Today in the Magic Thermos (TM) ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon spiced coffee. Yum!
Do you ever wonder at some people and their reactions to things? I certainly do. This morning as I was eating breakfast, I happened across THIS article on Facebook. I tried to feel sympathetic to this woman, I really did. I just couldn't.
Now don't get me wrong, this woman is entitled to feel how she feels. Often times you can't control how you feel. In the same vein, I am entitled to how I feel about this article: Indignant, amused and not a little bit like rolling my eyes so hard they tumble out of my head.
Full disclosure, I have a tattoo, and I plan many more (but they're expensive, damn it! Donations welcome... Ahem). I like them. I think they are beautiful. I also think they're not a big deal. But then, I am not a mother nor do I have any kind of weird and wrong association with tattoos.
I am impressed with the author's self-reflection. She can see how she might be seen as irrational or wrong... but she does nothing about it. Instead of seeing her prejudices and working on overcoming them, she sees them and does nothing. In fact, she clings to them.
This kind of thing really irritates me, particularly when it comes to tattoos. There are still some people who have very strange prejudices against them. The author writes:
Tattoos used to be the preserve of criminals and toffs. And sailors. In the 1850s, the corpses of seamen washed up on the coast of north Cornwall were "strangely decorated" with blue, according to Robert Hawker, the vicar of Morwenstow – initials, or drawings of anchors, flowers or religious symbols ("Our blessed Saviour on His Cross, with on the one hand His mother, and on the other St John the Evangelist"). "It is their object and intent, when they assume these signs," says Hawker, "to secure identity for their bodies if their lives are lost at sea."
Tattoos, then, were intensely practical, like brightly coloured smit marks on sheep.
Or rather, sort of. It is true that modern day criminals often do have tattoos. Yup. Very true. It might also be true that sailors would get tattoos so that they can be identified if they lost their lives at sea. But if we open our eyes a bit, we see a multitude of cultures for whom tattoos are a symbol of high status, of wealth or great honour/reputation.
South East Asia - the Philippines, Indonesia and Southern India and even Japan - all used tattoos to display rank. These body decorations had no connection to crime (though in Japan now they are connected to the Yakuza), but did often to people of high rank or people who embarked on heroic quests (or heroic head-hunting if you're in Borneo).
Samoans were tattooed, as were the Maori of New Zealand. In fact, most Polynesian cultures all practised tattooing. In Samoa, tattooing ceremonies were performed for young chiefs as part of their move to a leadership role Leaders, not criminals, were tattooed.
The same is true of Persia, where there survive sculptures of Persian kings and warriors of the Achaemenid Empire proudly sporting all kinds of piercings (not quite tattoos, but burdened with the same prejudices)..
In Taiwan, facial tattoos on men signify that he is believed to be capable of defending his home. Women with the same are considered qualified for keeping that home; weaving cloth etc. They are a mark of achievement.
That's all well and good, I can hear some people say. But people who aren't Polynesian, or Persian, or South East Asian are getting tattoos!
Yes, and us Caucasian people have been doing so since the dawn of man. Ötzi the famous ice man has sixty-one tattoos. Sixty one. For those of you not up on your archaeology, Ötzi is a 5,300-year-old mummy discovered by hikers in the Ötztal Alps near the Italian-Austrian border in 1991. Granted, the theory is that they are theraputic rather than symbolic, but the point is he had tattoos. Sixty one of them. You can read about the find HERE.
Then there is the Princess of Ukok, a beautiful woman in her early thirties, who was given a very grand burial indeed. This woman of obvious high rank had many beautiful tattoos all over her body. And I mean beautiful. I want some of them on my own body. You can read about her and see the tattoos for yourself HERE. Again, she was a woman of remarkably high rank, given that she was buried with six odd horses. Oh, and there were male mummies found in the same region who also had tattoos. These men were not criminals, but high-ranking warriors. They were men of high regard.
Yes, but the Altai Mountains where she was found borders Mongolia. There's no proof really that she was Caucasian... Except that DNA actually puts her and her people as Samoyedic and Iranian-Caucasain. She shares no connection to the Mongols currently inhabiting the region.
Still not Western enough for you? Try the Celts, the westernmost people in Europe, who are widely reported to have been tattooed. There are bog bodies found in Ireland sporting skin art. The Picts were frakkin' famous for it; their name meaning, literally, the painted ones. Vikings? According to an Arabic scholar who met Rus Viking traders in Russia, they were tattooed.
The point is, the prejudice associated with tattoos and criminals is just that - a prejudice, and it really needs to stop. Non-criminals, like myself, have tattoos. Some of them have tonnes of tattoos. Getting a tattoo does not immediately make one a criminal. The woman in the article, bless her soul, cannot seem to get past the tired and inaccurate notion that tattoos are evil by association.
That was not the point of her article, I know. Her point was far more disturbing to me; that this tattoo symbolised the 'cutting of my apron strings'; a proper cause for grief. At risk of appearing too internet-meme-y... Wut? Her son is a grown man. Those apron strings should be cut. Good grief! It seems her son was viewed as property, as if the right to his skin was somehow hers and not his. I'm touchy about this for many, very feminist reasons, but I won't go into it. I didn't even mean to give much heed to the apron strings thing, because that wasn't the point of this blog (but it is very disturbing).
The point is, a tattoo is nothing to throw a three-day to life-long hissy fit about. It's a tattoo. It's art. It is often very beautiful, and it has nothing to do with criminality. You're welcome to disagree about the beauty of tattoos. Opinions and all that.
But It's high time we lost that ridiculous notion that tattoos equal questionable moralities. Can we just let it go now?