random brain dribbles of a nurse, novelist, and ninja enthusiast

The Unisex Tattoo Myth

There is no unisex tattoo. In an increasingly unisex world this is the one gender specific certainty I can still cling to. People may balk, but consider this tattoo by ambiguously male pop star Justin Bieber.

Bieber Owl Better

He then later tweeted “OWL symbolizes: wise, majestic, and powerful. Best tattoo ever @Justin Bieber”

I understand how owls themselves symbolize all these things, but how does the above tattoo of an owl even come close to this! To help Justin, I have provided him with the following hypermasculine alternative.

Badass Owl

The above picture of a recently graduated owl crushing a human heart under its talon with a royal scepter raised triumphantly in his left wing not only screams majesty, power, and wisdom, but also raises a whole host of other questions. Did the owl graduate from an Ivy league university? Where are his honor cords? How did the owl get that heart? Was it ripped from the chests of those who question his omnipotence?

To me this tattoo is a far better herald of Bieber’s rise into manhood then an owl pulled from a horribly drawn Nickelodeon cartoon. His Nickelodeon tattoo somehow does even more than the adjacent pink shirt and jewelry ever could at clouding masculinity for me, but then I’m not his PR guy. The same holds true for any celebrity.

Ultra masculine star Vin Diesel could wear any shade of pastel and I would never even question his badassery, but if this shirt was complimented by inked artwork of unicorns leaping over rainbows, he would have an overwhelming feminine sheen. Slap this image onto Vin’s lower back and you’ve almost clinched femininity for me. After a quick Google search I realized most scientists agree.

Location, location, location

Tattoos as personal symbols are a clear reflection of the society in which they are displayed. Many studies show the importance of culture on gender specific locations of tattoos. Men are much more likely to engage in tattooing for frivolous reasons as decorative demonstrations of masculinity or the drunken remnants of a masculine dare and tattoos are far more visible, with the arm a primary location. Tattoos have long been a symbol of masculinity and are much more culturally acceptable for males with men comprising the largest percentage of overall tattoos, but this divide has been narrowing.

In a recent Harris Poll men were only slightly more likely at 15% of the total population than women at 13%. For women tattoos are a much more private affair and their smaller size and location on the hips, back, arms, and breasts are reflective of this. For your enjoyment, I have provided pictures along with my very own gender specific stereotyping to exemplify the facts listed above.

The Barbed Wired Douche Tattoo

douche tattoo

This tattoo decorates the arms of many drunken fraternity members and Jersey Shore gym goers who want to display unoriginality and insecurity through the artwork on their upper arms. Self taken pictures are almost always accompanied by flexing.

The Biker Back Tattoo


This full sized back tattoo is both a symbol of great power and masculinity along with guaranteed unemployment or possible hepatitis. Self taken pictures are almost always taken while shirtless at otherwise shirt required endeavors. The length of his pony tail is directly proportional to both tattoo size and total years of unemployment.

Imaginary Girlfriend Tattoo

imaginary girlfriend

The girlfriend on his upper arm may be imaginary, but the drunken night in Vegas leading up to it was all too real. Unless of course, this is a picture of his mother. If so, I’m sorry.

Ankle Biters

ankle biters

This tattoo screams feminine woman and soon to be mother of five who chooses to remain badass through the artwork discretely located on her lower ankle to allow for continued employment in whatever field will perpetuate her middle class existence. Her kids are adorable! You should go check them out on Facebook. She probably posts there almost constantly.

The Boob Tattoo! 

Boob Courage

This woman is letting the world know her breasts are extremely courageous. Take note: if this randomly acquired picture happens to be of a breast cancer survivor then I am truly a horrible human being.

The Cancun Coed Hip Hugger Tattoo

Hip Huggers

This tattoo of a gecko is a classic example of the female preference toward lower abdomen tattoos and the type of woman who would never date me in college. The proximity of the gecko to female lady bits is directly proportional to the percent likelihood of getting laid. Fun fact: years later when her trip to cancun results in accidental children, the stretch marks on her abdomen will make the gecko look like he’s rock climbing.

