ModBlog News of the Week: November 25th, 2011

I hope everyone is having a safe Black Friday.  Nobody got injured at Wal-Mart over a $2 waffle-iron I hope.  It’s time again for the news of the week, but first I just want to remind you that if you find a story you think should be included in the news of the week, just send me an e-mail with the link.

Starting off today is a quick follow-up from a couple of weeks ago.  If you recall I mentioned a scam that is targeting tattoo studios.  Well since posting that warning, more people have spoken up and it’s not limited to the east coast.  In addition, the scammers are using the relay service designed for deaf people to communicate over the phone.  Obviously if you get a client calling you and demanding your credit card to pay a driver, you know it’s a scam.  However there are a number of deaf people who do use the service legitimately, so don’t dismiss every relay call as a scam.

Now then, on to the news.

A couple of Dayton, Ohio residents are going to be spending some time in court after a tattoo related incident led to a lawsuit.

Tattoo artist, Ryan L. Fitzjerald was hit with a $100,000 lawsuit last week by his ex-girlfriend Rossie Brovent.  She claims that her boyfriend was supposed to tattoo a scene from Narnia on her back but instead tattooed an image of a pile of excrement with flies buzzing around it.

Apparently Ryan found out that she had cheated with a long-time friend of his and this was his way of getting even.  Originally Rossie tried to have Ryan charged with assault but it turns out this crafty tattoo artist got her to sign a consent form prior to the tattoo and it said that the design was ‘at the artists discretion’, she claims; “he tricked her by drinking a bottle of cheap wine with me and doing tequila shots before I signed it and got the tattoo”.  “Actually I was passed out for most of the time, and woke up to this horrible image on my back.”

Man, that’s a crappy tattoo.

More news and bad jokes to come, so keep on reading.

This is directed mostly at the modified parents out there, but even if you don’t have children, feel free to chime in.  What would you think if you showed up at your child’s daycare to find that their ears had been pierced without your knowledge or consent? A woman in Texas just had that happen to her this week.

Eloise Cardenas, 45, said she went to pick up her daughter, Mia, and her son Wednesday evening at the Marquita KinderCare, 3700 Marquita Drive, when one of Mia’s teachers told her that the girl had been complaining that her ears hurt.  “She’s been having allergies so I thought maybe she was coming down with an ear infection,” Cardenas said. “I turned around and looked at Mia, and she had loop earrings on, like for an adult. I was like, ‘Who pierced your ears?’ I was so mad I was seeing red.”

Cardenas said Mia told her that a teacher in a different class had done the piercings, which left the girl’s earlobes sore and red. When confronted by Cardenas, that teacher reasoned that Mia had said “it was OK,” according to Cardenas.  “I said, ‘She’s a kid. You’re the adult. You should have known better,’” Cardenas said. “I don’t care how you look at it, it’s wrong.”  Colleen Moran, a spokeswoman with KinderCare’s corporate office in Portland, Ore., said the company takes such situations seriously and has disciplined the teacher.  “We wrote her up, which is part of our disciplinary protocol,” Moran said. “We talked to her about the situation and choices she made, and how safety and security of the children in our care is our top priority. Parents trust us every day, so we value that trust.”

Cardenas and her husband filed a report with Fort Worth police Wednesday night.

Now here’s where things get interesting.  The couple filed a lawsuit, however when it comes to piercing children’s earlobes, the law is a little murky.

While the Texas Health and Safety Code prohibits body piercings on children younger than 18 without the consent of a parent or guardian, the law does not apply to earlobe piercings.  The Police Department’s crimes against children unit reviewed the case, but the incident was found not to meet the criteria of a crime because the girl’s “ears had previously been pierced and earrings reinserted,” the unit’s supervisor, Sgt. Jim Thomson, said Thursday.  Thomson said, however, that police are referring the case to the state Department of Family and Protective Services’ child-care licensing division.

Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the state agency, said licensing employees had never heard of such an allegation before.  She said such an incident would probably be investigated under the standard of whether the caregiver demonstrated competency, good judgment and self-control in the presence of children.  Moran said KinderCare has also alerted the state’s licensing division about the incident. She said that while the teacher has not been fired, as the Cardenases have requested, “if licensing comes back with something then we would, of course, follow their direction on that.”

