Russian Lawmakers Will Debate Legislation Against Back Tattoos for Women

Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Russia’s parliament will soon debate its next intervention into the lives of citizens: forcing tattoo parlors to warn women that ink in their lower backs could make it dangerous to receive epidural anesthesia during child birth. The legislation, which the Duma is scheduled to discuss today, October 10, is billed as a consumer protection regulation, but many—if not most—Russians seem to interpret it as the latest in a series of laws aimed at curbing supposedly immoral behavior. Reactions have been even more animated because several Russian news outlets misleadingly describe the initiative as an effort to ban outright lower-back tattoos for women.

In comment threads online, in forums and social media apparently dominated by men, the discussion about lower-back tattoos on women has more to do with aesthetics than health concerns. “A cute booty without all kinds of painted crap is a lot prettier,” Aleks3 writes on the message board, posting links to images of women’s midriffs, one tattooed, and one au naturel. “Feel the difference,” he beckons readers.

Another charming lad, who uses the name “Fosnet” and evidently supports the effort to rein in back tattoos on women, declares, “a tattoo on the ass is already evidence of some disability in the head. Childbirth is hardly something to add.”

Russian-language RT shared its coverage of the tattoo story on Vkontakte, Russia’s most popular online social network, where users left almost 200 comments. Again, most of the responses belong to men whose overriding concern is the degree to which a lower-back tattoo signals a woman’s sexual promiscuity. “I think that such tattoos are found on whores and sluts, who, considering their lifestyle, should be banned in principle from having children, as they’ll only give birth to the same kind of people,” writes Alexey Maslov, before adding, “Maybe I’m mistaken.”

Tatiana Seminchenko, a young woman living in Krasnodar, dared to engage Maslov on the question of “Why do you think this way?” He answered that tattoos on women belong to a “whole, global plan” by Europe, “with its incest and samesex marriage.”

Male chauvinism and homophobia are nothing new—not in Russia or anywhere else—but it’s hard to ignore how the Duma’s new effort to protect women from tattoos dovetails with the country’s current reactionary trends. As the conflict in eastern Ukraine simmers on an uneasy ceasefire, Russian lawmakers might consider returning to the prewar politics of moral outrage. Before Moscow battled the “fascists” seated in Kyiv, it spent years guarding Russians from wicked foreign foster parents and dubious sexual deviants. Legislation against “back tattoos on women,” ostensibly based on medical considerations, has the potential to please a large segment of people who already fear the West’s “whole plan.”


  • Grant Smith

    “but it’s hard to ignore how the Duma’s new effort to protect women from
    tattoos dovetails with the country’s current reactionary trends”

    what’s hard to ignore is how globalvoices has a persistant bias in all its coverage of social issues, nowhere better exemplified than in this case. There seems to be a trend on this site to portray Russia as reactionary, and cherry pick from the country’s legislation fodder for the troff.

    “Male chauvinism and homophobia are nothing new”
    precisely. what is new, is an organised western agenda where the LGTB community has become a useful idiot to push against this chauvinism and homophobia with the self-righteous conviction of moralist crusaders, denouncing any and all attempts to curb or push-back against this agenda as reactionary. You stirred the hornet’s nest, and now you’re shocked?

    The chauvinism and homophobia ramained latent, until extremist LGTB activists got the green light to push their values on the general population, with no regard for that population’s values. Respect for the other meands respect for their views. If your first reaction is to shove your values down their throat, what kind of counter-reaction do you expect? Maybe you want them to get on their knees?

    The Russian law sounds more like a parody of our own laws which make any opposition to gay marriage tantamount to delcaring your membership in the Hitlerjungen. Tattoo parlors are subject to a variety of regulations world-wide. Russia is probably still catching up with a bulk of these.

    Judging by the political bias of globalvoicesonline, either this comment will not see the light or day, or 99% of those who come here, will fail to read this sentnce. FYI to the author. Next time you decide to demonstrate your political astuteness, do some research. Google tattoo dangerous peridural and I hope to see an update on your post, apologising for your political prejudices, amaterish work, and the blog’s tendency to steer readers towards a predefined agenda.

    • Kevin Rothrock

      Grant, you can see that your comment is indeed in the “light of day,” though I think the visibility is to your words what the sunshine is to a hangover.

  • Lawnmaker

    Q : They say all women will have their butts cut off and stroll down the Volodarskaya Street in this condition. Is it true?
    A : It is not true! Women will not have their butts cut off!

  • vSkiper

    … tattoos on women belong to a “whole, global plan” by Europe … I even didn’t know I’m that cunning LOL

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