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You Can't Tell Me What To Do!!!

This has been a week of really enjoyable news coverage. First the Caitlyn Jenner debut with all the accolades. Then the outing of Rachel Dolezal (which is basically the same thing, only with race this time). I have had a wonderful time watching all the commentary explaining to me why Caitlyn Jenner is actually a woman because he feels like one, but Rachel Dolezal is not black, even though she feels like it.

Now we have a Jezebel feminist getting all dewey eyed because this misogynist tattoo artist won't tattoo a fetus she didn't abort's daughter's name on her neck.

Now she had been told on three prior occasions that many tattoo artists will not tattoo the necks of people who are not substantially covered by tattoos already.1 But off she goes to the tattoo parlor without calling ahead. Her discussion goes like this:

Josh: “You’re gonna have a hard time convincing Dan (at this point I have no idea who ‘Dan’ is, especially not by first name only) to do that. We just don’t do neck tattoos on people who aren’t already completely covered in tattoos.”

Me: “Huh, really? But I do have tattoos and all of them are visible and I’m old.”

Josh: “Would you consider moving it here?” Points behind his ear.

Me: “Um, no, that’s where my 22-year-old nanny hid her tattoo. No, I want it to be visible.”

Josh: “You’ll have to talk to Dan.”

40 minutes later, Dan walks up:

Dan: “Okay, so you’re both getting this one on your arms, yes?

Me and Sasha: [In unison] “Yes, please! About this size...” blah, blah.

Dan: “And then you want your daughter’s name... on your neck?” Shakes head left to right.

Me: “What.”

Dan: “Not gonna happen.”

Me: “Wait, what? Why?”

Dan: “It’ll look tacky. It’s just tacky.”

Me: “Wait, you’re telling me what will look tacky on me? Don’t I get to decide that?”

Dan: “A neck tattoo on someone without a lot of tattoos is like lighting a birthday candle on an unbaked cake.”

Stunning analogy, right? I wonder: Does Dan know what an analogy even is? And then suddenly I’m fighting back tears because, as Dan has already correctly assessed, I’m just a feeble-minded, hysterical girl. And then I ask the next thing that pops into my head.

Actually everyone reading this has assessed that you're a feeble-minded, hysterical girl. And let's not forget entitled. But remember, she's a feminist. She's strong!!! She can do anything a man can do!!! So wait for it in 3... 2... 1...

Me: “Would you say this to a guy?”

Dan luh-hiterally paused, looked askance, and said with a slight nod, unconvincingly, “Yeah.”

There it is!!! YOU'RE NOT GIVING ME WHAT I WANT BECAUSE I'M A GIRL!!! Dan "luh-hiterally" paused, most likely because the first few responses that came to his mind would not have been politic in this situation, and "Yeah." was most likely the kindest of the ones he was thinking.

Then he asked if we were ready to get started on the other tattoos, and I was so infuriated I cannot remember exactly what I said but it was something to the effect of, “Are you fucking kidding me? I’m not going to give you money after that, let alone have you touch me or put art on my body!” And then we walked out.

Then she metaphorically stomped up the stairs and slammed the bedroom door!

It turns out that Dan was looking out for her. He takes his craft seriously, and after reading all about it I've come to the conclusions that it is indeed a craft. Dan responds:

I was targeted by a blogger via Jezebel.com who would like to see me out of business. The reason? I refused to tattoo her neck, as I regularly do when asked by a sparsely tattooed or un-tattooed customer. Where she really got it wrong is assuming that I refused her service for sexist reasons, even after I informed her that I refuse neck tattoos on men and women weekly. Her misguided attempt to make this a feminist issue is a disservice to true feminism. It trivializes it in a wolf cry and makes slanderous assumptions of my character (just ask my mother, three big sisters, three beautiful nieces, and all of my wonderful female friends). I am a far cry from a misogynist. Although I appreciate all of the support I have received from the tattoo community, I would also like to ask that all the harsh name-calling directed at "SeeJaneMarie" stop now. We strongly disagree with her opinion, but I also strongly disagree with calling women "b***hes" or "c**ts" for having strong opinions, even if those opinions are misguided.

