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Feminspire | April 21, 2014

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Shut Up, Liz Jones: Tattoos Aren’t For Sluts

Shut Up, Liz Jones: Tattoos Aren’t For Sluts

Right now I’m more than a little bit frustrated by an article I had the displeasure of reading on the Daily Mail. The article in question is titled ‘I thought tattoos were for sluts’.

This article, in which writer Liz Jones’ explains her “shocking” decision to get a tattoo, opens by suggesting that: “I have never wanted a tattoo, much as I have never desired a nose ring. Such self-indulgent decoration always seemed a bit dirty, a bit slut-like. And, as we all know, I am the very opposite of a slut.”

I’m despairing – actual, physical head-in-hand despair. If you never wanted a tattoo, then that’s okay. Really, it is. No one is going to judge you for not wanting to permanently ink your body. If you don’t want a piercing then that is also okay. I get why people don’t want to have any body modifications. What I’m failing to understand, as hard as I’m trying (cue the furrowed brow) is how the decision to tattoo one’s body firstly dictates their sexual behaviour, and secondly opens themselves up to all sorts of scrutiny, negative stereotyping and slut shaming.

What Liz Jones is failing to acknowledge is the history of the tattoo. They are not simply some brand on a person to demonstrate to the world how many, or not, people one person has slept with. Tattoos have been discovered on a 5000 year old mummy in the Alps. Tattoos are an inherent part of many non-Westernised cultures, such as with the Maori of New Zealand. Liz Jones, in all her conservative ignorance, does not acknowledge these facts. Guess what? I had my nose pierced with a ring (oh lord I was a scarlet woman!) before I’d slept with anyone. Wasn’t I quite the attention-seeking slut?

As the article progresses further, Liz states: “As I stagger around on the cobbles in my Prada platforms, everyone who passes me, the so-called freaks with chains hanging from their noses and numerous tattoos on yoga-honed biceps bigger than Popeye, every single person smiles and says hello.”

What’s that, Liz? People who are brandishing their tattoos and piercings at you have basic manners and courtesy as well?! Members of a counterculture are not as rude and judgemental as you would like to believe? I’m side-eyeing her phrasing so much (“so-called freaks”) because, despite her attempt to appear to her audience that she is redeeming herself, I know that that is her opinion right there in black and white. Liz, just say it how you think it is.

“These multi-coloured, over-decorated, multi-national misfits are the new nice people, accepting, non-judgmental. Just thoroughly nice.”

You mean, not judgemental like yourself? Not a bitter, mean individual like yourself? I’m honestly so annoyed by this woman. Why would any well-adjusted, normal, decent individual think that having some body modification changes the personality of a person? There have been studies to suggest that having a tattoo is linked to some types of personality disorder, but in the case of Liz Jones, I believe she simply enjoys perpetuating stereotypes that people with tattoos are socially deviant and are, therefore, open to criticism from the socially accepted members of society. PS, who are you so say that those people you claim to embrace with open arms are over-decorated? Let them be their own judge, it’s not your place to pass judgement.

I don’t want to comment on every single thing in her article that annoys me because, quite frankly, this would be dissertation-length. Instead, I’ll force you all to pay attention to one of her penultimate comments:

“So far, I haven’t had one single negative reaction. I now understand why people have tattoos. It gives out a signal that you don’t care what others think of you.”

What this woman fails to realise is that having a tattoo does not change your personality at all. You might get more pissed off when people think having a tattoo is an open invitation for body scrutiny, but there are no personality changes. Out of all my friends with tattoos, I can’t say that a single one of them has been tattooed due to wanting to say a huge ‘Fuck off’ to the world, nor do I believe that being tattooed and not caring are mutually exclusive concepts; we are only human and we still care when you force us to defend our decisions by slapping the misogynistic label of ‘slut’ on us. My psychology teacher always said that “correlation ain’t causation,” and I think that really applies here. A nose stud or a horse tattoo doesn’t cause “deviant” behaviour; it’s just ink or metal. Don’t blame my star tattoos on me swearing at bad drivers – I was a loud-mouthed individual before the ink.

My opinion of Liz Jones has not changed one bit just because she has a tattoo, but her holier-than-thou attitude towards members of society with body modifications has. I’m not going to juder her on her appearance, whether it be natural or not, but instead I’m judging her on her hateful, misinformed opinions. Liz, you may have a tattoo now, but please try to work on those shitty opinions of yours. Tattooed women aren’t sluts, pierced noses aren’t dirty, and PS, I don’t care about your Prada heels.

Written by Becci Yare

Header image courtesy of Steve Burton