SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE TATTOO INDUSTRY

Recently there have been some developments in the tattoo industry regarding a prominent male tattooer from Birmingham and his sexual harassment, inappropriate behaviour and sexual abuse of over 100 women including customers and co-workers. It has also brought to light a number of other male tattooers who have been accused of similar acts of abuse towards their customers and co-workers. We feel it is important to make sure that you, as customers, know that we will always do everything in our power to ensure that you are taken care of, kept safe and happy during your tattoo and the process of booking it.

We are a largely female studio, there are seven staff, five of whom are female. The studio is open plan, but we can offer screens and various options to give you privacy should you feel you need it. Being open plan means that you you are never alone with your tattoo artist. We are always happy to discuss concerns about anything prior to your appointment with any of our staff. You can email queries or concerns to: manager@blackmoontattoos.com and our lovely female studio manager (and professional conduct manager) Abey will he happy to help!

SO… WHAT IS NORMAL AND WHAT ISN’T?

Tattooing, by nature is an extremely intimate process, it is not only emotionally personal to both the artist and the client but physically as well, we spend hours together, very close to one another and it is essential that we touch one another for the process to be achieved, so it is really important that we as tattooers and as customers are respectful of one another’s bodies and feelings, male or female.

(Please note that the current outbreak of coronavirus has slightly altered this)

  • It is normal for us to need to ask you to fully remove certain items of clothing, especially when tattooing ribs, sternum, chest or buttox. However you will always be offered some kind of alternative to protect your modesty, this could be nipple covers, plastic aprons, tissue or couch roll and a privacy screen. We cannot use fabric coverings for hygiene reasons but disposable items will always be provided to ensure you are covered adequately.
  • It is not normal to be expected to remove an item of clothing fully and then not be offered some alternative to cover up with. It is certainly not normal to be asked to remove all your clothes entirely.
  • It is normal for us to need to touch the part of your body which we are tattooing, during the cleaning of the skin, during the stencil application and during the tattoo itself. We may occasionally need to gently move things (such as hair or clothing or even a body part) out of the way or ask you to adjust your position or clothing so we can access tricky areas, but we will always check with you first and be gentle and respectful as we move these things.
  • It is not normal For a tattoo artist to suddenly grope or touch any part of your body that is not being tattooed, you must always be alert and make sure you ask if it is necessary to be touching these areas and if you ever feel uncomfortable with a tattooer touching part of you, you have the right to ask them to stop and cease the session.
  • It is normal that occasionally we may accidentally nudge or gently lean on a body part that in normal circumstances would be unusual to do so, but we do often have to contort ourselves into strange positions in order to reach the part of you we are tattooing. We will always check if you are comfortable and if you are happy for us to touch this area. We may also occasionally rest against the bench or perch on the ends of it.
  • It is not normal for a tattoo artist to mount the bed or chair on top of you in order to reach a body part. There is never any need, nor is it hygienic for an artist to be on the bed fully or to be pinning a customer down with their body weight.
  • It is normal for there to be some level of conversational ‘banter’ between the artists and sometimes customers too, this can be on all kinds of subjects but we will always try to avoid saying anything that could be offensive to our customers. We do swear, we do joke around and we do always try to keep it fun and lighthearted. It is important that if anything that is said offends you or upsets you for personal reasons then you must let us know so we can change the subject!
  • It is not normal for a tattoo artist to comment sexually on your body or appearance, or to directly ask you about your sex life or your relationship status, or to make suggestive comments about you or any of the staff or customers. It is also not normal for them to discuss their own sexual activities in or out of the studio. If a tattoo artist does this you should stop the conversation and tell them you are not comfortable discussing this subject.
  • It is normal that friends are often not allowed in the tattooing area for long periods due to space restrictions and hygiene standards. If the studio has a waiting area they will be allowed to wait there for you and can check on you regularly or bring you food and drink to keep you going.
  • It is not normal to be told you cannot bring anyone in with you, especially if you are vulnerable or it is your first time at this studio. If you want to bring someone with you for safety then you are within your rights to do so. (During the coronavirus pandemic this is a little different and we are not allowed to let friends into the studio with you, if you prefer to rearrange for later in the year we are happy to do this).
  • It is normal that you may be the only ones left in the shop if you have a very long session. You may also be offered a session on our day off if we are extremely busy and want to fit you in sooner. In this case the shop may be empty and you should always bring a friend so that you feel safe.
  • It is not normal for you to be encouraged to come in to an empty shop specifically to be there alone with an artist, or to be asked not to bring a friend on an occasion where it will be an empty shop.
  • It is normal to Have general chit chat and discussions prior to and after your appointment with your artist via email, or social media.
  • Before the tattoo they may also ask to see a photo of the area you are having tattooed, especially if it is a cover up, but you can hide or blur anything you do not wish to be seen in a photo and there are alternatives to photos such as measuring or tracing the area if you do not wish to send an image.
  • It is normal to be offered the opportunity to take your own painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol if you so wish. We may also provide a soothing spray during the process which will help to keep the pain to a minimum.
  • It is not normal to be offered by your artist or anyone else in the shop any opiates or barbiturates such as tramadol, codiene or diazepam to ease the pain. This is immoral and illegal.
  • It is not normal for your tattoo artist to demand images of your body, this is your choice, and it absolutely isn’t ever necessary to send an image of anywhere other than the area you wish to have tattooed.
  • It is normal for your tattoo artist to discuss your tattoo specifics and appointment info prior to your appointment. They may occasionally contact you (usually by email) after your tattoo session to check that your tattoo is healing and make sure you don’t need any additional info, small talk and general chit-chat related to your discussions during your appointment is acceptable and not unusual.
  • It is not normal for your tattoo artist to take your mobile number from your consent form or message you on your personal social media in order to discuss anything other than your tattoo or things you discussed during your appointment. Any kind of inappropriate messaging should be reported to the studio manager or someone you trust.
  • It is normal for us to take a photo of your tattoo after we complete it, we may also ask to take photos of the process or of us tattooing, or add videos to our stories but we will always ask if you are happy for that to happen and if you wish to be tagged you can give us your handle and we can do that. These images and videos will always be tasteful and not displaying anything inappropriate or personal.
  • It is not normal for a tattooer to take a photo of you without your permission or the opportunity to decline, or from an angle you are not happy with, or of a part of your body that you do not wish to have photographed. They should also ask your permission to post images of anything other than the completed tattoo. They should never make comments on your photos regarding your physical appearance.
  • It is normal for you to sometimes be offered a deal or a discount for work we are really keen to do.
  • It is not normal for a tattoo artist to offer to reduce the rate of your tattoo cost in return for nude images of yourself or any kind of sexual favour. This is sexual harassment and you must report it immediately to another member of the team or the police.
  • It could be normal (although unusual) for your artist to invite you to join them for a drink if you finish early or offer to walk you to your train if the session ran late, especially if you got on very well during your session, that is most likely just us being polite and friendly.
  • It is not normal that a tattoo artist encourage you to drink alone excessively with them after your session. If it transpires that you are alone at any point it is absolutely NOT normal for them to attempt to kiss, touch or encourage you to do anything sexual that you have not indicated you consent to. That is sexual harassment and assault.

