Discrimination | General Discussion | Forum
January 14, 2011
Today, my college professor made rude remarks about people with tattoos and piercings. I was obviously the only one in the room who had any body modifications. He was staring right at me, and I felt as though I was being singled out. I was just sitting there, minding my own business, paying attention like I was supposed to.
Has anyone else been ridiculed or discriminated against because of your body modifications? How did you handle the situation?
January 13, 2011
Taylor, I'm sorry for what you went through. It can be embarrassing and quite frustrating to hear someone in a position of power condemn something which you love. I think everyone here can agree with you on that.
For the record, I am heavily modified, having tattoos on my face and scalp and having large stretched piercings. I also live in the South, where this isn't exactly a common occurrence. As such, I deal with a lot of "different" treatment. I have gotten into lines at the grocery store and had people get out of line. People seem to fear me, solely because they assume I'm some sort of criminal.
In my opinion, people have a natural inclination to judge things based on appearance. If you were out in the woods and saw a snake, you'd surely get away from it until you've identified if it is dangerous or not. The only people who wouldn't do that are people who deal with snakes all the time. A reasonable person would allow the snake to live, while someone who is ignorant and afraid of snakes might try to kill it.
Similarly, when people interact with modified folks like you or me, they operate on preconceived notions and bias about us. It's up to us to identify ourselves as being non-dangerous – we're not here to threaten their way of life, we're merely living ours as we see fit. The people who don't mind us, and flock to us, are those of a similar spirit, who are desensitized to our differences. Most people can live with us, even if they do so from a distance, but some people are blindly afraid and call for our removal from society (this is where the ridicule comes in).
I'd suggest you speak calmly with your professor and let him know that you're not dangerous, so to speak. You're there to learn from him and while he chooses to live his life differently from you, it doesn't mean you can't both exist. With plenty of respect going both ways, you never know what opportunities could be presented to you. Maybe he's never sat down with someone and discussed modification. Maybe he doesn't want to. But approaching him calmly and openly airing your thoughts is potentially the most beneficial option, in my eyes. Worst case scenario: he doesn't listen or care. Even then, you still know that you were willing to communicate and that you handled yourself in the best way. And you don't have it weighing on your heart.
Best of luck.
January 15, 2011
Hi. I am heavily modified and face discrimination at my childrens school almost daily. I must pick up my youngest, and the stares and comments that come out of people are ridiculous. Me? I just smile and go on. I know who I am and if they want to judge merely on appearance, they are not worth my time or effort. Closed minds should come with closed mouths!
January 18, 2011
I've had to pick up my friend's daughter from kindergarten a few times…I only have visible tattoos at the moment. The parents tend to make sure I know I'm not welcome. Sometimes they pretend to tell their kids never to get ink like mine, really telling me. Other times they'll move their children out of my way as if I'm not worthy of sharing space with them. The kids themselves are too young to know any better; in fact some have commented that they like my art or think its pretty. I believe the parents train them to fear such things. A good amount of discrimination is based on ignorance and fear.
January 13, 2011
I have not encounter the issue at the level you have but I did see it when my oldest was looking at getting help for his speech. He was behind and we were attempting to get him help before we sent him to school. My ex-wife had taken him into speak with the program heads while I went to change his younger brother.
When I got back and found out the meeting had already started I found the right room and went in. The woman in charge made a startled reference to me asking if I was Mr. Knutzen. I of course said yes and took a seat. She proceded to turn her chair and only speak to my ex-wife.
I found this very rude but said nothing as him getting help was much more important. Once he got to the kidergarden level I had a few encounters in the begining but they quickly stoped as they got to know me.
Most recently I was discriminated against at work and have a post I just made on here. I am sorry to hear of your troubles.
February 1, 2011
I live used to live in a very small minded area in Kansas, before I moved to a near by but bigger and generally more accepting part of Kansas.
Anyway, in the old town I went into this cafe' style place on the main street because I wanted coffee. At that time I had piercings all over my face, and so the old lady behind the counter asked what I wanted, and I asked what kind of coffee she had.
She wouldn't tell me though, and instead asked why I didn't have a job. She then when on the offer me a less expensive item (tea). After a few minutes of trying and failing to convince her I wanted coffee and not tea, I calmly left.
