Saturday, December 25, 2010

of microdermals and men

Iii got a new pierrrcing! Went in intending to get the double nostrils I've been lusting after for years and somehow emerged with an over-the-eyebrow microdermal! It's a truly stunning piece of jewelry - a tiny shimmering opal stone set in elegant white gold. It swelled for only a few hours post-procedure, and despite being only 3 days old it already feels healed. Man I love microdermals! This is my second one and I find them insanely easy to care for and adapt to having. Unfortunately, my man doesn't feel the same.
When I first got my sternum pierced with a beautiful moonstone microdermal I was on a high all day long. I waited anxiously for my man to get home so I could show off my sparkly new ta-ta accessory. Much to my dismay, he wasn't all that psyched about it. He worried about ripping it out during playtime or inadvertently whacking it while we slept. I felt bad for a moment when he expressed these concerns - I hadn't really thought about how my piercing would affect him when I decided to get it. Had my decision been selfish? Well, over time we both adapted to my new bling, and 7 months later it is well healed and neither of us barely even notice it anymore. I carefully avoid it when using a loofah in the shower and he is sure to concentrate his titty-love on the goods themselves. It is never a problem, and he's totally over the initial worry.
Unfortunately, just as we both got used to my sternum dermal, here I go getting a facial dermal. D'oh. Once again I failed to consider my mate when getting a new mod. The nostrils he would have been okay with, considering how much smaller and out-of-the-way they are. However the brow dermal makes snuggling up to his chest less of a spontaneous and more of a calculated act, and it complicates his frequent efforts to lovingly brush hair out of my eyes. Here we go again.
After 3 days with the piercing, things luckily seem ok. Once again the bling did take a bit of getting used to, but neither of us have yet bumped or pulled on it with any great force. Now that my babe's concern has been yet again quelled through a bit of a test-run, I've begun to wonder just how much weight I should put on his opinions as to what new mods I'll acquire in the future. He has a few tattoos and no piercings, so I believe that his reservations about me getting new metal can be attributed in part to his lack of understanding as to why I even want mods in the first place. Aesthetic value is of course one of the more easily understood justifications, but he sees me as "fine the way I am," and doesn't feel that I need to add to my appearance to improve it. I have explained some of the other reasons for my desire to become ever-more modded, and although he respects this desire he still fails to fully understand it. What are we, as modded folk, to do when our significant others just don't get it? And even worse, what are we to do when we are made to feel guilty for getting new mods due to the fact that they affect not just us but also our loved ones?
This is how I see it:
Yes, I am willingly acquiring newly sensitive areas of the body that he will have to avoid, but - well - I want them anyway! I love piercings, and although at first we both need to learn to avoid them it's never really that difficult a task. It's as if our brains re-wire or something, creating a new map of the body that includes the piercing as a no-touch zone. He wouldn't stick a finger in my eyeball, and I tryyyy not to knee him in the balls - is this the same thing? Or what about sensitive emotional issues - there are certain things that I know not to talk about around him out of respect for his sensitivity to those things. Just as in the case of my new piercing, he acquired that sensitivity somehow, and with some effort could probably remove it. Granted, emotional issues aren't exactly voluntarily acquired, but they are particular to each person and are to be avoided out of respect for that person.
We can't tell anyone else how to live or dress or speak - we are all our own people and must recognize that every day we deal with people who are very different than us. We may have to stand up to certain people, or be extra gentle when interacting with others. Life is one big compromise, where you bend to other people's needs hoping they will also bend to yours when the time comes. My man is absolutely wonderful and I'm lucky to have him, but he's not perfect. There are certain traits of his that I deal with on a daily basis, and do so happily because I love all that he is. Sometimes I want to freak out on him for leaving his dirty socks all over our bedroom, but instead I pick them up and poke fun at him for doing it. In return he turns off the heat when I've forgotten to, and fixes my motorcycle when I'm too pouty about my recent accident to do it myself. Love is understanding and compromise, and my new mods are just one little thing that he has to learn to love about me. And I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

