Tattoo essay
May 13, 2015 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Don’t Call it a Tramp Stamp: How the Patriarchy Ruined My Tattoo
posted by josher71 (504 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's no equivalent phrase for men, no flip expression for the thing Nick Lachey has encircling his bicep even though it's equally emblematic of the early 2000s.

I'm not trying to say that this undermines the authoress' larger argument, but it is known simply as a "tribal tattoo" (or even just a "tribal") and it's cultural associations are such that no more demeaning term is needed. That's because it's one unified tribe who gets those tattoos, and it's the tribe of Douchebag Bros. It may be that one has aged out of that tribe now, but the bearer was definitely in it at one point.
posted by Poppa Bear at 7:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [70 favorites]


I've seen a few men with exactly those sorts of lower back tattoos, and it's always interesting because of how gender coded that location is.

That she has been made to feel bad about it from all the misogynistic jokes is sad, though.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:14 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or the myriad tattoos of Chinese/Japanese letters, often representing a concept not quite what the recipient had in mind.
posted by PenDevil at 7:14 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


No, it still has the same "meathead dudebro" association it did in the early 2000s.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:14 AM on May 13, 2015


There's no equivalent phrase for men, no flip expression for the thing Nick Lachey has encircling his bicep even though it's equally emblematic of the early 2000s.

Why yes indeed there is: it's called a tribal tat, and it's held in pretty much equal disdain by the sorts of people who tend to hold these sorts of things in disdain (they also hate Nickelback).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


Tramp Stamp is a particularly cruel epithet, but it follows the same pattern as a word I experienced. You see, I used to have long hair in the back and short hair in the front. And I looked GOOD. When I did it, it was way ahead of the crowd, and it certainly didn't have a name. To me it was just another take down of my generation when it got a name.
Of course cutting my hair was a lot easier than having a tattoo removed.
posted by bitslayer at 7:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


it's held in pretty much equal disdain by the sorts of people who tend to hold these sorts of things in disdain (they also hate Nickelback).

Surely the set of people who disdain Nickelback is larger than the set of people who disdain tribal tats.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [26 favorites]


Pretty sad, indeed.
posted by fairmettle at 7:22 AM on May 13, 2015


I'm having a hell of a time finding it, but someone on twitter tweeted something like "tattoos are our younger selves' way of blackmailing our older selves into philosophical continuity"; I think about that theory a lot.
Edit: Found it!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [141 favorites]


LOL.
If this lady is that embarrassed and frustrated with being judged by her one young adult rebellious yet trendy mistake that is no longer cool, I can't wait to read the whining a decade from now when the current crop of rebellious yet trendy sleeve getters are tired of being judged after that trend dies. I suspect there will be a lot of rueage.


(Note: I recognize that a lot of people take great pride and joy in their ink. I'm not referring these people. I'm referring to the young trendy people who get trendy tattoos because it is trendy just like LBT were and will dislike them when long after the trend dies)
posted by dios at 7:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


So the question remains: Now that I have the means to laser this sucker off, should I? Or would that be folding in the face of the patriarchy, and erasing a significant chapter in my life?

Wow. This is a big reach. It really is OK to not be personally oppressed. You can still care about issues.
posted by sfkiddo at 7:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


Don’t Call it a Tramp Stamp
Ink's been here for years.
posted by comealongpole at 7:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [87 favorites]


The Red Vs. Blue PSA about tattoos pretty much summed up getting a tattoo for me. I admit that I don't hold any belief strongly enough to get it permanently etched into my skin. Among my younger friends, My wife and I are odd because we don't have tattoos.
posted by Badgermann at 7:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


The tattoo is a red herring, here. This phenomena is closer to slut-shaming than having anything to do with the ink itself. Men get mocked for their "tribal bro tats," or their non-English symbolism — "let me guess, it means 'strength' bro?"

From my limited point-of-view, this has more to do with marginalising someone and seizing on the tattoo as a reason / focus afterward. Scrub the tattoo off her lower back, and I wager the critiques would be repackaged and focus on the fact you can see too much skin, or the clothes are too tight, etc.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [71 favorites]


tattoos are our younger selves' way of blackmailing our older selves into philosophical continuity

That's fantastic. I kinda want to get that as a tattoo.
posted by painquale at 7:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [83 favorites]


It's probably a good thing that I came of age during a time when only bikers and marines got tattoos. I can't see myself at that age making any kind of good design decisions.
posted by octothorpe at 7:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Edit: Found it!

[Periodic gentle reminder to not use the edit function to add content after the fact; if you're not fixing a typo, just leave a second comment.]
posted by cortex at 7:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the misogynist garbage laid out by the writer is garbage, but the history and cultural significance of tattoos in American culture does hold a single, popular tattoo as a signifier of sorts.

There are, to put it simply, tattoo people and non-tattoo people at this point in our culture. People may have a tattoo or two in traditional or popular locations that tend to be gender-biased in that men's clothing tends to cover the upper arm, chest, and other areas more than women's clothing would, unless it's very conservative. People who are "tattoo people" might have these but don't stop there.

Basically these people thought that having a tattoo was cool or edgy, got a tattoo to be cool or edgy, and are having buyer's remorse. You can disguise a lower back tattoo with a full back piece. You can add some additional tattoos to that bad tribal band to get it covered up. The misogynist baggage is wrongheaded and garbage, but the symbolism of a youthful venture into "edginess" is pretty on point.
posted by mikeh at 7:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


This wasn't because dragonflies held any deep meaning for me.
It signifies nothing.
These are not good reasons to have something permanently affixed.

but having one demurely-placed symbol is just embarrassing
perhaps because it signifies a lack of commitment?

Although, I'm not one to talk - I've never believed in anything enough to get it tattooed.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


And by the way, tramp stamp in German is "Arschgeweih", which translates roughly as "ass antlers."
posted by sour cream at 7:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [149 favorites]


I dunno, maybe it's a gay thing but I've always considered "tramp stamp" a gender neutral term. I'd call any "generic lower back tattoo" a tramp stamp.
posted by dnash at 7:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


DEVIL'S ADVOCATE: I think this is exactly why it is important to put in real and serious thought before getting a tattoo. Her story is exactly the sort that led lower-back tattoos to be disdained -- 18-year-old, engaging in thoughtless rebellion, no real connection to the tattoo subject except that it looks cool, little or no thought to whether she would still want it in 10-20 years. I agree that the "sluttiness" assumption is unfair, but I was in college in the 90s when these tattoos became popular, and the stereotype existed because (in my opinion, at least) it was true of a fair number of the women getting those tattoos. I don't know her personally, and certainly can't speak about the majority of women with lower-back tattoos - I'm only saying that there is a reason why some stereotypes develop.

And I agree with those here who say that there are dudebro tattoos that are held in similar disdain.

I've actually wanted to get a tattoo for years, but I've been paralyzed by indecision, because it is such a permanent act.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:35 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


I got a tattoo, on my arm*. No regrets because I didn't get it in a god damned stupid obvious place, like my throat or wrist or leg where people would think I looked pretty god damned stupid.

I've seen dudes with tattoos on the lower back region, and they get called tramp stamps too, and mocked for same. I've never jumped or seen anyone jump, to conclusions about the sluttiness of a male or female on the subject, it's more about their poor decision making ability.

The best tattoo is the worst tattoo by the toughest man. Brock Lesnar's Penis Chest Tattoo. If you don't like it, fuck you, he will tear your arm off.

*an hourglass, to symbolise my unwillingness to let time pass. It looks a bit like an egg and a bit like a bum from a certain angle. I still like it because it meant at the time I was taking control of things in my life when a lot of stuff felt like it was out of control. In conclusion, FUCK YOU DAD.
posted by Swandive at 7:37 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Dark Messiah: I think you have it backwards. The "patriarchy/slut- shaming" is the red herring. That allegation is beginning to reach Maslow's hammer levels. This is about a 30 something regretting and hating being judged by a youthful and permanently visible indiscretion. It's not that she feels like someone will think she is a slut if she puts on her bathing suit. Is that people will know that years ago she was a foolish immature girl who followed some silly trend. That the judging has a sexual connotation is not the problem. If it had some other negative connotation, this 30 something would still be embarrassed to have to be judged by that negative connotation as well. This is about an adult regretting something they did as a kid which is no longer acceptable in her current circles. The patriarchy bit is just a convenient hammer with which to seek relief.
posted by dios at 7:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [24 favorites]


More body shaming.


Yay.
posted by harrietthespy at 7:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


I agree that the "sluttiness" assumption is unfair, but I was in college in the 90s when these tattoos became popular, and the stereotype existed because (in my opinion, at least) it was true of a fair number of the women getting those tattoos.

But was it also true of the men they were sleeping with? I bet it never occurred to anyone to ask, or to label those men, or to make up cute rhyming shaming slang about them based on their aesthetic and/or sexual choices. I think a lot of people are missing the point of this article. It's about slut-shaming and misogyny. The derision heaped on people with tribal tattoos is not in the same category.

That the judging has a sexual connotation is not the problem.


I'm so glad you're here to explain to us all why the author doesn't really understand why her tattoo bothers her so much. The first three paragraphs contain the following words: whore, scarlet letter, slut. But you know what's really bothering her.
posted by Mavri at 7:42 AM on May 13, 2015 [167 favorites]


It's not that she feels like someone will think she is a slut if she puts on her bathing suit.

That's literally the whole fucking premise of the article
posted by Greg Nog at 7:43 AM on May 13, 2015 [125 favorites]


Please, tell us more about how women are perceiving sexism incorrectly.
posted by almostmanda at 7:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [166 favorites]


"tattoos are our younger selves' way of blackmailing our older selves into philosophical continuity"

Tattoos became popular with the cohort who would have been children of those who came into adulthood in the late-60s/early-70s. Wonder if this more permanent commitment to youthful ideals flows from having parents who might be seen by their children to have abandoned all that nostalgically romanticized flower-power for worrying about mortgages.
posted by TimTypeZed at 7:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I feel like dios is completely missing the point in that she explicitly mentions a man who has a giant Sublime tattoo between his shoulder blades (*shudder*) and he is able to shrug it off as a reminder of when he was a "badass."

She should be able to shrug this off, too.
posted by mikeh at 7:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Semiotics. I'm not really sure what that word means but I'm pretty sure that if you have an image of a dragonfly tattooed above the cleavage of your ass with its phallic, patriachal abdoment pointing down between your cheeks it is sending out a vibe whose content is partly entomological and partly sexual. It's not an arrow but it's also not not an arrow. That doesn't make the owners tramps but it does mean that the owners are stuck sending out these vibes even when they're trying to unblock the sink in middle age. See also, middle-aged person with tribal tattoo adorning a once muscular bicep, failing to carry a mattress down a flight of stairs singe-handedly.
posted by Brian Lux at 7:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


"Ass Antlers"
posted by Nevin at 7:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I agree that the "sluttiness" assumption is unfair, but I was in college in the 90s when these tattoos became popular, and the stereotype existed because (in my opinion, at least) it was true of a fair number of the women getting those tattoos.

How was it “true” that someone was slutty? What are the qualifications? Who determined and proved this, that didn’t have an interest in shaming the person involved?
posted by griphus at 7:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [96 favorites]


But was it also true of the men they were sleeping with? I bet it never occurred to anyone to ask, or to label those men, or to make up cute rhyming shaming slang about them based on their aesthetic and/or sexual choices. I think a lot of people are missing the point of this article. It's about slut-shaming and misogyny. The derision heaped on people with tribal tattoos is not in the same category.

Well sure, that gets to a larger point that female promiscuity is considered "bad" and male promiscuity is considered "good". No denying that.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:50 AM on May 13, 2015


it's really weird how some are arguing against her problem being misogyny and slut shaming when there is misogynistic slut shaming in this very thread. this resurgence of dudes just telling us how it is and what sexual positions they think an author of a piece might like is unsettling.
posted by nadawi at 7:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [95 favorites]


Ah, the tramp stamp, also known as the "respect-me-not."

There's a plot point in one of the seasons of Californication where Charlie Runkle, Hank's agent, gets drunk and gets a tramp stamp.

For what it's worth, I think tribal tattoos, shoulder-covering macho tattoos worn by guys who work hard at being buff, neck tattoos on either sex, are just as disgusting as tramp stamps. The sexual association of the tramp stamp, I thought, came from the (reasonable) assumption that it is meant to be appreciated by sex partners in the doggy style position and that tramp stamps always seem to be worn by women of lower socioeconomic status who fit a certain (cruel, but recognizable) profile.

It's not nice, but often people aren't nice.
posted by jayder at 7:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I consider anyone with a giant Sublime tattoo on their back still a badass.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


My friend M., who's as middle class as you can get and has no tatoo whatsoever, once commented, out of the blue, that she was thinking of getting a lower back tat saying "Did you remember to take out the trash?".

Now, *that* is middle-class punk for you.

I thought this would be a good place to drop this anecdote, is all.
posted by kandinski at 7:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [86 favorites]


For what it's worth, I think tribal tattoos, shoulder-covering macho tattoos worn by guys who work hard at being buff, neck tattoos on either sex, are just as disgusting as tramp stamps. The sexual association of the tramp stamp, I thought, came from the (reasonable) assumption that it is meant to be appreciated by sex partners in the doggy style position and that tramp stamps always seem to be worn by women of lower socioeconomic status who fit a certain (cruel, but recognizable) profile.

It's not nice, but often people aren't nice.


Society may not be nice, but you should be nice. Enough nice people make a nice society.
posted by JDHarper at 7:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [102 favorites]


The sexual association of the tramp stamp, I thought, came from the (reasonable) assumption that it is meant to be appreciated by sex partners in the doggy style position

Perish the thought that the girl thought it looked cute, clearly she only thinks of the male gaze because everything women do is in the service of men.
posted by sukeban at 7:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [137 favorites]


How was it “true” that someone was slutty? What are the qualifications? Who determined and proved this, that didn’t have an interest in shaming the person involved?

I can only tell you my own experience -- I knew girls in college who got lower-back tattoos as rebellious acts, drank a lot, and had a lot of casual sex, and I know this because I either witnessed it or they told me. I don't think of them as "slutty", and no one at the time seemed to be shaming them for it, that I could see. My point is that 18-year-olds (men and women) sometimes make thoughtless decisions - I am no exception. But while a lot of early decisions can be changed or hidden, a tattoo is not so easy.

To be clear, I don't disagree with the larger point of the article that slut-shaming and misogyny are Bad Things.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jesus Christ. This is the dark super unfun version of the White Male Books thread.
posted by kmz at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [97 favorites]


...came from the (reasonable) assumption that it is meant to be appreciated by sex partners in the doggy style position...

How is that in any way a reasonable assumption?

Like I am someone who is lightly tattooed and who spends a lot of time with heavily tattooed people (my wife included) and it's just absolutely absurd that "location of tattoo" and "sexual preference/proclivity" are considered to have a logical, rational link between the two, as opposed to a link based entirely on slut-shaming and judgment.
posted by griphus at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [62 favorites]


I don't think her argument is amazing, either, but the differentiation of regret for a tattoo and annoyance that society makes a bunch of weird sexualized assumptions about you based on a relatively-common tattoo for women who came of age around a certain time is worthy of consideration.
posted by mikeh at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


And of course women having sex is different from men having sex because REASONS, also SLUTS.
posted by sukeban at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


To be clear, I don't disagree with the larger point of the article that slut-shaming and misogyny are Bad Things.

Then why do you keep chiming in to tell us about promiscuous girls you knew? The thing you claim to think is a "bad thing?" You're right here doing it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [36 favorites]


I am not a tattoo guy -- at all -- and just don't get the motivation people have to get them. But that's okay; it's one of many, many things in life that aren't my bag but appeal to millions of other people and maybe that makes me the weird one.

Every generation needs its own way to be Young and Wild and Untamed and Rebellious and Visibly Stand Out from the Old People and the Squares who will shake their heads ruefully and weep for the future. Sometimes it's dress styles, sometimes it's hair style and/or length, sometimes it's actual body modifications like tattoos and piercings and whatever the christ kids are doing to their earlobes these days. Luckily, youthful rebellion typically comes in prepackaged standardized formats and designs; no gym teacher could get as many kids to dress alike as Hot Topic can, to bastardize a Jello Biafra quote.

Or to further quote Jello:

Tattoos, piercings / That's for Moms and Dads / What you wanna do / Is spend your allowance
On devil horn implants / Elephant Man head / Designer tails / Third leg, fourth leg / Everyone a hermaphrodite!

posted by delfin at 7:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"It's not a misogynistic term because odds are she really was a slut!" is not the slam-dunk you think it is.
posted by almostmanda at 7:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [167 favorites]


I hate the phrase 'tramp stamp' and the negative slut-shaming connotations it conveys. I have a tattoo in the 'tramp-stamp' region; it's the insignia of a feminist secret society that was started at my alma mater 100+ years ago. I put it there intentionally as a subtle way to say "Fuck the patriarchy".
posted by chara at 7:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [66 favorites]


[Couple comments removed. Let's skip (a) speculation about a stranger's sexual predilections and (b) doubling down sarcastically when people disagree with your hot alternate take on what the author really thinks.]
posted by cortex at 7:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I mean, can you think of a male tattoo that would be immediately sexualized, unless it was specifically on their dick?

The ass antlers tattoo on men gets sexualized but in a very "hah hah, that's gay" way if it's on straight men, so I don't think that really counts.
posted by mikeh at 7:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Perish the thought that the girl thought it looked cute, clearly she only thinks of the male gaze because everything women do is in the service of men.

who said anything about men?

anyway, it's obviously intended for someone else's gaze, since the person wearing it cannot see it without assistance.
posted by jayder at 7:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


If a woman is sexually active, she deserves to be called a tramp? Stop shaming women.

Let's stop shaming men for getting tattoos we disapprove of, too.

Great article, thanks for posting.
posted by theora55 at 8:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


The mental gymnastics required to hand-wave away something actually containing pejorative slang about a woman's sexual activity vis-a-vis her worth in society as both not misogynist and equally as bad as a gender-neutral term is worthy of the goddamn Olympics.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [54 favorites]


when every part of a woman is seen as sexualized for male attention, there is no part of us that we can claim for our own. the reaction to the lower back tattoo is just a symptom. this thread is also a good lesson in how classism influences slut shaming.
posted by nadawi at 8:01 AM on May 13, 2015 [72 favorites]


anyway, it's obviously intended for someone else's gaze, since the person wearing it cannot see it without assistance.

Why is there an assumption that any tattoo the person with that tattoo can't see is inherently intended for someone else?
posted by griphus at 8:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


Then why do you keep chiming in to tell us about promiscuous girls you knew? The thing you claim to think is a "bad thing?" You're right here doing it.

You can't see the difference between "I knew young women who had a lot of casual sex" and "I knew young women who were whores because they had a lot of casual sex"?

Hell, I would've liked to have more casual sex at the time.

In any event, I marked my first post "devil's advocate" knowing that it was a controversial position to take. In reviewing the conversation since then, I can see that I'm verging on Mansplaining, which I really don't want to do. So I'm going to shut up now. :-)
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:02 AM on May 13, 2015


I mean, again, it's just really, really weird that "tattoos on a body are for someone else" is the default assumption people go to, rather than "tattoos on a body have a reason for being there that you are not currently privy to."
posted by griphus at 8:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [24 favorites]


I mean, can you think of a male tattoo that would be immediately sexualized, unless it was specifically on their dick?


A giant "DANGER ZONE" across the chest with an arrow pointing to his crotch?
posted by Sangermaine at 8:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


...came from the (reasonable) assumption that it is meant to be appreciated by sex partners in the doggy style position...

So someone with a tattoo on her forehead really likes missionary sex?
posted by Mavri at 8:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [24 favorites]


the devil has enough advocates - why are men always signing up to do the job in threads like these? we can do without your hot takes about young women and their sexual choices, especially when you're just inferring those choices based upon some ink (which is the entire goddamn point of the article).
posted by nadawi at 8:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [108 favorites]


I felt bad that she was so bothered by this, and found myself being kind of judgmental of her in my head, even though I am a middle-aged woman with several tattoos myself, one of them a little blue crescent moon on my wrist, which I have never regretted and still like, but which is certainly hardly inspired or deeply meaningful. It's petty of me, because I certainly know the pressures women experience, but I want her to just be all like, "Yep, got a tattoo back in the day, so what?" and get busy skinny-dipping, and I'm sorry that's not what's happened for her.

I always optimistically imagined that tattoos becoming trendy meant that everybody would turn into middle-aged people with tribal arm bands and dragonflies on their lower backs together, and totally not care about it. I should have known better.
posted by not that girl at 8:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


anyway, it's obviously intended for someone else's gaze, since the person wearing it cannot see it without assistance.

The author of the article says it isn't. That you think women do not own their own skin and mark their bodies not because they like the art but for the benefit of their penetrators is appalling.
posted by sukeban at 8:05 AM on May 13, 2015 [34 favorites]


So someone with a tattoo on her forehead really likes missionary sex?

Best fellator/ fellatrix/ cunnilinguist in the world, they are.
posted by sukeban at 8:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know, I never really thought about "tramp stamp" as having anything to say about the sexual mores of the person displaying a tattoo at that location. I have assumed it was coined around the time backlash started against the ubiquity of this tattoo location began, and became popular largely because it rhymed, was thought to be clever and because they were most often seen on young women who were wearing their pants or skirt extremely low on the hips in order to display the ink. I think of "tramp stamp"the same way I might think of the phrase "bro glow" being used to describe a trend among weight-lifting/chest-shaving types of getting tattoos in fluorescent ink.
posted by slkinsey at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


You can't see the difference between "I knew young women who had a lot of casual sex" and "I knew young women who were whores because they had a lot of casual sex"?