What she didn't know was that I had three hundred dollars in my pocket while I was talking to her. So even though I felt rather downtrodden I know she's the one who was really missing out.
I ended up taking the piercings out a week or so later, after someone mentioned ripping them out of my face. Now that I've moved though, I think I'll get my piercings back.
January 8, 2011
I work in my daughter's kindergarten classroom. I have the bridge of my nose pierced, my septum pierced, and my lower lip pierced (labret). I also have tattoos on both arms, my left leg, and a scarification on my right leg. Interestingly, I haven't experienced any discrimination from the teachers or the school staff. But the other parents… Boy, do they make faces. And if I smile, they send a fake smile back while pulling their child close. Fortunately, as time goes by, more and more of the parents know me and the discrimination becomes less and less of an issue. I really like the correlation that Richard Ivey made about snakes. We just need to show people we're harmless!
February 13, 2011
liveing in a small town in South Carolina i get all kinds of insults regarding my body mods mostly twords my many pircings. most of them identifying me as a satinist. i have had people walk right up to me in public telling me that i am going strait to hell. in my owm opinian i thingk the main reason behind all of it is that people down here are just uneducatid about this form of art and if there was only a way to teach theas people that it is not a bad thing and that there is some good that come from this what it leads down to is the ignorince of close minded people. if there was just some was to open theas peoples eyes to make them understand that just beacuse we do the things we do it is not out of craziness or out of hate of our bodys but out of love for them and out of celabration of our bodys to show them off to say to the world "hay i love my body so much that i have chosen to decorate it to make my self standout among the rest of crown not for the attention but for the simpel joy that comes frome it." if only people could see it that way we would get more respect
February 24, 2011
I have quite a few facial piercings… eyebrow, nose bridge, nostril, lip and many in my lobes/ear cartilage. The majority of people I see in everyday life are curious about them. The most asked question I get is "Did that hurt?" or "Didn't that hurt?" lol and about my bridge piercing my favorite "Is that thru you bone!?" Then I think about drilling a hole in my skull for a mod and giggle. There are some people who stare but I am not sure if it is my piercings or my being trans or they way I dress… etc. I am used to it by now and don't let it bother me. I thankfully have never had anyone say anything to my face about my mods, and my heart goes out to any who have been called out, put down or discriminated against. I wish everyone in the world could get over our differences and embrace our similarities.
March 3, 2011
At the moment I'm not heavily pierced on my face, but that changes on a weekly basis (self piercing). I've experienced my fair share of in-class discrimination as well. Usually from other students, but a few times from Professors themselves. The first time it happened I just confronted the professor after class and explained how it was more a spiritual thing to me than a rebelious thing. Luckily the prof. was a philosophy focus so she eventually took an understanding to it. Over time she and I have actually become friends and she has changed her perspective on modificaitons for the most part.
Ever since though, I usually call out the professor in class when they target me for modificaitons. They usually do one of three things: ignore and leave it alone, get flustered and pissy at you for the rest of class, or appreciate that you called them out and give you a chance to explain your perspective. This may or may not be what you choose to do with your professor, but I'm a bit blunt so I just confront when I feel targeted.
Your best bet is probably just showing your professor that you are a dedicated and intelligent student. That will definitiely change his perspective about you and students like you. The worst that can happen if he stays ignorant and you know he is a jerk.
April 19, 2011
I'm almost a Senior in high school and live in a dust town almost. We are so small we are near the point of having to join with another town.
Growing up with a class that barely consists of 60 students at most, people tend to grow use to small oddities here and there.
When I got my tongue pierced I was 14, it was almost healed and I tended to roll it across my lower lip during my classes. More out of a shock I actually have a bar in my mouth than to show it off. The teaching aid thought I had a tack or staple in my mouth and asked me to take it out. I simply told her that I cant, its attached to me so I couldn't take it out. She must of thought I was being rude and trying to be funny for she pried my mouth open to try and get it out, only to realize that it was actually attached to my tongue. She proceeded to make a sexual comment that made me sound like a whore, that I got my tongue pierced for strictly sexual purposes.
