos with utmost care, as they are a permanent modification to my body – especially since laser tattoo removal isn’t exactly inexpensive or reliable. The majority of the people I know with tattoos have also put the same amount of thought into their own selection process.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot of bad tattoos out there. People make bad decisions all the time – it’s part of being human. You’re not ever going to be perfect, and trying to meet unrealistic expectations set by yourself or anyone else is an exercise in futility.
You also don’t do yourself any favors by running your big fat mouth in public about things you don’t know anything about, and as The Hope Blog listed Ms. Khoury’s email address when they reposted her article, I’m sure she’s learning this lesson the hard way right now.