OTHER POINTS:

– You do not owe your tattoo artist any kind of interaction other than that of the actual tattoo, never be afraid to say no and never keep it to yourself if you have been made to feel uncomfortable.

– Friendships do form from spending a long time with your tattoo artist, this is normal and we are proud to call many of our customers our friends.

– It is important to remember that we are only human and sometimes (all) People say stupid things that are inconsiderate or offensive because they simply weren’t thinking at the time! Usually if you call them out they will see their error and apologise for it, these kind of genuine mistakes, whilst they should be acknowledged and apologised for, should not be mistaken for the far more serious accusations of sexual assault and harassment.

-There are several pages set up on Instagram now to help raise awareness regarding what to look out for and how to check that the person tattooing you is respectable, respectful, fully licensed and hasn’t been previously accused of any kind of sexual abuse or harassment. Visit Instagram: @tsass_uk for support and advice on surviving sexual assaults by tattoo artists. They will listen to your concerns and discuss with you weather the artist you are worried about has ever been accused of anything untoward. @tattoometoorecoveryartists can help you if you have previously been tattooed by a now known sexual predator and wish to have it covered or altered.

We will always do our best to make sure you are safe and happy whilst you are being tattooed at Black Moon, and we hope this helps some of you to understand how you should expect to be treated by any tattoo artist, not just us! We are always here to answer your questions, you can email manager@blackmoontattoos.com or call and speak to Jo or Abey on 01373464699. 🖤🖤🖤

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