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Tattoo This, Haters

Managing Editor

Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11


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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.


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Mon Mar 18 2013 11:55
Not only was her article reeking of sexism, it was also coupled with classist opinions and this sense of superiority. What of other cultures in which tattoos act as a rite of passage for women (Maouri, Ainu, etc)? Would she think of them as barbaric and classless? Probably, because she can't see a world that doesn't conform to her precious little upbringing.
Mon Mar 18 2013 11:49
Tattoos aren't whats contentious here you dolt, the blatant sexism is. Thank you for mansplaining, my small and inferior female mind is too stupid to comprehend what went on here. I shoudn't get offended at being compared to a car.
Sat Mar 24 2012 14:28
Sigh. This piece is problematic in the exact same way the first was.
Fri Feb 10 2012 22:34
"I'm starting to become embarrassed to be a member of the UB student body... and glad I chose not to become a member of the Spectrum staff. Really, do none of you understand what made people upset and how you are continuing to perpetuate that upset in the exact same manner? I know you don't understand it, because you KEEP DOING IT. Stop it."

I agree with you 100%. I find this really embarrassing for the school and students on account of the lack of maturity these article responses are implying. Getting extremely defensive is not the right answer for this, just don't reply to it. Lick your wounds and move on, please!

Fri Feb 10 2012 11:40
I'm starting to become embarrassed to be a member of the UB student body... and glad I chose not to become a member of the Spectrum staff. Really, do none of you understand what made people upset and how you are continuing to perpetuate that upset in the exact same manner? I know you don't understand it, because you KEEP DOING IT. Stop it.
Thu Feb 9 2012 16:42
looks like you's guys killed the fb comments, sooooo take this!
awww, is somebody butthurt that the not so nice lady is getting her poorly wrote words thrown back at her? well too bad! her opinion was hers to have and nobody is against that. but for a woman to write like she did and not expect self-respecting women to get offended is well..... not too bright. and you trying to take up for her instead of just moving on is well.... childish. she made a huge blunder on the global journalism stage and she has to pay the price for ignorant judgements just like anyone else would. it was an opinion piece and she got more opinion back than she bargained for, that's it. take your own advice dude, grow up.
Tue Feb 7 2012 15:33
I like how you try and come off as neutral on all of this and yet feel the need to throw in digs like "your heads and the multitude of piercings in them are probably bobbing up and down in agreement". You and Lisa are both so ignorant as to be pitied. You clearly know nothing about tattoos, piercings, the industry, or the people who get them. Lisa deserved every single backlash email and comment she received for writing that unresearched, abhorrently worded "article". Frankly, her apology was just as bad. Telling the readers they took her mean spirited and sexist comments out of context is ridiculous. As far as I can tell, it's her dream to live in the 1950's and be a housewife to some guy in a suit who comes home expecting her in heels and pearls with her nails done and the carpet vacuumed. Her small minded "article" doesn't deserve your poorly worded, arrogant, rude and obviously offensive defence. You both clearly know nothing of journalism and your schools sad little newspaper isn't going to lead you to a career in writing. Try and work on getting your facts straight and keeping your unwanted, poorly researched arguments out of it.
Mon Feb 6 2012 21:01
Gee, thanks for the mansplaining.

I'm sorry that people leveled personal attacks at her -- that wasn't appropriate. I understand that the author was a young woman probably struggling with a lot of her own self-esteem issues and moral conundrums and even if she weren't, that level of vindictiveness wasn't right.

That being said, please don't presume to tell women what we are and are not justified in feeling hurt or victimized about. It is a slap in the face to read an article essentially telling women that they need to go out of their way to look pretty for men, and that men won't appreciate tattoos and obviously that is all that a woman should consider when making such decisions. And to, on top of such deeply hurtful dialogue and insinuations, have an editor follow up with such a non-apology, calling anyone with hurt feelings "people reveling in their own victimization", is really cruel.

Really should work on your editor follow-ups in the future.

