It happens more often than you would think and it’s equally disturbing each time. A complete stranger running their hand along my arm.
It just happened last week. Social distancing was just in the infancy of becoming a buzzword and we’d certainly had been instructed to avoid physical contact with others but that sure as hell didn’t stop this lady.
“That’s cool,” she said as she ran her clammy fingers along my arm, caressing the tattoo there. “Oh my god you have more!” She flips my arm around to look at the rest. My smile is more of a grimace as I gently pull away and offer her a menu to look at and ask her what she’d like to drink.
This isn’t a rare occurrence for me, sadly.
Worse is when people spot the keyhole tattooed behind my ear and decide the best thing to do it pretend they have a key and poke me. “What’s that unlock?” they joke.
My rage, sir. It unlocks my rage.
Touch me again and see what happens.
Yeah, I have tattoos. Fourteen of them if you really must know. Many of them are covered up by my day-to-day wear but the ones on my arms and behind my ear are visible to all. Because they are so visible people tend to comment on them and I’ll never be mad about it. Go ahead and compliment them, the artists did a great job and if I didn’t like them, I wouldn’t have gotten them. Totally fine by me to hear kind words.
Not fine? Touching me without permission. Never okay. Just because it’s coupled with a compliment doesn’t make it right.
It takes me a long time to warm up to people touching me as any of my friends and co-workers will tell you. It takes a while for me to be okay with hugs or anything else like that. Frankly I find it strange when anyone wants to hug me. Nothing against you, I’m just weird.
Regardless- you don’t ever know someone’s personal limitations when it comes to physical contact and you have no idea what touching without consent means to someone. A tattoo doesn’t change that at all.
My tattoos don’t give you sudden permission to touch me. Unless I get one that expressly says “touch here” in which case, it’s fair game. But mine don’t say that at all.
Only I get to give you that permission.
This goes not just for me but for everyone you encounter regardless of the ink on their skin or even the clothes they are wearing.
Consent belongs to me and me alone. If you want to see them ask! Need a closer look? Ask!
If I say yes, go for it. If I say no, honor that.
That goes for everyone and everything.
So go ahead and compliment my tattoo. If you want to touch it, ask first. SPOILER ALERT: it feels just like normal skin and there’s no real point in you even putting your gross fingers on me. But ask. That’s going to be a whole lot better than me freaking out and punching you in the face.