Since the early 1990s, Canadian women have participated in tattooing in unprecedented numbers. These women are utilizing tattoo “body projects” (C. Shilling, 1993) to communicate a wide range of personal and cultural messages, and challenging the long-standing association between tattooing and masculinity. However, and perhaps more consequentially, women's tattoo projects express diverse sensibilities about femininity and the feminine body. For some Canadian women, contesting culturally “established” (N. Elias & J. Scotson, 1965) constructions of the female body is central in their tattoo body projects, whereas others participate in tattooing as an explicit form of consent to such constructions. In this paper, women's tattooing activities and their subsequent tattoo narratives are critically inspected as deeply gendered practices and discourses. I present participant observation and interview data on tattoo enthusiasm in Canada. The focus is directed toward the ways in which conformity to, resistance against, and the negotiation of established cultural ideas about femininity are equally embedded in women's tattooing. Drawing upon feminist theories about bodies (cf. S. Bordo, 1990; K. Davis, 1994; J. Price & M. Shildrick, 1999; S. Williams & G. Bendelow, 1998) and central tenets of process-sociology (N. Elias, 1991, 1994, 1996; N. Elias & J. Scotson, 1965), emphasis is given to how women employ tattooing as a communicative signifier of “established” and “outsider” constructions of femininity.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2004
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