I’ve been part of the alt-scene since I was about 14 years old. I haven’t seen my natural blonde hair since I was 15. I got my first piercing at 16, much to my parents disdain, and my first tattoo at 18.
I turned 30 this month and it seems I’m still waiting to grow out of it.
Being a mosher in school caught me a lot of grief from bullies. My friends and I were often threatened or teased. Once I was followed from town to a friends house and had stones thrown at me the whole time.
During the 90’s there was a huge divide between ‘moshers’ and ‘chavs’, and the tension was often dangerous and in some instances fatal, like the tragic case of Sophie Lancaster. Sophie and her boyfriend were attacked by a mob of people in a park simply for being goths. As Sophie protected her unconscious boyfriend she was repeatedly kicked and stomped on the head, causing her to fall into a coma from which she never recovered.
As with everything trends and cultures shift with more ‘alt’ fashions and music becoming more commonplace. Remember a couple of years ago when you could buy cross covered goth stuff in New Look?
However, just because something is more commonplace doesn’t mean that its wholly accepted. Tattoos are more popular than ever but you’ll still struggle to find work with visible ones and hooooboy do people like to tell you how they feel about them.
Women in the subculture have always been subject to derision by the masculine gatekeepers of extreme music and the tattoo subculture. It seems implausible that women would attend gigs because they enjoy the music and must surely be there either a) because their boyfriend is there or b) they are looking for a bloke.
Like most of our culture it is dominated by men: film, music, sports to name a few. When women are seen participating it must be under mitigating circumstances and always open for criticism. The alt-scene is no haven from this, despite what some might lead you to believe. A friend of mine published an article calling for an end to the accepted rape culture and brutalisation fantasy within extreme music. She received a number of rape and death threats for it.
Women are often mocked for their tattoo choices, with such ludicrous phrases like “tramp stamp” used to humiliate, with nothing said for the poor choices of their male counterparts. Woman in tattooing have to work extremely hard to be taken seriously.
This is nothing new to me. Growing up within this subculture I saw the roiling misogyny that continues to plague it. But what I have noticed is, with the popularity of tattooing on the rise, the still evident pervasive attitudes towards people with tattoos, and specifically towards women, outside of the subculture.
An example of this recently was some vitriolic comments aimed at model Georgina Cox of FullerFigureFullerBust. Posing in a bikini on Lilly and Lime’s Facebook, Georgina was subjected to rude comments about her body and her tattoos, and when trying to defend herself was accused of being rude. The hypocrisy. Another example is a Facebook group I follow dedicated to vintage style I’ve seen instances of ladies sharing outfit photos only to have people’s rude comments about their tattoos because it doesn’t fully fit into the twee vintage aesthetic and also people have some really outdated and toxic assumptions about the type of people who get tattoos.
We seem to be caught in this limbo of tattoos becoming more mainstream and still subject to moral criticism from previous generations where it was more taboo.
It’s just another means to view women as public property and to pass our opinion and make decisions about their bodies that in no way affects or involves us. Topless photos of David Beckham covered in tattoos wouldn’t get anywhere near the same level of nasty comments as the incidents I mentioned previously. People feel so entitled to their opinions, to women’s bodies for consumption, that they feel so affronted when they don’t fit the idea they had in their minds.
If you don’t like tattoos, don’t get one. People with tattoos don’t care, or make assumptions, about people that don’t have them.
These kinds of incidents are not just shaming, they’re misogyny at work. You have no right to tell a woman her choices are disgusting when they affect no one so take a seat.