Why Are Women With Visible Tattoos Still Slut-Shamed By Society?

The recent Harvey Weinstein scandal has highlighted how retrograde ideas towards women and their bodies are still, unfortunately, alive and well in our society. One of the first women to speak out against Weinstein and reveal her sexual assault story was actress and filmmaker Asia Argento.

If the international media has praised Argento for her courage, it was not exactly the case in her home country. Indeed, the Italian actress has received extensive backlash from not just journalists but also local female celebrities and internet users.

To assert that she's not a victim but a strong survivor, Argento posted a selfie on her Instagram account soon after her revelations. It shows her naked body, covered in tattoos that have been created by contemporary tattoo artists Marco Manzo and Francesca Boni.

The revealing picture received very harsh comments. People were pointing out that Argento's tattoos make her a less convincing victim. Some even tried to draw parallels between her "aggression" and her body art… Addressing the issue, Asia told French newspaper Libération:

"I’m regarded as the girl who has no problem getting naked: this means roles of hookers, strippers […] I’m mistaken for a sexual maniac."

She makes a good point. It's nearly 2018, and still, tattooed women are often pictured as trashy, promiscuous and with low standards. Tattooed bodies have invaded commercial ads, but if those of men are now associated with creativity, badassery and cool attitude, those of women are still used for sexual overtones.

It's not unheard of that in public spaces, women are already more prone to experiencing unwanted physical contact from strangers than their male counterparts. For women with visible ink, the situation is even worse because many of these perpetrators see their tattoos as an 'invitation' allowing them to touch.

Body art has somehow become another excuse to breach a woman’s comfort zone. But having tattoos, just as wearing a dress or a skirt or whatever we damn please, doesn’t warrant this kind of behavior.

Many tattooed women have experienced this issue outside the tattoo community, but also inside. The cliché of a sexy tattooed girl is constantly promoted by magazines and brands in the industry. Even some internationally renowned tattoo conventions are using naked beauties to attract more visitors than just the usual tattoo enthusiasts.

It is especially ironical, as tattoo art has been used for many years by women as a way to reclaim their bodies.

Good news is that more and more tattoo artists are working with survivors to help them heal through body art with things like #StillNotAskingForIt flash events and the Fire Rose Unity tattoo.

Tattooing is and should remain a safe way for women to express their feminity, uniqueness and independence. Asia Argento's example reminds us there is still a long way to go before all the Harvey Weinsteins of this world get a grip and stop blaming women for their own inappropriate behavior, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't keep on trying.

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Writer for tattoo and art related medias, as well as author of crime novels. I live in Paris.