Cardenas telephoned the day-care center Thursday morning and said Mia and her brother will not return. She said that while she and her children had loved the day-care center, she will not allow them to go back as long as the teacher is still employed.  “I don’t blame the day care,” Cardenas said. “I blame her.”  Adding to her anger, Cardenas said, was that the teacher had accused Mia of lying when the crying girl told her mother that the piercings hurt. The teacher insisted that Mia had told her that it did not hurt, Cardenas said.

“She didn’t act like there was anything wrong with it. That’s what got me,” Cardenas said. “I was just shocked about the whole thing.”  Cardenas said she was also troubled when the teacher told her that she had also put earrings on other children.  “What are you doing putting earrings on kids? Even if their ears were already pierced, that’s unsanitary,” Cardenas said. “I don’t know where those earrings have been. … It’s just gross.”

So somewhere out there is a daycare worker who thinks that it’s alright to pierce a child without consent, and will continue to do it as long as the kids ask for it.  Is a 5-year old child old enough to make the decision to modify their bodies?

I was going to save this article for later, but seeing as how the previous one touched on consent and ethics, here’s an article that examines one of the most controversial modification related subjects: circumcision.

A couple of Christmases ago, my family was discussing the impending birth of my cousin’s son. As a rule, we don’t breed that much and with an average of one new addition every 17 years the entire table was quickly caught up in the excitement. Discussion ranged from possible names and parenting styles to whether or not he was going to make a good front-row forward.  It was all a bit of fun until the question of circumcision was raised. That’s when the convivial mood suddenly changed. Battle lines were quickly drawn with the men especially keen to jump in. Each side made impassioned protests that it is cleaner, safer or, conversely, barbaric and reduces sexual pleasure.

“It is the combination of public health benefits, minor surgery, sex and vitriolic minorities opposed to it,” explained Brian Morris, Professor of Molecular Medical Sciences at the University of Sydney and founder of website Circ Info.  Seeking expert medical opinion on the matter in order to gain a more impartial perspective, I was surprised to discover how divisive the issue is among doctors. I was warned by Morris that his opponents “use emotive fallacious propaganda to distort the truth and further their cause” and to be “extremely sceptical about everything they have to say.”  Meanwhile, Dr Robert Darby, author of A Surgical Temptation: The Demonization of the Foreskin and the Rise of Circumcision in Britain, said, in response to claims that anti-circumcision practitioners are propagandists, “It is the circumcision advocates who are both ill-informed and tunnel-visioned.”  “At least one in two uncircumcised males will experience a urinary tract infection, which in infancy leads to permanent kidney damage in half of cases,” reported Morris. “Phimosis [tight foreskin], balanitis [inflammation] and high-risk HPV mean one in 1000 uncircumcised men will get penile cancer over their lifetime. The risk of prostate cancer has been found to be up to twice as common in uncircumcised men. In the female partners of uncircumcised men, risk of cervical cancer is up to five times higher, genital herpes two times higher and chlamydia up to five times higher.”

With the possibility of potentially fatal complications like excessive blood loss and meningitis, and the far more common danger of excessive skin removal and accidental partial glans amputation, caregivers need to weigh up the proposed benefits against the risks of what is essentially cosmetic surgery. A growing trend towards foreskin restoration, of which a couple of my friends are a part, also indicates long-term psychological implications.  “For a surgical intervention to be ethical and indeed legal, the person must give informed consent,” said Dr Darby. “This means that the doctors must provide an accurate account of all the possible complications and adverse outcomes of the operation. This rarely happens in the case of circumcision, where the warnings are often less comprehensive than those on a packet of aspirin … The basic principles of bioethics have been set out by Beauchamp and Childress; circumcision of minors violates every one of them.”

Then there’s the factor that most adult men are concerned with: sexual pleasure. While professor Morris claims sexual pleasure “is either the same or better when circumcised”, Darby acknowledges that while it’s notoriously subjective, there’s plenty of evidence that it reduces functionality of the penis. A recent Danish study discovered that circumcised men have a threefold risk of experiencing delayed orgasm and their female partners are twice as likely to be sexually frustrated.  “Not only does the foreskin contain the vast bulk of the pleasure-sensing nerves of the penis, but it provides a gliding action that facilitates and enhances sexual activity of all types,” he said. “Before the 20th century it was well understood that the foreskin was the sexually dynamic and responsive component of the penis, which is why Victorian purity and anti-masturbation campaigners were so keen to cut it off.”

So there you have it.  One side shows studies that prove circumcision is the healthy option, and the other side can show that complications can arise, and there may be a lack of sexual function.

