Brisbane Tattoo artist calls on followers to ”Bash Women” & “Fuck Women’s Rights”

TRIGGER WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT AND IMAGERY DISCUSSING SEXUAL ABUSE

Yesterday morning I was at the gym when I heard the news headlines for the day. They included the regular stories – the increased cost of living, the budget, the economy, cute little ‘fluff stories’, and of course, the news that another woman had been murdered.

The news report told of a Chinese woman’s body being found naked and injured in Melbourne city, assaulted by a man who had been ‘living rough’  on the streets. She was simply walking to work when she was sexually assaulted and murdered.

Before I even had time to adjust to this news, I was bombarded with more stories of violence against women.  Following this report came news updates that Gerard Baden-Clay was still pleading ‘Not Guilty’ to murdering his wife Alison, whom he was cheating on, along with reports that Oscar Pistorius  was pleading mental insanity to shooting dead his girlfriend.

And despite the overwhelming daily news reports that violence against women is impacting on millions of women every day worldwide (such as the 200+ Nigerian school girls who are still missing), still it seems that many are too desensitised by a culture of violence, misogyny and sexism, to see that violence against women is a serious issue. If you need more proof, just look at the Elliot Rodger fan pages for evidence.

Perhaps one of the worst displays of hatred toward women that I saw yesterday however, was that of a local Brisbane tattoo artist named Ryan Parsons who thought it would be funny to upload one of his designs to Instagram. The image, which featured a naked woman head first in a dumpster, with her hands bound, her shoes strewn on the ground, and a bird feasting on her genitals, was hash-tagged ‘fuck women’s rights’ and ‘bash women’.

Not one to just focus on women, he also made a homophobic slur, by complaining that “some homo” had reported his image.

Note: image has been censored by myself for this post.

20140702-095914.jpg

Equally disturbing, was that this was not simply a design – it was a photograph of a real tattoo he had put on someone’s body. I wasn’t sure whether to be more repulsed that  someone had brainstormed such an image into existence, or that someone agreed to tattoo it on an individual. I later found out that this image was in fact (according to Parsons) designed by, and tattooed onto, a woman.

instagram tattoo meaning

Without being able to speak to this woman myself, I will not pretend that I know what is going on in her mind or what this means to her (other than what Parsons himself has disclosed), however I still find the imagery highly disturbing, If Parsons is indeed telling the truth, then I also find it highly disturbing that this woman encouraged him to send out a giant ‘fuck you’ to women and their rights to safety.

Customers and social-media users were outraged, and rightly so.

opinions

After many complaints, the image was removed; however Parsons then uploaded the following “community service’’ announcement, with the patronising title “let’s have a little hug” – clearly intended as a follow up to his last post which he was made to remove.

let's have a little hug

It seems that Ryan views the assault of a woman, left to rot in a dumpster while animals eat her organs, as ‘’satire’’.

Considering the rise in female tattoo customers, it seems odd that Ryan would purposefully choose to alienate and enrage a huge section of his client base – especially since he has a girlfriend whom, it would seem, he cares for and respects very much.

While certain social media users jumped to his defense, labeling him a loving father and “the loveliest person’’, there was no grey-area. Parsons himself, with his comments, hash tags and designs, made it perfectly clear that women, their safety, and their rights are not to be respected.

IMG_1841

Individuals such as Ryan are a giant embarrassment not only to society, but also on the Tattoo industry. As many social-media users (including customers) noted, the tattoo industry already has a dubious reputation which it has been fighting to change. It is such a shame that individuals like Parsons are choosing to further this stigma and make it harder for their own industry.

“There are amazing tattoo artists who work there that most likely don’t share the same views as Ryan and have families to feed. They don’t deserve the backlash…” wrote one customer. “[I have been] to the shop multiple times and would hate to see it get a bad rep because of one guy. There’s enough bad reputation around the tattoo industry already.”

Although my initial train of thought was for people to boycott Black Throne Tattoo, I quickly realised that the actions of Ryan Parsons are not necessarily conducive of the business. While the responses I saw online were highly negative toward Parsons and his attitudes, many suggested that Black Throne be given the opportunity to respond to the behaviour of their employee. One girl tried contacting Black Throne on Instagram and received a message from Black Throne Tattoo’s Clint Steele, condemning the actions of Parsons.

“I’d like to apologise for the post and the offence it has caused. Myself and my business partner in no way condone Ryan’s actions and we were the ones that asked him to remove it. My apologies,” wrote Steele.

