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So, They Say If You've Got A Tattoo, The Sex Is Better. (Hmm.)

Just one more reason to love your body ink.

Sex

Remember when grandma, auntie and/or mama—don't even get me started on the First Lady of your church—used to say that one of the worst things that a person, especially "a lady" could do was get a tattoo? Especially if we wanted to get a job? As with most things in life, seasons (and culture) change. On the work tip, from what I've read, many employers are not as hesitant as they once were. According to one study that caught my attention, around 35 percent of prospective employers said that hiring someone with tats depended on the position they were trying to fill, while 28 percent of them said that it all depended on how many tats a person had, along with where they were on their body. Something else I found interesting about the study was, when they were asked whether or not they took someone with tattoos less seriously, 49.39 percent of people said body ink didn't faze them in that way (very cool).

Because I've worked from home since 2000, maybe that is why I was well into my 20s when I got my first tattoo. It's on my hip and, to be honest, it's so small that it really wasn't all that big of a deal. It wasn't until I was in my 40s that a sistah got bolder and put some semi-large Hebrew letters on that same hip and also one of my favorite bible verses on the inside of my lower right arm. While I have absolutely no regrets when it comes to getting any of them, I can't really say that I am on the "tattoos are addictive" bandwagon either. They ain't cheap. They do hurt. Plus, there's nothing's worse (to me) than having to go back and get an area filled in after the initial healing process (Girrrl…girl). Not that I'm trying to discourage any of you who may be thinking about getting a tattoo for the first time. I just want you to know what you're getting yourself into.

Although I will say that I recently discovered a silver lining to having body ink that I never knew before (hmm…).

What Tattoos and Sex Actually Have in Common (Who Knew?)

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It never fails. At least 10 times a week (sometimes a day), I will read something in cyberspace that'll have me be like, "What in the world are folks doing out here?!". A recent example came from an article on Revelist's website. The title? "People Are Giving Themselves DIY Stick-And-Poke Tattoos During Quarantine". Tattooing yourself. During a pandemic. Geeze. Shoot, let me tell it, going to a tattoo parlor right now is risky enough. I mean, have you ever read what you're—well, we're—actually signing up for with body ink? Mayo Clinic provided a pretty graphic description when it said, "Typically, the tattoo artist uses a hand-held machine that acts much like a sewing machine, with one or more needles piercing the skin repeatedly. With every puncture, the needles insert tiny ink droplets." Yeah, that's a lot.

So, why do so many of us do it? There are a myriad of reasons. To document a particular time in our life. To represent our own sense of style. To make a permanent declaration about something. To cover up body imperfections. To have a better sex life.

Hol' up. Is that last one for real? According to a study conducted at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Canada, it very much so is. Some researchers there decided they wanted to test the stereotype that women with tattoos are more "sexually open"—you know, more willing to explore and experiment than the average individual. What they discovered is, of the 814 women who were interviewed (some had tats, some did not), the women with body ink were more willing to engage in casual sex; they were also greater sensation seekers.

How does that even make sense? Think about it. There is a certain level of confidence that it takes to get a tattoo. You've definitely got to have a certain threshold for discomfort in order to get one. From a physical standpoint, you are taking somewhat of a (health) risk (which is the case with any permanent body modification, by the way) by having a tattoo as well. Yeah, we might not like to think about sex in this context, but when you really stop to take all of this in, all of these reasons translate over to coitus pretty seamlessly, don't you think?

Something else that the study pointed out was, another reason why women with tats might be more sexually open is because, when you make the decision to get a tat, whether you realize it or not, you are challenging contemporary views on femininity and sexuality. You are basically saying that you don't follow the status quo when it comes to how you look or what you want—including in the bedroom (again, it makes total sense).

So, how many folks are out here feeling this way? Well, 40 percent of people around the globe have at least one tat on their person (Italy has the most, then Sweden and then the United States). 45 percent of those individuals are between the ages of 30-49, and 32 percent have a higher level of education than the norm. That's a lot of "sexual open-mindedness", y'all.

Not to say that those without tattoos are automatically sexual snooze fests. Shoot, some of my fondest sexual memories came from guys with not one tat on them. But I will close this out by saying that I remember when I was in the room with a friend of mine who was as sexually shy (when it came to talking about sex) as they come. As she was undressing, I was shocked to see two hearts on each side of her pubic bone, right above her vulva. When I made a joke to her husband about them, he grinned, winked and said, "You have no idea." They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe a tattoo is worth a thousand orgasms—and then some.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

What Is 'Erotic Self-Focus' & Why You Should Definitely Try It

10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem

These 10 Hacks Will Help You Love Your Body More

This Is How You Master The Female Orgasm

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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