Your first post in this thread said "the stereotype existed because (in my opinion, at least) it was true of a fair number of the women getting those tattoos." You may have meant that to read like your first example, but it actually reads like the second, ie the stereotype of sluts getting these tattoos existed because sluts got these tattoos.
posted by Mavri at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


painquale: "tattoos are our younger selves' way of blackmailing our older selves into philosophical continuity

That's fantastic. I kinda want to get that as a tattoo.
"

If only you were younger.
posted by boo_radley at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm all about retiring the phrase "tramp stamp" in favor of "ass antlers" now.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


anyway, it's obviously intended for someone else's gaze, since the person wearing it cannot see it without assistance.


I cannot see my glasses without assistance. I could not see the back of my wedding dress without assistance. I can't see the back of my many souvenir race t-shirts without assistance.

And yet, the overwhelming impetuous for wearing all of these things were "I wear these things because they make me feel good, and I think I look good in them". Yes, there's an additional "...And I think that somebody else will think something about them/me when I'm wearing them", but that's not necessarily the only, or even primary reason for wearing those things.
posted by damayanti at 8:09 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


I once wrote to the author of a popular (mostly feminist!) webcomic about his use of the word 'tramp stamp', which I felt was super misogynistic. I got a reply from his girlfriend (IIRC) about how wrong I was and about how it wasn't misogynistic at all.

I wasn't impressed by that argument then and I'm not now.

Equating what a woman puts on her body-- whether it's makeup, clothing, tattoos, piercings, anything-- with what she does with her body is misogynistic. Period. I can't believe that people are defending it here. Would you defend someone calling someone slutty for wearing a short skirt or for wearing red lipstick? Then why defend someone literally calling someone a 'tramp' for having a piece of artwork on their body?
posted by matcha action at 8:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [41 favorites]


Your first post in this thread said "the stereotype existed because (in my opinion, at least) it was true of a fair number of the women getting those tattoos." You may have meant that to read like your first example, but it actually reads like the second, ie the stereotype of sluts getting these tattoos existed because sluts got these tattoos.

Acknowledged, thanks. That was not my intention.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


If this lady is that embarrassed and frustrated with being judged by her one young adult rebellious yet trendy mistake that is no longer cool, I can't wait to read the whining a decade from now when the current crop of rebellious yet trendy sleeve getters are tired of being judged after that trend dies

Well, the point is kind of that the "tramp stamp" has become a marker of being slutty and basic, not just being young and foolish. The guy with the dumb Sublime tattoo still likes his, even though it's outmoded, because it reminds him of being young and cool.

That the judging has a sexual connotation is not the problem

I think this is just plain not true. Sexual demeanment is particularly nasty. Having a butterfly ankle tattoo is dorky, but having a dragonfly tramp stamp is "lol, aging slut." One has more sting. For the majority of people, anyway.

That's why "tribal tattoo" might be a marker that sophisticates use to make fun of aging wannabe-cool bros, but "tramp stamp" is what those sophisticates AND wannabe-cool bros (in such bro films as Wedding Crashers) use to make fun of women who are slutty and now, because the trend is over and they are aging, unattractively so.
posted by easter queen at 8:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [24 favorites]


For what it's worth, I think tribal tattoos, shoulder-covering macho tattoos worn by guys who work hard at being buff, neck tattoos on either sex, are just as disgusting as tramp stamps.

For what it's worth, I doubt anyone gives a fuck what you think is disgusting about their bodies.

I'm tattooed as Hell, and I get a fair bit of judgment for it at times. I'm a dude, though, so it's always read totally differently: I'm judged as someone who has dark secrets and an edge that most people under 50 think is cool. That's not how women with tattoos are judged, at all. To deny that 'tramp stamp' has at its core patriarchal and oppressive attitudes is just foolish. What, do you think the 'tramp' refers to depression era hobos, who were of course known worldwide to favor dragonfly tattoos on their lower backs?
posted by still bill at 8:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [77 favorites]


The patriarchy did not ruin your tattoo. The world does not have to praise and applaud your thoughts or actions. People do not have to indulge your personal narrative.

If they think it is a tramp stamp, they have the right. If you don't think it is a tramp stamp, you have the same right, just as I have the right to think nothing proves the phrase about a fool and her money more than getting one anywhere on your person. People flip when there is a tiny dent on their car, but get stuff scribbled on their bodies, but hey, whatever sanctioned insanity floats your boat.

You bought into the patriarchy and honestly thought life was an ABC Afterschool Special. The Girl With the Funny Tattoo is People, Too: the story of a young woman who gets a tattoo, but instead of making her look instantly sexy, edgy, with it, and cool, some smelly boys with too much free time on their hands who have no idea what to do in a democracy make fun of her. Her spunky best friend gives her a pep talk, and she writes a powerfully worded essay/victim impact statement and changes everyone's mind! Yay!

Please stop the patriarchy-fuelled fantasy before my estrogen gets unleashed.

The patriarchy did not ruin your tattoo: your insecurity, need for universal validation, and complete and willful ignorance did it for you.

Stop whining, grow a pair of ovaries, and deal with reality: liberation comes from self-confidence, not addiction to applause or cheap DIY sophistry and propaganda. Next!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [79 favorites]


Okay, I'll admit it: I have a lower back tattoo. I got it in the year 2000. I was 20 (maybe just 21? I don't remember the exact date) and it is culturally appropriative, which was something I did not understand at the time because of the stunning ignorant privilege of my life to that time. It also did then, and does now, stand as a reminder and a promise to myself about a major change in my life that I made at that time, have held my commitment to through all these years, and am proud of myself for then and now. I don't remember it's there a lot of the time, but when I see it in the mirror or brush my hand over it, I remember again that I made a difficult change that was important to my mental and physical well-being, that doing the thing I did was pretty fucking radical for a 20-year-old girl, and that girl did not know how great she was, and I wish I could tell her so. I had a fairly new sexual partner at that time; 15 years later, we're still together, and the only other people who've seen the tat are the occasional doctor or massage therapist, and every once in a while someone who notices it if my shirt rides up or something. People are generally very surprised; I don't strike them as a tattoo person. I enjoy that element of surprise; it amuses me to upend expectations a bit. I also don't like showing the tattoo intentionally because the cultural appropriation embarrasses me now.

So, there's a lot of stuff mixed up for me in that tattoo. It says zero about my sexual history but a lot about who I was at 20 in ways both good and bad. I don't think it's entirely a bad thing to remind myself of both of those sides of the person I used to be.

If it were visible to more people, I would have it removed specifically because of the appropriation piece of it - I have reached an understanding of that for myself but would not want to be flaunting it at other people. As it is...eh. I'm likely to do a cover-up piece someday, to incorporate what was there versus trying to erase it. The location itself gives me zero concern because what even is the point of getting older if you can't give fewer and fewer fucks what randos on the street might secretly be judging you for?
posted by Stacey at 8:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [28 favorites]


I was really confused the first time I saw one of these and it wasn't of Charlie Chaplin.
posted by echocollate at 8:14 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


As for the skank flank mentioned in the article, that's a bullshit nickname and will fail. The tattoo it describes is still a trend and it's too soon for backlash on it. It won't stick. It is a hack joke.

She's ashamed she went in for a trend that had no real, lasting significance to her. I'd wager that 'tramp stamps' will come back around as cool someday. In the meantime, I wish she could just own that tattoo like a boss. If it looks good it looks good. Fuck the haters.
posted by GrapeApiary at 8:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have (had*) a dated, clearly-of-the-90s tattoo. But it was on my arm so while it had some measurement of embarrassment attached to it, there were NO sexual connotations and thus I didn't really care that much about whether people saw it. And I didn't feel like people judged my sexual proclivities based on it, partly because although I am a woman the tattoo itself was less gender-coded. If you can't see the difference between that and what this author experiences, I don't know what to say. If I had a tattoo on my lower back I absolutely would feel the same as she does.

And the name as coined, "tramp stamp" may have expressed "annoyance" over trend ubiquity but society sure picked a misogynistic way to express mere annoyance.

anyway, it's obviously intended for someone else's gaze, since the person wearing it cannot see it without assistance.

Mirrors exist. I care about how the back of my clothes looks to me, how the back of my hair looks to me, why wouldn't I care about how my skin looks to me, even if I need "assistance" to see it?

*I technically still have the tattoo, I guess, but it's covered up with a much larger, prettier one. Part of which is on my back and I can't see without assistance. The cover-up has just as little significance as the original one, but I'm okay with "beautiful art on my body" being enough significance.
posted by misskaz at 8:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I wish I had something more intelligent to say about this, but all I can come up with is:

People should fucking stop being so fucking shitty about other people's fucking bodies.
posted by maxsparber at 8:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [68 favorites]


As a dude who doesn't find tattoos attractive, I think it's great that lots of women have tattoos. It's a great reminder that her body doesn't exist for my enjoyment.

I wish we could apply that more generally. Instead of making fun of some dude's mullet or some lady's yoga pants or a person's body that's the wrong shape, whenever you see someone whose look doesn't please you, remind yourself, "Oh yeah, they don't exist for my enjoyment."
posted by straight at 8:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [82 favorites]


I have lower back tattoos.

They are not intended to signal my preference for a particular sexual position. Usually I do that with words, such as "Hey, person I am currently about to have sex with, I prefer this particular position. Thanks for asking!" I find that tends to be less confusing.

They are not intended for the appreciation of others. I got them because I personally like having them. It would have been a very strange choice indeed to get permanent body art if that were not the case.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

Also, what the hell.
posted by kyrademon at 8:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [92 favorites]


Instead of making fun of some dude's mullet

Let's not get carried away here.
posted by josher71 at 8:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Possibly of note, my partner, male, also has a single tattoo. It's high on his leg; unless he suddenly takes to wearing short shorts, he's much like me in that no one knows it's there but me and medical professionals. It's of Beastie, the BSD Daemon logo, specifically a late-90s version of him.

I think it's hilarious and cute and awesomely old-school-nerdy and I in no way think he should be ashamed of it. But, I'm just saying, he has a tattoo in a placement that you pretty much wouldn't see unless he's pantsless or in a skimpy bathing trunk, and that's really very dated. No one who does know about it is going around making assumptions about his sex life for this, to the best of my knowledge. I could come up with a few different theories about this, but one of them, is for sure, he's a dude, plain and simple.
posted by Stacey at 8:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm judged as someone who has dark secrets and an edge that most people under 50 think is cool. That's not how women with tattoos are judged, at all.

I, for one, don't judge men with tattoos any differently from women.

I suspect you don't have an accurate perception of how you are judged, because most people aren't telling you. Lots of people, I'm afraid, would judge you as a conformist who thinks you can buy your edge in a tattoo parlor. I don't know why you think a lot of tattoos implies "dark secrets" and "edge." People slavishly riding a trend generally are the least edgy or interesting people I meet, FWIW. Maybe you're different, though.
posted by jayder at 8:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


People have free will and can assume other people are sluts, which is bad bad bad, based on a bad tattoo?

Real hot take there, Alexandra Kitty
posted by mikeh at 8:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


"tattoos are our younger selves' way of blackmailing our older selves into philosophical continuity"

Certainly explains why I've procrastinated for 30 yrs in getting the letters "DNR" inked on my chest.
posted by klarck at 8:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


People slavishly riding a trend generally are the least edgy or interesting people I meet, FWIW.

It's not really other people's jobs to convince you that they are worthy of your interest.
posted by maxsparber at 8:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [40 favorites]


Great essay, though it did inform me that although I never got a tramp stamp I do, in fact, have a "skank flank." Ew. Society.

I only narrowly avoided getting a tramp stamp, twice, in fact. My first tattoo was a moon and stars on my shoulder, and I was going to get a large LBT of a firefly but then my grandfather died and I chose to get the silent service dolphins as a chest piece instead. That piece has grown over the years--early on, it only covered my collarbones, though now it reaches to the top of my breasts. Men have never failed to treat its presence as an invitation to ogle. I also get a lot of questions about nipple piercings (I don't even have my ears pierced). Years later, I was going to get a belt piece of peony flowers but the artist thought it would look better vertical--it reaches from my ribs to my upper leg. People hardly ever see it, which is weird because it's my biggest piece.

I've thought a lot over the years about why I got and like tattoos. Part of it was that I like bright colors and part of it is the stories behind individual tattoos and part of it was that when I came of age, it was what unusual girls did, along with taking holga photos and cutting their own hair.

But, more, it's always seemed a way to take ownership over my own flesh. Because there's so much about a woman's body that feels and is beyond your control. You exist for the gaze of others, and your body changes and it no longer belongs to you, and so marking it, with images you like, is a way to reclaim it. You might enjoy it, but it actually exists for me, as a way to mark and change and own. Breastfeeding has been similar, actually. My breasts aren't yours to look at. They are mine for me to use the way I want.

If that makes me skanky, then whatever.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [77 favorites]


One of the things I find that I'm enjoying more and more about getting older is the gradual realization that most people are so wrapped up in their own insecurities and drama they are unable to care the way that I used to assume they did.

Its not that I don't care what people think, its that I've realized that most people don't have the mental energy to authentically care, and that their fleeting judgement has no bearing on my reality.

I'm not saying the sophomoric Vince Vaughn crowd aren't assholes. Rather than attributing the fact that you got a trendy tattoo in the nineties and aren't feeling it anymore to patriarchal oppression, own it and realize that pretty much no one cares about your ancient ass antlers.
posted by JimmyJames at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Last night I decided to, as my next one, get a large tattoo across my stomach and now, thanks to this thread, I really, really hope that when I take my shirt off from that point on people will assume that I love cake because I have a tattoo on my increasingly protruding gut.

I mean it makes roughly as much sense as tying 'liking sex' to a lower back tattoo.
posted by griphus at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


please tell me it's a belly tattoo of Krang
posted by cortex at 8:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [56 favorites]


My question is how she arrived at the conclusion that it was men who started the trend of calling them tramp stamps. While it does rhyme nicely, in my experience "tramp" is not historically a pejorative that men use to describe women -- that's a women describing other women word.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Tough crowd. Can't wait for Toad the Wet Sprocket's music to come back in style, for various reasons.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Let's stop shaming men for getting tattoos we disapprove of, too.

Not shaming but be careful if you are thinking of getting a tattoo of tall outline letters on your neck because there's this courier dude that comes into my office and the first few times I saw him I thought he was a 20-year-old with a wrinkly old man neck.
posted by Hoopo at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2015


OMG NOW I NEED A BELLY TATTOO OF KRANG
posted by nadawi at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


, own it and realize that pretty much no one cares about your ancient ass antlers.

Perhaps you have not had the experience of having your body policed for your entire life, commented on every time you leave the home, considered to be on display for male approval or disapproval at all times, and been judged by strangers on a near-constant basis, but I can assure you, a lot of women do have this experience. Maybe instead of women somehow "owning" that nobody cares, men should own that they do care, and they express it all the time in relentless, intrusive, insulting ways.
posted by maxsparber at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [81 favorites]


You exist for the gaze of others, and your body changes and it no longer belongs to you, and so marking it, with images you like, is a way to reclaim it.

Yes! One of my favorite things to do with a part of my body I don't like (typically because it doesn't fit society's narrow standards of what a woman's body should look like) is get a lovely tattoo on it. My wobbly old lady upper arms become less a thing to hate about myself and more a thing to love. It's a really, really wonderful perspective change.

And I'm thirty-fucking-nine with an office job and still getting tattoos (should have my half-sleeve extended by the end of this year) and it's great.
posted by misskaz at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


If a girl is wearing socks, it means she is about to want sex because the socks are pulled UP TOWARD the uterus. if she is wearing earrings it means sex because they are pointing DOWN TOWARDS the uterus. if the colossus bestrides the harbor it means it is facing either TOWARD her uterus if she is in the east or if she is in the west also toward the uterus around the globe and the feet of the colossus point north and south so those are covered too so basically I am certain we can assume she wants a boy to make baby with her
posted by Greg Nog at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [157 favorites]


please tell me it's a belly tattoo of Krang

It would end up looking like Were-Krang six weeks after it heals and I'm far too big a stickler for TMNT canon, unfortunately.

The tattoo will say BROOKLYN because I don't have enough room for the words MORE MONEY THAN SENSE to be printed legibly.

posted by griphus at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Krang works if you can do a reasonable impersonation, otherwise it would be like somebody ripped out his voicebox

That guy was a talker
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:31 AM on May 13, 2015


"shredder, build me a body" is one of the most oft repeated phrases in our house. i feel confident i can take some belly dancing classes to really get the facial expressions right...
posted by nadawi at 8:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


the people who proclaim those with tattoos are just trying to be cool/slavishly riding trends seem way more concerned about coolness, perceived coolness, and effort regarding coolness than the actual people with tattoos
posted by misskaz at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


I'll be honest, the "I dress/wear makeup/got tattooed/etc. this way for me" argument used to make no sense to me either, until I got older and started experimenting more with the way I present myself. I've gone through a lot of stages, from tomboy-who-doesn't-care, to short-haired-gamine, to long-haired-beauty-queen, to my current look which is kind of hipsterish/normcore with choppy hair and a lot of bright colors. I've contemplated various piercings, but never gotten one, or a tattoo-- but I've dyed my hair, worn "natural" makeup, worn clearly UNnatural makeup, etc.

There are certain things that just make me feel more me. A tattoo isn't one of them, but dressing the way I do is. I think certain piercings are "me" (but probably won't get them because of my career path). Of course, on some level they are for "other people," because we live in a society. But the reason I choose to do them isn't because I think very carefully about the personal opinions of everyone around me; it's because I know how it will make me feel, and that it will affect my self-presentation in a way that makes me feel embodied. The only time I am really specifically thinking about other people's gut reactions is when I don't do certain things, like get tattoos or piercings that will affect my job.

For instance, these days when I try to rock the feminine, long-haired, pretty look, I almost always feel unnatural and awkward. When I chop my hair short and wear the hipster clothes I like, I feel like myself. Since the "feminine" look is default for women you could make a big thing over whyyy do you have to cut your hair like that, just so other people will think you look cool? But it's because I want to think I look cool. That's just how it is. I have to like the way I look if I want to feel at ease. If a woman feels most comfortable in men's jeans and a sweater, or high-heels and lipstick, or tattoos and piercings, there's really no difference. It's only "for other people" in the sense that we are trying to reflect ourselves outward in a society where people see us, trying to stake out our little bubble of personality. But it's not "for other people" in the sense that we want to please them, necessarily. Our feelings about ourselves are mediated through others and society but so is literally everything else that we do.

You exist for the gaze of others, and your body changes and it no longer belongs to you, and so marking it, with images you like, is a way to reclaim it.

Yes, yes, yes.

Maybe instead of women somehow "owning" that nobody cares, men should own that they do care, and they express it all the time in relentless, intrusive, insulting ways.

Yes, yes, yes.

I used to be a judgy asshole too, when I was 13. Nowadays when I see e.g. a female scientist with an ankle tattoo, I actually find it inspiring that our personal beauty choices have so LITTLE to do with our intelligence, talents, or capabilities. When people judge you as being silly and trifling (or slutty and weird) because of your tattoo, it is so reductive and pointless.
posted by easter queen at 8:35 AM on May 13, 2015 [50 favorites]


Were-Krang

Sounds like I missed out on some major plot turns in the TMNT-verse. ... and I thought the Eastman and Laird space-opera arc was crazy.

posted by RolandOfEld at 8:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Man the word "reality" sure is getting thrown around a lot in this thread when I was unaware that the writer's piece was fiction in any way.

It's almost like by "Reality" they mean "shut up."
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


I can't wait until this same article is written about the floppy skin from ear gauges in 10 years.
posted by Schrodinger's Gat at 8:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


When I was an extremely stupid 21 year old, my landlady (who was around 30) showed me her lower back tattoo, which I think was of dolphins. We'd been talking about tattoos and my plans for them, and her plans for later ones, but then I referred to her tattoo as a tramp stamp. Her face immediately fell. This was something she genuinely liked, and I was supposed to be someone who understood, but that bollocks runs deep. I was immediately filled with regret and never called lower back tattoos tramp stamps again. I'm not sure why people are so desperate to cling to this nasty term even after people who have these tattoos say that they hate it?
I have tattoos now (and my local tattoo shop is doing tiny flash to raise money for Nepal tomorrow, so might go get another), mostly because I like them, but also because the act of getting them Means Something to my BDD addled brain.
posted by litereally at 8:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


people have been saying that about stretched lobes for at least ten years. i hope you're not holding your breath.
posted by nadawi at 8:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I can't wait until this same article is written about the floppy skin from ear gauges in 10 years.

Well, it won't be, unless people are judging your DTF-ness by how big your "holes" are.
posted by easter queen at 8:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


i've actually met a dude who thought stretched lobes were a sex thing. people are weird and contain multitudes.
posted by nadawi at 8:41 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Please, tell us more about how women are perceiving sexism incorrectly.

I've jumped from this comment to the end of the thread because I was already irked enough, so apologies if I'm repeating material - but yes. It's amazing how the moment - even on a site as reformed as Metafilter - someone says "I think this x is shitty gendered behaviour", the *moment* someone say that, you can hear the rumbling stampede of dudes showing up to say "er ACTUALLY what about this (inevitably not comparable) thing for guys, this is not at all sexism".