Moving away from the hot button topics, we have Movember, which is coming to an end.  A town in the UK has taken up the Movember cause, and a number of the women are showing their solidarity by getting finger tattoos.

Females from Barry, South Wales, have been flocking to their local ink parlour to get the designs on their digits.  Going under the needle costs £10 a time – with all the proceeds going to the campaign which seeks to raise awareness of male cancers.  Traditionally men seek sponsorship to sport facial fuzz during the month of November. But the town’s Chameleon Tattoos offers women a choice of nine different taches or the option to design one of their own.  The styles include The Wisp, The Trucker, The After Eight, The Rock Star, The Connoisseur, The Undercover Brother, Abrakadabra, The Box Car and The Regent. And the girls also have a number of different colours ranging from traditional black to more subtle flesh coloured tones.

Harriet Tutton, 22, yesterday showed off her body art and explained she liked it because it wasn’t too obtrusive.  She said: “I really love my moustache tattoo. “It looks really good and it’s for a great cause, but the best thing is it’s not too visible so I can hide it if I really want to.”  Explaining her choice of style, she added: “I’ve gone for the connoisseur because it’s the classiest.

I can’t wait for Decembeard.  ModBlog needs more bearded men submitting photos, so make with the submissions.

In yet another story of government creating unnecessary legislation, a Kentucky state representative is seeking to create a law that would require all tattoo studios to put up a sign that says “any tattoo on the neck, forearm or lower leg shall automatically disqualify the wearer from military service in the United States Armed Forces”.

State Rep. Ron Crimm, R-Louisville, pre-filed a bill that would require tattoo parlors to post a sign reminding patrons of military restrictions on body art.  Crimm told The Kentucky Enquirer that the warnings would serve as a reminder and the bill isn’t aimed at hurting tattoo parlors.”I thought this would serve as a word to the wise,” Crimm said.Military regulations regarding tattoos don’t necessarily prohibit tattoos on arms and legs and vary according to the branch. Generally, the military prohibits neck tattoos and tattoos with racist or other material deemed obscene by military command.

Tattoo artist Tommy Partin, who works at Designs by Dana in Covington, said most of his customers are aware of the military restrictions.  “I know people that get stuff covered up to get in the military,” Partin said. “If they have a pinup girl on the arm, they are asked to put a top on her.”A picture of any tattoo on anyone who enlists in the Army National Guard in Kentucky gets reviewed by Maj. Fred W. Bates V, recruiting and retention battalion commander for the Kentucky National Guard. He can sign a waiver or send it to leadership for a recommendation.Sometimes the Army tells the enlistee to cover a tattoo or get it removed if the person wants to enlist, he said.”The military is inclusive, and you don’t want a tattoo that racially offends someone else or that’s degrading to women,” Bates said. “In the military, you have to serve together and fight in combat together. You don’t want these issues causing problems. And there are standards in the uniform. There are standards in the Army about haircuts and piercings that people can and can’t have.”

Lind said tells customers who want tattoos on the neck or other highly visible areas the potential consequences and what types of tattoos they should consider, such as the names of children instead of names of their partners, which could change.  “Saw a girl last week who got a tattoo of her significant other, his name on her neck,” Lind said. “She wants it covered up now, a week later. You try to explain to people, but they want what they want. They’ll look at the sign in the same way.”

I can’t think of a single artist that will tattoo above the neck without first mentioning the “jobstopper” speech.

To wrap up this week is a pair of articles examining two different cultures.  The first is from the BBC and they discuss the historical significance of this new trend in “ear gauging“.

Ear stretching goes back a long way.  But you don’t have to visit a museum or travel to a remote-ish part of the world to see it because the practice has been adopted in many Western countries.  However, it is not so common that it goes unnoticed. Stretched piercings do tend to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, particularly if the hole is substantial enough to hold a small object. For many people, there is an “ouch” or an “eugh” factor when they see someone with a substantial ear lobe stretch but for those that have it done, it is a thing of beauty.

Statistics are not easy to come by but, as with tattoos, there is extensive anecdotal evidence that ear stretching is on the rise. More people are wearing them, DIY kits are more widely available and there is a much greater choice of jewellery.

Ear stretching has became more mainstream in the last decade and different people have become attracted to it because they see it on the catwalks and celebrities.  Hard-core modifiers have to up the ante to defy the commercialisation of the practice, Prof Pitts-Taylor suggests.  “It is a slightly more committed body art than temporary practices or ear piercing. The more you stretch the skin, the more commitment you are expressing to a counter cultural look.”  People who are obsessed with getting the largest stretch possible are known in the business as a “gauge queen” or “gauge king”, according to Fox.