Another time, after I got both my eyebrows pierced and my hair was curled behind my left ear where i have an Industrial bar, 4 capture beads, and a U-ring; This older couple behind me in a restaurant where people wait to be seated was whispering to each other and making angry faces at me. One of my uncles was with me and standing off to the side behind me too, he rudely cleared his throat to catch the couples attention. They must have thought he was my dad since they started in on him about letting me punch so many holes into my body.
He simply told them that I'm young, I'm exploring my life, and i may do as i please to a limit until i am out of my parents house. I do not harm anyone, I don't have a criminal record and to please, keep their own f***ing crooked noses on their faces and not in our business. And we were seated while they were asked to leave since the manager considered them to be disrupting the public.
People do ask me about my piercings even though mine are not considered that far out of the normal; whether they hurt or where i got them, what my parents think of them. Some are rude and ask if I have any piercings else where and if must scare my 4 younger half-sisters. Even though my sister's love to play with my ears to hear all the rings tinkle together and the youngest one, 3 years old, sometimes tries to catch my tongue bar.
My sisters ask about a lot of things they are not quite comfortable asking our dad and their mom; they want piercings like mine too someday they tell me and the 2nd oldest wants to live with me when I move to college. The young are curious and just want to know about the adult world, thats all.
i live in alabama, and work in a thrift store.since being there ive added many facial/ear/upper body piercings…. snake bites, labret, medusa, conch, orbital, madison , cleavage… to go along with the 14 other ear piercings that were already there.plus the ones not visible due to clothing.AND i have 52 tattoos most of which are visible…arms , chest, sides of legs…so i kno all about the looks, the stares, the judgement of others.i used to get alot of church pamplets from some of our customers, a few rosary beads, a mixed tape of church music.once these ppl got to know me and talked to me , they stopped assuming i practiced satan worship, ate children, or whatever they thought.i asked one lady who offered me a pamplet why she felt the need to do so and she responded that she handed them out to lost souls.i kindly let her kno that my soul isnt lost and was right where it needs to be. i attend church when i feel the pull of it, i believe wholeheartedly in God and His Son.it amazes my coworkers that im friends with several of our local Menanites(sp?) who frequent our store.i tell them that they see me for me , not the outside appearance.ive had mothers pull their children away from me plenty of times, even when im with my children. adults dont think often before they open their mouths.children are much more open minded and accepting.kids love me.they flock to me at work before they would ever think to go to my coworkers.i feel for ur situation. i do agree with the above members…u do have choices on how to deal with ur professor.how u choose to do so is important.if u rant and rave , he will feel justified in his assumptions.if ur calm and reasonable , u may just win him over to "our " side. good luck and best wishes to u
I am fairly fortunate to live in an area where mods are relatively common so I haven't experienced too much in the way of significant discrimination. With that said, I am not as visibly modified as some. I do have numerous facial piercings and tattoos that are visible in the summer as well as stretched piercings (lobes at 1", nostrils at 2 gauge), but certainly nothing I consider to be all that extreme.
The main form of discrimination I've faced is really just in the form of disapproving stares while on the bus or skytrain, especially from parents of young children. In my experience, children tend to be fascinated by my mods and its not uncommon for me to have a little child staring in fascination and even sometimes pointing and asking questions. The parents, however, are often not nearly so enthralled and although some are pretty open and understanding, some are very obviously disapproving.
Beyond that, the most discrimination I've faced is from my extended family. My parents and brother are pretty ok with it, but my aunts and uncles are another matter entirely. Without fail, my appearance is met with disapproval as if somehow my decision to modify my body has made me some sort of grand failure. Doesn't really bother me too much given that I don't hold their opinions in very high regard anyway.
I have to say i love kids reactions! The sense of wonder and curiosity is a pleasure to see.
I make sure i give them my friendliest smile if i notice them staring or watching.
It goes to show how prejudice and discrimination aren't innate but learnt behaviours. We can each do our part in helping make sure they're not passed on.
