Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I think I'm less inked than your average 20-something.

A quick glance at my closest friends reveals that many of them have at least one, if not many tattoos.

But an article I stumbled upon this morning reveals that many of these women might choose to one day remove their tattoos due to "social stigma."

Apparently it's acceptable for men to ink themselves like a bic pen, but women are expected to adorn themselves with less permanent enhancements, like makeup and jewelry.

They're asked to cover their tats at weddings, work functions, and family dinners.

I even saw my own sister struggle with 100-dollar-tattoo-covering-make-up for her wedding day, only to decide that it wasn't worth the fact that she might ruin her white dress with the putty and paint. Turns out, Dad would have to see the butterfly on her shoulder after all.

And so women are continually labeled as promiscuous or trans-gendered with painted biceps and the proverbial "tramp stamp," inked men remain only one thing... macho.

But if the paint is permanent for both sexes...
Shouldn't the pride be as well?


Chrissie said...

And if this topic isn't quite racy enough for you, there's always this...

Tramp Stamps for Kids?

Mario said...

I'm not sure where you got the idea that men aren't expected to cover up their tattoos. If they're working construction, I would say no. But, if women worked construction, I'm not sure they would have to either.

In corporate america, however, I don't know any older men with tattoos who don't cover them up. Of course, you don't see older men with tattoos on their necks -- outside of prison and biker joints -- so it isn't difficult to cover them. I do see younger men with tattoos, though none of the younger men are running things. I'll bet if they do, most will feel pressured to cover up.

Several of the women who work in my office, ranging from 30-something to 60-something, do have visible tattoos. At least a couple of them do run some modest portion of the business.

Now, as to being "macho" -- that's not a unanimous verdict? It's as macho as a "wife-beater" (or whatever the kids are calling the t-shirts, now). Some of us think it betrays the same kind of Neanderthalish, Stanley Kowalski mentality that the t-shirt does.

I'll just confess, in case it isn't obvious by now -- I've never seen a tattoo that I've liked. To me, they look like graffiti. But, I have to disagree with the notion that men get a free pass on them, while women suffer from some double standard.

Chrissie said...

i think you make a lot of good points mario...

most men "at the top" also cover their tattoos and women at the top would be expected to as well.

i guess i'm not so much talking about those people "up there" but about the average joes and janes working in everyday businesses, or perhaps not even working at all who run into this "double standard."

i don't think a visible tattoo says the same thing for a man as it does for a woman, and the article i linked to illustrates a few reasons as to why.

the "tramp stamp" that i referred to is an extremely derogatory term used to describe a tattoo on a woman's lower back. her choice of tattoo and location turns her into a tramp, is there such a place that a man could get one, where he would be similarly judged based on his choice.

Chrissie said...

And from that article:

In the 2006 study, the researchers interviewed 196 tattooed people; 130 of them were women. Overall, more women (69 percent) than men (31 percent) decided to have tattoos removed. The reason they gave for their choice was that they felt stigmatized by the society for their tattoos.

For example, about 40 percent of women endured negative comments at work, in public or in school compared with 5 percent of men.

Also, 93 percent of women decided to remove the tattoos because they had to hide it on various occasions. Only 20 percent of men gave this reason.

Anonymous said...

a tramp stamp simply shows a lack of orginality. for men, it would be the tribal band around one's upper arm.

i have several tattoos, and will be getting another (to cover a scar). i keep them (basically) covered at work, depending on who i am meeting with that day. important meeting, i cover up. a day at my desk, not so much.

i also cover them around grandparents out of respect for their generation's views on ink.

but beyond that, i don't see any social stigma or lack of femininity. maybe i'm just content in my inked skin and don't care.

Chrissie said...

good for you anon, for feeling comfortable with your ink and not caring what people think (sorry for the rhyme).

and while i agree that both the tramp stamp for women and tribal band for men illustrate a lack of originality for both, i don't think that the man's tribal tat denotes the same negativity that the woman's does...

for her, it's a symbol of her sexuality, "promiscuity" and lacking originality... and for him it's just the last one, which i think reflects the statistics in the article i linked to.

Anonymous said...

I have a lower back tat. 10 years ago, when I got it, it was fashionable, it was accepted by society as "The Place" to have a tat. Not really being an ink freak, I wanted to be original, but on a part of my body that wouldn't be viewed as freakish — like the forehead. I liked that this place was exclusive (unlike the shoulder or upper back or chest). Few men, and I mean few, have seen the tat. The term couldn't be further from the truth.
Chrissie, I agree with what you said. There's no term to describe a male tat as whorish. And even if there was a PIMP stamp, every guy would want one!

Chrissie said...

I don't know what the deal is... but I got another email from the women's health newsletter today, and the topic: "Women more likely to regret tattoos."

Is someone trying to tell me something? I do not want, nor have any tattoos.

(Although, I have often fantasized about getting a HUGE purple Grimace tattoo on my back, McDonald's style!)!!!

Mario said...

Perhaps, compared to men, women are just more likely to regret.

Melanie said...

I have my "tramp stamp" but just a bit higher. No one ever sees it except my DH and my kids (whom I got it for)! So how am I a tramp?? Yeah I don't get it... I'm in the process of getting another one on my shoulder, what does that make me??
I will say that when I've thought about places to put my tats I've always thought about where should I ever find myself in the 'working' world again....