It’s not just for “deviants” anymore.
Thanks to Hollywood and liberals and HBO (probably), the behavior has gone mainstream. We’re all associated with it. We all have that relative or coworker or classmate. A favorite actor or musician. Even a favorite athlete! Hell, I bet some of you even experimented with it in college. (I was too scared of catching something.)
It’s amazing to think that, as recently as a decade ago, people into this kind of thing were still being shamed, stigmatized and stereotyped by the behavior. They were once even discriminated against – though my hesitation at using the word “once” belies the fact that, in 2014, they somehow still are discriminated against, in both closed-minded inner circles and wide-open public forums, but their presence and their prominence and their confidence! have never been stronger.
A reader recently asked me whether such people are suited to be parents, and I chuckled. It’s absurd that it’s even a question, in this day and age. Aren’t we past this shallow, judgmental bullshit yet?
Sorry, bigots, but having a tattoo (or two) just isn’t a big deal.
There’s no real correlation between homosexuality and tattoos, other than the obvious ones: they’re not strictly for sailors anymore; they’re no longer something we hid behind closed doors and drab clothing; more and more people seem to be participating than ever before; and whether or not a person does has absolutely no bearing on who they are as a person, how well they can perform their job, or their suitability as a parent. Neither does having piercings or your ethnicity or your political leanings or being a Scientologist or having facial hair. (I know one guy who had the cops called on him because a woman thought a bearded man playing with a little boy was suspicious. The little boy was his son.)
The reader who messaged me (via my Facebook page; “Like” it!) caught me off guard, because who honestly gives a shit if someone has a tattoo, or several tattoos, or entire limbs of tattoos? Sure, they were once thought to be a little weird, back in the sheltered, puritanical 50s, but today they’re so commonplace as to be ho-hum. “Of course you have a tattoo. Who doesn’t?” And isn’t that the ultimate sign of acceptance? The freedom of being ignored?
But then the reader told me she has a bunch of tats, and because of them she gets funny looks when she drops her kids at school. And I’ve since heard similar stories from others. How bizarre and small-minded. You really think having a painting on your arm makes someone a bad parent? I thought we’d made progress.
Sure, aesthetically, ink might not be for everyone – I don’t have any, but that’s mostly because I’m squeamish and indecisive; it has nothing to do with being anti-tattoo – but it’s not all that different from a hairstyle or a wardrobe choice. It just lasts longer. Really, besides an inability to read Chinese, about the worst thing a tattoo might convey is poor judgment, and we’ve all suffered from that at some point in our lives, so maybe cut a brother some slack.
Despite the fact that he is my son and will therefore likely inherit both my aversion to pain and my inefficiency at making long-term decisions, there seems to be a very good chance that Detective Munch will one day get a tattoo. Or three. Or twelve. Other than the responsible parent-based objection to him doing anything permanent to his body before he’s old enough to truly understand the ramifications, I don’t really care if he does.
The potential that he’ll signify his passion for a band or for a girl or for a tiger eating a rainbow or for whatever ridiculous design he chooses to have permanently imprinted on his flesh doesn’t really bother me that much. The bottom line is that the application of a tattoo on my son’s body won’t alter either his personality or my opinion of him even the slightest iota. (Unless he gets one on his face, in which case he’s an insane person and I never knew him to begin with.)
And neither would his coming out of the closet. Or deciding to be a Jets fan. (That last one was hard to type.)
I don’t know if it’s because we have too much time on our hands or too many outlets for our opinions or if we’re just plain bored, but so many of us seem to have big problems with superficial nonsense these days. We’re so concerned with outward appearances that we barely even take a moment to consider what really matters.
I’ve known great people and shitty people of all stripes: gay ones without tattoos; straight ones with them; bisexual ones with half a tattoo; asexual ones with non-tattoos; even Republican ones with tattoos (just kidding, I’m pretty sure they don’t exist); and I can safely say that it’s not what’s on the outside of your skin, nor which gender into which you choose to insert parts of your body, that makes you who you are. (It’s how many times your dad spanked you to stop you from misbehaving, or if you play with toys meant for other genders, or whether or not you played Grand Theft Auto before you were ten, that does. Obviously.)
I’m not trying to be glib. Obviously getting a tattoo and being gay are quite different; for one thing, one is a choice and the other (probably) isn’t, but neither are things that other people can change, nor should they care to. The existence of people and parents with tattoos and people and parents who are gay is in no way detrimental to your, or your children’s, lives. Ironically, it’s the judgment you’re levying and the hatred you’re expending against those people who actually are. You’re the ones making the world a more dangerous, hateful place. Everyone else is just trying their best to live in it.
As was succinctly stated in a popular tweet recently, “I have to explain what to do during a school shooting to my 7yr old, but by all means lets freak out about gay marriage.” Replace “school shooting” with any real crisis, and “gay marriage” with “tattoos” or “religion” or any other totally superficial topic that serves as little more than fodder for an echo chamber of wasted judgment and aimless, toxic emotion. Don’t we have bigger fish to fry?
So no, I don’t give a shit who has a tattoo, whether it’s my son’s preschool teacher, or my doctor, or my kid’s babysitter or even my wife. If they’re younger than me, they probably all do, especially if they’ve ever played professional basketball.
The only tattoo that scares me is the one that says “666” behind my threenager‘s ear, but I think he’ll outgrow it.