23 January, 2013

My Intolerance For People Who Talk About Tolerance

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Mystic Metals Body Jewelry

My Intolerance For People Who Talk About Tolerance

Woke up angry and disagreeable today. What makes that different than any other day, you ask? Not much. Except today it's seventeen degrees outside. That adds a layer to crankiness. The snow two nights ago was pretty, I must say. See? That's not a super cranky thing to say. Of course, the salt destroys the wheels on my wheelchair, so that's super shitty. It all evens out, I suppose.

I was reading an article on Washington Square News today (whose domain is nyunews.com). I should agree with it, and on the whole, I do agree with some of the softer points. However, there are a number of word choices in it that sever me from agreement. The column was called "Tattoo Tolerance: older generation must embrace body art" by a Rebecca Rashid. The main thesis of the rant was that modified people are qualified to work in jobs traditionally held by unmodified people, and the reason modded folks are not hired is because of a stigma held against tattoos and piercings by an older generation. At least, that's what I think it's about.

Rebecca Rashid starts with the tired introduction which has become more common than a Facebook pouty self portrait. She talks about how her folks never dug the modification. Yeah, I know; your folks dislike tattoo mods, think they're unprofessional or unsightly, and even though you love and respect your folks, you think their opinions are ignorant and outdated. We've read this introduction a trillion times before, and it's easy to skip and ignore because it doesn't set the frame for making any sort of point. It's easy to use someone we know when trying to make a point. The older generation dislikes mod because my folks who are a part of an older generation dislike mod, therefore all folks from that generation dislike mod. It's tired and pointless. Still, Rebecca Rashid's parents' opinion is likely more in line with those in that generation, it's hardly a sample set. Also, they're right. Most corporations hold a belief that visible modifications such as tattoos and piercings are unprofessional, and to those who are pulling the strings, it is difficult to take an applicant's skills into objective consideration when his modifications are obfuscating the applicant's abilities and focus. That's a fact. Is it about older generation versus newer generation? I'm not entirely sure that is accurate. Modifications fall into one of three categories when strangers look on them. I dig that mod. I hate that mod. I have no opinion about that mod. Quite simply, regardless of the age of the employer, if he is offended by a modification that has very little offensive effect on others, then you're not getting the job. And he's allowed to do that because modified people are not, nor ought we be, a protected class. An older employer may more often react poorly to the mods, but I don't believe that age is the sole factor.

Moving on, Rebecca Rashid drops this: "In a time when the new generation is breaking social barriers and combating conservative ideologies, discrimination against body art is simply unreasonable and outdated." Breaking social barriers is a good thing. Wow, did I really say that? Of course I did. I'm a conservative libertarian; let people do what they want. Less government. But tattoo acceptance in the workplace is not about breaking social barriers. Again, we are not a protected class, so to equate working toward nondiscrimination toward body modification to 'breaking social barriers' seems a little disrespectful toward real social issues that ought (in the opinions of most) be broken. Such as equal pay for equal work. Such as gay marriage. Such as protected rights for the disabled. The difference is that the tattoo is a product purchased. Being a woman, a gay, a cripple is not. It seems incomparable. Also, settle down with this 'conservative ideologies' bullshit. Last time I checked, the liberals were the ones passing laws without approval and allocating tax dollars to fund their own ideologies. (see also; Solyndra) There are plenty of liberal ideologues who will turn their entitled noses up at a modded person just as a prick conservative of the same mind.

Rebecca Rashid continues, speculating about the public perception of President Obama had he a tattoo with, "Would it cause us to doubt his intelligence or leadership ability?" No, sweetheart. We question his intelligence and leadership because he's divided the country, shown as much spine as a squid overseas, and spun the national debt faster than an odometer on a road trip. The cream rises, and if someone is proficient at his job, the secondary dislikes of some people will eventually evaporate. Shit, I'm sure most people in this country would elect a president with a tattoo of the crackhead from Blue's Clues on his face and neck if that guy could balance the budget and cut spending and taxes. A tattoo wouldn't discredit the president. His record does that for him.

Following the needless red and blue aspects of the rant, the article continues with another point that pops up in a lot of these types of columns. Rebecca Rashid makes mention of Kat Von D in the typical kind of 'see, she's modded and people still think she's beautiful' point. Yes, that's true. Kat Von D is very beautiful. Yes, Kat Von D is very modified. Yes, Kat Von D is a very good artist. However, in a rant that is trying to defend tattoo acceptance in the workplace and exorcising a stigma supposedly perpetuated by an older generation, pointing toward someone not in that older generation who works in the industry seems like an ineffective point. If Kat were the CEO of IBM or Wells Fargo, then I think it would more likely prove the point. And also, to juxtapose her beauty against her modifications reads to me that the reference is saying she is beautiful despite her mods, when in fact the point ought to be neither her beauty perpetuates because of or despite her modifications, but rather because she, like all of us breathing things, is beautiful because she exists.