Set yer goddamn watch by it.
posted by ominous_paws at 8:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [50 favorites]


It's not really other people's jobs to convince you that they are worthy of your interest.
posted by maxsparber


Um, well, good thing I didn't say it was, then.

the people who proclaim those with tattoos are just trying to be cool/slavishly riding trends seem way more concerned about coolness, perceived coolness, and effort regarding coolness than the actual people with tattoos
posted by misskaz


Well, surely you are not denying that tattoos are incredibly trendy, are you? I mean, it seems almost beyond debate that people who are heavily tattooed are conforming to this trend. I don't think you can fairly say that I, an untattooed person making a simple observation in a web forum, am "more concerned" with being trendy than people spending hundreds of dollars and hours in a tattoo parlor actually participating in the trend.
posted by jayder at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I, for one, don't judge men with tattoos any differently from women.

Somehow I bet your first thought on the purpose of a lower back tattoo on a man wouldn't be to look good while doing it doggy style. Hoooooly shit but that's a creepy assumption to make.
posted by invitapriore at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [32 favorites]


> "i've actually met a dude who thought stretched lobes were a sex thing."

*blink* Are you saying he thought that people were having aural sex?
posted by kyrademon at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


this is it

this is the thread that will turn me towards vengeance cannibalism once and for all
posted by poffin boffin at 8:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [86 favorites]


liberation comes from self-confidence, not addiction to applause or cheap DIY sophistry and propaganda.

And now we're accusing people who write personal essays of doing it for attention. Hoo boy.
posted by almostmanda at 8:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Well, surely you are not denying that tattoos are incredibly trendy, are you? I mean, it seems almost beyond debate that people who are heavily tattooed are conforming to this trend. I don't think you can fairly say that I, an untattooed person making a simple observation in a web forum, am "more concerned" with being trendy than people spending hundreds of dollars and hours in a tattoo parlor actually participating in the trend.

It seems almost beyond debate that you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

(And I don't even have any tattoos.)
posted by kmz at 8:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


Well, surely you are not denying that tattoos are incredibly trendy, are you?

It depends who you hang out with. My heavily-tattooed friends parents are also tattooed. It's certainly more socially acceptable to have visible tattoos now than before, but I wouldn't at all call it a 'trend' in the way JNCOs or bowling bag purses were. Unless a "trend" can climb in popularity over the course of fifty years and continue to do so with no sign of slowing down, but that's really stretching the definition

There's definitely trends in tattoo styles, sure, but the concept itself doesn't conform to what I generally acknowledge as a 'trend'.
posted by griphus at 8:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


NO RAGRETS!
posted by Windopaene at 8:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


*blink* Are you saying he thought that people were having aural sex?

he thought the plugs were place holders for penis. i guess he saw an image online and thought it was something people did instead of a sight gag.
posted by nadawi at 8:54 AM on May 13, 2015


I have all sorts of tattoos and they make me feel sexy and happy in my body. The end
posted by Windigo at 8:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


THIS ROCK N ROLL MUSIC IS A TREND and anyone who likes it must be trendy uncool hipsters who have lots and lots of the sex. this is categorically true and no argument can be formed against it.
posted by nadawi at 8:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


[Comment removed. jayder, I don't know what's going on with you and the antagonism in here but you need to cool it.]
posted by cortex at 8:57 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


i've actually met a dude who thought stretched lobes were a sex thing

aughhhh

I actually just thought about the perspective of the Sublime tattoo guy for a second and I really understood it. The other day I was cleaning out my dresser and I found a bunch of brand-new thong underwear I've never worn and I literally just threw them away because I find them so embarassingly sexually demeaning right now. (No offense to ladies who are into thongs, I just have no sex drive at the moment and am over it.) On the other hand, I look at pictures of myself trying to look "grunge" in high school, after grunge was over, and I clearly didn't know what I was doing, and I have fond memories. I can see why the Sublime guy likes his tattoo even though it's totally over and definitely does not signify coolness anymore. There's something nice about looking back and thinking "I sure was trying to be edgy, but I sure did live."

On the other hand there are few things worse than being denigrated for your sexuality, I think. It's basically sexist hate speech. It's insulting but also feels violating, all-in-one. If you make fun of my wrist tattoo, fuck you. If you make fun of my tramp stamp, it feels like you're saying "I could fuck you, other guys have, you're too dumb to stop me." Which is just creepy and feels molesty.

Part of the deal with rape culture is so strong that if a woman is purposely looking sexy, there almost needs to be like orange cones around her or something. We are so inclined NOT to respect her personal choices about who SHE wants to have sex with and when she does or does not want to have sex that we can have this thread where if you have a "slutty" tattoo you should just get over it and not acknowledge that it makes people want to treat you like a piece of garbage that is passed around from man to man, and openly admit it. Hate speech.
posted by easter queen at 8:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [27 favorites]


Is it possible to look at a tattoo like a painting or any piece of art and make a critical remark? Or is it because it's on the body permanently that it can't be criticized without falling into judging about the body itself?
posted by FJT at 9:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know people who've removed the plugs/tunnels from their ears. The holes don't stay big. They shrink up and kind of look like a cat-butt.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:01 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Is it possible to look at a tattoo like a painting or any piece of art and make a critical remark?

It's possible, sure, like many things are, but why would you want to tell someone that this permanent thing they have on themselves is [negative trait]? What's the upshot here except insulting or hurting that person?
posted by jeather at 9:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


i think it depends - has the person with the tattoo put themselves in a gallery and indicated that they wanted rigorous critique? or is this more like loudly mocking someone's living room painting when they've invited you over for dinner?
posted by nadawi at 9:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [34 favorites]


There are a lot of shitty tattoos out there. I don't think there's any problem in saying that a tattoo is poorly executed, or even poorly considered (there has been a lot of criticism about cultural appropriation and tattoos.)

But that's different than saying "that person is a slut, and the tattoo proves it."
posted by maxsparber at 9:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


Tattooing has been around for many thousands of years, the reasons people get tattooed are as numerous as the people themselves, and if you have an urge to project assumed motives upon strangers that you encounter with tattoos then that reveals quite a lot more about your mindset than theirs.
posted by churl at 9:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


I have all sorts of tattoos and they make me feel sexy and happy in my body. The end

Damn those are great!
posted by Drexen at 9:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Is it possible to look at a tattoo like a painting or any piece of art and make a critical remark?

I think it's basically fine to say, "oh, dolphins and flowers... ok." Getting much judgier than that probably makes you a bit mean and assholish but not much worse. But the problem is when you say, "oh, dolphins and flowers on your lower back, you're sexually promiscuous with a low IQ." And the fact that people equate tattoos (or "bad" tattoos) with class status (not only because of correlation, but because "good" tattoos are fucking expensive) probably means it's worthwhile to think about it critically first before lashing out.
posted by easter queen at 9:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


"it's obviously intended for someone else's gaze, since the person wearing it cannot see it without assistance."

We wore our blue jeans very low-slung in the late 90s/early 2000s, and our shirts cut relatively short, so that "midriff" showed -- not in a sexual way, just in a fashionable way. In a cute way. Lower back tattoos weren't for your sex partners, they showed when you were wearing your hip-hugger jeans and your cropped-short T-shirt to go to class. They were CUTE. The style of them, with whorls and butterflies and Indian-ish mendhi-ish designs, is very similar to the prints on our T-shirts at the time.

I've seen some pretty regrettable lower-back tattoos because they were ubiquitous and a lot of people didn't know to pay for quality, or got them drunk, or picked something random; but most of them were just cute fashion accessories that were very stylish at the time, and are easy to cover up at work now. Maybe we shouldn't be permanently affixing temporary fashion choices to our bodies, sure, but it's so easy to hide!

My most corporate, conservative friend has a very adorable butterfly one, and it just tickles me to death that she's got this secret bit of ink from when she was a party girl with her hair in a row of teeny butterfly clips shopping the Delia*s catalog.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [61 favorites]


I live in a small bubble in which I don't think very much about how people modify their bodies, and neither does anyone else. This thread is a depressing reminder that other people think very much that what I do is all about Them and what They think of me.

I think that's about enough for today.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


Is it possible to look at a tattoo like a painting or any piece of art and make a critical remark? Or is it because it's on the body permanently that it can't be criticized without falling into judging about the body itself?

It's totally possible, but that doesn't mean that it's going to go over well, and that's going to depend a lot on the relationship between critic and tattoo owner, the nature of the criticism, the context in which it's coming up, etc.

But beyond the idea of saying "I have an opinion about the artistic comment of your tattoo", the broader idea here of criticizing the choice of placement of a tattoo itself gets away from a notional critical comment on a painting to something more like looking at a how a painting was hung and being like, I bet the person who owns this gallery is a slut.
posted by cortex at 9:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Well, surely you are not denying that tattoos are incredibly trendy, are you?

Wat? Tattoos are a lot older than.. I dunno, cars? Cars aren't trendy. This lady's tattoo is from 12+ years ago. I see old punks around whose tattoos must be 30 or 40+ years old. Popeye had tattoos!! Popeye wasn't trendy! Ya big silly!
posted by Drexen at 9:11 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


...didn't know to pay for quality, or got them drunk...

This is often co-morbid because skilled tattoo artists working at reputable shops will generally not tattoo a drunk stranger, so it is usually a pretty glaring 'this is what we think of our customers' red flag.

I used to work next door to two different tattoo shops: one was a neighborhood institution, and they'd take a drunk person's fifty bucks as a deposit and tell them to come back the next day and usually pocket the fifty it as pure profit because the person sobered up and decided not to, or just didn't recall doing so.

The other shop definitely tattooed drunk people who wandered in on Saturdya night, and I would basically never recommend it to anyone even though I was cool with all the people who worked there and they had some skilled artists.
posted by griphus at 9:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have all sorts of tattoos and they make me feel sexy and happy in my body. The end
posted by Windigo at 8:55 AM on May 13 [3 favorites +] [!]


Arm antlers!

[Like!]
posted by chavenet at 9:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


otzi the fucking iceman had tattoos

i guess he was after some hot mastodon d or something, that fucking iceslut
posted by poffin boffin at 9:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [94 favorites]


i guess he was after some hot mastodon d or something, that fucking iceslut

This is now a Chuck Tingle fanfic thread.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I got this lady beat. I am a 33 year old woman and I still have a belly button ring I got when I was 19.

My friends definitely make fun of me at the beach and I've gotten a few side eyes from people along the way. It's kind of stuck in there now and for a while I was vaguely embarrassed by it but too squicked out to try and really yank it and too lazy to make my way to a piercing place.

But then, suddenly, a few years ago, I just completely fell in love with it again. It's so completely ridiculous and of its era and like, literally, of every item I owned in college this is the only thing that's still sticking around, humbly chilling in my navel. And I picked it out while being accompanied by the stars of the MTV reality show "Sorority Life," after the season had ended but while they were being trailed by a film crew hoping to air an online "sequel" that never saw the light of day, which may be the most unadulterated early-2000s thing that has ever happened in the history of the planet. Youth can mock me, dumb people can judge me - that is so besides the point when compared to what me and my belly button ring have seen over these past fifteen years that the thought of people getting genuinely offended by my out-of-step aesthetic choices gives me a kind of giddy joy.

Hate on, haters! My belly button ring's name is Jordan and, God willing, when I am nothing but crumbling bone and dust she will sparkle on, undaunted, in the darkness of my grave.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [86 favorites]


Popeye had tattoos!! Popeye wasn't trendy! Ya big silly!

But a good Popeye tattoo... that IS trendy.

#notalltattoos
posted by delfin at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


> "Is it possible to look at a tattoo like a painting or any piece of art and make a critical remark?"

It's usually not appropriate. Tattoos are generally not being presented for audience discussion and critique. Tattoos are almost always personal, and critiques will therefore be taken as a personal criticism.
posted by kyrademon at 9:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


but most of them were just cute fashion accessories that were very stylish at the time,


They were pretty trendy; and back in the 90's there was that whole "show your underwear peeking above your low-rise jeans" thing, male and female (guys with boxers, gals with thongs).

It's never nice to make fun of people's appearance, and given the way this thread has gone I certainly do regret my "ass antlers" drive-by comment above (and I have always thought "tramp stamp" was at best a stupid thing to say). Sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings.

Interesting article... and this thread certainly supports its conclusions.
posted by Nevin at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2015


This tattoo was thought of as regrettable more then ten years ago.
posted by lattiboy at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Comment and some replies removed. Please don't come into a thread swinging and complaining about the site in general; if you want to get into metacommentary on what you think is wrong with Metafilter or mefites, metatalk is the way to go, not this.]
posted by cortex at 9:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Is it possible to look at a tattoo like a painting or any piece of art and make a critical remark?"

I mean, are we talking in the general sense ("I don't like tattoos of ___, for these reasons") or are you saying, is it possible to walk up to a human being and say this thing that is in their skin sucks?

Because I'd say critiquing a tattoo to the owner's face (or behind their back in a way that they might eventually find out about) is a little bit more like being shitty about someone's shaving decisions or the makeup currently on their face. Would you honestly do either of those things? Really? If you wouldn't walk up to someone and say "try less eyeliner" or "ew armpit hair!" then just leave their tattoos the fuck alone.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


This is a tangent, but you guys do know that it's possible for something to have been around for thousands of years and still be trendy, right? See, e.g., beards, bacon, etc.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


> "I have all sorts of tattoos and they make me feel sexy and happy in my body. The end"

Those are all gorgeous and I am particularly admiring that amazing snail.
posted by kyrademon at 9:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


[If you're responding to a response to a deleted comment, you're probably responding to a response that has itself already been deleting and if not quite yet is about to be. Fast moving bumpy threads mean please give it a minute and reload before chaining things along further.]
posted by cortex at 9:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I cannot even believe that this thread is so chock-full of people dismissing this as not being sexism when the fucking name of the thing we're talking about is a tramp stamp (and reading the words 'skank flank' almost made me lose my breakfast). WTF is going on here these days? Sure, it's totally sexism-free, ladies, my ultra-tedious condescending mansplaining will make everything clear for you!
posted by dialetheia at 9:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [53 favorites]


I'd say getting tattoos has never been more popular...trendy is one word that expresses that. Out of all the people I know, of all age groups, more have tattoos than those that don't. I haven't gotten one for many reasons, but one of my reaaons is that it feels more unusual not to have one these days.
posted by agregoli at 9:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean, can you think of a male tattoo that would be immediately sexualized, unless it was specifically on their dick?

Mine. It's a celtic cross that I got below my belly-button at around the same time and age as the author in the OP. People often comment when they first see it that it's obviously supposed to be about blowjobs or whatever, when I honestly just thought it was a nice, easy-enough-to-hide location when I was a college freshman. I've also never regretted it.

The article goes back and forth on its focus, a bit, which I think is inadvertently causing some of the anger and tension here. Too much of it feels like it's saying, "it's unfair that my tattoo causes people to lump me in with them," and that feels a bit off to me, especially as she describes her college-aged self perfectly within the parameters of those who get tarred with these labels. Whatever, though, people can contain multitudes and the perfect is the enemy of the good and so on and so on. We certainly don't need another goddamn "tone argument" here.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:31 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Too much of it feels like it's saying, "it's unfair that my tattoo causes people to lump me in with them," and that feels a bit off to me, especially as she describes her college-aged self perfectly within the parameters of those who get tarred with these labels.

At no point in the article does she even mention her college-aged self engaging in sex, let alone being "promiscuous" (at least in the eyes of the type of people who are fighting to keep on using tramp stamp) in such a way that she felt deserved to be judged on it.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: you're probably responding to a response that has itself already been deleting and if not quite yet is about to be
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:41 AM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


In my last office job, I was the one-man art department for a small software developer. One day, one of our IT guys and his girlfriend (also in the IT dept) came to me with a request. They wanted me to find a way to add to a tattoo of hers so that it was more...presentable. I told them I'd have to think about it because I had no clue what went into designing a tattoo. So the left with me a couple of photos of the offending tattoo. It was a lower-back tattoo, of course. It was a bright red bulls-eye target with a big, graphic arrow (not the bow and quiver type of arrow...the flowchart type of arrow) pointing right to the center of the target.

I just had no idea what to do with that, and decided it was best to just not get involved with it. I would have asked too many wrong questions somewhere along the line.

FWIW, the first few times I ever heard the term "tramp stamp" it was by women proudly describing their own tattoos.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Women's lower backs are where they are vikings.
posted by srboisvert at 9:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Idiotic generic lower back tattoos on women are not emblems of their sluttishness. They are emblems of their stupidity and conformity. It's okay to make fun of them, because it's like a visible tag that someone thought it was a good idea to make a permanent modification to their body of something with no real relevance to them other than 'Butterflies are pretty!' The fact that she is now regretting it ten years later is what those of us who put thought into our tattoos all predicted would happen.

I think the male sexualization of it is pretty gross though, but I think it comes less from 'the placement is for people doggystyling' (seriously, what the fuck?) and more from the fact that many men think that idiotic conformist young women women have demonstrated that they are susceptible to bad decisions and thus are easy prey for their machinations and thus will sleep with a lot of them without much effort.
posted by corb at 9:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


They are emblems of their stupidity and conformity. It's okay to make fun of them, because it's like a visible tag that someone thought it was a good idea to make a permanent modification to their body of something with no real relevance to them other than 'Butterflies are pretty!'

This is a really really ugly sentiment.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [126 favorites]


idiotic conformist young women women have demonstrated that they are susceptible to bad decisions and thus are easy prey for their machinations and thus will sleep with a lot of them without much effort.

I spend a lot of time with young men at the bar I work at and I think this analysis of what they think gives them too much credit.
posted by josher71 at 9:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Why is it okay to make fun of people for a thing on their body, especially when they don't like it and have expressed self-consciousness about it? That seems pretty cruel.
posted by griphus at 9:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


many men think that idiotic conformist young women women have demonstrated that they are susceptible to bad decisions and thus are easy prey for their machinations and thus will sleep with a lot of them without much effort.

I highly doubt men put anything close to that kind of actual rational thought into their misogyny.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


FWIW, the first few times I ever heard the term "tramp stamp" it was by women proudly describing their own tattoos.

women often attempt to reclaim the sexist verbal abuse that is hurled at us (from well before puberty). women also enforce the patriarchy. when we say something is misogynistic or a function of the patriarchy or rape culture we aren't saying "all men are bad and terrible and should feel awful and all women are goddesses above reproach!" we're saying - hey, isn't it weird that literally every choice a woman makes is seen as being related to her genitals or her use to men?
posted by nadawi at 9:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [39 favorites]


"I cannot even believe that this thread is so chock-full of people dismissing this as not being sexism when the fucking name of the thing we're talking about is a tramp stamp"

Well, to be honest, I never thought of the term as sexist since "tramp" is gender neutral and usually used to describe guys. Hence the Disney movie, "The Lady and the Tramp".
posted by I-baLL at 9:50 AM on May 13, 2015


Also, the Chaplin tramp stamp tattoo idea mentioned above is a brilliant, brilliant idea.
posted by I-baLL at 9:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I got at tattoo in my early 20's. It's off to the side on my lower back so sort of in this area. I've heard the term tramp stamp before but must have never paid it much attention because I don't recall ever associating my tat with the term or implications of the term.

It's a fun tat that I designed and is a specific reference to that time in my life. Most of the time I forget that I have it. I get reminded at times when the top of it peeks out above my waist line, (it's cute little eyes) and people comment about being looked at. This usually ends up with a giggle as I explain what it is and what it means to me.

I chose that spot because it is hidden by most clothing but I can still see it when I look in the mirror. The thought that I meant as some sort of sex thing that only a sex partner would see just never occurred to me when I chose the spot.

Thinking that some people consider it in some sort of sex way is both disconcerting and hilarious because it's a tattoo of a baby Muppet. ' Yeah, sexay baby muppet'...nope that's just creepy.

"tattoos are our younger selves' way of blackmailing our older selves into philosophical continuity";

I get this. My tat does remind me of who I was when I got it, both good and bad. It is a symbol of my younger days and I do appreciate the remembering that occurs when I glance at it. It's a milestone of sorts where I end up comparing then and now. Would younger me like now me? Would younger me be okay with where I am now? Does now me have wisdom gained over the years to complement what younger me was thinking? What has changed and what hasn't? Younger me was very happy and in a good space at that time. How about now? etc etc
posted by Jalliah at 9:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


"tramp" is gender neutral and usually used to describe guys

Which planet is this on, and how can we visit.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [77 favorites]


Look, I'm jealous too of the time machine to the 1930s, but if we're not more careful, he won't let us borrow it.
posted by corb at 9:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


"Gutter tramps"? "Trampsies?"
posted by Nevin at 9:54 AM on May 13, 2015


"tramp" is gender neutral and usually used to describe guys

you thought when people referred almost exclusively to tattoos on women (or men being mocked as gay) with the term tramp stamp they were probably referring to charlie chaplin or a cartoon from the 50s? really?
posted by nadawi at 9:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


What, do you think the 'tramp' refers to depression era hobos, who were of course known worldwide to favor dragonfly tattoos on their lower backs?

Well, to be honest, I never thought of the term as sexist since "tramp" is gender neutral and usually used to describe guys. Hence the Disney movie, "The Lady and the Tramp".

Welp.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


Well, to be honest, I never thought of the term as sexist since "tramp" is gender neutral and usually used to describe guys. Hence the Disney movie, "The Lady and the Tramp".

