It's not a tramp stamp, it's a tattoo.

I have two tattoos. I want more! I love wearing art that is important to me, carrying with me the memories and experiences that went into my choice of tattoo. Even though my first tattoo was flash picked off of a wall, I smile at the eagerness of my just-turned-18 self, that the fact that I was getting a tattoo was more important than what I put on my body. Even that crappy tattoo has its place.

All sorts of people get all sorts of tattoos for all sorts of reasons, and in recent Western culture we have placed judgement on the types of people who get tattoos, what those tattoos are, and even where they’re placed. If you get a tattoo you’re a punk who will never amount to anything, you’re defiling your body because teh bible. If you get a highly visible tattoo you’re an idiot who will never get a respectable job. There might be a few instances where it’s okay for a man to get a tattoo – military tattoos come to mind. But if you’re a woman, well, it doesn’t really matter why or where you get tattooed – you’re a skanky whore.

Critink has a post about this perception of women who get tattoos. The author justifiably took exception to an article which mentions the phrase “Skank Flank: The New Tramp Stamp”. With very little digging Critink shows that judging women who have tattoos is just one more instance of body-shaming and the idea that women should be told what we can and can’t do with our bodies:

Here is how the same douchebags would like us to view tattoos:

  • Lower back tattoos: you’re a tramp
  • Rib tattoos: you’re a skank
  • Wrist tattoos: you’re a dumb skank
  • Arm tattoos: you’re a whore
  • Leg tattoos: you’re a whore
  • Feet tattoos: you’re a whore
  • Shoulder tattoos: you’re a whore
  • Tattoos anywhere: you’re a whore
  • No tattoos: you’re still a whore.

Visit Critink for the full story. It’s a short, but powerful read.

It's not a tramp stamp, it's a tattoo.

460 thoughts on “It's not a tramp stamp, it's a tattoo.

    1. 1.1

      I should clarify… I meant I wouldn’t have known I was a whore without reading the article which the author of Critink took exception to. The Critink article was wonderful… didn’t want there to be a misunderstanding about which one I was referring to. 🙂

  1. 2

    I know all the insults are stupid and say more about the insulter than the insultee.
    I think that the only thing that can be reasonably held against tattoos is this:
    When I look at photos of myself from the 60s and 70s I am amused, a bit embarrassed, and really thankful that the long hair and the crazy clothes and the long beard and the naughty substances aren’t still permanently attached to me and on display.
    I’m in many ways a different person from late teen or early twenties me.
    I’m sure you will be too when you’re old (-er??).
    I know you can be de-tatted, but I suspect their ghosts will always be there.
    I hope that you don’t come to regret them.

    1. 2.1

      If they are personal, then fine. They are part of you & your story.

      If you get tattooed to prove a point, or be fashionable, or in a stupid place… oh, and avoid people’s names if possible IMO… then yeah, there could be a problem later.

      Anyway, we can’t all be beautiful 80-year olds.

  2. 3

    Aye, most tattoos don’t represent more than a personal aesthetic. That guy quoted is a moron – and there are a lot of them about, to be honest, as there are a lot of artists with egos… Him being editor of a tattoo mag almost immediately flags him as an opinionated fool.

    You’re left with good designs and bad designs, good execution and bad execution, and good placement and bad placement. The fact that they are becoming trendy does bring up issues, and the “job stopper” is a definite sign of a stupid client and possibly an unscrupulous artist. They’re permanent and can’t be seen as primarily a fashion accessory or you’re in deep trouble.

    Personally I think that men can get away with really crap tattoos a bit better then women can, but that is personal taste and not any reflection on the person who’s inked apart from their personal taste! Slut or whore? No, definitely not, what’s all that about? A great tattoo well-placed on a man or a woman is a real thing of beauty.

    Disclaimer: I’m inked on arms/legs/chest/tramp stamp (ahem) that cover with trousers and elbow length shirt, and some of my work is very stupid/crap but hey, c’est la vie. I also first got ink almost 20 years ago and am an IT professional…

    1. 3.1

      I am a female, IT professional with military ink that I am very proud of. I have plans for future tattoos, but I take a while to pick what I want.

      What it all comes down to is two things.

      1: fuck anyone who can generalize a large group of people by such minuscule measures
      2: fuck anyone one for judging people on personal choices that do not affect them.

      That said, there are locations where tattoos will limit possible future choices. Mine have been long drawn out, thanks procrastination, decisions that I am still very glad I made 15 years later.

  3. 6

    Regret my tattoos? They are part of my history and part of ME.

    There is a wonderful scene with Exene Cervenka of X in “The Decline of Western Civilization”. One of the band members is getting a homemade tattoo (F.T.W, as I recall, a tat that will have changed meaning over time in a delightful way). Exene says something along the lines of this; Tattoos remind you of times you’ve had. Good times, bad times, they were still YOUR times.

    This whole tabula rasa skin thing is overrated. If you don’t want a tattoo fine, but please, don’t be condescending about other people having tattoos. We might just feel sorry for you because you never had the nerve to commit, never had the experience of being tattooed.

    My body will not stay the same. It gets modified every day as I age. I have scars. I have freckles and moles that I did not get to choose. I get to control what gets inked on my body and where. Some people regret their bodies and pay doctors to change them. I would not do that.

    People say tattoos are forever, which is silly. My tattoos will probably last another twenty, thirty years or so, maybe a little bit longer.

    And then they will, like me, be gone.

  4. 8

    Visible tattoos are one of the few things not outlawed by our dress code at my place of employment. (Hair color is the other, FTW!)

    I’m slowly working my way into a half sleeve. And by slowly, I mean one tattoo every ten years or so. I should get it finished just in time for richardelguru to start to regret them.

