art & ethics

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art & ethics

Preceptions of women with tattoos

December 14th, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized


For centuries humans have been finding new and interesting ways to transform their bodies in order to express beliefs and moral of a group or the beliefs and morals of an individual.  The art of tattooing has been used for thousands of years as a way to permanently mark the body to show devotion to a group or cause. Throughout the years tattoos have been seen as a form of masculinity, as a way for a man to show his strength and endurance, by enduring the pain of a tattoo needle. It became socially acceptable for a man to have tattoos, because tattoos were seen as a sign of strength, rather than beautiful pieces of body art. Tattoos have been associated with masculinity for years and that stigma has been transferred on to women who have tattoos. That stigma has caused stereotype to form, that women with tattoos are masculine, less attractive, and more sexually promiscuous. At one point in time tattoos did represent strength and resilience but now tattoos can be beautiful, elaborate pieces of art.Tattoos have grown in popularity over the past several years among young adults, more and more women are breaking gender roles and getting tattoos. This is causing issues about the perception of women to come up. Society still view the negative connotation of tattoos and that view is being transferred onto women with tattoos. Tattoos on women has now become a form of self-expression and does not mean that a woman is masculine or sexually promiscuous.

        Tattoos are socially accepted to be on men, because the tattoos use to express strength and endurance. When a man had tattoos, he was seen as a tough and strong person. Tattoos were a way for a man to prove his strength and dominates over other men. Therefore tattoos were viewed as a way for a person to show off their masculinity and strength to other people. When women have tattoos they are expected to have the characteristics of a man because they are judge for having a form of body art that is associated with masculinity. But tattoos are now changing into something that can show off a woman’s femininity. More and more women are now getting tattoos that represent their femininity and the morals and values that they hold. Women are now shifting the stigma of tattoos, from a representation of masculinity to something that can just be a beautiful form of body art or something that can represent femininity. Much of the tattoos that are labeled as female or girly tattoos have objects or phases that are social seen as girly things.  If a girl does have a tattoos they are expected to have it in place where it can be concerned. Having visible tattoos can be seen as unprofessional for a women to have because the negative association of tattoos can make a women seem more masculine and more assertive.

        It is a popular belief that men find women with tattoos as less attractive than women without tattoos. A study by Viren Swami and Adrian Furnham in their article “Unattractive, promiscuous and heavy drinkers: Perceptions of women with tattoos” , was conducted to see if this is true found that men, when looking at pictures of women with tattoos and without. They normally would rate the women without tattoos as more attractive than women with tattoos. But in a field test conducted in another study by Nicolas Gueguen in his article “Effects of a Tattoo on Men’s Behavior and Attitudes Towards Women: An Experimental Field Study” ,  it was observed that men are equally likely to approach women that they found sexually attractive with or without tattoos. It was also found that women with tattoos are more approached by men if they have a tattoo in a scandalous place, like the lower back. Men tend to find women with tattoos less attractive because they associate tattoos as a sign of masculinity causing them to see the women with tattoos as manly.

        Today’s view of tattoos on women is shifting from a representation of masculinity to representation of sexual promiscuity. The same test that was conducted to see if men found women with tattoos less attractive also found that men tend to approach women with tattoos more because they are viewed as more sexually promiscuous. Now tattoos on women are sending the signal that they are open to sexual contact. Tattoos, like tramp stamps, are causing a different negative stereotype to form around tattoos, they are now being sexualized. Now in an age where women are being sexually exploited, more and more images are being released of tattooed women in scandalous position or emphasizing having sexual tattoos. Although some forms of tattoos could be interrupted as a sign of sexual promiscuity not all women who have tattoos are sexualy promiscuious. Women can get tattoos for a number of different reasons and the tattoo that they get can stand for a number of different things. Many women today are choosing to get tattoos to represent something important to them. Only a small percentage of women who choose to get sexual tattoos are trying to send out the sign that they are sexuality promicuious. Letting that small percentage of women represent the whole group of women with tattoos is an inaccurate representation and is one of the reason as to why there is still a negative connotation against women with tattoos.

Women are now just being able to express themselves using different forms of body modification, but women with tattoos are still facing some judgement and it is difficult to change the social stigma that some women with tattoos face. Society still views women as small, weak and fragile, therefore having tattoos breaks the stereotype. This is causing other untrue stereotypes to form around women with tattoos. All the stereotypes that are being formed  are all false. Women are now choosing to get tattoos to represent thing other than sex or masculinity.By chossing to put all the negative contaions onto women with tattoos it is just holding women back from being able to express themselve with their bodies. Society needs to change their perspective of women with tattoos in order for women to be able to have full freedom of their bodies.

Work cited

uéguen, N. (2013). Effects of a tattoo on men’s behavior and attitudes towards women: An experimental field study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42(8), 1517-24. doi:

Swamia, Viren. “Unattractive, Promiscuous and Heavy Drinkers: Perceptions of Women with Tattoos.” Unattractive, Promiscuous and Heavy Drinkers: Perceptions of Women with Tattoos. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.


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