Not sure if serious.
posted by Drexen at 9:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm just glad somebody is standing up to slurs used against 19th century chimney sweeps!
posted by lattiboy at 9:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well, to be honest, I never thought of the term as sexist since "tramp" is gender neutral and usually used to describe guys. Hence the Disney movie, "The Lady and the Tramp".

You do realize the examples you are using are from the 1920s and 1955 respectively, and that language changes. And that the word slag was also once gender neutral, and slut meant slovenly, but none of that means that both terms haven't acquired new, and explicitly sexist, meanings?

I ask, because I suspect you do know this.
posted by maxsparber at 9:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


At no point in the article does she even mention her college-aged self engaging in sex, let alone being "promiscuous" (at least in the eyes of the type of people who are fighting to keep on using tramp stamp) in such a way that she felt deserved to be judged on it.

Not specifically (and man, let's really not make a derail out of this, please) but here's some of what I'm talking about:
I didn't put much thought into the form my tattoo took, but I distinctly remember why I decided to get it. It was my first time living on my own, and out of the confines of my parents house, I had never felt so free. It was a spontaneous choice during a period of spontaneous choices. I was experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and anything that pushed a boundary. I tried skydiving, and briefly indulged in picking up men and then casually discarding them. That backfired when one night, after the bars shut down, a drunken former suitor bleated, "You never called me!" across a crowded street—a memory that has stayed with me, though not quite as obtrusively as my tattoo The dragonfly is a permanent reminder of a more carefree time in my life when midriffs ruled, a Seven For All Mankind jean clutch was ‘cool,' and scarf tops were a viable wardrobe option. It was a lark.
And then in the next paragraph:
Nicole Richie, basically my tramp stamp style icon, struggled with it on an episode of her show Candidly Nicole in 2013. "It just means a certain thing," she said about the cross descending into her butt crack, "and I just don't want to be a part of that group."
Emphasis mine, obviously. Anyway, I don't think the article is bad or should be dismissed. "Tramp Stamp" is obviously a horrendous patriarchal term. My gf has an LBT, as do several of my closest friends. We're pretty far outside of any standard "slut-shaming" crowd, though. In my circle, it would probably more imply "basic" than anything, and even then, whatever, a ton of the people I know have them, and I have my own kinda-sorta-equivalent. Anyway, that's all I got on this.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:57 AM on May 13, 2015


Y'all should just do what I did re: the definition of "tramp" and assume that I-baLL has some seriously unorthodox opinions of the Disney movie with the dogs.
posted by griphus at 9:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


LBT is a very new and confusing acronym to me.

I keep reading it as if the "gay" were thrown out of the queer alliance.
posted by lattiboy at 9:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


My sister got a standard-issue vines-and-leaves LBT.

She bent over one day getting something out of her car; my dad raised an eyebrow and asked "[name], why is there something growing out of your asshole?"
posted by delfin at 10:01 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Well, to be honest, I never thought of the term as sexist since "tramp" is gender neutral and usually used to describe guys. Hence the Disney movie, "The Lady and the Tramp".

Oh please, do go on! *furiously writes down your enlightened teachings* So tramp doesn't mean slut like literally everyone on Earth uses it these days, you say? Will wonders never cease!
posted by dialetheia at 10:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


She bent over one day getting something out of her car; my dad raised an eyebrow and asked "[name], why is there something growing out of your asshole?"

I presume she responded by asking why her father was looking at or commenting on her ass.
posted by maxsparber at 10:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


stupidity and conformity

Well OK. Jesus. I mean, what if they had a stupid tattoo and like the wrong band? Let's eviscerate them!

I think that even if a woman DID get a LBT because it signifies sexual availability and she wanted to project that, calling it a "tramp stamp" is still profoundly disrespectful and misogynist. I get why you could criticize this article on those grounds, but "I don't want to be lumped in with them" is definitely not the only reason to object to the term.

Well-placed sexual signifier is not actually a reason to call someone a tramp. Tramp is basically a stupid, meaningless sexist epithet. It means "indiscriminately promiscuous" in a world where no one really cares about sexual purity that much anymore. (Before objections, I don't think pastors and church ladies are the people keeping "tramp stamp" alive.)

I think a lot of women's fashion catches on because it's sexy, but it becomes so ubiquitous that you can't really say with certainty that it's meant to be sexual anymore. I mean, a lot of women wear v-neck shirts, because they flatter our figures more, i.e., they are more attractive. That doesn't mean we're actively trying to be sexy. On the other hand, a woman might wear one to look sexy, too. Same with those damn choker necklaces in the 90's. Cute, sexy, whatever. Women's fashion is basically all lumped into the realm of "sexy" regardless of our intent. If it's explicitly not sexy, then it becomes one of those "Trends Men Hate" things and we make fun of it for being hipster.
posted by easter queen at 10:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


So what's the equivalent on a guy and on the front, not the back?

Because that's what I got.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


She bent over one day getting something out of her car; my dad raised an eyebrow and asked "[name], why is there something growing out of your asshole?"

My father once told me that his tits were bigger than mine. Ah, from the mouths of dads.
posted by easter queen at 10:05 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I mean, everyone knows that the tramp stamp is called that because it was the traditional tattoo of 1920s hobos, right? That's just history! "Bob, gimme a tramp stamp and a bindle, I'm setting out!" they'd say, on their way to ride the rails for the first time.
posted by dialetheia at 10:06 AM on May 13, 2015 [39 favorites]


So what's the equivalent on a guy and on the front, not the back?

This.
posted by Eyebeams at 10:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Y'all are gonna freak out when you find out what "punk" actually means!
posted by Navelgazer at 10:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


WHen guys call a girl a slut they actually mean that they know she hasn't done the dishes in almost an entire week and there are still toast crumbs from breakfast in the parlor.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [37 favorites]


"The Lady and the Tramp"

I've always thought it would be a neat bit of culture jamming for this image to be reinterpreted as an LBT.
posted by bonehead at 10:09 AM on May 13, 2015


it is known
posted by poffin boffin at 10:09 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think it's possible, depending on where a person and when a person lived that 'tramp' used as a female sexist descriptor wasn't and isn't in super common usage. I can recall being called and hearing a lot of words being used to describe women and tramp isn't one of them.

I know what it means but when I hear the word tramp my first thought is 'hobo' and not slutty. It was and is just not in common usage in my experience. It is a slang word and slang isn't necessarily universial in its use and meaning.
posted by Jalliah at 10:09 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


when the kids in school called me faggot they were just complimenting me on being so slender, like a bundle of sticks!
posted by nadawi at 10:09 AM on May 13, 2015 [34 favorites]


I'm so glad you're here to explain to us all why the author doesn't really understand why her tattoo bothers her so much. The first three paragraphs contain the following words: whore, scarlet letter, slut. But you know what's really bothering her.

I love how conditionally deconstructionist Metafilter can be. Apparently the only time it's not OK to consider the text apart from the author's stated intent is when it's a personal essay related to a local sacred cow.

I read the article twice, and the slut-shaming critique really does read like a fig leaf for reflections on youthful regrets. The text is there. It's an honest reading, whether you like it or not.
posted by echocollate at 10:09 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]




Greg Nog: "I'm having a hell of a time finding it, but someone on twitter tweeted something like "tattoos are our younger selves' way of blackmailing our older selves into philosophical continuity"; I think about that theory a lot.
Edit: Found it!
"

Well, it works the other way round too : "sometimes not getting a tatoo is forcing your younger self to be more consistent with your future one".
posted by nicolin at 10:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm so late to the krang party, but there are definitely krang tattoos that have been done. And they are glorious.
posted by numaner at 10:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I disagree with all the people conflating "tramp" with "slut". A tramp is a particular type of slut, one that comes on to men who are already in relationships. Likewise "tramp" also implies a low rung on the economic ladder. It implies trailer trash Jerry Springer material.

Could be other people use it differently, but that's how I've always heard it used.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:14 AM on May 13, 2015


...how does that definition change the misogyny of it?
posted by nadawi at 10:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


In other news, I just noticed that the very first comment in this thread includes the word "authoress" and I'm officially ready to throw myself off a bridge today thanks to this thread.
posted by dialetheia at 10:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [33 favorites]


By adding a layer of class-ism too?

I mean, we don't want to leave out some haters unfairly here, do we?
posted by bonehead at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Obviously it's important that we know that some slutty sluts are worse than others because of reasons. God forbid any woman not know her place.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


In other news, I just noticed that the very first comment in this thread includes the word "authoress" and I'm officially ready to throw myself off a bridge today thanks to this thread.

Everyone knows it's authorette until you get married.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 10:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [34 favorites]


Actually, I've always thought that most anti-tattoo sentiment was classist, pro-bourgeois. The "Tramp Stamp" adds a frisson of patriarchy to that too, for extra hatitute spice.
posted by bonehead at 10:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


The fact that we're now doing a taxonomy of sluts has turned this thread from merely wretched to also surreal.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [40 favorites]


In other news, I just noticed that the very first comment in this thread includes the word "authoress" and I'm officially ready to throw myself off a bridge today thanks to this thread.

To be fair, we don't know that comment wasn't left by this guy.
posted by corb at 10:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I got this lady beat. I am a 33 year old woman and I still have a belly button ring I got when I was 19.

I got mine done in my early 20s and I enjoyed the idea of it, and the cutesy ridiculous barbells I could get (I had one with a chihuahua swinging off it!), but MAN DID IT HURT forever and always for this stomach sleeper, never fully healed, fell out one day around the six month mark and by the time I noticed it had closed up, so that was the end of that. And two pregnancies totally made the scar look crazy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


They are emblems of their stupidity and conformity.

I think anyone willing to make this level of vicious judgment about another human being based on ONE chosen skin marking is probably required to display 100% of their own body art for full public critique, just for fairness's sake.

Oh, what do you mean, that sounds deeply unpleasant and violating? How odd.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


'Butterflies are pretty!'

Perfectly acceptable reason to get a tattoo and doesn't need your judgement - you could keep that to yourself.
posted by ersatzkat at 10:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


Might be worth noting that a fairly common US-centric dictionary has the definition "a woman who has sex with many different men" right there in the noun version of "tramp."

It's also marked as "somewhat old-fashioned," which is pretty funny considering the animated adventure film being cited is from 1955. Time flies!
posted by mikeh at 10:33 AM on May 13, 2015


Actually, I've always thought that most anti-tattoo sentiment was classist, pro-bourgeois.

Do you know how much the damn things cost? Truly quotidian, non-bourgeois tattoos are prison tattoos, etched with a pencil on the knuckles. I'm not joking. I worked as a mover and most of the swampers were ex-cons.

Since the 90's any other style of tattoo is a signifier of wealth, or aspirations to wealth.
posted by Nevin at 10:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


What Jalliah said. I checked urban dictionary and half the definitions fall one wa and half fall the other way but I've never heard "tramp" being used as a replacement for "slut" before. I wonder how that definition evolved from hobo.
posted by I-baLL at 10:35 AM on May 13, 2015


I mean, part of me wants to get into potential etymology, but then I realized that I don't fucking care, it's still a shitty thing to say regardless.
posted by corb at 10:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I presume she responded by asking why her father was looking at or commenting on her ass.

Because she was standing right in front of him and she bent over at the waist and, like Everest, it was there?

This is not to imply that my sister is a Sherpa. Though if a Sherpa wants to put vines and leaves on his lower back there's not much that I can do to stop him.
posted by delfin at 10:37 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


avert your eyes patriarch
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 10:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


tramp=dirty=woman who dares to have sex - it's pretty easy to see how it might have happened.
posted by nadawi at 10:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


To sum it up: Men are jerks. News at 11.
posted by Vindaloo at 10:41 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


no, it's more like news on the hour, every hour, every day for the rest of our lives.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [37 favorites]


Because she was standing right in front of him and she bent over at the waist and, like Everest, it was there?

So he felt he needed to be a literal example of patriarchy policing a woman's body? Sorry, I know he's your dad, but having a father comment on his daughter's "asshole" is incredibly creepy.
posted by maxsparber at 10:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


no, it's more like news on the hour, every hour, every day for the rest of our lives.

I see you too have been stuck on the Belt with a driver who insists on listening to 1010 WINS for the traffic ("on the ones!")
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder if someday I will come to regret the cosmic dragon wings that stretch from my shoulder blades to my arms. I got them a couple years ago, after about four years of playing with the design until I had something I liked. The only reaction I ever get is people marveling at their beauty.

I keep on toying with the idea of a UV lower back tattoo, but will probably never bother. Maybe if I ever decide to get that dragon tail curving across one butt-cheek and down around a leg.

Personally I think this lady, in debating whether or not to have her tiny dragonfly layered off, is missin the other option: get it covered up with something that means something to her.
posted by egypturnash at 10:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just make sure not to eat any paintings at the brooklyn museum.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm officially ready to throw myself off a bridge today thanks to this thread.

Yep. I rarely comment here but I read the blue, green, and grey literally every day. Metafilter is my homepage on both my laptop and my phone. This thread is not the sole impetus (I've also spent too much time on We Hunted the Mammoth this week) but it's the push I needed to declare myself on a media break for a week or two. As far as I'm concerned the internet's purpose for the next several days is pictures of kittens and that is it.
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


OK, I know there's like a whole long thread between this comment and now and it's not super relevant, but...

You see, I used to have long hair in the back and short hair in the front. And I looked GOOD. When I did it, it was way ahead of the crowd, and it certainly didn't have a name.

Are you a guy? "way ahead of the crowd"? I'm pretty sure hockey hair debuted in the late 60's and I guess maybe you were there but I think you underestimate the popularity of this haircut and perhaps have never lived in small-town Ontario.

If you are a woman, well, still, it works for some people and not for others but again, unless you had this haircut in 1958 you were not ahead of anything.

That said, whatever stereotypes I might associate with said haircut, I'll take your word for it that it worked for you. But it most definitely has a name, specifically a mullet and to a lesser extent it was called hockey hair for a period although the modern hockey hair is more long all over. Perhaps your hair was completely different and I've completely misunderstood.

As for lower back tattoos, yes, we shouldn't label people especially with misogynist labels but artistically the whole lower back tattoo genre is pretty trite and overdone. Clearly some people had them before the whole stereotype even existed, but there it is.
posted by GuyZero at 10:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


"tattoos are our younger selves' way of blackmailing our older selves into philosophical continuity"

Thank god I never got a tattoo. The younger me was a smug privileged jerk with libertarian leanings.
posted by rocket88 at 11:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


artistically the whole lower back tattoo genre is pretty trite and overdone

At the risk of derail, I don't understand this, and I don't even understand the derision towards tribal tattoos. Every time I hear people talk about others tattoo choices in a nasty way because they are "done" like that, it just makes them look super parochial and trend conscious.
posted by smidgen at 11:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Is it fair to say this is kind of a peripheral argument about conformity and class? Because this is honestly the most confusing thread I've ever seen.
posted by lattiboy at 11:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, how is it decided which things are "bad" because they've been "done" too many times? Jeans have been popular for how many decades now: do people call them trite?
posted by LindsayIrene at 11:14 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not going to wade into the raging argument here, but I will take a moment to comment on the general sentiment of fear of regret keeping one from getting a tattoo. While permanency is something to take into heavy consideration, if you find a design you like at a time in which it is meaningful to you, don't let that fear of the future keep you from following your desires.

Years ago I worked at IBM with a very nice man who was a born-again Christian -- not my bag, but he wasn't overbearing with it, he just took it as something that provided personal comfort and guidance to him, which I respect. Anyway, his arms were covered in ink from before he dedicated himself to Christ, not a cohesive sleeve, just years of piecework obtained as whim dictated. Some of it was obscene, a lot of it was drug related, including a giant pot leaf smack in the middle of one forearm. As part of his rebirth, he had given up all intoxicants and was determined to keep edge for life.

One day, while we were making idle chatter, I asked him about his various tats, and whether he regretted getting them. He said, roughly, "Not one bit. I got them because of who I was then, and that is what they represent. When I was born again, I got this one..." -- and he pointed to one done around the pot leaf that said 'NO MORE KILLER BUD' -- "... to represent me now, and it was done. It's not something I'd do now, but it's done, it's my past, and it's a part of me like a scar. No regrets."

That influenced my thinking a lot, and was in my mind when I finally decided upon something that meant enough to me to get my first one -- a process which, for me at least, made me fear future regret even less. It was on my upper left arm, in a "safe" area. I got a second one that's meaningful to me in a much more obvious area, my inner forearm, when my wife was pregnant with my daughter to represent that life transition. Recently I've been focusing heavily on improving my health and life style. I used to weigh over 300 pounds. After years of struggle I'm currently just above 210, with a goal of 200. When I get to 200, I'm going to get myself a 1/2 or 3/4 sleeve with a rebirth motif to signify that success and change of life. A sleeve is a big commitment, and one I'm aware of the potential future implications of and regret for as I age. However, I'm willing to do it. It's me now, and will represent me now in the future. Done.
posted by jammer at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [36 favorites]


Jammer, thank you for this! I'm on my way to a tattoo consultation appointment literally right now, and this thread has given me some heebie-jeebies. But fuck that. I'mma do what I want.
posted by witchen at 11:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Thank god I never got a tattoo. The younger me was a smug privileged jerk with libertarian leanings.

S*M*U*G L*I*F*E
posted by almostmanda at 11:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


I don't really buy that patriarchy is responsible for your bad tastes. Men get tramp stamps too and they're called that when they have them. It's an ugly region typically covered by bad tattoos. I don't think any person should be free from creative criticism, I have several tattoos all of which would be easy to mock if you were so inclined. I'm not going to go blaming anything else if that happens. I also don't think anyone ever sees a tramp stamp and think it's a sign the person will be more likely to have sex with them. Maybe I just don't think that way, but I have no sympathy for bad tattoos. Don't get permanent things done when you're a teenager, you're literally not a real human being yet, and you'll probably regret it later. Get tattoos when you're an adult with improved taste.
posted by GoblinHoney at 11:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


super parochial and trend conscious.

Guilty as charged.
posted by josher71 at 11:25 AM on May 13, 2015


What Jalliah said. I checked urban dictionary and half the definitions fall one wa and half fall the other way but I've never heard "tramp" being used as a replacement for "slut" before. I wonder how that definition evolved from hobo.

You know, I was going to let this alone because I didn't want to derail on some disingenuous bullshit, but this thread has me riled and I'm not letting it go today. I, too, am capable of going to Urban Dictionary, and here's what I see:

- Top definition: tramp: Any woman who will open her legs for anyone, except for me. Most of them.

- 20 words related to tramp: slut whore skank hoe bitch ho hooker prostitute tramps cunt hobo easy slag sex trick harlot hussy dirty bum tart

- Second listed definition: The difference between a tramp and a woman? A woman lies around and sleeps; a tramp sleeps around and lies.

So yeah, I am going to call bullshit on your claim and say that there is literally no way you could look at that page without being disingenuous and actually be confused about what tramp means here.
posted by dialetheia at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [31 favorites]


I also don't think anyone ever sees a tramp stamp and think it's a sign the person will be more likely to have sex with them. Maybe I just don't think that way

Yeah it's that thing where you /= everyone. People in this very thread have copped to thinking that way, and *the name fucking comes from somewhere* doesn't it?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


permanent modification to their body of something with no real relevance to them other than 'Butterflies are pretty!'

I think your general point is right on, but it's worth mentioning that butterflies in particular are often recovery iconography.
posted by batfish at 11:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


"So yeah, I am going to call bullshit on your claim and say that there is literally no way you could look at that page without being disingenuous and actually be confused about what tramp means here."

Uhm, maybe you misread what I wrote?

" I checked urban dictionary and half the definitions fall one wa and half fall the other way but I've never heard "tramp" being used as a replacement for "slut" before." (emphasis mine obviously.)

I'm saying that Urban dictionary lists both definitions and it shows that the trump = slut definition is common. At the same time, in my personal experience, I've never heard it being used that way which is what Jalliah pointed out: that it's not a term that's used everywhere which is why I was surprised.
posted by I-baLL at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2015


Yeah, and you're still completely wrong there because 90% of the definitions are sexist bullshit about sluts. But sure, just because one definition on there lists the hobo definition, I can see how you would totally be confused about why all these slutty hobos are suddenly getting tattoos. Jesus christ.
posted by dialetheia at 11:37 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


The Lady and the Tramp thing has been cleverly done.
posted by thingamarob at 11:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


My lower back tattoo is a Milan Kundera quote. I believe I was 21, in a relationship with a philosophy major, and thoroughly enjoying being very very serious. And I was mightily annoyed by the advent of "tramp stamp" as a descriptive phrase because a) Kundera might have had crappy characterizations of women in his novels but it seemed extreme to slut-shame them and b) are you fucking kidding me that yet another decision a woman makes with regards to her body has now become fodder for casual-but-shitty judgmentalism?
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Tramp is a very 1950s, socially acceptable word for "slut". I remember my Mom calling some girl I knew a tramp. There was no mistaking the intent.

It is for sure little used these days, but the idea that it isn't specifically referencing "easy women" is laughable.
posted by lattiboy at 11:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I definitely and vividly remember the phrase "she was dressed like a tramp" in a set of scholarship interview notes from the 70s I had to sort through at a job.
posted by griphus at 11:41 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it fair to say this is kind of a peripheral argument about conformity and class?

Re "tribal" tats on dudes or tattoos generally, yes, I think that's a safe statement to make, at least very largely. But the original discussion was about a woman's lower-back tattoo, and while there is certainly a bunch of conformity / trendiness and class-signifying baggage there, there are also—and this is coming pretty much directly from the experiences of the person with that tattoo and isn't really up for debate—a huge amount of sexist shit going on in how people react to it.