I’m sorry.  I can’t bear to copy any more.  I’ve never, ever, heard the terms “gauge king and queen” before.  To be fair the article does go on the mention the cultures that stretching comes from, as well as discussing techniques.  Plus they get bonus points for stressing people to take their time and not rush things.

Today’s last story is somewhat of a sad one.  In South West China there are only 41 remaining Derung women with traditional facial tattooing.

It’s a rare sight to see a facial tattoo. But you may be surprised that in China’s southwest, there are 41 old women who have retained their facial tattoos once seen as a symbol of beauty.  Facial tattooing is an unique tradition of the Derung ethnic minority. They live in the mountains of the Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province. Girls used to have their faces tattooed before marriage. But as time goes by, only 41 old women are left to testify about the now extinct practice.  Most of the tattoo women live on the Gaoligong Mountain, more than 2,000 meters above sea level. In order to make this cultural heritage live on longer, border police started to give a medical checkup to the old women with facial tattoos in 2006 and established archives for them.

Yan Xiulian, is one of four facial-tattoo women who are over 90. However, with the passing away of the last tattoo master, the facial tattoo has become a riddle that nobody can decipher.

It’s a great article and includes an English-language video from a Chinese news outlet.  I think the saddest part of the story is that within a few years this tradition will become completely extinct.  With no master to pass on the secrets of the techniques and meanings, there isn’t much hope for it to be preserved.

That’s it for this week folks.  Have a fun weekend and I’ll see you back here Monday.

23 thoughts on “ModBlog News of the Week: November 25th, 2011

  1. We have received several calls from these kinds of services. I’ve discussed with all counter people that this is probably a scam. I have trouble believing that people are actually falling for this…

    Starlight Tattoo
    Las Vegas, NV

  2. Sorry, I just wanted to say that you’re meant to say ‘people with a hearing impairment or people who are deaf’ rather than ‘deaf people’ that way the sentence is structured to show the person is more important than their deviation from ‘normality’ :) other than that, I love reading these :)

  3. I fully support the whole sign with: ” “any tattoo on the neck, forearm or lower leg shall automatically disqualify the wearer from military service in the United States Armed Forces”.” thing.

    I for one, am proud to be 100% unemployable by any branch of the United States Armed Forces.

  4. “Gauge Queen/King” is on the BME Wiki for stretching your earlobes, but that’s the only place I’ve ever encountered it.

    Really happy you posted the circumcision article! It’s definitely a subject I’m passionate about, and I’d love to hear more people weigh in.

  5. The circumcision debate has a very interesting history, and I believe that’s what keeps me reading these articles when I see them posted every now and then. It’s hard for me to take a side either way. While I don’t necessarily think we should be removing a part of anyone’s body before they are able to understand or ask for it, I believe that the health benefits are definitely there and that the number of those who choose to get circumcised later in life would be much, much lower.

    I’m not sure if it’s because it’s what I’ve known all my life, but I’m very happy being circumcised, both aesthetically and functionally.

  6. Gauge Queen is a term that’s tossed around among piercing aficionados who prefer number of piercings over size of piercings. I’ve never heard Gauge Kings, as Gauge Queen is usually used as a derogatory term. I’m not partial to this, just informed.

  7. Rob…

    I love your articles, but that was the most indepth and correctly worded article I have ever read from a major publication regarding stretched ears. They even shun the term ‘gauging’ by using it only briefly in the title of the article. And correctly labelled jewellery. I think that author deserves praise.

  8. Personally, I feel that there is only one person who should ever make the decision of whether or not a penis should be circumcised, and that is the individual that owns it.

  9. re: the circumcision debate…

    What’s clear to me is that when we talk about circumcision, often we’re talking about two very different things. There is circumcision for medical reasons and circumcision for cultural reasons. What is happening in this debate, a lot of the time, is that people will sure up an argument for cultural circumcision with unreferenced and often entirely apocryphal or anecdotal evidence. This won’t do. We need to keep these debates entirely separate.

    It is my view that cultural circumcision should be banned. I, personally, find the practise disturbing and the defence of the practise even more so. If someone wishes to undergo the procedure as a consenting adult then I say, “have at it.” Obviously, in the cases where full or partial removal of the foreskin is medically necessary then, as with all procedures carried out on children, the parents’ consent is sufficient.