While it was good to hear that Steele did not support the actions of his employee, iat the time that his comment was issued I found it somewhat disappointing to see that he decided to issue the apology in a way in which noone else would see. Instead of replying to the comment on his business’ page, he went onto the Instagram user’s personal page, chose a random photo, and posted the apology there. In a way, it suggests that Black Throne are not ready to publicly display their condemnation of Ryan Parsons, but are instead only offering ‘discreet’ apologies.

As I had seen a lot of support and praise for Steele and other artists at Black Throne by women in my community, I thought I would give the company the opportunity to share their views before assuming that they supported Parsons. I sent an email to Clint explaining that many in the community were upset by his coworkers behavior, but also making it clear that I understood his actions may not necessarily reflect the ethics of the entire company.

I received the below reply:

From: clintsteele68@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Complaint regarding Ryan Parsons
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2014 15:24:11 +1000

Hello Sheenah,

Ryan will be posting an apology today.
Black Throne Tattoo in no way supports Misogyny or violence of any kind.
The posts put up by Ryan were his own doing on his own social media.
Thanks
Clint
At present I have been really pleased with the way in which BTT (Black Throne Tattoo) have responded so far, and am hopeful that Parsons will not only issue an apology, but that he will also come to understand why his behaviour was so offensive and dangerous.

As one user suggested, perhaps this will help to bring about important discussion and help dispel some myths about the tattoo industry – if it is indeed handled professionally.

“This could actually be an opportunity for the tattoo community to help dispel some of the negativity associated with the industry by collectively saying, ‘Hey! This is not what we’re about and we do not support this. This is awful and should rightly be condemned.'””

I could have taken this story to the media, but at the end of the day, I have been satisfied so far with how BTT have responded. I write this blog not because I want to take down BTT or see their business suffer, but because I want to highlight a dangerous issue, the crux of which is that we live in a culture which excuses rape and violence as ”entertainment”.

It is unfortunate that so many men and women still see VAW as something to joke about… something to tattoo on their bodies…something to serve forever as a reminder that abuse is  ‘just a joke.’

So long as individuals such as Parsons continue to post dangerous and harmful messages, there will always remain a need to call-out such behaviour. With so much violence in our world, when will we decide that enough is enough?

– SQ

End note: [6:47pm] I am yet to see Parsons official apology, but I am hopeful that it will be issued.

[9:00pm] I saw the apology issued by Parsons, and have to say that he proved a lot of people right. His ‘apology’ is barely that, and sounds more like he got smacked by management and issued a ‘I got in trouble so I have to apologise – but fuck you and fuck them’ response. There was nothing in his original post which encouraged a healthy discussion of the problem that is violence against women…it was a one-dimensional post meant to anger women and cause offense. Parsons is so deluded it is not even funny.

If you would like to raise these issues with BTT – please email clintsteele68@gmail.com

10449969_10152237311867483_7261049582160467500_n

Operation Kindness…meeting with the young women Australia exploits

Untitled-1

Recently I have found myself lying awake at night, racking my brains for the answer to a massive problem. I find myself struggling during the day, as I think back to the young women I have met, whose faces and tears are etched in my mind. I think of all those I have not yet met, but who are facing anxiety, despair and listlessness at the hands of selfish men.

The problem I am trying to tackle is an overwhelming one. It is the exploitation of young Asian women in our country.

As I have discussed in previous posts, Australia is a hotspot for the exploitation of young Asian women visiting our shores. Men’s forums openly discuss ways in which they prey on disadvantaged women and coax/pressure/push the women into providing illegal sexual services within massage parlours. While these forums are not conclusive of all Australians, the attitudes of many Aussie men are heartless, cold and selfish. I’ve seen men rate these women on their bodies, faces, and the sex acts they willingly/reluctantly perform (“average face, hj was too mechanical”) as if these women should feel PRIVILEGED to be handling their junk. I’ve seen men discuss how they’ve paid to sleep with an Asian woman only to find that she didn’t have the body they were lusting after (as many of these women are mothers) which they felt gave them the right to destroy this women’s reputations online.

“She was reluctant for me to undress her. I was thinking what a fucking waste of time and money….I got all the lights off and got her under the sheets…Her body was fucked after all these years. Separated from husband and came to aus. She was pretty fucking dumb and very immature. Talking about finding her prince, into disney… talking about other romantic bullshit. As a shallow gutless male I tapped her a few times (average root) and then made an excuse that I needed to travel for work and didn’t see her again. To reiterate, having kids can really fuck up a woman’s body.”