The issue seems to be that while someone getting a tattoo presumably understood at the time that it was (basically) permanent, and therefore might be assumed to be able to take some eyerolling over its aesthetic uncoolness in stride, it's both unreasonable and shitty to assume that because somebody got a lower-back tattoo when they were 19 that they should have realized they were signing up for decades of people sniggering to themselves about how it means they must like anal (no joke, I've literally heard people say that). There's a vast difference between those two reactions and the latter is not exactly a nuanced class-based critique of somebody's aesthetic choices.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:43 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Yeah, and you're still completely wrong there because 90% of the definitions are sexist bullshit about sluts. "

I'm sorry that I didn't go through every single definition and counted them. I saw that the first definition was the "sleeps around" one and the second definition was a joke on both meanings and the first part of the 3rd definition was the hobo one. So I said 50% because that's all that I needed to see. I didn't know it was a common usage. I also don't appreciate you putting words in my mouth by saying:

"I can see how you would totally be confused about why all these slutty hobos are suddenly getting tattoos."

My point was that I didn't know that "tramp" was a popular synonym for "slut" so I checked and found out that it was so I said that I didn't know that. So why the hostility?
posted by I-baLL at 11:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd say getting tattoos has never been more popular...trendy is one word that expresses that. Out of all the people I know, of all age groups, more have tattoos than those that don't. I haven't gotten one for many reasons, but one of my reaaons is that it feels more unusual not to have one these days.

When everyone is inked, the real rebellious move is to not get inked.
posted by kgasmart at 11:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't really buy that patriarchy is responsible for your bad tastes

She is not asking for your approval of her "tastes." She's asking people to stop using a misogynist term to refer to her tattoo. Because it's vile and sexually demeaning.

The entire point of the article is that bad tattoos done in one's youth are funny or nostalgic or a bit disappointing but not nearly as stigmatized as having a bad "trampy" tattoo. Because people are hateful, sexist assholes.

Can't wait for more non-RTFAing "EXCUSE ME, I THINK YOUR TATTOO IS TRASHY AND THIS IS THE ONLY RELEVANT INFO" posts to chime in and pretend that sexism isn't real though.
posted by easter queen at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [24 favorites]


I used to call them Tramp Stamps as well, and we all used to mock them as the sort of tattoo that someone was getting to be trendy. I never got the feeling that anyone around me was meaning anything sexual by it... until the day that a rather creepy acquaintance of mine made it clear that he did. That experience definitely did remove the 'fun' of the term and I stopped using it. That was way back in the late 90s... it's been a poisoned term ever since.

Luckily I was long ago introduced to the Ass Antlers alternative. Which I feel is much more on point of mocking what is often a bad tattoo choice without the shitty sexual judgement.

So yeah stop trying to defend the term. There are lots of examples that it is seen as sexual and that it's been used to demean women. Accept it, end of story. No one cares about the history of the words... it just doesn't matter given how icky the current use is.

Believe me that I'm game for people doing whatever they want with their bodies for whatever reason and their aesthetic is often not going to be something I'd agree with for myself. But sometimes some tattoos really are just a poor choice. It's like that time you went out with the flock of seagulls haircut... except permanent.
posted by cirhosis at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2015


[Extended argument about Urban Dictionary should probably be put to bed at this point.]
posted by cortex at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


My point was that I didn't know that "tramp" was a popular synonym for "slut" so I checked and found out that it was so I said that I didn't know that. So why the hostility?

Yar, all joking aside, I imagine this is a pile-on we can move away from now.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


otzi the fucking iceman had tattoos

OTZI: It means "strength" in Kurgan
FRIEND: Dude I can read Kurgan. It means "dumbshit who will get shot by an arrow and die of exposure"
OTZI: God dammit
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [77 favorites]


"The cynical dog had various names during development, including Homer, Rags, and Bozo, before "Tramp" was chosen. It was first thought "Tramp" wouldn't be acceptable because of the sexual connotation associated with the word ("The Lady is a Tramp"), but Walt Disney approved it was considered safe." (Wikipedia; Disney Archives; Emphasis mine)

Even in the late 30s, the definition/meaning of the word 'tramp' changed depending on which gender you were referring to. If you were referring to a man, the word meant transient, homeless, hobo -- at worst it was an insulting way of calling a man a 'bum'. But more often, it was a cutesy way to refer to a 'gentleman of the road' (Wikipedia) -- a homeless playboy leading a (romanticized) carefree lifestyle on the road.

But because women 'tramps' (transient, homeless, etc.) were viewed differently than their male counterparts (unsurprisingly, they were often believed to be prostitutes) -- the term became a derogatory way of calling a woman promiscuous.

This is why the name 'Tramp' was originally reconsidered, but ultimately approved -- it was describing a male character and thus it meant something different -- the (insulting) sexual connotation simply isn't there when the term is applied to a man. FWIW, using 'tramp' to refer to men fell out of favor in the 20s (when using it to refer to women became more commonplace).

And that's what makes the term 'tramp stamp' misogynistic. It sexualizes and shames the location (of a tattoo) on a woman's body; it implies this location is inherently bad (ie: a signal of promiscuity), but also that a tattoo in that location is distinctly female (ie: only promiscuous women get them). And even when it's occasionally used as an insult against men it's still misogynistic -- a man with a LBT is a 'fag' and 'feminine' -- he's shamed for choosing a 'female' location for his tattoo and/or trying to convey a 'female' message (about his promiscuity). But more often, men aren't shamed or called out for having a 'tramp stamp' because for men -- it's called a 'man stamp' (Urban Dictionary).

Frankly, we all make decisions we regret as we get older, and tattoos are certainly no exception to that. But women shouldn't be getting shamed over a location they chose to get a tattoo -- they shouldn't have to worry about men judging them or making assumptions about their sexual levity from it either. As a transman who presents as male, I know I could walk around flashing a 'man stamp' and no one would be making assumptions about how much sex I'm having and with how many partners. That people who present as women cannot do the same is the point -- men who've sexualized the location of a woman's tattoo have indeed ruined it for those women -- many of whom weren't trying to convey that message at all but who now are treated as though they were. It sucks and they absolutely have the right to be upset about how it currently affects their lives.
posted by stubbehtail at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [31 favorites]


But sometimes some tattoos really are just a poor choice

This is so far from being an objective judgment that it's incredible. Some people-- brace yourself-- do not care about your tastes.
posted by easter queen at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


prize bull octorok: You owe me a new keyboard. Coffee. Everywhere.
posted by I-baLL at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2015


MetaFilter is like the tramp stamp of human thought.
posted by phaedon at 11:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Truly, in a world where social media holds photos of every party you went to in college, the concept of tattoo = shameful has the shelf-life of yogurt.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:57 AM on May 13, 2015


Kind of like the people who think they're commenting on aesthetics by saying "tramp stamp," when they're really devaluing women. They're not right or wrong, they're not even commenting on what they think they're commenting on.

But commenting on someone's value due to their personal aesthetics is wrong.
posted by mikeh at 11:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I remember when we originally discussed her lower back tattoo at the patriarchy meeting and we thought it was cool.
posted by w0mbat at 12:00 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't hear the phrase as "slut shaming" particularly, because I hear it as invoking "tramp" in a connotative rather than denotative way. I remember the phrase rooting sort of in the middle period of Real World style drunken reality shows... To my ear, it's the overall gestalt of the fungible bronzed vomiter in the awful bar rather than anything about her sex life in particular. In fact it scans a lot more like class shaming to me... Plus, outside of the phrase, "tramp" just sounds like an archaism. Just, like, a gender coded pejorative that rhymes in there...
posted by batfish at 12:01 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I heard this thread is where we dump our most despicable judgements upon our fellow humans for no other reason than their fashion sense for the world to see as a permanent testament to how embarrassingly wretched humanity really is.

Your embarrassing comments can't be washed off later kids, so think about what choices you want stuck there for all time!
posted by xarnop at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


[Folks, drop it means drop it, in all directions.]
posted by cortex at 12:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Are you people hating on tramp stamps the same people who show up in every thread about appearance + sexism to talk about how fashion is stupid and you don't have any?

Regardless, I guarantee everyone here that people have made cutting judgments about your identity and personhood based on your appearance or clothing at least once in your life, and it's up to you whether you want to keep passing the buck by being a public asshole about whoever you determine is not up to your exacting physical standards of dress, appearance and aesthetics.
posted by easter queen at 12:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


In fact it scans a lot more like class shaming to me

Perhaps a word originally used for poor roving women who were thought to be prostitutes is both slut shaming and class shaming... The world may never know...
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


I like the Charlie Chaplin tattoo idea as long as he is holding a giant rubber stamp.
posted by angryostrich at 12:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is so far from being an objective judgment that it's incredible. Some people-- brace yourself-- do not care about your tastes.

Do you think I don't know this? The previous sentence I defend people's rights to do whatever the hell they want to. Or are you reading that as "all LBT are bad and because of my judgement ..." I don't even think that. Some can be great work. I'm more along the lines of hey the snap decision to get a shitty cheap tattoo might be a bad idea. So yes objectively there is such a thing as a "bad tattoo"
posted by cirhosis at 12:13 PM on May 13, 2015


I'm more along the lines of hey the snap decision to get a shitty cheap tattoo might be a bad idea. So yes objectively there is such a thing as a "bad tattoo"

No, "objectively," there is not. If they like their shitty cheap tattoo, it's not.
posted by easter queen at 12:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't hear the phrase as "slut shaming" particularly, because I hear it as invoking "tramp" in a connotative rather than denotative way.

At least we've graduated to grad-school-level denial of sexism.
posted by dialetheia at 12:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [40 favorites]


that's not what objective means.
posted by nadawi at 12:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by kagredon at 12:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I cannot even believe that this thread is so chock-full of people dismissing this as not being sexism when the fucking name of the thing we're talking about is a tramp stamp (and reading the words 'skank flank' almost made me lose my breakfast). WTF is going on here these days? Sure, it's totally sexism-free, ladies, my ultra-tedious condescending mansplaining will make everything clear for you!

It's a pretty appalling thread to roll in to. I was going to say "well at least it's pretty front loaded", but there's been quite a bit of "no but REALLY".

I hope no one worthwhile leaves over this thread. When i opened it, i had just woken up from having a really bizarre dream because my neighbors have been smashing around upstairs since 6am(THEY NEVER SLEEP). I actually checked my bank account and then the calendar because i was convinced i had literally gone back in time.

This thread reads like it's from like... 2010 or something. Maybe earlier.
posted by emptythought at 12:15 PM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


So yes objectively there is such a thing as a "bad tattoo"

You mean like, meticulous testing and experimentation has determined the inherent constitution of the tattoo about which there is a consensus?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


A tattoo is like a toddler; someone loves it, so it has a worthwhile place in this world, even if it makes many others stare in horror and slowly back away to the other side of the room.
posted by delfin at 12:19 PM on May 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


"Some people-- brace yourself-- do not care about your tastes."

But care greatly about your opinion on their taste. Anyway, I prefer the term "California Licence Plate". Not as catchy as "Tramp Stamp" (which I think is as popular as it is mostly because it rhymes) but I like it.
posted by MikeMc at 12:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is so far from being an objective judgment that it's incredible. Some people-- brace yourself-- do not care about your tastes.

I'm generally not a big proponent of "this is a me me me society" or "your parent taught you that you were a special unique snowflake far too much" type of thinking, but this thread has really started to change my mind and make me think that... Yea, some people really were raised to think that their personal opinion about other peoples choices or really anything matters way, way too much.

It's like there needs to be a mandatory class in high school, along the lines of US history, that just teaches you that:

1. Your opinion and judgement doesn't really matter. No one fucking cares.

2. Unless it's about yourself, that's 100% your call.

Because yea, some people really do think way too fucking highly of their own opinion as something that actually has weight or is a meaningful judgement on anyone else.
posted by emptythought at 12:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


This has nothing to do with anything, but I know a blogger who has CAKEFACE across her knuckles in a cutesy script type and I think it's the cutest thing. So cute.
posted by FunkyHelix at 12:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]




I'm pretty sure the tattoo I saw of the Tasmanian devil jerking off is objectively bad but I can't prove it.
posted by josher71 at 12:22 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe people are getting confused about the fact that you don't have to like someone's tattoo for them to enjoy it... ? Like the people who say "it's a LBT, of course it's for other people" genuinely believe that the person got it so they could pass judgment on it? I dunno, I'm stumped.

Metafilter, your middle-class, scolding bourgie taste preferences are not universal, that's all I've got.

But care greatly about your opinion on their taste

Yes, in that they wish they had more faith in humanity because they hadn't read this damn thread.
posted by easter queen at 12:22 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Objectively Bad Tattoo
posted by griphus at 12:22 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Your embarrassing comments can't be washed off later kids, so think about what choices you want stuck there for all time!

Literally guys
posted by phaedon at 12:23 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]




Objectively Brad's Tattoo
posted by cortex at 12:24 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I see a lot of people saying "she's not mad at the patriarchy, she's mad at these youthful choices she regrets", as though it weren't because of the patriarchy that those regrets exist. Would she regret her lower back tattoo if it weren't so widely considered an emblem of promiscuity? We'll never know, because not even Stephen Hawking can map a road to that parallel universe. I know that when I see a lower back tattoo, the words "tramp stamp" pop unbidden into my head, because that's how potent memes operate, and I fucking hate it, but there it is.

The reason people think lower back tattoos are in bad taste is because they are sexualized and we tend to consider highly sexualized things declasse. The reason people think butterflies on ankles and dragonflies on backs are tacky is because those images are feminized, and we tend to treat feminized imagery with less respect. It is absolutely impossible for anyone to separate their acculturated distaste from the culture into which you are inculcated. That's why people talk about the patriarchy. That's what the patriarchy is. It's the thing that tells you that girl stuff is stupid. Some women get tattoos on their ankles, and most men typically wouldn't, because of the remnants of Victorian sexual mores from a time when the possibility of seeing a woman's ankle was incredibly risque. Our culture tells us it's girl stuff, and girl stuff is stupid and sexual, so we think it's stupid and sexual.

Where do you think your tastes come from? They don't spring fully formed from the unimpeachable core of your perfect individuality. Your tastes are your culture's tastes. When you think something is in bad taste, it's because it's culturally unacceptable, and this culture is rooted in the disapproval of women and women's sexuality. I'm not saying it's impossible that without patriarchal influence, you would still hate back tattoos. I'm saying that it's absolutely impossible to separate the patriarchal influence from your hatred of back tattoos, because that misogyny is foundational to your cultural perception. It's built into you and you'll never ever get it out. The best you can do is become aware of it and resist it.

You don't have to like back tattoos; you can hate them all you want, and it doesn't make you a misogynist. I don't think I'd get one. It's just important to be aware that some part of why you hate them is because this culture hates women. Maybe that's the largest part of why you hate back tattoos, maybe it's the smallest part, but it's never not a part of it. If you're not actively accounting for that part, it will definitely wield more influence over your tastes than you might prefer. Cultural mores are more powerful than your unconscious assumptions, but they're not more powerful than your conscious thought, so maybe just keep thinking about it.
posted by Errant at 12:25 PM on May 13, 2015 [214 favorites]


FTFY for men:

They are emblems of their stupidity and conformity. It's okay to make fun of them, because it's like a visible tag that someone thought it was a good idea to make a permanent modification to their body of something with no real relevance to them other than '[tebori style dragons/panthers/Sailor Jerry flash are [badass]!'

And for everyone arguing that the lower back placement is about doggy style? I've got skinny arms and legs, soft parts elsewhere that may expand or contract and will surely sag with age, and wear camisoles and strapless dresses. If I wanted a decent sized, flat canvas that won't age terribly, you better believe the lower back would seem like a reasonable fit.
posted by blue suede stockings at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


1. Your opinion and judgement doesn't really matter. No one fucking cares.

Yet MetaFilter comment threads still exist.
posted by MikeMc at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


FWIW, using 'tramp' to refer to men fell out of favor in the 20s

No, it continued well past the 20's: see Otis Redding and Carla Thomas's song "Tramp" from 1967, and Salt-n-Pepa's song from the mid-80's (which samples the former).

Both feature men taking defiant pride in being called a tramp, ie promiscuous and commitment-avoiding, by women, though there's also a class element to Redding's song, what with his shoes, overalls, and hair being part of what makes Thomas accuse of him being a tramp.

But people popping into the thread to claim that they've never heard it used to slut shame women is a lot like people popping into threads on street harassment to claim that they've never seen it. Or like claiming that they've only ever heard "porch monkey" used to describe playful and mischievous kids, not black people. In both cases, what does this bit of data add to the conversation? It's asking an awful lot of the people who are telling you about their experiences to request that they shouldn't see these counter-examples as an attempt to diminish the issue and dismiss those affected by it.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:27 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Having been involved in the BME scene for years and having tattoos myself I've been having this discussion for years. There are lots of people who are very much in the it's their body and they can do anything they want no matter how self destructive camp. And rarely does that mean just ugly or beautiful...

But talk to any established tattoo artist. Yes there is such a thing as a bad tattoo. And usually they are done by people who barely know what they are doing. Where the tattoo rarely resembles what the client had in mind when the process started. That will fade and or get infected. That were maybe not done with much care or hygene.

And those are the tattoos that are done cheaply and on a whim. By someone who has no respect for the art or for your choice.

So yes there is objectively bad tattoos.
posted by cirhosis at 12:27 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Objectivist's Rad Tattoo
posted by griphus at 12:27 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Objectively Bard Tattoo
posted by Navelgazer at 12:27 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I once spent a hungover day watching a marathon of a bad tattoo cover up reality show. While by definition none of the tattoos could be objectively bad, I doubt the one the guy did on himself of a dog in a party hat that said "Party Dog" under it would have a lot of fans.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [44 favorites]


Ok, you win. An infected tattoo is a bad tattoo. *slow clap*
posted by easter queen at 12:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


This one too.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos, that is fucking hilarious and I do actually kind of love it.
posted by easter queen at 12:29 PM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


I got my first tattoo in 1980, at 20. When very few women had tattoos. But I've always liked doing things that I wanted to do whether or not they were things that were deemed to be okay for women or girls. I got my second tattoo 7 years later, and my third tattoo 11 years after that. Then in 2001, I started doing some work that evolved and evolved and now I don't know how to count the tattoos that I have, but I will mention that people who generally don't like tattoos frequently compliment mine. I'm proud of that.

My first tattoo is now old enough to be President. Still looks good, though. I'm proud of that, too.

She doesn't like having her dragonfly called a Tramp Stamp. My solution to that epithet was to get a very large piece on my lower back. I don't think you can call it a tramp stamp if it goes from hip to hip and from tailbone to waistline.

People (often people who have no tattoos) call my tattoo work "tats", and I don't like that. I didn't get my tattoos done in prison so I don't think they're tats. But I can't stop people from doing it, so I just shrug it off.

There's this terrific novel called Electric Michelangelo, that tells the story of a tattoo artist. One of the things that's said in the book is that one of the first rules of tattoo work is "Thou shalt get used to it." I have one tattoo that I would change somewhat if I were to do it again. But whatever, I got used to it.

I think she needs to move on.
posted by janey47 at 12:29 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


So yes there is objectively bad tattoos.

This is a separate discussion, but, just as a reference point for when the appropriate thread comes up to discuss tattoos and artistic criticism, you're wrong.
posted by maxsparber at 12:29 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


So yes there is objectively bad tattoos.

I think you just need to bold the whole sentence, and then you will be correct
posted by invitapriore at 12:30 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


So yes there is objectively bad tattoos.

Yea, but it's pretty clear that this isn't what anyone else bringing this up meant. They meant "There's tatoos in which i disagree with the artistic merit of the image, which therefor due to my personal opinion somehow converts them to objectively bad via my mental leap quantum enunciator", or some other such dr. who-esque device.

You're the only one to make a compelling argument for such a phrase even existing so far. Nothing objective was said before this, just a lot of smug farts.
posted by emptythought at 12:30 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's tattoos and there's uh, THOSE kind of tattoos.

Just go to the subreddit "Badtattoos" if you want to see what I mean.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:30 PM on May 13, 2015


All right. I'm sorry easter queen. You can win an argument that I really wish we weren't having.

I have zero belief that anyone has to care about my opinion.

But that doesn't mean I can't have my own opinions.
posted by cirhosis at 12:31 PM on May 13, 2015


"Party Dog"

"So what do you want to replace it with?"
"I don't want to replace it. I want you to give it life."
posted by griphus at 12:32 PM on May 13, 2015 [74 favorites]


Yeah, this is just turning into another thread where men have decided their personal tastes are more important to discuss than the subject of the thread. Somehow that always happens in threads where the subject is the experience of women.
posted by maxsparber at 12:32 PM on May 13, 2015 [42 favorites]


"Party Dog"

I absolutely love that he regretted not the concept of Party Dog, but that he didn't take the execution of Party Dog seriously enough the first time around to get it done in color by a real artist. Please give me all of the info you can about this person so I can track him down and propose to him.
posted by almostmanda at 12:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [65 favorites]


MetaFilter: Just as a reference point for when the appropriate thread comes up [...] you're wrong.
posted by griphus at 12:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Also wow, this thread really has everything. There's even the obligatory "Sexism/racism isn't the issue here, it's classism!" hail mary play. I'd ask why people are so determined to not consider that it really is those things and this lady isn't just regretful and trying to pin it on everyone else, or attention whoring, or whatever they think... but that's both semi-impossible to understand for me, and i also know it happens every god damn time.
posted by emptythought at 12:34 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Look... I'm sorry everyone has been offended by what I had to say.

