Friday, June 13, 2008

Tattoo Trouble in the South Bay

Body modification, it’s my passion; however it has also become a point of pain lately. During the winter months I always seem to add hours and hours of work to my ever growing collection of body mods. This winter I completed my sleeves and started a leg piece. Since my leg piece just finished healing a month or so ago, during this past heat wave, I figured I would be safe to wear a skirt. Apparently, despite my tattoo being healed, I was far from safe.

I should have learned, while working on my sleeves, that my tattoos open me to a whole field of different sort of harassment. People seem to believe since I am so open and proud of my body modifications that I am just trying to put myself on display. They seem to mistake me as some sort of hands on art display. While working on my sleeves I had men on a daily that would come up and grab my arms and start looking over my tattoos. Or they would rub their hands down my arms and ask “Are those real?” Ugh, absolutely no respect for personal space.

Anyway, during this heat wave that just passed us in San Jose, I decided it was great skirt weather. So, I busted out a comfortable skirt that I hadn’t seen since last summer (not at all revealing, or risqué, it went to my kneecaps). I went to pick my brother up from work (Wal-Mart, the one on Story Rd), and got their a little early. I decided to do a little bit of shopping around in the mean time.  As I was shopping, an older gentleman walks up to me and begins to comment on my tattoos. This is nothing new; I smile and politely thank him for all the compliments, and even give him a business card for my tattoo artist. Since time was running short, and I was lingering much too long around the fishing hooks, I politely excused myself back to my shopping, and assumed the gentleman would walk away. Wrong!! Next thing I know I feel a light tugging up of my skirt, and quickly twirl around. The man I had just been talking to is squatted down, his face about buttock level, and was tugging up my skirt trying to see the rest of my tattoo. I resisted the urge to knee him in the face, and asked him “What the hell are you doing?!?!” He responded he was just trying to get a better look at my tattoo, and if I could turn back around so he could keep looking. Very adamantly told him no, and could he please leave me alone. He tried to back pedal and attempted to compliment me on the beauty of my tattoos, and how new they looked, and how well taken care of they were. At this point, I had begun to back down the aisle, and was scanning around for a staff member. I was about to reach for my cell phone to call or text message my brother and let him know that this guy would not leave me alone, when suddenly he got the hint and just walked off. Eagerly I grabbed my items and made my way to the front of the store. I checked out through my brother’s line and told him what happened and that I would be waiting out in the car. As I was leaving, another gentleman grabbed me by my elbow as I passed. “Beautiful lotus on beautiful legs…” He said, I yanked my arm away and eagerly left the store.

Makes me nervous to wear a skirt this summer. I am not a thin girl, I am not a run way model, I am your typical thick chick. I carry myself confidently, I carry myself with pride, but my tattoos seem to make me a target at times, and don’t get me started on my surface piercings. Women are polite; they will point them out and make a comment, and then carry on with their day. However men in the area seem to think that my mods make it ok to touch, grab, or wonder beyond the boundaries of politeness. I’m sure I could write in on a daily about the looks, the grabs, the comments, the requests I receive about my tattoos and piercings. “Do you have anymore I could see?” or how about this one “Are there any you wouldn’t tell your parents about?” Ugh! What’s wrong with these men? Why do they think this is a good way to approach a woman? Do they really think I will respond to their rude advances? Just leave me alone!

Tattoos… look but don’t touch!

Submitted by Linda in San Jose.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You describe these pigs as "gentlemen"! They don't deserve such politeness.

lauren said...

this happens to me all the time too, people pulling at my clothing to see my tattoos.

my boyfriend used to work at a tattoo shop, so he is nearly covered. i was telling him my woes one day when he replied to me that he had the same problem. people just pulling up his shirt sleeve saying that they want to see how far up it goes. UGH it gives me goosebumps, but somehow relieving to know it's not just women who are being harassed by these people with no sense of boundaries.

p.s. if what happened to you happened to me, i WOULD have kneed the guy in the face. you were much more polite than you should have been. next time spray them with pepper spray or something. do not allow yourself to be grabbed. best of luck to you!