I just saw something really disturbing.
I went to a tattoo shop with a friend who was getting some work done. She needed a hand-holder and really, who could say no to that? Art, pain and friendship all wrapped into one happy little package. I know only too well how hard a big piece of tattoo work can be – my first one wasn’t too bad, but my second one had me crying like a baby for the whole hour and a half it took. There was quite literally a puddle on the floor between my feet. Yowza.
Anyway, when I was leaving the shop to let the second hand-holder start her shift (!), my finger bones mostly intact, I stopped for a moment to take a look at the flash art all over the walls. Between the retro hula-girls and the muscle-boy tribal designs, I saw a large image depicting a woman on her hands and knees, ass in the air, perspective skewed so the ass was the focal point of the image. She had two smoking guns stuffed into her, one in each hole. She had this look of humiliation on her little cartoon face.
I was disgusted.
There’s this thing about sex, you see. I’m all for doing it dirty and hard and painful and nasty, and using all manner of creative props. I don’t happen to like guns much; the associations with death and dismemberment are just really unsexy to me, what can I say. But I do know people who’ve used guns (generally speaking unloaded) as part of play scenarios, and the idea doesn’t offend me – though it certainly does offend many others even within the “boundary-breaking” BDSM community. As far as I’m concerned, s’long as it’s all consensual and nobody’s life is being unduly risked, hey, take your pick of the thousands of phallic symbols out there, and ride it to your heart’s (or something’s) content. It might not be so wise to yank out your Colt .45 in the middle of the local dungeon lest the guests think you’re going Columbine on the perverati, but in principle I don’t think using a piece for penetration or other forms of play is a big deal.
I suppose that if one of the people who gets off on this particular kink were to get a tattoo of a girl with two metal muzzles in her orifices, I might – might – be able to see it as representative of their particular kink, their personal brand of alternative pleasure. I might be able to see it as meaningful body art. Maybe.
The thing is, the vast majority of people even within a pretty darned open-minded subculture like the BDSM world find guns a bit much to include in sex play. Even if it were my kink, I’d think twice (or a dozen times, or maybe a few hundred) before tattooing it on my skin, knowing that the vast majority even of kinky folks – let alone the general public – would look at it and misconstrue what it meant. I mean, don’t you want to be able to strip down without worrying that the people nearby – particularly your potential sex partners – will think you’re a rapist and murderer? Makes sense, ya?
So knowing that gun kink is a minority fetish even among BDSMers, who themselves are members of a relative sexual minority… and knowing that this particular tattoo shop doesn’t cater in any focused way to that minority… I’m forced to believe that a picture of a chick in the process of being sexually brutalized by a couple of deadly weapons is exactly what it looks like: a really fucking gross endorsement of rape by threat of deadly force. Or at best, if not an endorsement of the actual practice, then one of those maddening endorsements of the “whazza big deal, you an uptight feminist or sumthin’?” approach to patently offensive imagery. Which just makes me want to scream something along the lines of “My hardcore feminist sex life is edgier than yours will ever be even in your wildest dreams, you lowlife bucket of backwater pond scum, and this kind of imagery is still just bloody revolting.”
All this being said, I’m vehemently anti-censorship. So I wouldn’t vote for doing anything that would oblige the shop to remove their tattoo selection or bring the city down on their asses (not that I know how the city would deal with that). No sirree. I do have a few other creative ideas though.
1. Write a kindly-worded (I’m serious!) note to the owners saying, “You are clearly fine and responsible people, and your establishment has a strong reputation based on your high level of skill. I find it unfortunate, given the quality of your services, that I can’t be a customer of yours because there’s an image on your wall that makes me want to go ape-shit and stick a gun up your butt to see how you like the idea. If you decide to remove it at some point, please let me know, because I know you do great work and I’d gladly recommend your services to my many many friends if I weren’t too grossed out to walk in your door.” Okay, so it might not be all kindly worded, but almost. And the place really does have a great reputation, and the artists there seem super-nice.
2. Draw a similar image of sexual violence with a male body in the picture – say, a gun up the butt and maybe a nail through his cock, a bit of blood, a few tears streaking down his face – and send it to the owners of the place requesting that if they’re going to showcase gratuitous endorsements of rape, they should at least make it the equal-opportunity kind. Ask them to display it prominently next to the original. (No, I don’t think this in any way solves the problem of misogynistic imagery, but it certainly would send a different message.)
3. Ask if they’d mind putting up a flyer next to the drawing to advertise support services for sexual abusers who want to stop their behaviour, and a few more advertising a rape crisis centre, abuse shelters and support hotlines for women who are victims of rape or sexual abuse.
That’s about where my imagination ends. Maybe I’m just running out of inspiration. Or maybe I’m just sick of being part of a culture that glorifies and celebrates female sexual victimization – which is totally not the same thing as female ownership of sexual pleasure in its many facets, some of them involving gals on the bottom/submissive end of things. Maybe this kind of thing gets to a girl after oh, thirty years, give or take. Maybe I’m tired of it and I don’t feel like writing a letter or drawing a picture or looking up an address. Maybe I just want to say fuck it, and go eat dinner, and try not to think about the women out there who’ve actually had guns shoved into their cunts and haven’t liked it one goddam bit.