I ought to support articles like this Rebecca Rashid piece. But on the whole, they irritate me. They irritate me because these types of articles take the wrong stance. They take this position that modified people are a protected class, and we're not. And I don't think we ought to be. More and more people in our generation are modified, and it may soon be that the majority of Americans are. Therein lay the solution. If a corporation wishes to only hire unmodified people but the pool of eligible workers is modified, then that corporation will soon relax its standards toward modification and begin to hire modified individuals into positions traditionally held by unmodified. It's a free market solution. Do I think modified folks should get an equal shake for employment regardless of their modifications? Absolutely, but I also believe that we in the modified community need to keep our focus on the correct things. No, Rebecca Rashid, facially tattooed, bifurcated, and lobe stretched folks are nowhere near becoming Supreme Court Justices. But we can be the example by showing the same tolerance and respect we expect from unmodified folks. It's not an us verses them. Modification is an expression that has the potential to divide and cause consternation among people who agree and disagree with the art form. But isn't that the function of art? To create discussion in sharing ideas and formulating opinions. I would be inclined to believe that the chief functions of body modification is to beautify and to express through art. It is art on an unconventional canvas. Not everyone is going to like the same art, and that is the way it should be. What we in the community need to do is to portray ourselves as educated, upstanding citizens of reality, and not pick fly shit out of pepper about everything we don't have when we are not being suppressed in comparison to other cultures of individuals. After all, tattoo modifications are protected by First Amendment rights, and that in itself is a victory for the modification culture. Slow and steady, but most of all, realistic. The last thing I'd like to see our culture do is to be whiney and hypocritical about making demands for what we want. It's like those idiot Occupy assholes. Let's all get together and protest big business (at least, I think that's what they wanted; no one really knows) but use our iPhones and Twitter and Facebook (all big businesses) to organize our little get togethers. It's silly. If Rebecca Rashid has a plan, I'd like to hear it because there is nothing in her little rant alluding to one. My plan? The same as it has been for the years of this blog: To be a good and beautiful person first, and a modified person second. To treat others well, and to represent the culture in a positive way that enlightens others while not preaching to them. Accept others, modded or not, and accept their opinions and beliefs. You don't have to like the opinions, but respecting them is a big step toward being understood for having your own. The way to change the perception of what being a modified individual is to those who believe we are less than valuable because of our modifications is to be educated, maintain calm, speak well, and be respectful. I've had some shitty, shitty things said to me by strangers about my mods. Those are the situations to present ourselves in positive ways and help others understand that our choice to modify is not a reflection of negativity, but a celebration of our beauty. Stay beautiful, kids.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Once again you make rational beautifully stated points. Well said you beautiful person.

  2. Once again you make rational beautifully stated points. Well said you beautiful person.

  3. I'm gonna go on a rant of my own. It might meet yours but I'm not sure yet.
    As you know...I had a meet and greet yesterday. I scoured the internet trying to find the proper way to go about disclosing that I had a visible tattoo. Everything I read said don't say anything. Wear long sleeves, put make up on it, or wear a bracelet. Don't let them see it. When given the job, ask them what their policy is.
    1. I feel that's dishonest.
    2. Don't I want to know their policy ahead of time? Couldn't that make or break my decision?
    Say it's my dream job...I think I'd be willing to cover it up for the rest of my life. Honestly, that may not be feasible. I'm quite forgetful.
    Thing is...I never wanted to get a tattoo...it was the symbolism. When people judge, it sort of reinforces my self doubt and makes me question my choices. Which, when I go back and think about why I did it, I wouldn't trade anything in the world to make that stance. Doesn't loyalty and dedication stand for something in the workplace? As an employer, wouldn't you prefer full disclosure? I would. That honesty is beautiful!
    My better half is so quick witted. He was hired. Their policy was no visible tattoos. On most days they stay covered but every now and then a boss will say something and I think his response is fantastic, "They don't slow me down any". He can say that and get away with it because he has proved himself. The tough part is finding a business that is willing to take that chance. Everyone wants to judge from a piece of paper and that, is a load of crap.