Meanwhile, others joke about how they hate our government allowing more foreign workers into Australia – unless of course, they are young Asian women that can be exploited.

“This will mean an influx of women coming to Aus, not being able to find work, and ending up in the brothels. More for us!” they gloat.

Reading through these wicked, selfish discussions often makes me so angry that I can’t do anything other than try to dissociate from the injustice of it all, and move on. It was during one of my daydreaming sessions that I suddenly realised:  even if I couldn’t stop all of this, I could still make a difference. All I had to do, was one thing at a time.

To show love.

I thought back to a young girl I had met in a massage venue one night. Nervous, trembling and obviously distressed, this young woman showed all the signs of something ‘not being quite right.’ As she began to massage me, I tried to strike up a conversation to calm her nerves. As we were talking I asked her how her day had been…there was a pause, and then suddenly she burst into tears. With her hands shaking on my back, she tried to compose herself, eventually telling me that she had had a bad experience with a man just before me who got very upset and demanded his money back. Her manager gave staff no training, which made her a prime target for harassment. I hugged this young girl and let her know that it wasn’t her fault, and that she had every right to ask her manager for more training. She seemed so lost…so lonely.

I really felt for this young girl, and as the weeks passed I continued to think of her and wonder how things were. It was then that I had a brainwave…I could do something for this young girl and others like her…I could start small, with community funded projects that gave assistance to young women – whether it be something as simple as providing them with transport to/from work, or providing them with a ‘fun day out’, where they could experience something new in our city. Eventually I would like to be able to offer young women workshops where they can learn massage and shiatsu techniques from professionals, so that they can gain work in legitimate businesses.

A few days ago I returned to the massage parlour, where I was greeted by the young Asian woman with an excited hug. When she recognised me, her voice picked up and she instantly looked happier. As we chatted I told her I had a small gift for her, to which she excitedly exclaimed, ‘Oh! A gift? So sweet!‘ I explained that our little community group would like to treat her to a day out of her choice, where she could do anything she liked.

“I believe you deserve to experience the best of our country while you’re here, and I know it’s hard when you’re a student and you need to save money.

“So I’d like to give you this,” I said, handing her a voucher.

The young girl seemed somewhat confused. “How much will it cost?” she asked.

“No, no,” I explained. “It’s free. Whatever you’d like to do, we will pay for you to do.”

“Ohhh,” she said, beginning to understand what I was saying. “Oh, thank you. Thank you Sheenah!” her eyes looked somewhat teary, and she spoke 5 beautiful words.

“Thank you for remembering me.”

It was a great start to Operation Kindness, and really proves that you can make a difference in your community with just one small step at a time.

Even if the men in our community can’t see it yet, these girls are worth a million times their weight.

Who are the invisible men buying women in Brisbane?

‘Sex trafficking in Australia should not come as a surprise…” – Dr Caroline Norma, 2011.

Recently it came to my attention that sex trafficking and sexual exploitation exist within every fabric of society. In the world of trafficking there are no good or bad neighbourhoods, just opportunities for the vulnerable to be exploited by wicked people, and hidden in any way possible.

An anti-slavery video which was recently released asked the question, ‘If you could see it happening, would you stop it?’

The answer to this, should always be a resounding YES. But should we only be concerned with that which we can ‘see’?

Often the venues in which sexual exploitation occurs require us to truly ‘see’; to open our eyes, to search, to become more aware of our own neighbourhoods. It is not enough to only speak out about the things that are blatantly revealed to us. We must go further than that, and reawaken our senses to our surroundings. When you do, I guarantee that like me, you will be shocked at just how rampant sexual exploitation is in our own backyards.

My foray into investigating sexual exploitation within Brisbane began recently, after reading reports of Asian women being trafficked within the beauty/massage industry. After reading this, I thought of massage venues I had seen which seemed somewhat suspicious, and began to look into them further.

It wasn’t long before I found a pattern. Nearly every venue was the same…they ran from old houses, operated until 10pm every night, employed strictly young Asian women who spoke little English, dealt mostly in cash, kept the windows covered with wrapping paper so as to stop anyone from seeing inside, and had discreet parking areas.

I was certain that the women in these venues, at the very least some of them, would currently be suffering from exploitation or perhaps even trafficking…I knew I had to do something.

This was the moment that I delved into the seedy underground of Brisbane’s sex-purchasing industry, and what I found, disgusted me to my very core.

