Dammit…I thought Cosby Showed my arm. Today I learned that I patronized a business that harbors/is run by an “alleged” sexual predator. In cases like these, I my knee jerk reaction is to junk the product and get a replacement one, if any at all. However, this time the product is a TATTOO, and I can’t get rid of my forearm. I need it for activities.
I did not get my ink done not by the “alleged” assailant, but by an artist in his employ. Still, my heart sank. My money indirectly went into the pockets of someone who “allegedly” perpetuates the very type of behavior I’ve been rallying against for nearly 20 years. I told other people to go to that shop! I told them to go to my artist, but what if she wasn’t there, and they had to deal with him? How many women to whom I talked did I send into a lion’s den? The women who WERE inked by him probably have some very mixed feelings right now, and hopefully some men with some humanity do as well.
The “good” news is that despite the excessive amounts of victim-blaming the victim who spoke out has received by some “men” (And A LOT OF WOMEN! WTF!), the word is out on this tattoo shop, and I doubt that many decent people in town will bother to patronize his business, especially since her courage to speak out has inspired others to give reviews with their accounts of his unwanted behavior with them. Just as good news, the artist who did my work has left that little shop of horrors, and she will set roots in a new location and flourish even more. I can’t say it’s all a happy ending, because I cannot speak for the dozens of people with whom this guy was verbally and physically inappropriate, but at least moves are being made.
The only problem is, will there be a next time? The answer is yes. If you live in the United States of America, you are either assault-adjacent, or you are in denial about being assault-adjacent. Someone you know has been assaulted whether you know it or not. Someone with whom you share witty banter while getting your coffee may have been an assaulter. That is because America is so busy pointing out how dangerous it is for women in brown countries that it ignores the fact that is just as dangerous as hell here.
All of our histories and tangible items have the potential to have a dark side to them. What we do with that knowledge is on us. I still love what a member of that shop placed on my arm. It is a little bit easier since she has since left the shop, but even if the “alleged” assailant worked on me, the reason and story behind WHY I designed my piece and committed it to permanent scars on my body is not diminished. I’m not patronizing that shop anymore, however. Like the Cosby Show, the crimes of the real Cosby don’t diminish the value of the story of the Huxtables, but we still need to remember that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist, which is why the Cosby Show is not in syndication anymore. Nothing is simple anymore. I know there is an idea among some that since we live in a capitalist society that economic activism is pointless. That is just an excuse to be lazy. If you can decide to not patronize a shop because the clerk looked at you funny, you can definitely not patronize one because the owner assaults his female customers, or because corporate donates its money to hate groups, or because you’re tired of its racially insensitive ad campaigns. Maybe your one decision will not make a difference, but at least you can sleep at night.
As for the local shop itself, if it goes down because of this, then it goes down. Anyone who decries the social action taken by the victims as trying to shut down a guy’s livelihood, just keep in mind that this all could have been avoided by the guy NOT “allegedly” ASSAULTING ANYONE. Good luck to the artist who left the lion’s den.