The Tramp Stamp

Tramp Stamp better

This tattoo is like a bullseye for stalkers. Self taken pictures and her primary wardrobe are always designed around the display of her unfortunate lower back tattoo. Fun fact: when she passes gas the wind produced brushes across the wings of the butterfly making them flutter.

Sex and Tattoos

Now for the question every lecherous college male has been dying to have answered: will any of the above three tattooed women actually sleep with you. According to a study by the Texas Tech University school of nursing the answer is yes! A sample of 450 plus students found that not only were the participants more likely to have sex, but also at a much younger age. Tattoos themselves involve a certain amount of risk and the individuals who acquire them tend to be risk takers who engage in other risky behaviors such as drinking, extreme sports, and other illegal drugs, but is this study an accurate reflection of the presence of tattoos themselves or is it merely a reflection of the cultural associations and perceptions of tattoos at the time in which the study was conducted (2005).

I myself have played with the idea of getting one and my wife already has several. Neither one of us are whores. I think tattoos now are more a reflection of both art and individualism. They have become the acceptable norm of our society and most of the friends inside my generation have them. My wife and I are also obsessed with the show Tattoo Nightmare and nobody watching could argue against the artistic talents of the show’s stars struggling to fix the horrible decision making decorating most of their clients. What do you guys think?

Is Justin Bieber’s tattoo a progressive example of a rapidly narrowing gender divide between men and women or just a really horrible mistake. Any thoughts? Leave a comment below!

13 Responses to “The Unisex Tattoo Myth”

  1. addicted2happiness

    Huge mistake for a male tattoo but Justin B is kind of a huge mistake in general. I found your “what does your tattoo say about you” portion of this post hilarious. You can try to decipher mine 🙂 I agree whole heartedly with the majority of your points except trusting studies done by the Texas tech school of nursing. 🙂 great post

    • josefkul

      Don’t worry, I don’t think I put too much weight in that study either, which is why I immediately tear it apart in the next paragraph. Does your hope tattoo have anything to do with Obama?
      Normally, I would write something scathing about your tattoo, but I’m either completely out of ideas or you have successfully chosen a word that is beyond reproach. This would be an entirely different situation if that tattoo was on your face.

      • addicted2happiness

        Yes it was Obama inspired I have change on my forehead and a charicture of Obama on my back 😉 good luck with your masters I start that this fall, so I guess smart ass nurses rule!

  2. Emily @ The Waiting

    All I know is that Justin Bieber’s owl tattoo bears a striking resemblance to my then-seven month old baby girl’s first Halloween costume. He’s so adorbs.

    Hilarious post!

    • josefkul

      Does your baby also have a believe tattoo like Justin Bieber? If so, you’d have to wonder what that tattoo would look like when she reaches maturity. Why do I know so much about Justin Bieber.

  3. She's a Maineiac

    Your version of the owl tattoo is still making me laugh! Well done. Hilarious post. So…is that really Justin Bieber’s tat? It can’t be. I’m thinking of getting a tat on my ass of Vin Diesel with Justin’s owl tat on his ass. Thoughts?

    • josefkul

      That photo is actually Bieber’s tattoo! If you want further proof, I recommend clicking on the embedded link to his Instagram feed where the photo permanently resides. As an added bonus, you get to condescendingly laugh at all the horribly misspelled comments placed there.
      Your tattoo has potential, but I need some more clarification:
      Given its location is Vin metaphorically taking a dump all over Bieber’s career or taste in tattoos?
      Can you also put the phrase ‘I’m a Belieber’ on your other cheek or will the tattoo be placed directly in the middle (I recommend lining everything up with mouth hole).

      Just a couple disturbing thoughts, but let me know.




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