Tattoo This, Haters

By EDWARD BENOIT
On February 2, 2012

It's hard to believe that in 2012, issues like feminism, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the inherent rights people have over their own bodies are…well, even issues in the first place. I mean, these are the sorts of things that should probably be self-evident to everyone by this point, right? Does anyone really want to not be able to express him- or herself? Or – unless you're a pro-life woman – really want to be told what to do to his or her body?

And yet, in 2012, these are still almost disturbingly contentious things. In just the last few days, Komen ceased its funding for Planned Parenthood, journalist and documentarian Josh Fox was detained at the order of House Republicans for trying to cover a Congressional hearing on hydrofracking, and Lisa Khoury, an assistant news editor for a middle-tier public university, wrote a column expressing her distaste for tattoos.

This last thing must be an especially big deal, because (as of me last looking, at 10:13 p.m. EST) 631 Facebook comments, upwards of 700 emails, and most of the 70,000 plus page views our humble website has received in the past two days say as much.

At this point, I feel it's necessary to clarify my own standing on tattoos, because it's apparently an insanely contentious issue. I fall into the category I think many people do, in that 1) I don't want a tattoo, and probably never will, yet 2) would never stop or try to dissuade anyone from getting a tattoo, because telling other people what they can and can't do isn't my prerogative. To each his or her own, right?

Right now, your heads and the multitude of piercings in them are probably bobbing up and down in agreement. So then why all the hate? I shouldn't have to point out the inherent hypocrisy here: the position of the plethora of Facebook comments seems to be something along the lines of "to each his or her own, unless said person happens to dislike tattoos, in which case f*** him or her."

And another thing: why is an anti-tattoo opinion totally unpardonable, but personal attacks, threats, and nasty invectives against those who express this opinion totally fine?

For the love of Odin, folks, these are just tattoos we're talking about.

OK, scratch that, tattoos are never just tattoos, and I get that. Those angel wings represent your mother, who died of cancer; that nude lady is an ironic comment on pro-sex feminism; that flaming skull with vipers leaping out of the eyes represents your profound love of flaming skulls with vipers leaping out of the eyes.

And, obviously, the tattoo issue has, inherent to it, questions of gender roles, free speech/expression, and the rights of individuals over their bodies. (And, for the record, tattooed people, I agree with you on these things.)

But – and here's the point at which I've laboriously tried to arrive – all those negative comments on Lisa Khoury's column aren't about free expression, or body rights, are they? Because if your qualms really were fundamentally about these things, you'd be burning down Komen headquarters, or clamoring about the injustice done to journalist Josh Fox. But you're not. Instead, you've invested countless hours writing nasty responses to an opinion piece in a college newspaper, which, given the infinitely worse s*** going down in the country and in the world right now, seems sort of silly, doesn't it?

Fundamentally, tattooed people, your responses were those of a group reveling in its own perceived victimization. I know this for three reasons: 1) I've attacked groups who revel in their own perceived victimization all the time (see: everything I've written on Evangelical Christians), and know the telltale symptoms; 2) the fact you're currently not burning down Komen headquarters etc. (see previous paragraph); and 3) the fact that, like, 65 percent of the Facebook comments say something along the lines of "I hate this column. I've got n tattoos myself, and [insert lots of mean stuff here]."

Now, I don't have tattoos myself, so I can't say I've experienced any of the judgment having one might unfairly get you. And, ideally, you wouldn't be judged for those things in a world that had its f***ing priorities in order. But isn't doing what you've been doing the ultimate case of misplaced priorities?

Value free speech? Then speak out against what happened to Josh Fox. Feminist? Then write to Komen, or, better yet, punch Rick Santorum in his stupid face. Want to change the negative perception of tattoo culture? Then stop harassing a young woman you don't know and probably never will and grow up.

Email: eabenot@buffalo.edu


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