I really wasn't trying to take over the discussion. I just feel into the trap of defending a point I don't really think I was ever trying to make.
posted by cirhosis at 12:34 PM on May 13, 2015


I don't hear the phrase as "slut shaming" particularly, because I hear it as invoking "tramp" in a connotative rather than denotative way.

I'm a researcher and lecturer in a department of semiotics, in which these two concepts are commonplace and are taught (by myself included) to undergrads, and I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [44 favorites]


Unless a tattoo directly references Ronnie James Dio it is not signal but noise.
posted by Chitownfats at 12:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Metafiler: I just feel into the trap of defending a point I don't really think I was ever trying to make.
posted by lattiboy at 12:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'm a researcher and lecturer in a department of semiotics, in which these two concepts are commonplace and are taught (by myself included) to undergrads, and I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

Summary
posted by lattiboy at 12:37 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also wow, this thread really has everything.

Tramp stamps, skank flanks, icemen, shitty t-shirts, classism, Objectively Bad Tattoos...

(What's an Objectively Bad Tattoo?)

That's where Herve Villechaize shows up in a white tuxedo and shoots you in the kneecap.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:39 PM on May 13, 2015 [27 favorites]


Also wow, this thread really has everything.

Seriously. To recap the gist of this thread:

- It isn't sexist because lots of women really are sluts
- It isn't sexist because tramp is 'gender-neutral'
- It isn't sexist because it only means trashy sluts
- It isn't sexist because dragonflies are a universal symbol for sluttiness
- It isn't sexist because the author wrote this article for the attention
- It isn't sexist because they are simply signaling that they prefer doggy-style
- It isn't sexist because they just have awful taste, which taste clearly has nothing to do with gender or sexual mores
- It isn't sexist because this dumb girl just regrets her dumb girl decisions

Did I miss anything?
posted by dialetheia at 12:40 PM on May 13, 2015 [135 favorites]


Party Dog
posted by griphus at 12:41 PM on May 13, 2015 [86 favorites]


just feel into the trap of defending a point I don't really think I was ever trying to make

This is something that is entirely in your control to avoid.
posted by kagredon at 12:41 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


98 Degrees was always a punchline.
posted by Splunge at 12:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Perhaps a word originally used for poor roving women who were thought to be prostitutes is both slut shaming and class shaming... The world may never know...

Have your snark, but i don't think the etymology really reveals anything that's not already on the surface here, and definitely doesn't pin down what kind of role the phrase is playing. For the record, I loathe the phrase, and have long since concluded that people who use it say more about themselves than anyone else. I just don't hear it as for shaming about sexuality, anymore than say "basic bitch" is.
posted by batfish at 12:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Symbols have meanings. That's the whole point of a tattoo.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:42 PM on May 13, 2015


(What's an Objectively Bad Tattoo?)

$20, same as in town.

She said, trying to find some humor so she won't have to go rage-smash something at how parts of this discussion are going.
posted by Stacey at 12:43 PM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Party Dog is on the / arm toniiiiight
Everbody just / have a good tat

posted by cortex at 12:43 PM on May 13, 2015 [26 favorites]


You missed the one where we mock conformists for following trends, dialetheia. That never has a sexist component.
posted by almostmanda at 12:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


Maybe it's just my age, but mocking conformists for their conformity seems even more 90s than getting a Sublime tattoo
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:48 PM on May 13, 2015 [32 favorites]


I hated the posers before it was cool
posted by kagredon at 12:50 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


People with lower-back tattoos unite! I got a tattoo of a blackbird because I had been through some stuff and I liked the Beatles song. The artist bought the white album for the occasion. My future husband was with me when the artist sketched out some designs. We overheard him saying to another customer "so how many skulls do you want?", which remains a joke with us.

I remember the first time I heard someone use the term "tramp stamp" and my heart sank when I realized that it could be applied to my tattoo, which I still think is pretty. It's a souvenir from that period of my life and a reminder that I survived. I'll admit that I judge people a little when they say they got a butterfly tattoo because butterflies are pretty but if they're happy with their tattoo, I'm the one with the problem, not them. Similarly, I don't think that my tattoo is an emblem of my stupidity and conformity but if you do, that's your problem, not mine.
posted by kat518 at 12:53 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


oh my god i just realized that MISANDRY would fit as a knuckle tattoo
posted by poffin boffin at 1:00 PM on May 13, 2015 [77 favorites]


Have your snark, but i don't think the etymology really reveals anything that's not already on the surface here, and definitely doesn't pin down what kind of role the phrase is playing. For the record, I loathe the phrase, and have long since concluded that people who use it say more about themselves than anyone else. I just don't hear it as for shaming about sexuality, anymore than say "basic bitch" is.

Basically agreed, except that I think that the phrase is pretty obviously classist and sexist right on the surface, even if you put the etymology aside. I don't fear that the disembodied spirit of Walter Benn Michaels will haunt me in my sleep if I acknowledge the part about the sexism.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:01 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments removed, let's not start over from the very beginning here.]
posted by cortex at 1:02 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh my god i just realized that MISANDRY would fit as a knuckle tattoo

this is something i should try to forget next time my niece's son's father's brother wants to give me a tattoo...
posted by nadawi at 1:02 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also if I am the only person here who prefers the original party dog to the "better" party dog then I am prepared to die on this hill.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [62 favorites]


If nothing else this horrific trainwreck* of a thread has helped me choose a location for my next tattoo, because obviously this shit is goin' right in the middle of my lower back, now:

Ain't Give A Damn

*except for Party Dog, of course.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


This thread lacks pictures of cool Mefite tattoos. At my youthfully rebellious and unthinking age of 36 I just had this one made. It's from Ukok the "Siberian Ice Maiden", 2500 years old, and very beautiful. I also had it done at a place that is usually covered, I can't really see most of it without a mirror, and I haven't really told anyone (except to Mefites, now) because I did it for myself.

Also I'm a guy and I had a tattoo made on me which was originally on a woman so I guess I'm effeminate now!
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:05 PM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


i admit that i stared at misandry mermaid for too long today thinking about it as a lower back tattoo.
posted by nadawi at 1:06 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


The original party dog is pretty amazing.
posted by josher71 at 1:07 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I have a dragonfly tattoo.
posted by rtha at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2015 [33 favorites]


I'm a researcher and lecturer in a department of semiotics, in which these two concepts are commonplace and are taught (by myself included) to undergrads, and I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

I am using the terms to distinguish between a dictionary type definition and the associations around a word. What I was trying to say was that if "tramp" means promiscuity, then I think that meaning is significantly drained out in "tramp stamp" and there are just markers and associations left over (like the tattoo type itself) that don't particularly have anything to do with sexuality.
posted by batfish at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2015


Also if I am the only person here who prefers the original party dog to the "better" party dog then I am prepared to die on this hill.

You won't die alone. I mean we all die alone but we'll all be thinking of original party dog when we do.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [34 favorites]


> "Did I miss anything?"

Well ... I think "It isn't sexist because they are simply signaling that they prefer anal" should probably get a separate category from "It isn't sexist because they are simply signaling that they prefer doggy-style", because the reasons given were different. (Doggy-style = A decoration that your partner can see during a particular sex position indicates you wish to have sex in that position; Anal = A decoration that can in some way be interpreted as pointing towards an orifice indicates you wish to have that orifice penetrated.)

I cannot believe I just had a reason to type those words in that order
posted by kyrademon at 1:10 PM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


rtha - that's fucking gorgeous.
posted by nadawi at 1:10 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Part of me wishes he had kept the original, lo-fi Party Dog on the one arm, and got the souped-up Party Dog on the other arm. Everybody wins!
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 1:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Also I'm a guy and I had a tattoo made on me which was originally on a woman so I guess I'm effeminate now!

Nah, you're just another white guy appropriating the culture of indigenous peoples and women.
posted by MikeMc at 1:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm a researcher and lecturer in a department of semiotics, in which these two concepts are commonplace and are taught (by myself included) to undergrads, and I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.
posted by The Bellman at 1:12 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Tattooing has been around for many thousands of years, the reasons people get tattooed are as numerous as the people themselves, and if you have an urge to project assumed motives upon strangers that you encounter with tattoos then that reveals quite a lot more about your mindset than theirs.

Yeeeeaaaaah.
I've been mouth agape through this whole thread at the assumptions being thrown around here.

I mean, I grew up in Bynk, Oregon and so many people in that area, from so many different backgrounds, had tattoos with such a variety of wonderful, personal, societal, historical, genealogical, mythological, symbolic, fun, playful, high, sometimes sorrowful, etc. etc. stories behind them... Yet apparently, so many people on seeing a tattoo, rather than think, "awesome, this person I don't know has stories I can't even imagine," instead want to argue in favor of a two-syllable pejorative that makes them sound like cats barfing up raw grass they just ate? Seriously?

Damn. You're missing out on life.
Nota bene: at no point do I recommend going around asking random people with tattoos what they mean. Instead, try assuming the best rather than the worst. Maybe someday a person with a tattoo/tattoos will tell its/their story/ies of their own volition, and you will learn yet another neat thing. As has been done in this thread.
posted by fraula at 1:13 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


You know, I suddenly remembered something from my own tattoo. When I went in getting a giant f****** honking arm tattoo, the tattoo artist suggested maybe I should get something small in the middle of my lower back. As a starter tattoo. So while I still think it's a terrible choice of terrible placement, it's worth considering that some of the women who got those tattoos may have gotten them because sexist tattoo artist wanted to be dicks.
posted by corb at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't have any tattoos yet, but I am not passing up the opportunity to state that I have no skin in this game.
posted by almostmanda at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


I have a tattoo on my lower back and I literally had no idea I was supposed to feel bad about it. Turns out there's a long list of awful things I'm supposed to think and be because of it, all of which are utterly shitty. So, uh, thanks for that metafilter.

Which is all stupid because the lower back is an awesome place for a tattoo. Look at this and this for example (links are to paintings by Rubens), see that triangle of flat skin over the back of the pelvis? That's where my tattoo is, same as many other women. I gain and lose weight occasionally and, no matter what happens, the skin under my tattoo is still relatively flat and tight (unlike pretty much everything else). This is the kind of forward thinking that should be celebrated not reviled.

(as an aside, my tattoo is of this moehog which still rules just as much now as when I first got it)
posted by shelleycat at 1:16 PM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


it's a totally fine place for a tattoo. women's anatomy generally makes curves and such look good there, it's a nice fleshy part of the body, if it stretches weird with age it's easy enough to cover up. the only problem with the lower back tattoo is people's fucked up reactions to it.
posted by nadawi at 1:16 PM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


I do like that this thread is finally turning into "MeFites showing off their tattoos." I don't have a tattoo, but I really like them and would totally get one if I could find something I didn't mind A) having on me forever and B) having to explain to people I meet for the rest of my life
posted by JDHarper at 1:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I will stand up and say that in college I drank a lot and had sex with more boys than I can count and I do not have a tattoo. So there.
posted by waving at 1:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


having to explain to people I meet for the rest of my life

Okay but just consider how much hilarity would be involved with explaining Party Dog.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


This thread lacks pictures of cool Mefite tattoos.

Roger that:

I have a seahorse/coral-n-stuff half sleeve, hopefully to be extended to my wrist with more rad sea creatures by the end of this year.

I also have a *gasp* butterfly tattoo.

I got them both for no reason other than because they're pretty.

The butterfly/wisteria is a coverup of the old 90s, poorly executed tribal-ish sun tattoo I mentioned in a previous comment. (Man I had to dig back through old Facebook photos to find that!)
posted by misskaz at 1:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


Well I mean there are worse tattoos.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 1:22 PM on May 13, 2015


Batfish, I now see where the confusion comes from. There is a common misunderstanding about these two concepts, which is basically that there is the true meaning of the word, such as you'll find in a dictionary, and then there's just this extra idiosyncratic fluff around it. This basically has it backwards. Connotation might as well mean "the way the word is actually used", and denotation is how the word was, at some point in history in a particular society, enshrined in a specific kind of cultural artefact, such as a dictionary.

Granted, Barthes for one used it mostly like you describe it, but I don't think his is the common understanding today, mostly because a cultural artefact such as a dictionary is not the main determinant of a language; rather, the community of speakers is.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:22 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was going to post a photo of my tattoo but realised I don't actually have one. I care so little about how it looks to other people I never even thought to take one, even though I had it done about 13 years ago. Personally I like how it feels more than anything.
posted by shelleycat at 1:23 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was going to post a picture of my tattoo but then realized that sexism means I fear the internet and any possibility of my real identity being exposed because I might get s***** death threats. Ah well. I'll save it for the next meetup.
posted by corb at 1:25 PM on May 13, 2015


I have a, uh, lower back tattoo. From memory it involves a big eyeball, a set of outstretched hands, palms up, a question mark, some fearsome canines over my butt crack, and snakes.


Nobody ever calls it a tramp stamp for some reason.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Basically agreed, except that I think that the phrase is pretty obviously classist and sexist right on the surface, even if you put the etymology aside. I don't fear that the disembodied spirit of Walter Benn Michaels will haunt me in my sleep if I acknowledge the part about the sexism.

Ha! Don't get haunted! I dunno. If there were an epithet picking on, say, the big hair of big-haired southern women, would it be sexist in virtue of picking on only women? Maybe, maybe not, but it hardly seems explanatory of anything to say so. To me anyway. On the other hand, something like "cougar" manifestly is both sexist and "slut shaming" in that it unambiguously implies a double standard about women's behavior and sexuality...
posted by batfish at 1:30 PM on May 13, 2015


[To be clear, if you want to talk about the article in a non-"and here's the problem with Metafilter!" way and make it clearer that you know there's been several hundred comments of discussion already, that's not a problem. But it needs to be that, and not not-that.]
posted by cortex at 1:30 PM on May 13, 2015


Oh! And (ironically) I almost forgot about the one that actually does represent something other than "oooh pretty": my buffalo tattoo because I'm from Buffalo (featuring lighting bolts and stars referencing the City of Buffalo flag). The plan is, that leg is for flash/old school type stuff, leaving the more painterly work on my other limbs.
posted by misskaz at 1:31 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I was going to post a picture of my tattoo but then realized that sexism means I fear the internet and any possibility of my real identity being exposed because I might get s***** death threats. Ah well. I'll save it for the next meetup.

Yup.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:31 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I can be really dense. I know they are often referred to as "tramp stamps" and I know what "tramp" generally means but I never made the connection with perceived promescuity. I know. Dense.

Now I know and I won't use that term anymore and I want to thank those of you who have reminded me that what other people do with/to their bodies most likely has nothing to do with me so I should mind my own damned business and not judge them.
posted by cooker girl at 1:31 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


misskaz, that butterfly tattoo is fantastic! I like how the outlining makes it look a little 3-dimensional, like the art is sitting on top of your skin.
posted by JDHarper at 1:32 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


people in this very thread have said that this style of tattoo makes them think that the women like certain types of sex and are a particular type of drunken trend follower - i'm not sure how you can argue the sexism out of the phrase.
posted by nadawi at 1:32 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I showed my friends this article and one of them suggested that the tribal tattoos be referred to as "douche hoops". Please spread the word.
posted by numaner at 1:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


This thread lacks pictures of cool Mefite tattoos.

You can probably make out my tattoos through the chest hair.
posted by griphus at 1:34 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also if I am the only person here who prefers the original party dog to the "better" party dog then I am prepared to die on this hill.

Nah i'm with you. SO many of my friends have "shitty" tattoos like that, men and women. Some of them lived in a party house where everyone got that tattoo one night, some of them had a partner or best friend or whoever do it in some silly situation, some did it themselves.

If you buy in to the "tattoos are about memories/meaning" thing at all, which i think is up to the tattoo-wearer but totally valid, then the shitty version is way cooler than any redux would ever be. And i love shit like that.


I could also see a compelling argument being made for getting a coverup that's the exact same concept done way nicer as being like restoring your dads favorite old car and giving it back to him or something though.

But yea, +1 on OG party dog being awesome as fuck.
posted by emptythought at 1:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Here's the thing about this thread: I would absolutely love to be able to have a good, nuanced conversation about how sometimes women can feel pressured to get tattoos like this so that they can appeal to men for approval, because I did go through a period like that in my late adolescence (likely due to a complete lack of decent men in my life to refer to) - it was an ill-considered belly button ring for me, not a tattoo, but same difference. It was a crappy time and I believed a lot of crappy things about myself and the source of my value in the world.

But as long as we are stuck in this completely idiotic denial that there could even be anything sexist about "tramp stamp" (which I can still barely believe), there's just no room for that conversation to take place, because every bit of it will be used as rhetorical ammo from sexism-denying people who want to say "see? I was right! It is all just about women seeking attention, or really being sluts, or whatever!"

Since that hypothetical interesting and nuanced conversation about the complex and interacting patriarchal and/or sex-positive ideas that might influence some women to get e.g. a highly sexualized tattoo is at least 201-level, and we're apparently still stuck in preschool here with respect to acknowledging sexism, we aren't going to get to have that conversation anytime soon. Which is a goddamn shame.
posted by dialetheia at 1:36 PM on May 13, 2015 [44 favorites]


Thank you, JDHarper! It probably also looks that way because that picture was from when it was very, very new and somewhat swollen. It's more faded and flat now, though still lovely.
posted by misskaz at 1:36 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll probably never get a tattoo on my lower back, or anywhere on my back. It's not because I'm not a tramp or a slut of because I'm too classy for that sort of thing or that I value the opinions of random people who would judge me for it, but because I want to always be able to see my tattoos without getting (too) undressed or using a mirror and peering over my shoulder!
posted by rtha at 1:38 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


My only tattoo so far is a self-administered stick-and-poke (it's faded a little since then), but it's definitely given me the bug.
posted by invitapriore at 1:39 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Party Dog would never judge anyone for their tattoo or any other reason. Party Dog just wants to party with you.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:39 PM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


I would absolutely love to be able to have a good, nuanced conversation about how sometimes women can feel pressured to get tattoos like this so that they can appeal to men for approval

I got mine for kind of the opposite reason. I wanted to never be anonymous. I have eyes and monsters and unpretty things all over me to remind you that I am me even when my back is turned to you.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:43 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh totally, apologies if I made it sound like that was the only reason to get one - I didn't mean that at all and tried to be more general by including e.g. sex-positive reasons later on!
posted by dialetheia at 1:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Granted, Barthes for one used it mostly like you describe it, but I don't think his is the common understanding today, mostly because a cultural artefact such as a dictionary is not the main determinant of a language; rather, the community of speakers is

I've read bits and pieces of barthes' popular stuff, but I'm only familiar with the terms from analytic style philosophy of language (where "enshrinement" theories of reference are certainly extant, whatever relationship a given normative enshrinement may have to any particular dictionary). At any rate, I was trying to answer what I thought was a misguided appeal to the authority of etymology. And I appreciate your follow up.
posted by batfish at 1:45 PM on May 13, 2015


This thread lacks pictures of cool Mefite tattoos.


See,this is where having most of my ink on my back becomes a problem.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:47 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This thread lacks pictures of cool Mefite tattoos.

This is my most recent one, which was done in 2009 right before my lumpectomy. I'd been thinking about it for a while and I talked to a dermatologist about having the mole removed, and that was a very unsatisfactory consult, so I put it aside until my diagnosis when everyone started yelling at me, AND THE RISK OF LYMPHEDEMA MEANS YOU'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO HAVE BLOOD DRAWN IN THAT ARM AGAIN OR HAVE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE TAKEN USING THAT ARM OR GO IN A HOT TUB OR FLY WITHOUT A COMPRESSION BANDAGE and I was all I guess that means no future tattoos on that arm? and they all said OH HELL NO so I got it in time for it to heal before my lumpectomy. Oh, and lymphedema is happily not an issue for me.

The ivy in that tattoo is pretty much all over my body now, although this is the only section that is white. The rest is colored like English ivy.
posted by janey47 at 1:47 PM on May 13, 2015 [28 favorites]


There's just no way all the people I know with lower back tattoos are tramps.
posted by PHINC at 1:48 PM on May 13, 2015


See,this is where having most of my ink on my back becomes a problem.

This is why you should spend the extra couple bucks and buy the reversible selfie stick.
posted by cortex at 1:49 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


So yes there is objectively bad tattoos.

The most important thing, I think, is that you like your own tattoos. Once, in LA during warm weather, I was wearing a sundress that allowed some tattoo viewing. As I've said, people like my tattoos. A meth head asked me if she could see my tattoos and I said, well, you're seeing some now. She said, "That's cool. {pause} Not as cool as mine, though." She proceeded to show me some work that I would never have revealed voluntarily. But you know what? She LOVED her tattoos. And how fucked up would it be if she didn't and was always going around thinking that someone else's were better? That would be sad.
posted by janey47 at 1:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think you mean the Belfie Butt Selfie Stick
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Re: appropriation:
Spotted a guy at a party some years ago with a vaguely Polynesian arm band.

Me. "Nice tattoo. What is it?"
Dude-bro. "It's tribal."
Me. "Oh! What tribe?"
Dude-bro. ....
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:53 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.

