Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Infamous Tramp Stamp Tattoos

I want to address the issue of the “tramp stamp,” because I hear this term more and more these days and it’s really starting to get on my nerves.

I’ve gotten several emails from readers wanting to know if this term is “true.” It refers to lower back tattoos on women, and it suggests that the women who wear them are promiscuous. But the deeper connotations of this word get much uglier than that.

The says this of women who wear these lumbar tattoos:
“Those chicks with tramp stamps are the kinds of girls you take home to bang. Don’t get into relationships with them because they are often immature gold digging sluts who sleep with everyone. Oh yeah, make sure you use a rubber because you don’t want to end up with chlamydia trachoma (which 1 in 20 women have between the ages of 14-39 according to the center of disease control… probably much higher if they have a tramp stamp considering the scientific coloration [sic] between sluttiness and tramp stamps). Also, if they pop out a baby (which they often do), they may have issues getting epidurals through their tattoos in the lower back.”

The above statement is such a great example of ignorance gone wild. Someone has a strong opinion about something, based on pure ignorance or prejudice, and they spread their mindless ramblings as fact. And of course, Urban Legends spread faster than wildfires, so the next thing you know everyone believes a load of bull and continues to pass it on as solid truth.

Where did this term come from?
It’s not really clear when it started becoming a popular phrase to describe lower back tattoos on women, but it’s been much more prevalent in the past year or so. BME suggests that it originally referred to simple tribal and Celtic designs, because they appear to have been “stamped” onto the skin. Now, however, it can refer to any lower back ink.

Are the rumors true?
So, is it true that women who wear lower back tattoos are more promiscuous than those without? Sure, some of them. And some women with long hair are more promiscuous than those with short hair. And some women with blue eyes are more likely to do drugs than women with brown eyes. These so-called scientific studies that supposedly prove a correlation between lower back tattoos and promiscuity are neither scientific nor accurate. Granted, women who are already promiscuous may choose to get a lower back tattoo, but that street doesn't necessarily go both ways. It would be like saying that since rabid dogs bite, then all dogs who bite are rabid!

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any connection between lower back tattoos and sexuality. I believe that it's fair to say that women who get (and display) tattoos on the sensual lower curvature of their backs – instead of covering it with high waistbands and low shirts – are expressing sensuality and sexual confidence. And I say good for them!

Women have long been oppressed whenever they have attempted to assert themselves sexually. Showing a little lower back, with or without ink, is no different than showing skin on other sensual areas of the body. In the 1800s, a woman would be considered immodest if she showed her shoulders or legs. The shocking pinups of the early 20th century, featuring bathing beauties in swimsuits that are laughably modest today, were considered positively pornographic. Even in the mid-1900s, “good girls” never showed cleavage! Fortunately, times have changed and women are freer to show skin without raising as many eyebrows, but that doesn’t mean it never happens.

Attracting Attention
If you have a lower back tattoo, and if you choose to display it by wearing low-rise jeans or crop tops, you do have to accept the fact that you are going to attract attention. But there is no shame in that as long as you can handle it. Asserting yourself as a strong, independent, sexually confident woman means being able to carry yourself in a dignified manner despite negative reactions.

One man joked about this on a message board, saying:

“I see nothing wrong with tattoos, so as long they don't cover their entire body with them. But you know what I find real funny? It's when a girl has a tattoo on the small of her back and wears a mini skirt or low cut jeans with a top that exposes the tattoo... when I, ahem... ADMIRE... her artwork on her back, she starts complaining about how I'm like all the men who undress with their eyes.”
Inappropriate Comments
If you don’t want people to notice your tattoos, don’t display them. Simple as that. But showing a lower back tattoo, however, does not mean that it is an open invitation for others to make sexual comments. Just because a woman decides to assert herself sexually does not mean she is sexually promiscuous! There is a distinct difference that needs to be made between assertiveness and licentiousness!

So, while it may be true that there are those out there who will judge women with lower back tattoos and refer to them as “tramp stamps,” there is no truth to the claim that these women are any more promiscuous than anyone else. If you are a woman wanting a lower back tattoo, go for it. If you’re concerned about the people who will judge you for it, either toughen up or cover up. And if you’re one of the ignorant people spreading the “tramp stamp” rumors, well – consider yourself educated.

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