Mon Feb 6 2012 20:51
Is *everyone* at this university this thick? What she said was judgmental, insulting, even vicious. Certainly sexist. The "tattoo" part of it was almost secondary! I figure either this guy's as dumb as she is, or we're all being trolled.
Mon Feb 6 2012 11:15
Had Lisa simply said "I don't like tattoos. I can't think of anything I want on my body forever. Good day" she would not have gotten this backlash. It is directly related to the fact that her article was judgmental and condescending. Were the abusive comments she received in response wrong? Beyond a doubt. But that doesn't excuse the words she used. I'm sorry she was hurt but that doesn't give YOU the right to be just as childish and snide and pretentious in response. I'm sure you think you're clever but really, in a couple years you'll see what I a tool you are.
Mon Feb 6 2012 09:26
Way to miss the point Ed. People weren't attacking her because she dislikes tattoos. No one cares if she dislikes tattoos. People were attacking her because she used her article to attack women with tattoos. She piled on every 1950's gender stereotype she could, just short of calling every tattooed woman a slut, and told us all that what we really needed to be doing to show our "class and elegance" is get our nails done.
Sun Feb 5 2012 15:31
all i have to say is, if you want to be taken seriously you probably should not have giant unflattering photos of your incredibly unattractive faces next to your ridiculous uninformed, prudish, and sexist opinion pieces. it adds more fuel to the already blazing fire. people can be really nasty you know. also, if you don't want an angry mob of internet people hassling you, don't insult an entire group of people and imply they are classless because they wanted to have their body be as they want it, in a way you find unattractive. what are you going to write a fluff piece on next? how uncouth it is to have more melanin in your skin and it's
not beige? because beige is beautiful and dark brown pigment, like ink sort of!, is just not classy!?
this woman is an idiot. people don't get tattoos because they are unhappy with their bodies. I have never met anyone for whom that was the reason they got a tattoo.
but the argument that actually they should have joined a yoga studio is...Well, you've heard it all already. all the nasty things I could say about this woman's deficient brain I mean.
who the hell does she think she is? emily post? in 1901?
and no - I don't have any tattoos or piercings. but that doesn't mean I disagree with or would ever make fun of and make
generalizations about, while insulting,
the entire culture of people for whom it is a bonding and fun experience. who's she gonna make fun of next? the jews?
tell this girl to seek another professional dream because she's a terrible writer and an idiot and will prove to be a terrible journalist.
Sat Feb 4 2012 10:16
Every time some lame square gets butt-hurt because a bunch of tattooed people tell them to piss off baby Jesus smiles :-)
Jennifer Hill
Sat Feb 4 2012 02:54
Also, Edward Benoit, I'd like to know what makes you think that someone who has commented on Lisa's article hasn't ALSO commented on other, more important issues? There's not a limit on the number of articles a person can read and comment upon in the course of a single day. I also railed about the Komen fiasco, as well. And another case of animal cruelty in my home state. And the on-going circus of the race for the next Presidency. And the disappearance of Russian scientists who were exploring the Antarctic lake that's been beneath miles-thick ice for 20 million years. My interests are diverse, my attentions are spread wide, and my fingers type quickly.

So, your arguments are invalid and your Op-Ed piece fails, as well. Try again.

Jennifer Hill
Sat Feb 4 2012 02:41
You are, even now, missing the point of why people were upset by the article. You think people who have tattoos (or piercings, or whatever kind of aesthetic embellishment that tends to spur debate) are unaware that the world is full of people who don't approve? Complete strangers off the street feel totally free to walk right up and express their opinions of the acceptability of having tattoos ALL THE TIME. Right to our faces. Ad Nauseum.

The reaction Ms. Khoury sparked with her article was due to her statements about the way a woman SHOULD express herself; by working out in a gym, buying outfits, and getting a haircut. Her statements about what factors ought be of utmost priority when deciding how to present herself: namely, "catching that man." Her statements about what give a woman class and worth: shopping for clothes and showing off one's legs with high heels = elegant and worthwhile; tattoos = classless and worthless.

Her whole argument was ill-conceived and meandering. It didn't actually shore up her point with any sort of legitimate fact or thought-provoking perspective. Therefore, it was anti-woman, rather than specifically anti-tattoo, and subject matter aside, it failed as an Op-Ed piece. Period.

Sat Feb 4 2012 00:21
To all who have commented rudely....

A 19 year old beginner journalist writes her first opinion piece for a college rag.
The topic is insignificant. A fun "fluff" piece, really. Meant more as entertainment than serious journalism, in a "two sides of the issue" presentation format.

Some thin-skinned (albeit tattoo'd) people get all upset, forward the article, and a vortex of complaining whiners grows exponentially, worldwide, in a day. It seriously got to the point that those commenting on facebook were clearly commenting upon other people's comments more than reacting directly to the piece itself, were misquoting Ms. Khoury wildly, and were tailgating conceptually upon each other, as opposed to reacting solely to the article.

What she MEANT to say or imply or how she said it could be debated forever. Frankly, the article itself is no longer the issue. The issue is the unabashed rudeness, the utter lack of manners, the nonexistent decorum, and the horrific incivility that ensued from people the world over. That's the real story now, and a MUCH bigger one,

Has everyone gone mad? Get a damn grip on yourselves. The more "woe is me" and "I am so injured" comments there are, the more nauseating it becomes. Get some spine. Are you that insecure about your stupid tattoos that you must crucify a writer (for an entire week now) with your asinine comments, personal attacks and insults? Are you really that concerned that what this young girl has written will "set back women's rights 50 years" ? C'mon now. Only slightly hyperbolic, don't you think?

She opined. You disagreed. So do so in a way you would hope someone would speak to you. Disagree with what she has written in a respectful manner. Comment on the piece. Not on her. That's over the line. Stop proving that the world is, in fact, full of idiots and that you are a prime example.

Fri Feb 3 2012 22:21
Really wanted a sip of Lisa's Kool Aid, huh, Ed?
Fri Feb 3 2012 21:58
I find it insulting that you think your readers only have the emotional and mental capacity to react to one opinion piece or news story at a time. Am I not allowed to be outraged by more than one issue per day, or will my head explode if I try to react to more than one injustice at a time? Ouch, thinking iz hard!
Fri Feb 3 2012 21:36
So what your saying is.

You all over reacted to an article written by a girl, and you must be total hypocrites because you refuse to commit arson and possibly murder?

Yeah, over reaction is BAD man.

T. Reynolds
Fri Feb 3 2012 18:47
As a professional editorial writer I hardly understand why the opinion of an insignificant 19 year old student on tattoos has people up in arms. There's a lot to be said about an easy target. However, in opinion writing, care has to be taken to substantiate your argument. When you support your argument with sexist rhetoric odds are people will disagree. Unfortunately you published a poor piece of journalism and have to deal with the consequences, plain and simple. Luckily, this experience will likely give the author of the piece a thicker skin. You're one step closer to becoming a journalist, kid.

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