That actually would make an excellent tattoo
posted by RogerB at 1:55 PM on May 13, 2015


I'm only familiar with the terms from analytic style philosophy of language

And I'm basically a continental. Truth vs interpretation, and so on. :) There's a weird situation right now where analytic phil of language and linguistics often don't get along, but everything past this point would be entirely tangential to this thread, so perhaps a discussion for another one.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:55 PM on May 13, 2015


I'm not really sure what that word means but I'm pretty sure that if you have an image of a dragonfly tattooed above the cleavage of your ass with its phallic, patriachal abdoment pointing down between your cheeks it is sending out a vibe whose content is partly entomological and partly sexual. It's not an arrow but it's also not not an arrow.

and

Ah, the tramp stamp, also known as the "respect-me-not."


and

I read the article twice, and the slut-shaming critique really does read like a fig leaf for reflections on youthful regrets. The text is there. It's an honest reading, whether you like it or not.

and a lot more that I don't feel like rereading. are we seriously doing this? is this real life? because this is fucking gross as hell, and I expected better of this website
posted by NoraReed at 1:58 PM on May 13, 2015 [36 favorites]


i've planned my tattoos a million times but i've never gotten them. first it was money, then it was displeasure with my changing body, then it was the nerve damage in my elbows making me fear i couldn't sit for a tattoo. and now? i dunno. i think about them all the time though -
things i will still likely get some day:
something from "le petit prince" - even if the hipsters have taken it over. i remember as a little girl dreaming of being taken by birds (or comets, i guess, since i was watching the cartoon at the time) away from my abusive home. i started drawing the elephant swallowed by a snake on myself when i was 10 or so. i took french in high school just so i could read it in its original language. i have a framed postcard in my kitchen to remind me of a quote from it i love.

the sign language 'i love you' hand sign - a memory of a person who was so important to me and is now gone.

something involving bluebonnets - too involved to really get into.
things i'm glad i did not get:
the righteous babe logo
a fairy holding a pentagram
the mormon CTR shield
the weird celtic tribal i designed in the 9th grade
a million punk band logos
tori amos lyrics
my own poetry
the patterns i used to take when cutting
this list goes on, but i'll stop now...
posted by nadawi at 1:59 PM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


okay but did you see party dog because that was really the high point of the thread.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:00 PM on May 13, 2015 [38 favorites]


I have a latin word, feliciter (luckily), on the back of my neck that I constantly forget about (so much so that I had forgotten about after like a month and put my hair up, where my mom saw it and thought it said 'lucifer'). I have the outline of a bison on my hip, my sister has a matching one. And I have the last few words of the last Calvin & Hobbes comic on my shoulderblade (...let's go exploring), which many people enjoy but also many awful dudes take as an invitation to say filthy things to me.

In like a week or two I'm getting the really excellent city flag of Buffalo on my thigh.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 2:06 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


i've taken a poll! 66.6% of this household likes the first party dog. the other 33.33% hates all things dog. and maybe all things party.
posted by nadawi at 2:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Don't have any linkable pictures up right now but my lower back tattoos are of a tiger and a deer in the snow. I love them.

(I am often asked "What do they mean?" by people seeing them for the first time. In my case, the real answer would be, "This one is a tiger and this one is a deer.")
posted by kyrademon at 2:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


even party dog did not make the rampant misogyny on display in this thread OK
posted by NoraReed at 2:12 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


Right - I do not have a tattoo, and I do not ever forsee obtaining a tattoo. But I have nevertheless had an amusingly fantastic idea for a tattoo, if I were ever ordered to get one in some weird ransom type of situation; and the idea would indeed be kind of sexualized: see, I have a four-inch scar running just under my bikini line, a horizontal line from when I had emergency surgery at age 26. The scar isn't visible until I'm naked, but it isn't exactly faint, either (it's a bit keloid). So I've sometimes joked that I should tattoo the words "Guests please sign in" under the scar.

The reason I've shared this - even though I'm not ever going to actually proceed and get that tattoo - is that I firmly believe that if I did, other people would have absolutely no grounds for shaming me as a "slut" as a result. Even with a blatantly sexual tattoo like that, in a blatantly sexual area like that. Because it's my body and I'm doing what I like with it - just as I'm doing what I like with my body when I sleep with someone. I have that autonomy. I was born with that autonomy.

And the fact that some people would choose to castigate me as a slut nevertheless for such a choice is absolutely a god-damn problem. Which makes it even more of a problem when people castigate other women as sluts for non-sexual tattoos in non-sexual areas.

And that's all I have to say about that, except that come on, "guests sign in" under a scar in that spot is an awesome idea and you know it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:12 PM on May 13, 2015 [42 favorites]


Tattoos that are several lines of text seem odd to me. I've never liked a whole paragraph that much. And I wouldn't want someone to read it and be like, "Ah... okay... hm. Well. All right. I have some thoughts." Plus like they'd get it wrong and I'd say "No, idiot, read it the fuck again," and kind of shove myself against their face, or awkwardly reach around and point out the important part that wrecks their interpretation. And they'd be like, "I'm sorry, it's just hard to read with all the freckles and stretch marks." I'd end up going back to the tattoo parlor to get them to highlight part of it, or just append "dot-dot-dot you know what, fuck you" to the text.
posted by nom de poop at 2:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like tattoos. I don't have any, though, mostly because I'm too preoccupied with what I assume a small group of specific people would think if I did. I think maybe that's sort of related to the article and what's going on in this thread. The sexism surrounding this particular type of tattoo (both the slang term and additional cultural baggage) intensifies that, but I think it would be a similarly fraught issue for women even in the absence of explicitly sexist terminology or associations, given that sexism, body shaming, and judgment are so much a part of everything women have to deal with anyway.
posted by The World Famous at 2:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am psyched by the Buffalo tattoos! I'm from Buffalo and I live in DC now. There was a thing for a while where people got tattoos of the DC flag and I've always thought of getting a tattoo where I replace the stars in the DC flag with buffaloes. I think I want it to go on my upper arm because hometown pride.
posted by kat518 at 2:30 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is the kind of forward thinking that should be celebrated not reviled.

It's also an area that's completely covered by business wear and conservative formal wear but that can be visible with more casual women's clothes, so there's a practical angle in that you have options on when and who sees the tattoo.
posted by kagredon at 2:30 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Awesome, EmpressCallipygos! I applaud you!

I have always said that I wanted "death before dishonor" tattooed on the inside of my upper thigh, yet I never did it. I did, however, get a facsimile of Belladonna's "Loyal" tattoo (on her upper back) on my lower abdomen. My very lower abdomen. And yeah, I totally agree with and understand what you're saying because this tattoo is blatantly sexual in a blatantly sexual area, and no one (not even my then-boyfriend) had any say in it other than me for exactly the reasons you state. MY autonomy. MY body. (MY sense of humor as well, although you and I may share that).
posted by janey47 at 2:31 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nom de poop, I have some poetry tattooed on me, in my handwriting although not my poetry. At some point I realized that I was going to have to choose between eating the book and getting the tattoos, because bottom line I needed to make it a permanent part of me. Not many can read it, even of those who have the opportunity, because it's my handwriting. But having it isn't for other people, it's for me. It's because these lines (it's 7 different segments of a few poems, some running to about a paragraph) need to be a part of the permanent archive. Permanent meaning as long as I live and no longer.
posted by janey47 at 2:34 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


you have options on when and who sees the tattoo.

I really wonder if that's part of the weird response here, especially the tension between it being a supposedly-sexy thing supposedly intended to please men but then almost all the men who've 'weighed in' here fall all over themselves to say how little it appeals to them. I can't point to anything in particular but there's a bit of an undercurrent of "how dare that woman think she can deny me access to her precious tramp stamp, how dare a woman have a sexual thing that isn't on display to all men at all times, well I don't need her stupid tramp stamp so fuck her anyway". I mean, even if we just go back to that first "tramp" definition on urban dictionary, it's "any woman who will open her legs for anyone, except for me. Most of them." It's hard to deny that anger about being "denied" sex is a lot of what undergirds the stigma around "sluttiness" to begin with.
posted by dialetheia at 2:38 PM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


i was blanking on belladonna's tattoo so i went googling for it and found a message board of men discussing which tattoos "ruined" the pornstars they like stealing content from - which, wow. just more proof for the misogyny fire.
posted by nadawi at 2:38 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


found a message board of men discussing which tattoos "ruined" the pornstars they like stealing content from

There was such a comment here, in fact, which was thankfully deleted. God bless the mods.
posted by easter queen at 2:41 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I had an accident in the last few months that has left subtle but probably permanent effects on the form and function of my body, which is a pretty heavy thing to come to grips with. The permanent aspect of tattoos and my general lack of creativity has prevented me from getting one in the past, but I kind of think doing some kind of voluntary body modification could be a helpful thing for me right now and now I think I have a design

anyway, do you guys think that OG party dog would look good as a back piece or is it too low-res to work blown up like that (I guess it could just be on one side under the shoulder blade?)
posted by kagredon at 2:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


I have a stack of fake tattoo paper to play with. I didn't know that "douche hoops" are considered distasteful; I find them just as attractive on guys as other styles of tattoos. Maybe it's less about the tattoo as an object in and of itself, but rather how well a design fits your person and personality? Anyways my main question is, are there any good online galleries that provide a good representation of the space of tattoo designs?
posted by polymodus at 2:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Most amazing LBT of all time. No need to blow it up imo. Just nicely sized. Like the panel of a comic.
posted by easter queen at 2:45 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


So many people seem to be missing the point of this article. Imagine getting a Hindu gammadion cross tattoo in 1910 and how it would suck 30 years later to have everyone assume it's a Nazi swastika.

That's an extreme version of what she's saying. She regrets her tattoo because of the connotations it has developed in society which she couldn't have anticipated when she got it.

It's one thing to deliberately and defiantly choose a tattoo in the face of some segment of society's disapproval. It's another to have the common meaning of a tattoo you thought was simply decorative change out from under you.
posted by straight at 2:45 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


i'm trying to figure out where i want it myself, maybe inside of forearm

either that or RIGHT ON THE PALM OF MY HAND so i can be like TALK TO THE PARTY DOG YO when ppl vex me
posted by poffin boffin at 2:46 PM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


also PARTYDOG would work as a knuckle tattoo, just saying.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:46 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


And even the possibility of being misread as "part y-dog" isn't so bad. I bet y-dogs are pretty rad whatever they are.
posted by invitapriore at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Never go full y-dog.
posted by The World Famous at 3:01 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


For about the past fifteen years I've wanted "the saints and poets, maybe" written somewhere, but have never decided on a location or a full design.

The best tat I've maybe ever seen was on an Australian woman I went on a single OKCupid date with like a year and a half ago. It was a tiny little triangle, on the back of her right hand, right at that fleshy part between the thumb and forefinger (you know, the part you're supposed to pinch if you've got a headache?)

Anyway, when I asked about it, she put her thumbs and fingers together into the shape of Australia, and said, "I'm from Tasmania. That's Tasmania."

So that's my favorite tattoo.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:05 PM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm having a hell of a time finding it, but someone on twitter tweeted something like "tattoos are our younger selves' way of blackmailing our older selves into philosophical continuity"; I think about that theory a lot.

In a larger sense, we are all the result of what we used to want.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


> everything past this point would be entirely tangential to this thread, so perhaps a discussion for another one.

Plenty of time. We haven't even started on ritual scarification yet.
posted by jfuller at 3:15 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I thought the Metafilter knuckle tattoo was LOLBUTTS
posted by janey47 at 3:43 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I thought the Metafilter knuckle tattoo was LOLBUTTS

You're thinking of the Reddit knuckle tattoo DICKBUTT. MetaFilter's is: BEANPLATE (Yes, it requires a thumb - get over it).
posted by MikeMc at 3:47 PM on May 13, 2015


And even the possibility of being misread as "part y-dog" isn't so bad. I bet y-dogs are pretty rad whatever they are.

I'm part Scots-Irish, part German, part Y-Dog
posted by NoraReed at 3:48 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


BEAN PLĀT
posted by Navelgazer at 3:48 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


i thought the metafilter tattoo requires 4 hands and is WHAT. THE. HELL. MATT.

it's great for when the mods use their gems to make a fused giant ur-mod
posted by NoraReed at 3:49 PM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


My friend who was born in Hong Kong and raised mostly in the UK and Indiana (I know, right?) has a bar code tattoo on the back of his neck with the words "Made in Hong Kong" under the bar code. I love that one.
posted by cooker girl at 3:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Lady and the Tramp thing has been cleverly done.

That's hilarious. Kudos to whomever had the courage to do that.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:58 PM on May 13, 2015


Jesus Christ, what a mess.

I can't even respond to specific comments, but I want to say a few broad things:

The class assumptions in here are fucked. Of course 'tramp stamp' is a term to police the intersections of gender and class, and if you don't see that you're either full of shit or blind. And none of my tattoos--or my self, as a tattooed man--are trendy: I've been a tattoo collector for 2 decades, and I don't pay a lick of attention to what might be trendy when getting work done. I also haven't 'bought edginess': of all my tattoos (sleeves, hands, chest, legs), I have paid for about 3 or 4 sessions. I have lots of old tattooer friends, and I worked in shops, so no, I didn't buy shit.

I just can't for the life of me figure out why you would fucking care if a person has tattoos, or what they have tattoos of (barring something like nazi stuff or similar). And I also can't imagine ever thinking less of someone because they adorn their body (or, since it was mentioned, work out). Like, why do you care? What makes that okay, for you to care? Do you eat fucking soylent and wear a grey jumpsuit every day?

It's so frustrating to see this kind of body policing going on, and it makes me dizzy imagining how so many women feel like this all damn day.
posted by still bill at 3:59 PM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


I always wanted a Plimsoll line tattoo, but of course it would have to be accurate and functional, and I'd have to stay in the same shape for the rest of my life in order for it to remain so.
posted by tss at 4:41 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


One day when I've stopped surviving and make enough to do some living, I'm getting a tattoo to commemorate my son. He adores Wall-e, and it's going to be him, Eve, and the little mop guy holding up a puzzle piece. I can just picture him squealing and flapping when it gets done. It will be awesome.
posted by FunkyHelix at 5:23 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


My tattoo is in my profile. It's a really old version, my back is far more covered now, and it reaches all the way to my lower back area. As I have noted on this site before, my eating disorder is about 35 years old and the one thing I have reliably found that makes my body acceptable to me is the art I ink upon it. Therefore, with an unlimited budget, I would probably have a full body sleeve. So, not one regret here.
posted by Sophie1 at 5:24 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


isn't a why dogg just Roast Beef from Achewood
posted by kagredon at 5:34 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bring in the thumbs:

/ H A M B and U R G E R
posted by delfin at 5:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think you mean the Belfie Butt Selfie Stick


Well honk my hooter that is a real thing that exists.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Aw yes. True story. I got my lower back tattoo, before tramp stamp was a common term, after I had an abortion. I'm on a tablet, so I can't easily link to my comment about that experience, but it's out there. But that's the significance of it. So I super duper extra hate the phrase, because it's like twice the slut shaming right? First because of the location, then because of what it means to me. Yeah, most people who would call it a tramp stamp don't know the significance, but I do. I do not regret the tattoo, it is very meaningful to me, but I do regret that the placement has become such a shitty signifier of imaginary things. But hey, I'm just a woman, so what do I know from sexist?
posted by Ruki at 6:19 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


I did not take a picture of my butt, but I just remembered I have temporary tattoo markers.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


"something from "le petit prince" - even if the hipsters have taken it over."
If we are going to extol the virtues of being non judgmental, can we stop crap like this too?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:58 PM on May 13, 2015


Men get mocked for their "tribal bro tats," or their non-English symbolism — "let me guess, it means 'strength' bro?"

This one means "strength" and this one means "bro." I'm a Strength Bro, the most powerful of the bros.
posted by mullacc at 7:03 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


my dog's response when i asked her whether the new party dog was better than the old party dog
posted by invitapriore at 7:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


brb stealing your beautiful dog
posted by griphus at 7:24 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


gud dogge
posted by NoraReed at 7:57 PM on May 13, 2015


"something from "le petit prince" - even if the hipsters have taken it over."
If we are going to extol the virtues of being non judgmental, can we stop crap like this too?


This would be great. But I think it gets, a bit, to the heart of what we're talking about. Tattoos are always, first and foremost, personal. Except in horrendous, i-hope-to-god-bygone circumstances, they're always chosen by the subject, who is the only one who sits there enduring the pain* of it, and who will live with the ink on them.

But it is, in the end, something one chooses to mark oneself with forever, and that choice will have identifying aspects, some of which are bound to be group-identifying, which will confer judgements good and bad, fair and unfair, etc.

I've been thinking about this all day. I don't think my first comment was wrong, exactly, but it definitely lacked the understanding that I have now. My reading now (which itself is also probably at some level of incomplete and ignorant) is that, yes, the author absolutely fit the stereotype of the young woman who gets an impulsive LBT when she's 20 years old - when she was 20 years old.

She matured since then, as all people do. But she can recognize her younger self, to paraphrase Pynchon, as a fool and an ass, but one she doesn't want to kick out of her home either. She both doesn't want to be constantly identified as her 20-year-old self, and doesn't want her 20-year-old self attacked by sexist assholes. There is no hypocrisy there. Basically, let her have her own history and her own body and back the fuck off of it with your assumptions and judgements.

It's all so simple. I wish I hadn't had to take so long to get it.

*I personally had one of my most red-letter life experiences getting mine, when I took a moment to recognize how singular the moment was, and chose to feel the pain as a conscious choice, at which point it became kind of ecstatic. Just my own experience, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:29 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


If we are going to extol the virtues of being non judgmental, can we stop crap like this too?

...i don't even know how to respond if that's what you took from my comment. cheers.
posted by nadawi at 8:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just as a warning: the German "Arschgeweih" is a funnier term than "tramp stamp" and doesn't sound so mean-spirited on the surface, but it is the same semantic field. It still delivers the same 'tattoo on a lower class girl and we all know how they are' subtext in Germany.

Sorry.
posted by Ashenmote at 9:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Oh, I don't doubt it. I'm kind of amazed that the term "whale tail" hasn't show up in this thread until, well, now, considering it's essentially the same thing, using an only slightly different signifier.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:12 PM on May 13, 2015


Huh. I thought whale tail referred to someone wearing a particular style of underwear in a way that intentionally made it stick way, way up above the pants. If someone is stuck with a permanent whale tale 20 years later, that seems like maybe a totally different thing than a tattoo.
posted by The World Famous at 9:26 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This one means "strength" and this one means "bro." I'm a Strength Bro, the most powerful of the bros.

Just don't call them cutie marks unless you're looking for a fight.

Or perhaps a new bronie friend.
posted by bonehead at 9:29 PM on May 13, 2015


the patterns i used to take when cutting

An old friend of mine who i drifted away from had really intricate amazing victorian picture frames around his cutting scars. Not just in places normally covered by clothes, but right on his arms as well. And he made a point of wearing tank tops unless it was like 40 degress out and just rocking them loud and proud.

They were big keloided scars too, and honestly it was really cool looking and arresting.

Whenever anyone asked why, he'd just say something like "Why do you keep baby photos of yourself?"

I just can't for the life of me figure out why you would fucking care if a person has tattoos, or what they have tattoos of (barring something like nazi stuff or similar). And I also can't imagine ever thinking less of someone because they adorn their body (or, since it was mentioned, work out). Like, why do you care? What makes that okay, for you to care? Do you eat fucking soylent and wear a grey jumpsuit every day?

It isn't just this that weirds me out, it's how deep this thread runs.

Like, this is the kind of thing i have heard and know i would hear from otherwise feministy radical activisty generally ok head-on-straight people and punks/anarchists, etc who would totally look askance at and fart out comments about this sort of thing.

It usually starts off with snarking about bros and trixies/woo girls/etc, and then if anyone brought up any fashion/style thing related to that they'd start in to basically respect-me-not type shit until called on it.

My friends boyfriend just did an amusing art piece that went "bro's are people too" and then in tiny text "jk fuck those guys" and posted it all over town. Started some interesting conversations along that thread, wherein as soon as it comes to talking about whatever you call the lady version of a fist pumping frat boy, some pretty misogynistic shit will come out of even the most otherwise not-shitty people.

Everyone has their blind spots i suppose, but this one has mundanely surprising depth.
posted by emptythought at 9:30 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


uh. I thought whale tail referred to someone wearing a particular style of underwear in a way that intentionally made it stick way, way up above the pants. If someone is stuck with a permanent whale tale 20 years later, that seems like maybe a totally different thing than a tattoo.

Not permanent, but the same connotations about the woman labeled with it, I think. And in both instances, we're probably better off cutting that shit out.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:30 PM on May 13, 2015


I'm pretty sure it's misogynist fat-shaming + sex-shaming of women wearing thongs. Intersectionality!
posted by NoraReed at 9:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, the Chaplin tramp stamp tattoo idea mentioned above is a brilliant, brilliant idea.

I think it has been done (unless that is actually Hitler, rather than Chaplin as the Dictator -- I can't tell from the drawing).

tramp=dirty=woman who dares to have sex - it's pretty easy to see how it might have happened.

I always figured that it came from the idea that tramps get around, in a literal or metaphorical sense.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:42 PM on May 13, 2015


I'm pretty sure it's misogynist fat-shaming + sex-shaming of women wearing thongs. Intersectionality!

Yeah, I can't even take this thread anymore. I'm going to go compulsively bingewatch Netflix. Keep up the good fight!
posted by corb at 9:43 PM on May 13, 2015


Who knew that "whale tail" had its own Wikipedia entry? (GAH.) I think the whale in question is the piece of cloth, not the woman, since the cloth really does resemble lobtailing flukes, but of course it's probably safer to assume fat-shaming than the absence thereof.