saving face

I cringe to think that I haven't posted since July of this year. Things have been a bit wild in my life, hence the blogging sabbatical. Lucky for you I'm back with some old-school mod-a-delic blogaliciousness! In scouring the web for tattoo-related news stories this week, I came across one that particularly piqued my interest.
In a nutshell: John Ditullio was jailed on suspicion of involvement in a double stabbing that occurred in 2006. Since his arrest he's acquired 3 new and shocking tats, including a long line of barbed wire down the right side of his face, a swastika on one side of his neck, and the words "fuck you" on the other side of his neck. Now that he's going to trial for the stabbings, his state appointed defense attorney has arranged for a cosmetologist to cover up the tats at a rate of $125 per day to be paid by the state. The move was approved by the judge in the case, but an internet debate (check the comments section) is currently raging with opinions flying as to whether covering up the tats makes for a fair trial, and if so, whether the state should be footing the bill.
Some are of the opinion that the makeup job will allow the jurors to focus only on the evidence of the case rather than the appearance of the defendant, evening the playing field for the man. They say covering up the tats is akin to dressing a defendant in a nice suit for trial . The other camp believes that if Ditullio got the tattoos of his own free will he shouldn't be given special treatment to disguise his appearance. They say that everything in the case should be considered, the tattoos included, as they are a part of the defendant's life and lifestyle. In their opinions, any attempt to hide the truth of this man's actions in life is unacceptable.
There's a lot to consider here. Even as a mod enthusiast and advocate, I'm torn as to how to react. On the one hand, I am definitely sympathetic to heavily tattooed individuals who have to go to court and defend themselves. Although tattoos are becoming ever more mainstream, society at large still can't shake off past perceptions of tats as indicators of delinquency and even mental illness. Remnants of this perception still linger, perhaps even subconsciously, and can affect one's "gut feeling" about a person with tattoos. With this in mind, I can see why it is appropriate for Dutillio to have his highly visible tats covered.
On the other hand, the subject matter of Dutillio's ink is offensive and hate filled. If our self-chosen outer marks indicate the content of our inner selves, shouldn't the court be allowed to have a peek into this man's dark and troubled soul? But what if the freaky tats were not acquired in an effort to eternally proclaim Ditullio's hate, but rather to quell his fear? Prison is a scary place (I can assume...), and sometimes one's only chance at survival is through affiliation with a group that will help to protect you. Permanently inking his flesh with a symbol that identifies him as a hardcore neo-Nazi could have been the only thing keeping Dutillio alive in prison, so who are we to say he's crazy for doing it? People go to extreme measures to protect their well being.
Perhaps my biggest qualm with covering up the tats is that they weren't completely covered up - a CROSS remains under Ditullio's right eye! How can the judge agree to take Ditullio from "Kill thy neighbor" to "Love thy neighbor" without batting an eye?! The man is a neo-Nazi and probably hates God and Christianity, so there's no denying that the switch from a swastika to a cross is nothing short of deceptive.

So, what's the answer? Should Ditullio be allowed to have his tats covered up? Is there another solution that might be less expensive, or perhaps one that wouldn't involve fraudultently portraying Ditullio as a Christian?
One commentor wondered if a jury made up entirely of tattooed individuals would change anything. This begs the question, are modded folk more sympathetic to their inked brethren, even if the content of the tats is hateful? The makeup job is intended to make Ditullio appear to the jurors like "one of us," but what does this mean? Is looking like "one of us" equivalent to being "one of us," or is it what the tattoos signify about Ditullio's mindstate that makes him different? In this light, a jury of neo-Nazis rather than inked folk would be more appropriate, and I don't see that happening anytime soon.
Another alternative was proposed by prosecuting attorney, Mike Halkitis:

"Instead, Mr. Halkitis said, the judge could just as easily instruct the jury to ignore the tattoos in their consideration of the case. 'We believe the jurors listen to judges’ instructions,' he said."

Okay, following instructions is one thing, but pushing aside a deeply ingrained bias that many people hold against modded folk (especially those with offensive or shocking mods) isn't an easy thing to do. I mean, am I right? Or could the jurors actually manage to ignore the unsettling ink and give the guy a fair trial?
Well, even if we could all agree that covering up Ditullio's tats is the fair thing to do, two problems remain. The first is that the state (and thus taxpayers) should definitely NOT be footing this guy's cosmetology bill. Buying an impoverished defendant a cheap suit is one thing, but picking up the tab for covering up the tats that he willingly acquired, knowing he would have to wear them to court, is quite another. Court ordered or not, it just doesn't seem right.
The second problem is that covering up Ditullio's tats for fear that jurors may be prejudiced against tattooed individuals could set a problematic precedent. Will African-American defendants soon request to have the state pay for them to be sprayed with makeup that lightens their skin color during trial? After all, there are an inordinately larger number of black individuals on death row as compared to any other race. Are these people being unfairly judged by juries that are biased against blacks? And what if a defense attorney believes his/her client will be unfairly discriminated against in court due to a set of jagged, broken teeth? Will the state have to pay for the problem to be remedied with a set of veneers? How far will it go? Jurors can be influenced both positively and negatively by any number of physical attributes - should defendants be allowed to totally transform themselves in order to garner as much positive regard from the jury as possible?
In the end, despite my many qualms with the judge's decision, I'm leaning toward agreement with the cover-up. I spoke with a defense attorney friend of mine about the case, and he told me that he does everything in his power to ensure that all his clients are seen as innocent until proven guilty. This includes cleaning up their appearance in any way possible, thus removing the potential for preconceived notions about the defendant before the trial even begins. According to our justice system, everyone deserves a fair chance to defend themselves. If jurors are distracted by Ditullio's tats, they may not focus on the facts of the case and the evidence at hand, and instead make a decision based on appearances. Thus, I do think the decision to allow covering up the tats was valid, it's just a shame that the taxpayers are being forced to pay $125 a day for it when a simple turtleneck could have done the job just as well.