There’s a new form of harassment out there, according to the Feminist Internet: “tat-calling,” which is basically when a man comments on a woman’s tattoos.
“I was frustrated and uncomfortable that I couldn’t just go for a simple walk without being left alone, so over the course of 40 minutes, I tweeted (using the hashtag #tatcalling) . . . every tattoo-related catcall I received – just to prove a point about what a day in the life of a tattooed woman out in public in a patriarchal society feels like,” Melissa A. Fabello writes in a piece titled “My Tattoos Aren’t an Invitation for Harassment — So Please Stop ‘Tatcalling’ Me” for the blog Everyday Feminism.
“One guy even literally stopped to show me his tattoos,” she continues. (The horror!)
And this is apparently a huge deal. Because, according to Fabello, if you’re a man on the street and you comment on a woman’s tattoos, you’re not just commenting on that woman’s tattoos — you’re “asserting your dominance by way of reminding her that she can’t simply exist without having to entertain the whims of men.”
“Even if you think you’re just paying her a compliment . . . you’re actually reminding her that men, on the whole, feel entitled to her space, time, and especially her body,” she continues. “Because you’re invading all three when you comment on her appearance.”
Fabello explains that she didn’t get her tattoos because she thought they would look good to other people, but because “they feel like love letters written to the parts of my body I grew up hating.”
#related#Not wanting to give the impression that she’s being ridiculous or anything, Fabello does clarify that if someone “politely excuses themselves for being interruptive and asks me if I’d be comfortable answering a few questions about my tattoos because they’re thinking of getting one and are curious, I always (very kindly) oblige.”
She does have a lot of rules for that situation, though. For example: No asking if it hurt, no asking how much it cost, and this:
“Just for the record, everyone, ‘What do they mean?’ isn’t a conversation starter either,” she clarifies. “It’s generally a conversation shut-down-er. Because that’s an incredibly personal question. Don’t ask strangers that. Like, ever.”
Like, ever, guys. Okay?