    As a side note, I particularly enjoyed the articles in the news this week that addressed the topic of bioethics. Also, the BBC article on stretching was probably one of the best I’ve ever read from a media point of view. They seem to have taken a pretty well balanced look at an issue that often is either dismissed as trend that young people will regret in later life or demonised as a sign of young people rejecting socially acceptable norms of appearance and behaviour.

  10. Can you find a legitimate news source for the poop tattoo? I couldn’t, though I am sure I have seen it a couple years ago on one of those bad tattoo sites. I think it is a hoax.

  11. Kudos to Matt W for his balanced comments.

    Also, whatever is on that poor girls back looks tasty. I’m hungry.

  12. that teacher should have gotten fired, not just written up in my opinion. she stuck a needle through a child’s skin without parental consent. that is SO, so wrong. I mean, i don’t believe in piercing children’s ears in the first place, but someone else doing it without even asking the parent…. that’s honestly mutilating a child.

    as for circumcision, that was a really good read. i never knew all of the complications that could arise with an uncircumcised penis. i still believe that the decision should reside with the person whose penis it is, though… =p

  13. Jenn, I was just going to say that same thing.

    I think that should be considered assault. Who knows what this woman was using to pierce that girls ears and where those earrings came from and what either item was possibly contaminated with. And she gets a write up? Wow.

  14. In a day and age where a simple hug between two children while they are at school can, and has, lead to arrests for battery; how can this woman have not only retained her job, but escaped criminal charges? Not only that, but do we really want someone with such low intelligence and bad judgement teaching our children in the first place? America… never cease to confuse and amaze me….

  15. Reminds me of when I was in first grade, a teacher pulled out one of my loose teeth because I was playing with it too much.

  16. It’s awesome to see the Movember article — my boss lost his twin brother to depression 3 years ago, and has since been a big supporter of Movember. His sister and a bunch of us girls wanted a way we could get behind the cause and on Monday, there was roughly a dozen of us girls that got ourselves some finger moustaches. It’s great to see that so many are getting behind such a great cause, and half way around the world in New Zealand, we did it too!
    Even though I have a fairly respectable collection of tattoos, this is officially my favourite — I’m genuinely proud to wear it and forever be a Mo Sister.

  17. I’ve done no small amount of research about circumcision, and a friend of mine made a decision (WAY back when she had him) not to circumcise her son so that he could make the decision later if he felt like it. I’ve managed to meet other, similar-minded people, and absolutely nothing went “wrong” with their sons as they grew up that could be blamed on their unaltered penises.

    Circumcision is a social norm here in the US. We are socially manipulated into thinking that it’s best for the child, that it’s not something that can wait for the child to decide for himself. It’s just not true.

    The woman at the daycare center piercing kids’ ears makes me see red, though. I do hope she gets kicked ASAP, or I might just merrily go mad.

  18. Haha I work at a Walmart and a customer got smashed in the face with a $2 waffle iron and lost a tooth…

  19. Hello superhumans,

    Alix Fox here. I’m the ‘Fox’ quoted in the BBC article on ear stretching. I’ve worked as a writer for Bizarre magazine for the last five years, and edit their Body Mods pages, so the Beeb got in touch to ask for my input. Initially, the journalist who was researching the piece had little idea about the practice, but to her credit, she spent a decent period of time on the phone with me, and paid attention to my concerns that the article should place emphasis on the need for slow stretching, avoid the erroneous term ‘gauging’, and come across as unbiased rather than judgmental or sensationalist. I’ve heard the terms “Gauge king/queen” a lot, but maybe that’s just in my North London/Manchester communities. Overall, I thought the article was well-balanced, especially for a mainstream media piece. My only criticism would be that when speaking about repair methods for blow outs or breaks, the journalist only referred to an expensive plastic surgeon who had repaired just 12 ears. I recommended she instead reference Quentin from Kalima, who has built up a great reputation for doing a wonderful job of ear repairs, has carried out multiple procedures, and would charge far less than a Harley Street doctor. He probably knows far more about how best to get a great result, too, as he has so much relevant experience.

    If anyone wants to contact me further, my email is [email protected]

    As an aside, I had a burn scar covered up recently with a tattoo of a lightbulb, using UV ink so the bulb ‘switches on’ under a blacklight. The original scar came from a lamp in the first, place, so I think it’s fitting! I’ll send you pics if you want a butchers, Rob. Much love to all at BME and all the readers. Xx

  20. So I’m about 2.5 years late, but as a deaf person, we really do say “deaf people,” it’s okay. :)

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