    I’ve had quite a few heated familial arguements about the phrase tramp stamp. I can’t wait to see how long until they start using skank flank. 🙁

    1. 10.2

      Tribal is a line style, not a heritage card. While some tattoos can be trashy (I’m thinking jail tats, low quality alley shops, homemade guns with amateur line work), that doesn’t mean that tattoos ARE trashy. If you don’t like it don’t get it.

  5. 11

    I thought tatoos would be passe by now.

    Your kids will be embarrassed by them, your grandkids will think they’re cool.
    THEIR kids will start over with super hi-tech scarification believing that they invented it.

    1. 11.1

      I can tell, simply from the empathy and wisdom of your response, that you will have a marvelous relationship with any such children as you might father, and that they will be exemplary citizens.

    2. 11.2

      On the contrary, tattoos have come so far that people of all ages are commonly found in tattoo shops getting art of all kinds. Tattoos aren’t passe, they’re an individual statement – yes, even pieces chosen from a wall and “tribal” work – and some incredible form can be found in them.

      I suppose Rembrant is passe.

  6. 12

    I love lower-back tattoos on women, particularly women with curvy hips. Very sexy.

    Also, “sleeve tattoos” (where an entire arm is inked from shoulder to wrist) can be just fascinating. I’ve seen some really interesting ones on men and women.

  7. 13

    From critink:

    It does seem notable that the person that called those tattoos a skank flank was in fact the very artist that draws them and he seems to speak for other artists:

    ““We call it the ‘skank flank,’” [the tattoo artist we interviewed] said. “Every week or two, I see another girl with another rib piece, and you have to tell them that.””

    Given that, it’s probably not true that:

    “Here is how the same ARTISTS would like us to view tattoos:

    Lower back tattoos: you’re a tramp
    Rib tattoos: you’re a skank
    Wrist tattoos: you’re a dumb skank
    Arm tattoos: you’re a whore
    Leg tattoos: you’re a whore
    Feet tattoos: you’re a whore
    Shoulder tattoos: you’re a whore
    Tattoos anywhere: you’re a whore
    No tattoos: you’re still a whore.”

    Or maybe it is. Knowing that the artists involved look with disrespect on the tattoo and its location, well, it may be one reason for people that get those tattoos to interrogate their own beliefs about them.

  8. 14

    Getting a tattoo reflects a lot about the wearer’s thoughts.
    Some of those I can appreciate and admire. Others I consider somewhere on the scale from misguided to actively stupid.
    Like that acquaintance who had the name of the boat of her BF inked on her forearm in huge letters in a cheesy font when the relationship was well on its way downhill (the tat wasn’t healed yet when they split in an ugly way). Like my cousin who can’t finish anything that takes a shred of effort and tries to find something permanent by getting big, beautifully executed tats (which she dislikes shortly after, and then gets the next…). Like girls who think that it’s that little tat on their hip that makes them exciting to guys, which they think is what defines their worth.

    I think it’s perfectly ok to have an opinion about the thoughts that others express, regardless of whether it’s verbal, written or by body-mod. (I’m also perfectly happy for people to criticise my motivations for having a few piercings.)
    What’s not ok is to use a woman’s tattoo as an excuse to shame her for her body and sexuality.

  9. 16

    Generally, with exceptions self-declared, the presence of a tattoo demonstrates something of a person’s relationship with their body. Specifically a willingness to use the body to express themselves. This use can vary from using the body as a private memorial, a vet friend had a small discreetly placed tattoo for each buddy lost in combat, to a public declaration of religion or, as with some gangs, a CV of criminal activity. But in each case it says that the person is willing to use and change their bodies.

    None of that says much about the person’s morality or willingness to engage in casual sex.

  10. 17

    I’ve always hated the phrase “Tramp Stamp” – talk about misogynist, classist, sex-negative, slut-shaming BULLSHIT. It just makes me want to shout, How About Shut-the-fuck-up and stop promuglating STUPID fucking prejudices you little shit-stain. And of course, the people I’ve known who’ve used that kind of rhetoric the most are the guys who are desperate for sex whenever wherever and with however, always looking for tail, but judging the people they dally with. WTF?

  11. 18

    I prefer “daddy-issue insignia” for women and “bully brand” for men. That’s not to say that all women with tattoos have daddy issues or all men with them are bullies, but there seems, at least from from my wholly unscientific personal experience, as if most girls with daddy issues have tattoos and most guys who are bullies have them. I cannot recall seeing a gang member or violent criminal without one, examples ranging from tattoo heavy members of the Aryan Nation, Russian Mafia, Chinese Triad, and Japanese Yakuza.

    A minority of populations have tattoos, and it is undeniably a psychological marker which seems to escape interpretation of those who get them. It defines you as a member of a group, whether that is the explicit intention or not. The fact that it is a permanent alteration of the visible exterior of a person, along with the image chosen, and its location all have meanings much wider than the conscious explanation/excuse usually offered.

    I usually stay clear of guys I do not previously know which sport tattoos due to the higher probability of them being violent. With girls I usually steer the conversation into background, upbringing, and relationship with their father (mostly because girls who are looking for a daddy is a huge turn-off for me).

  12. 19

    I have several piercings and a tattoo, and have considered more, so I’m definitely not critical of those who want them. The only criticism I have are for those who didn’t think it through and got a regrettable tattoo (e.g. bad spelling, bad artwork, bad choice of design). It’s permanent, so why not pay to get it done right?

    Like any other style choice (e.g. dyed hair and/or extreme styles), some people are going to criticize whether the wearer likes it or not, despite the fact that the wearer is the same person with or without it. If one chooses to wear a tattoo, one must accept that some people are going to judge anyway (i.e. job hunting, dating, etc.) even though the problem is in their mind, not yours.

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