Dan is proving himself a gentleman. Jane Marie's call for his head doesn't prompt a similar response. He calmly and rationally goes into the reasoning behind his refusal. It seems that he was looking out for Jane Marie's best interest.

As all tattooers know, a neck or hand tattoo is a big commitment, and traditionally are reserved for those heavily covered and ready to confront society on a daily basis as a heavily tattooed person. Although tattoos are more accepted now than ever, we are still judged daily for our appearance. A hand or neck tattoo may mean the difference between that next job or promotion, and also may spur daily judgmental looks and harassing comments from strangers as many of my friends have experienced. It’s not a thing to be taken lightly and I long ago drew an ethical line in the sand for myself as professional tattooer to turn down “job stoppers” on those who are not already committed to living as a heavily tattooed person. If I was to make the decision again today, I would still say no. I hope for her sake she does not get judged as harshly for her new neck tattoo as she judged myself and the staff of New York Adorned upon walking into our shop.

(ed. Emphasis, mine.)

This goes into the reality of a tattooed person. If you're not ready to live that particular reality, tattoos are permanent. With that one decision, you are permanently agreeing to live that particular life. An hour on the table, and your life changes. Permanently. Forever.

I myself am still collecting tattoos, and do not have hand or neck tattoos yet. I have been tattooing for eight years and will consider getting both hands done after 10 years of service. Why? I take this ancient art form seriously. I take my craft seriously. I take the time-honored traditions of tattooing seriously. Traditions and respect that we are losing daily to a new petulant culture screaming “gimme now!” and treating tattooers with the same disrespect they wrongly just waged at the last Starbucks barista who made their latte. I won’t be part of it and I refuse to support it. In the end, just know this “SeeJaneMarie”: Tattooing is my tribe. We will allow you to be a tourist, we will even welcome you to join, but don’t be surprised that in 2015 there are still some things that cannot be bought, just earned.

Please apologize to my customers whose tattoos you mocked in your failed attempt to hurt my career in order to bolster yours.

Sincerely,

Dan Bythewood

Dan is a gentleman. But Jane Marie does not appreciate patriarchal men trying to prevent her from doing something she wants to do. And so she went and got the tattoo from someone less ethical than Dan. It might have very well been a "screw Dan" decision as many of these "feminists" have a habit of doing.

Rocky Rakovic (the author of the article that quotes Dan) writes above Dan's response:

Chief among our traditions is that quality tattoo artists are the custodians of the craft. What they say goes. Also, how dare she admonish him for refusing the tattoo on any grounds? A tattoo is a collaborative effort between the artist and the wearer, if the artist doesn’t want to take on a piece then he or she needn’t feel pressured. Tattoos are in a sense fashion. Cut-rate tailors will alter any dress to please a client but couture designers have the right to refuse clients whose wishes don’t work with their aesthetic and don’t want their name on the outcome. There is a saying that a tattoo artist is only as good as the latest piece in their portfolio and so if Bythewood had accepted the tattoo, Marie’s piece would be in his record. She is acutely aware of this because in her piece she attacked his work, sarcastically calling it “perfectly un-tacky.”

And this brings me to an interesting point, which is one of the reasons that I am smiling while reading the comments blasting Jane Marie for daring to try and force a tattoo artist to create custom artwork he would prefer not to, while those same people would force Melissa Klein to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. You could substitute "cake" for "tattoo" in the above quote and it would flow equally well.

A number of commenters in these threads have made this connection, and that indeed warms the cockles of my heart.

Now Jane Marie will have to live with her decision. When she is no longer working at Jezebel, she'll probably be interviewing for jobs. Odds are if her attitude doesn't kill job offer, it will be the tattoo. Then when she says: "You're not hiring me just because I'm a woman". They will say: "No, honey, we're not hiring you because of the tattoo".

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1. I am going to admit my ignorance here. I have never gotten a tattoo. I've known few people with obvious tattoos, so I was not aware of different tattoo taboos (was that a pun, or just alliteration?). So this whole thing has been a learning experience for me, and I'd say in a good way.

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