January 7, 2011
I'm sorry that you had to go through that, no one deserves to be treated like that. I've run into a few people like that over the years and it is very taxing on your faith in humanity, at least it was mine. As others have suggested, speak with your professor, set an appointment to speak with him in his office if possible and calmly and intelligently let him know where you are coming from, be as nice as you can and you may be surprised at the response you get. Unfortunately most people don't realize that what they are saying is ignorant and if you ignore it, he'll never know.
I myself am a heavily modified individual, I have tattoos down my arms to the fingertips, full neck tattoos and tattoos on my forehead and scalp. Not many piercings, but with the amount of tattoos, no one really notices those anyway.
In the past I have felt the stares, heard the whispering, seen the pointing, and I come to believe that a lot of it is how you present yourself in public. I used to be very closed off to the world when I was alone, especially in strange places around strangers. I would appear to be very stand off-ish, and that is generally when I would hear, see and feel those things.
Since the birth of my son (now 3 years old) I began to notice that when alone, those things would still happen. When I'm with my son, I am a very different person, I'm very open to interaction with people, partly because I don't want him to think being closed off is normal, and when I'm with him, I feel like as long as he still looks at me with a smile, I could care less what other people may say or do towards me. I've noticed that when I am in public with my son (WalMart, the Zoo, the park, the places I would usually get the most reactions) I get more smiles and "hello"s, people come up to me and talk, either asking about my mods or my son.
I recently got my forehead tattooed, and with that tattoo, I feel more "me", so I walk with more of a confidence, I'm more sure of myself and my place in the world, since I've gotten the tattoo, I rarely get any comments, points, stares or whispers. I was fully prepared for the onslaught of all those things the first time I went to the store. Ironically, I was a little disappointed when I didn't get them lol.
Maybe it's only the area that I live in, I live in the Omaha/Bellevue area here in Nebraska, generally a conservative place. But it seems that the more confident I am and how I present myself to the public, that the responses change.
With a positive attitude, a calm demeanor and some intelligent conversation, I believe 90% of the non-modded can be found to be willing to open their minds a little and allow you to at least get your side of things across to them. It may not change their view of other people like you, but at least you are opening the door for others to reach the people you interact with.
January 7, 2011
Taylor, being a college student myself, I have a lot of tattoos and piercings. I had a professor grab my arms and make sure that I didn't make a "cheat sheet" on my arms.Of course, I went straight to the head of the department, and my professor was penalized.
You can also try going to student support services if they have that available in your school. I believe that these professors need to learn tolerance and acceptance, because if they do not respect you, how are you supposed to respect and learn from them when they display such levels of ignorance?
January 8, 2011
The thoughts on familial discrimination got me thinking. My mother and her side of my family are disapproving. My mother has gotten used to my tattoos and piercings, and although she doesn't like them, she's mostly silent. Her family is another matter. She has three brothers younger than her, with children of their own, and most of that family loudly dislikes my mods and my lifestyle.
My father and his side, however, is another matter. My great-aunt's motto is "it's not my skin." meaning, she prefers not to, but she accepts my choices and feels that as long as I feel happy with my choices, then it's alright with her. Her two daughters and families feel the same, and I am welcomed at holiday dinners(I am Jewish, adding to the hardship from my mother's side) with open arms and requests for my business cards for their co-workers. My cousins, late teens-early 20's, both, have no issues with the way I look, and see me for who I am, regardless of anything else.
I have had my share of the ever-annoying stares and "did it hurt?" from people about my large labret spike, and I usually just answer with a kurt "no" and keep it moving. I've also had my fair share of people pulling their children away from me, and a little old lady even loudly proclaimed on a bus that I was a "hoodlum" and to stay away from her. The bus driver(a friend of mine, and heavily modded himself) put her off at the next stop, telling her she was acting rudely and causing undue ruckus.
Basically, I take the bad with the good, and a good healthy shaker of salt.
Keep the faith.
January 7, 2011
when I was younger I got the typical threats from people saying they would rip my piercings out.Now i just get stares or random questions.I honestly like when someone asks questions instead of just stare and assume the worse.I dont get offended anymore when people ask e if its hurts or why i got them etc.I just answer their questions.Turns out the majority of them are atually interested in getting some done themselves.But then again I live in nyc so there are alot more understanding people than most southern states.Not to say that there arent some negative people in nyc towards modifications.
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