When studying for my PhD, I really began to appreciate the challenges women experience within academia. One of these challenges was the need to justify listening to womens, and only womens voices. My PhD considers the lived experiences of tattooed women, yet I am regularly questioned as to why I am not considering men when researching these experiences, as though mens voices have not already been heard.
There is a plethora of research (Kosut, 2000; Swami, 2012; Ferreira, 2014; ) which has considered the ways that tattoos are perceived on the body, but little research differentiates this in regards to gender. Little focus is given to how the female body is positioned under the male gaze, and how this intersects with that body being tattooed. As the practice of tattooing has historically been typified as a male activity, consideration for tattooed women is important in bringing recognition for this being acceptable for both sexes. More importantly, recognition is given for how the practice is experienced differently for women. It is for this reason that I am happy to justify my position.
I understand that the subject of tattooed women may not be of importance to everyone – this is my research, and everyone has their own academic areas. However, by failing to acknowledge why women’s voices should be heard in the first place further adds to the biased research field, before the actual subject has even been accounted for. As an early career researcher, I’m not looking to justify my position, but am exploring experience and providing an outlet for which experiences can be heard. Early career researchers should be encouraged to find ways of encouraging voices to be heard, without trying to shout over dominant ones.
Blog post by Charlotte Dann, Graduate Teaching Assistant in Psychology, and PhD researcher. Twitter: @CharlotteJD