Having a visible tattoo invites a lot of questions: “Did that hurt?” “What does it mean?” “What do your parents think?”
But some women are finding their ink has introduced them to a whole new genre of street harassment: the tatcall.
Over at Everday Feminsim, Melissa A. Fabello writes about her experiences being “tatcalled” (and has launched #tatcalling on Twitter for people to share their own tales). She’s found that when she bares her ink, comments like “Like your tat! “ and “can I see that tattoo?” have replaced the usual arsenal of “Ay Baby, show me smile,” or “Hey, Sweetass!” And while it seems innocuous, those comments—and the unwelcome attempts to get a closer look—are actually a violation.
Of course, not every random tattoo compliment counts as street harassment. So how do you know if it’s genuine appreciation or a tatcall? In Fabello’s experience, it looks like this: “when you’re pointing at my thighs, nodding with a grin on your face, and giving me a thumbs up or an ‘okay’ sign.”
And no, offering a show me yours and I’ll show you mine deal doesn’t even the score.