WHAT BEING A TATTOOED LADY TAUGHT ME ABOUT FEMINISM
Being a woman is an amazing gift.
Women are beautiful, powerful, resourceful, nurturing and strong. We’re the bearers of all life; the soft, nurturing, receptive half of the yin-yang.
But sometimes being a woman can be really fucking difficult.
Being a woman in the modern world involves dealing with sexism, gender inequality and the patriarchy on a daily, exhausting basis.
Above all, being a woman means that our bodies are thrust onto a platform for public commentary and scrutiny, regardless of our consent.
I strongly consider myself a feminist and have done so for my entire adult life.
This means I believe that the social, political and economic position of all women should be equal to that of men.
Further, as a conscious human being, I believe that the social, political and economic position of all people should be equal.
When I started my collection of tattoos around the age of 19, I didn’t see the link between my body modifications and feminism. I loved how tattoos looked and enjoyed decorating my body with pieces of artwork that were significant to me. In retrospect, it would have been difficult to imagine before my first one how much being tattooed would teach me about why women need feminism.
Below is a collection of comments I’ve been subjected to that helped me learn that lesson and feel empowered through it.
“Do men like you with all those tattoos?”
Gut response: Thank you for your thought-provoking question, kind sir! I had almost forgotten that all modifications I make to my appearance are done to make myself as palatable to men as possible.
Calm, clear and collected response: It is safe to say that any woman (or person) with tattoos is aware and at peace with her decision. If a woman feels comfortable living her own everyday life with tattoos, then it should not be a problem for you.
Besides, if a man doesn’t want to date me because of my tattoos then he probably doesn’t exist in my reality as a friend, acquaintance or otherwise.
“You look so trashy/dirty/weird/sexy/slutty with those tattoos”
Female bodies have been placed on a platform for unsolicited public commentary since the beginning of time. This is intensified even more for a woman with tattoos, or any kind of physical appearance that deviates from what is seen as “normal” or “feminine.” The rubbing of pregnant bellies, the “you need to smile sweetie,” the cat calling, the “why’d you have to ruin your body?” remarks are all interruptions and intrusions into a female’s space that happen on an almost daily basis (ask your girlfriend/sister/mother/wife/cousin/daughter/niece for confirmation of this).
I often wonder if the people who do those things ever think about self-actualization; about their higher selves; about goodwill to all mankind; the golden rule. I wonder about the conception they have about their space in the world. I wonder about their definition of freedom. About purpose.
And then I stop thinking about it and instead think about gratitude! How grateful I am that I don’t have an inner pull towards passing judgements and feeling as though the bodies of others have anything to do with me!
“How are you ever going to get a job with those tattoos?”
If I took into account the opinions of others in terms of literally any choice I ever made in my life, I’d probably be confined to my bed with anxiety. I am fine with the fact that not everyone will like my tattoos. I am also fine with the fact that they might affect people’s first impression of me. I work in education and I accepted when I got my first tattoos that I may have been forfeiting some future employment opportunities. There’s absolutely a chance I may have! But I am currently very gainfully employed, so I guess I’ll just leave it to you to worry about my hypothetical job prospects.
“That’s a pretty dark looking tattoo for a lady”
This is one of my favourites; the difference between tattoos that are “okay” for women and tattoos that are “not okay” for women.
Tattoos that are “okay” for women include… delicate looking flowers? Butterflies? Soft mythical woodland creatures?
Tattoos that are “not okay” for women include… monsters? Naked women? Anything too scary?!
You know when you see someone wearing sneaker wedges, or a totally unbecoming haircut, or their jeans hanging down under their butt? Do you ever go up to them and say, “Jesus Christ, bro, you have shitty style. You should have stuck with something more X” No, you probably don't do that.
Tattoos fall in the same realm of personal taste and outside of the realm where you get to voice your opinion aloud.
To bring this all together, I thoroughly enjoy living as a woman with tattoos.
For me, having tattoos started as a mix of sentimentality and art appreciation and progressed into finding empowerment over my body and learning about why the world needs feminism.
Feminism is a beautiful movement that has come a long way and still has leaps and bounds to go. We’ll get there sisters ! One monstrous rainbow tattoo on our lower backs at a time.
Written in collaboration with super kitten S.