I’ve visited several of these venues myself and talked with girls, one of whom opened up to me about the daily sexual harassment she experiences, and the sexual requests that many of her friends give into.

“Most of my clients are men…sometimes they ask for things that I don’t want to do,” she admitted. “I try to be tough and tell them no, but some of the other girls give in. They get paid extra.”

In some of these venues I have seen young Asian women emerge from massage rooms dressed in mini skirts, followed by old overweight caucasian men. I have seen young men walking out of bathrooms, while the young ‘masseuse’ clutches a hand protectively around her stomach, walking into the bathroom slowly to clean up. I have seen discreet ‘back entrances’ where men can make a quick exit after their ‘massage’, and drive off as if they’ve done nothing wrong.

As well as scoping out the venues I have also been researching online, and without fail every single venue I have been suspicious of, has been featured online on either a XXX review Twitter account, or male adult forums. On these forums, men discuss women like they are merely pieces of meat, swapping tips on the best venues to go to if a man wants to ‘punt’ for sexual favours. They criticise the women in our massage parlours on every facet of their physique – their faces, their breasts, their personalities. They ‘rate’ the hottest ones, and complain about going for massages only to find that the girl was ‘tubby’ with an ‘ugly face’, but ‘okay tits’. They brag about the ‘extras’ they get from the girls with enough ‘cajoling’, and then whinge about the hand jobs being too ‘mechanical’.

The sense of self-entitlement these men have is absolutely revolting. It is as if the exchange of money for a massage automatically entitles them to sexually harass women into getting what they want, and then berate them online if they don’t meet their selfish fantasies.

Below are some of the comments from male adult forum users – Warning: May be distressing for some.

1911748_10152018360067483_721426631_n

“Went there today . She pretty good but she doesn’t let you touch her.which is a shame cos I wanted a handful of her big tits.”

“I went to this place not long after it opened and wasn’t impressed with the girl, not a very good massage and mechanical action.”

“1st visit saw a young looking girl. I was being nice but she didn’t seem interested. I was so frustrated when she finished she was worn out. Felt like I was a exercise instrument for her daily gym work out. Flip over got offered 30 hj. 50 top only off no hj. 100 nude with hj. Went with 30 no build up just tug away. Disappointed.”

“Hmm she was thai lady but I would say late 30’s maybe early 40  so not really a “girl” lol. But hey was friendly no stunner but not butt ugly “

 “IMHO mostly are just average looking, some are fugly. Only seen one or two who are beauitful/ good looking. Most of them are small and short. IMHO she is just an average looking and not a great body. For $40 or $60 I now come to a conclusion it’s a waste of money as they are normally not really good at deep tissue. They are more for RnT. And why wants to be RnT-ed by just an average to fugly looking gals? Oh yeah they offered a HJ for an extra $40 that they don’t think it’s a rip off. Not only you can’t see them naked, you can only touch them a bit here and there.”

“Recently, I found that there is a lot of Chinese Massage shops here with hand job. Most of the ladies are students. They are young and quite pretty. (lucky me, I didnt see any ugly ladies, haha)”

“Last time i went i didnt see any hotties at all. one girl looked a bit on the other side, and the other girl was a bit of a pork chop. should i go during the day or something? i went on a sunday night…probably wrong timing or the hotties were already taken. Ended up going to ——– and wasted $128 there. It’s a shame they make you pay first before you get to look at the girls. I don’t think I will go back there for a while.”

I love Asian women as they are sexier, more feminine and you don’t get the attitude you get from overpriced and often angry butch Caucasian women.”(Dear Punter 2: Wow, aren’t you a charmer)I might have to pick ’em all up, cramp them into a room, similar to those JAV scenes”

“This shops is still the same old dirty shop with dirty girls who will do anything you ask them to do for the right amount of money ..”

***

These are the invisible men who are abusing and exploiting young women. And I will not turn a blind eye to what they are doing.

I will be going into these places and meeting the young women who they treat as objects; the ones they deem ‘too ugly’, who they deem as ‘failures’.

Because they are not. They are human beings who were created to be so much more.

I will do whatever I can to take these men’s ‘play things’ away from them, and bring the women something better. I’m not sure yet what that means, but I’m open to whatever God wants me to do.

This weekend I am starting by going to the police with my investigations – screen shots, photographs, and research reports listing the venues where these women are being used. And let’s be clear about one thing – it’s not the women who are the problem, it’s the men who are purchasing them, and they are the ones who I want to pay the ‘true’ price.