Also, this whole thread, gah.
posted by gingerest at 10:13 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK, I vignetted out my butt but here is the thing.


I can see why the butt selfie stick is a thing. Taking pictures of your own butt is difficult.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:48 PM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


Metafilter: the best of the web.
posted by sfkiddo at 11:03 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Your butt has huge pointy teeth, is doing jazz hands, and is expressing puzzlement or curiosity. That is one unusual life choice/piece of art you have made back there. But you have definitely warded off "idiotic conformist" along with "tramp stamp".
posted by gingerest at 12:52 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


But you have definitely warded off "idiotic conformist" along with "tramp stamp"


It also wards off poltergeists and most of the lesser butt demons.

Unfortunately, it doesn't keep strangers from trying to pull down the back of my pants to see what it is.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:56 AM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Last night I made a tattoo appointment for next week. The original party dog will live on.
posted by josher71 at 4:11 AM on May 14, 2015 [33 favorites]


I always wanted to get Kurt Vonnegut's picture for "this is a picture of an asshole" tattooed somewhere on my body. I think it would be great as a LBT but the "tramp stamp" stigma has kept me from doing it. Well, that and that I haven't worked up the guts for it yet.
posted by NoraReed at 4:26 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm going to pretend that I accidentally stumbled onto a Reddit thread. This feels like alternate reality Metafilter, I hope to God no newcomer winds up here first and thinks that this is who we actually are.
posted by Jubey at 4:30 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Between this and the Nicole Cliffe thread, while this is a particularly egregious display of outright misogyny, classism, denials of intersectionality of misogyny and classism, sex-shaming, dismissal of womens' ability to tell their own stories, mansplaining, etc, I don't think it's too far out of the norm for Metafilter lately.
posted by NoraReed at 5:17 AM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


the German "Arschgeweih" is a funnier term than "tramp stamp" and doesn't sound so mean-spirited on the surface,

I don't think you could say that if you actually said the word out loud in a decent German accent.
posted by aught at 5:29 AM on May 14, 2015


The ivy in that tattoo is pretty much all over my body now, although this is the only section that is white. The rest is colored like English ivy.

Its such an invasive species its spreading to people now!
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:13 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


> The ivy in that tattoo is pretty much all over my body now

Hey hey hey hey! (My goodness, I was young then.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:18 AM on May 14, 2015


I always wanted to get Kurt Vonnegut's picture for "this is a picture of an asshole" tattooed somewhere on my body

Hey! I've got that! With "So it goes." written beneath it. A friend and I went and got them done when Vonnegut passed. I'd post a picture but apparently taking a selfie of my shoulder is vastly more difficult than I imagined.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:28 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I find it really confusing that people can refute that getting a tattoo, of whatever image they get, isn't trendy. More people have tattoos then ever before in history. Its hard to find people *without* a tattoo. The trend is to have one or more. Its not offensive to say so, nor is that a value judgement on those that get them. It is a popular thing to do though - sorry, counter-culturists.
posted by agregoli at 7:37 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


sorry, counter-culturists.

No worries. I'm a hipster, anyway.
posted by josher71 at 8:05 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not going to wade into the raging argument here, but I will take a moment to comment on the general sentiment of fear of regret keeping one from getting a tattoo.

For me, it was always just the sense that getting a tattoo was a painful hassle. And honestly, the first thing I think when I see a tattoo on anyone's anywhere is, "I bet that stung like hell." Ditto most body modification stuff.
posted by kewb at 8:13 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it was more people reacting to the assumption that everyone who gets a tattoo is following a trend, which unless you're getting a tattoo that's "in" (see: tribal tattoos on biceps), its actually just a really personal form of self-expression, even if it is more popular than ever.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:19 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, popular is not the same as trendy. Tee shirts are ubiquitous, but not trendy.
posted by LindsayIrene at 8:23 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


For me, it was always just the sense that getting a tattoo was a painful hassle. And honestly, the first thing I think when I see a tattoo on anyone's anywhere is, "I bet that stung like hell."

This is actually why I started getting tattoos -- a sibling was undergoing intensive, painful, prolonged cancer treatment. Head-shaving in solidarity just didn't seem quite painful or life-altering enough.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:27 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


It IS a trend though. It is popular. I never said anything about the type of tattoo. It is trendy to have one, its in, its a current *thing.* Denying that is just not in any way reality. So what if it is "trendy?" Why is that bad? Why deny that you are into a popular thing? YOUR tattoo isn't necessarily trendy, as in design, but *getting* a tattoo is absolutely a popular trend. I've made my point...don't understand the pushback on this one. It's not a negative judgment on anyone, I don't care if people want tattoos.
posted by agregoli at 8:43 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Who knew that "whale tail" had its own Wikipedia entry? (GAH.)

I actually thought that WP article was ... less-bad than I thought it was going to be. There are some issues—why would you quote some weirdo Christian-right writer when trying to establish the decline in mainstream popularity of a fashion choice?—and the "Socio-cultural analysis" section is pretty thin, but references a couple of books that don't seem to be bad. All in all it was less "lolbutts" than I figured it was going to be. (There is one photo that reads to me as really fucking creepy though.)

It does seem to dance around the elephant in the room a bit, which is why womens underwear choices are an object of such public debate, in a way that mens underwear isn't. However, there is also a WP article on sagging, which is sort of the male equivalent, although it's not as lengthy and focuses more on legal efforts to control it as a practice.

Maybe I just have very low expectations but I think that's beating par for internet discourse on a topic that has a big culture/class/sexism/personal-aesthetic intersect.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:48 AM on May 14, 2015


Wikipedia cites from 2006 that nearlly 25% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 have one or more tattoos. That's got to have gone up since then. The trend is becoming to have a tattoo.
posted by agregoli at 8:49 AM on May 14, 2015


> sorry, counter-culturists.

Wait, but aren't you just apologizing to yourself? Because earlier you said one of the reasons you weren't getting one is because it's more unusual to not have one! Or was that just a subtexty "it's cooler to not have one now, so that's why I don't"?
posted by rtha at 8:52 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The word trendy has a fairly specific meaning: "very fashionable or up to date in style or influence." It is a trend that more people wear shoes than a few thousand years ago; specific styles of shoes are trendy right now.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:01 AM on May 14, 2015


I came into this thread via a link to a comment about halfway down, and I am going to pretend it was like this all the way through and just not read the first half. Yay for pictures of MeFite's tattoos! They are all terrific. (louche mustachio, that thing is glorious.) Thanks to the people who were here earlier and pushed back against the gross comments.

This is my first tattoo. I plan to add to it, hopefully this year, with bubble chamber tracks and uncurling fern leaves and maybe some other stuff -- still daydreaming about the designs. I have a cartoon pipistrelle bat on my left calf, drawn by an amazing artist friend of mine, but no good pictures of that one yet. I'm also seriously considering getting this tardigrade drawing tattooed on me somewhere, because tardigrades are awesome!

At some point I will surely get a lower back tattoo, since I plan to just keep covering my skin in tattoos until death stops me. I'm not looking forward to getting sexist flak for it, but I also won't let people's shitty attitudes spoil my enjoyment in my body.
posted by daisyk at 9:09 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Adding into the positivity of MeFite tattoos, here are mine. The first and the second. The first is my recovery tattoo, my reminder to rely on the strength of the real women in my life and not the abstract God, and generally an overall reminder that things have got better. It comes from All the trees are hers by Hawksley Workman, although the line that most stuck with me during recovery was 'what is fallow now will soon deserve poetry's most lovely words', I don't associate myself with the fallow field anymore, so went for the pun instead. I got it done on Boracay, by a great script artist and it was all very serendipitous.

The second, well, its a cat that looks like my old beloved cat, but was a Friday 13th flash special. I will have things added to it to make it look more like My Cat, but I wanted a tattoo, I loved the picture, and so I got it.

Next I'm going to get some peonies to build up this sleeve. I really love getting tattoos.
posted by litereally at 9:20 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


However, there is also a WP article on sagging, which is sort of the male equivalent, although it's not as lengthy and focuses more on legal efforts to control it as a practice.

Sagging, and particularly legislating it, has a whole other set of problems related to policing the appearances of PoC based on the assumption that they are criminals by default.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:25 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


MeTa.
posted by dialetheia at 10:21 AM on May 14, 2015


Well this thread inspired me to think seriously about getting a tattoo for the first time. Love the idea of a tattoo reclaiming my body from the male gaze. I'm thinking some caryatids with SLUT written in ancient Greek.

(serious about the caryatids, anyway)
posted by chaiminda at 12:09 PM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is mine. Its not little or sexy or girly. Its fierce with sharp teeth. She's a symbol of strength and passion and her spiky tail is not an invitation or an "arrow pointing down". It's in that place because it felt like the place best able to protect me, I don't know why. I had it for years before I heard "tramp stamp" and if I never hear that phrase again it'll be too soon. I never anticipated how some men think of the placement, and I've got sexist comments about it, but I give no fucks. I come across as very inoffensive but there's a spiky part of me that not everyone sees. She is the representation of the part of me that will burn you when you fuck with me. Call me a slut - I dare you.

She has a scar running through her head now because I had an operation on my back. The first thing I asked the doctor when I came round was "did you mess up my tattoo?" At the time I was healing from the op I was going through personal stuff and my heart was broken. When I see the scar now it's just part of the tattoo, just another feature, and it reminds me that inside and out I'm scarred but I'm healed and I'm changed but not diminished. I love it.
posted by billiebee at 12:30 PM on May 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


Wow, whadda thread.

1) The Lady and the Tramp is a play on "The Lady is a Tramp," which very much is about sexuality.

2) My grandmother had a lower-back tattoo. She got it a couple years before she died, but she'd had a butterfly on her shoulder forever (I think since the early '60s, when she already had two kids). She also got a ladybug on her hand at the same time my cousin got a matching one on her bicep. Weirdly, it's the same ladybug flash that my wife got at 18 on her ankle explicitly to piss off her parents.

3) Along with the weird class stuff: Larry Flynt hates tattoos on women and often asks for them to be airbrushed out. He thinks it makes women look cheap.
posted by klangklangston at 12:38 PM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Party Dog is everything to me right now. I love you all. But mostly Party Dog.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:21 PM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Has this thread turned into "MeFites show off their awesome tattoos"? I think this thread has totally turned into that.

Here are some photos of me and my bad-ass cosmic dragon wings. They took eighteen months to put in my skin from a design I fiddled with for four years before I knew it was right. They glow under ultraviolet light, and eyes appear here and there in them.
posted by egypturnash at 3:59 PM on May 14, 2015 [49 favorites]


Those are absolutely gorgeous, egypturnash. (I like your hair, too!)
posted by daisyk at 4:15 PM on May 14, 2015


Max. I keep meaning to get him re-outlined. It's been... a surprisingly long time.
posted by rifflesby at 4:46 PM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


(I should clarify, louche moustachio, that although your tattoo bewilders me I think it's delightful. I hope I didn't insult you.)
posted by gingerest at 5:51 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pretentious Illiterate, I love you. And I just want to note that I've got you beat because I didn't start getting piercings (other than one in each earlobe) until I was 40 and, at 55, after having removed a few for this or that reason, currently have 17, of which 11 are in my ears. Regrettably, my navel won't hold a piercing. Not the right shape.
posted by janey47 at 6:44 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


It IS a trend though. It is popular. I never said anything about the type of tattoo. It is trendy to have one, its in, its a current *thing.*

I think it's more like women wearing pants or cutting their hair short - at one time it was counter-cultural, then it became fashionable, then it became a regular option. Tattoos have reached the point of just another style choice, rather than a current "in thing", in most circles. So it's neither rebellious or keeping up with the latest trend to go to a tattoo parlor, since people of all generations and backgrounds will be there. What you get done might reveal something about you, but that you get something done to start with isn't very meaningful anymore.
posted by mdn at 7:23 PM on May 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


This thread was worth it to see egypturnash's amazing dragon wings.
posted by homunculus at 8:34 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


reading an article about bitch planet tattoos and i was overjoyed to see two wonderful women rocking their non-compliant lower back tattoos.
posted by nadawi at 8:36 PM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


This thread has certainly and absolutely convinced me to let go of any remaining prejudice I have about 'flash' which was probably just latent sexism masking itself as 'purity and authenticity in tattooing' or some such shit. Fuck it. Unless it's literally hate speech, problematic appropriation or I'm formally invited to be an art critic, I don't care.

This tattoo I got after biking about 750km, camping the whole way. On the pictured bike!
...fair warning: if you have literally been biking 8-10 hours a day for a week, your legs will adapt to pump a lot of blood through them. And so if you go get a leg tattoo the afternoon you arrive, it will hurt and bleed more than normal.

And yes, this is a lemur in a kilt doing a highland dance. One day I want to colour in the tartans, probably with the Royal Stewart (since that's what I wore when I was a dancer), but maybe with the Newfoundland tartan, because as I get older my feelings towards my home province have changed.

But please, tell me how that back tattoo, which I put there as I left my favourite pastime, my closest friends, and to a large degree my self-chosen name (that of lemur) behind, in order to pull a Janus and always be looking back at how I've changed, is for other people to see. I will enjoy hearing it.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:46 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Recently, the tramp stamp has been joined by the skank flank, a term for a tattoo on the side of a women's ribcage—a similarly strategic choice of placement, with a similarly insulting name. If you are a woman, and you want to control who can see your tattoo, that still rankles people. If it's visible, you'll be judged, but if you're careful about keeping it from being too prominent, you'll be judged too. I haven't yet heard of a term for tattoos on women's stomachs, or thighs, but I'm sure that as a society we'll find clever rhyming slurs for those spots, too."

Gaaaaaawd, THAT.
Once again, patting myself on the back for having commitment issues and never getting a tattoo. I sometimes vaguely ponder the idea of getting the Tower card from tarot (er, my own doodle version of it, which is more chaos butterflies and less corpses falling from a building), but that would be such a jinx that I never will. Plus, my relatives would never stop bitching.

But that said: janey47, your white tattoo is very cool. louche moustachio, that is perfectly described by gingerest and making me giggle with joy. And EmpressCallipygos, now I can't stop thinking "I've got a blank space baby, and I'll write your name." I kind of want you to get that now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:40 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]



This thread has certainly and absolutely convinced me to let go of any remaining prejudice I have about 'flash' which was probably just latent sexism masking itself as 'purity and authenticity in tattooing' or some such shit


I don't know if it's sexism, but I've always thought of flash tattoos as just being unimaginative.
posted by josher71 at 12:42 AM on May 15, 2015


Man it's hard to take a selfie of your upper arm without making it look like a big ol meat slab

Anyway mine is this Cooksonia fossil
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:02 AM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a big fat dude, I have a sudden overwhelming urge to get:

MALE
GAZE

tattooed on my lower back.
posted by 256 at 9:34 AM on May 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


(And start wearing halter tops, obviously)
posted by 256 at 9:35 AM on May 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also if I am the only person here who prefers the original party dog to the "better" party dog then I am prepared to die on this hill.

You won't die alone. I mean we all die alone but we'll all be thinking of original party dog when we do.


Me as well, but I'd wager we're probably all people who like XKCD and Dinosaur Comics and the like.
posted by phearlez at 10:59 AM on May 15, 2015


I have all sorts of tattoos and they make me feel sexy and happy in my body. The end

They are beautiful, and I am jealous. The clematis blossom is my favorite of them!

Needles induce panic attacks in me, so even though I know exactly what I would get, it's not ever happening.
posted by MissySedai at 5:33 PM on May 15, 2015


My 26 year old self traveled forward in time to my present self. He said he was going to get a tattoo. And then several more, one being a tribal scorpion. I said go for it. It sounds like a great idea. I was right. Who the hell cares what anyone else thinks? When the day comes, who is going to suffer or die for me? Me. That's what matters.
posted by Splunge at 6:18 PM on May 15, 2015


I've made it to almost 39 not having a tattoo, mostly because I worry I would hate it within minutes of getting it. Recently, though, having started a pork centric restaurant/sausage making venture, I find myself leaning towards a (totally unoriginal and seemingly widespread among cook folk) outline of a pig and the primal cuts on the inside of my left forearm.

Things against: raised Jewish, pig tattoo, bad location for a tattoo on a (former) Jew, mother might stop speaking to me, difficulty going to onsen/public baths/joining a gym in Japan, if the business fails, having a permanent reminder of said failure staring me in the face.

Things for: Sean Connery talking about Cortez burning his ships to motivate his men. Having the tattoo as a motivator to make sure the business doesn't fail because of the above reminder. Also, pork. Tasty pork.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:57 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know if this is true but I have been told the inner forearm isnt a great place for a tattoo because the skin there is thin, stretchy, and prone to changed elasticity as you age, so your extra painful tattoo can end up a blob sooner.
That said I want to know where I can put a tattoo where I can look at it without a mirror, but I can control exposure even in the summer, without blobbing.
posted by gingerest at 12:22 AM on May 16, 2015


I was trying to remember what these were nicknamed at the time over here ('tramp' is very rarely synonymous with 'slut' in the UK, it's used more in the hobo sense) and I remembered: slag tag. Jesus Christ.
posted by mippy at 2:09 AM on May 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, in looking it up, I found this. Which a) makes me sad as I've read some good pieces on Cracked over the years b) kind of makes a mockery of the idea that they aren't seen in a horrid sexist/misogynistic fashion.
posted by mippy at 2:13 AM on May 16, 2015


Where I grew up - maybe other parts of the country - 'skank' meant someone who was dirty or poor, not sexually promiscuous. I think that's changed over the past few years due to American influences, but I believe it means 'slut' in the US?
posted by mippy at 2:25 AM on May 16, 2015


I think skank and slag are used similarly in their respective spheres of influence.
posted by gingerest at 2:56 AM on May 16, 2015


"Skank" is a sex-shaming word, IME, though it often is more just for a woman or girl who dresses in a way that is considered "skanky", and I hear it much more often in the latter sense. I think I've used it on myself before, in a "I will put on my skankiest outfit and we will go get drinks" way, though I've mostly stopped that kind of thing lately because of not wanting to be like LET'S INTERNALIZED MISOGYNY EVERYWHERE. I think it's primarily clothes related with sex-shaming as its secondary function, though of course there's a significant element of sex-shaming that comes with misogynistic slurs for how women choose to dress themselves,

"Skank" is also a dance you can do to ska music, and it is the easiest dance ever (because it is exaggerated skipping in place) and therefore the only one I have ever mastered, but I don't know if there's any relationship between the terms. There certainly is not a functional one. An outfit that is "skanky" is not necessarily one that is good for skanking in or vice versa.
posted by NoraReed at 3:54 AM on May 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was trying to remember what these were nicknamed at the time over here ('tramp' is very rarely synonymous with 'slut' in the UK

Tramp is used here (NI) to mean slut. I've never heard "slag tag" (Jesus).

I have been told the inner forearm isnt a great place for a tattoo because the skin there is thin, stretchy, and prone to changed elasticity as you age

Years ago a friend of mine wanted to get a tattoo of the barcode from a Barbie doll on her ass as a kind of feminist statement. The tattoo artist advised her not to do it on the basis that the straight lines would end up being somewhat more wavy on her future saggy ass.
posted by billiebee at 8:31 AM on May 16, 2015


when i was 10 or so and the other kids started screaming "skank" at me there was no question that it was commentary on my gender, perceived sluttiness (i had boobs), and lower class/perceived dirty status. among women i've also heard it to describe certain types of dress or behavior - but even when it's used for self mockery, it's propped up on the idea of women who aren't worth respect because of a whole host of things where the clothes are just a tiny part of it.

thanks to beyonce we don't need to describe our bar clothes as skank attire or slut wear anymore, now we all get to proudly pull our "freakum dress out [the] closet."
posted by nadawi at 9:45 AM on May 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


"Skank" for ska refers to a Jamaican onomatopoeia for the stacatto guitar chord; a similar onomatopoeia has been given as a possible origin for "ska."

"Skank" referring to a woman first showed up in America in the mid-'60s, but may be derived from "skag," used to slur women since the '20s.

Probably not related.
posted by klangklangston at 12:50 AM on May 17, 2015


a lungful of dragon: "Tough crowd. Can't wait for Toad the Wet Sprocket's music to come back in style, for various reasons."

Heh. I used to be friends with their original lead singer, back when they were doing party gigs...
posted by Samizdata at 2:25 AM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a lower back tattoo that I got in the late 90s. I wanted a tattoo somewhere it would be easy to hide under clothing, and I avoided the hip/stomach reason in case of a potential future pregnancy. If you want a non-obvious tattoo not on your actual ass that won't be potentially stretched by pregnancy, lower back is basically the most practical option. The whole tramp stamp slut shaming thing is a sad reflection of how our society loves to judge women.
posted by emd3737 at 12:11 AM on May 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just watched the video skit in the article. It's hilarious! Not sure if it's even been commented on in this thread.
posted by polymodus at 5:45 PM on May 19, 2015


Last night I made a tattoo appointment for next week. The original party dog will live on.


I keep coming back to this thread hoping there will be a picture of this. PARTY DOG.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:43 PM on May 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's no party dog, but this past weekend I got the Buffalo flag tattoo I mentioned upthread.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 12:17 PM on May 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Ooh, that's excellent!
posted by maxsparber at 12:18 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


PARTY DOG UPDATE
posted by nadawi at 12:32 PM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


PARTY DOG! PARTY DOG! PARTY DOG!
posted by louche mustachio at 2:30 PM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


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