In an effort to raise money for victims of sexual assault, community members had their bodies marked with ink at the Still Not Asking For It tattoo flash event on Sunday.
Sexual assault victims and their allies gathered from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at La Grande Tattoo located at 1820 NE 2nd St., to choose one of 23 tattoo designs.
Kristyn Lopez, a UF art education graduate student and tattoo artist, co-owns the shop with her husband Jesus Lopez. The shop opened in March, making the Still Not Asking For It event its first formal appearance to the community. Prior to the event, the shop did not accept walk-ins and only tattooed by appointment.
Kristyn Lopez looked forward to the studio’s first event being beneficial for the community.
“We didn’t get to have a grand opening for our new shop,” she said. “It’s great this event serves as an open house in a way that also benefits the community and aligns with our values. The event says a lot about the kind of shop we want to have in the tattoo industry and our community.”
Still Not Asking For It was founded by Ashley Love, 38, in 2015. The nonprofit pairs with tattoo artists around the globe to raise money for organizations working toward awareness, prevention and recovery for sexual assault and rape victims.
Today, co-founding member of events Jessica Fisher, 31, worked alongside Love to raise and donate over $800,000 for victims. She said the event allows survivors to permanently reclaim their bodies.
“Many survivors, not all, who get tattooed at a Still Not Asking For It event express the power they feel when they look at that piece on their body,” Fisher said. “Reclaiming your body as your own is a powerful feeling that many feel is ripped from them during acts of sexual violence.”
The first Still Not Asking For It event was held in Brooklyn, New York and has now expanded to various cities throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and one location in Singapore. The event’s tattoo artist chooses which organization, whether local or national, to raise money for.
Making its way to Gainesville’s art scene, the Sunday event brought in 12 walk-in appointments and raised $1,660 for Peaceful Paths and Chalk Back.
Kristyn Lopez said she chose these organizations because they represent a wide range of services for women.
Peaceful Paths is a certified domestic violence center that aids survivors of domestic violence in Alachua, Bradford and Union counties with a range of services for women, such as victim advocacy, children’s programming, support crisis counseling and more.
In addition, Chalk Back is the parent company of the local organization Catcalls of Gainesville. According to their website, Chalk Back is an “international youth-led movement committed to ending gender-based street harassment with public chalk art, digital media and education.”
The Gainesville chapter was founded in summer 2019 by UF biology student Sam. Due to harassment and online threats directed at the Catcalls of Gainesville Instagram account, she has asked to withhold her last name.
Sam said she’s noticed a lot of women and non-binary femmes experiencing harassment related to their tattoos or “alternative styles” like piercings and brightly colored hair.
“There's an assumption that because a person is tattooed, they're ‘asking for it’ or looking to be approached about their tattoos,” Sam said. “I don't think having brightly colored hair, tattoos, piercings, wearing revealing clothing, being in a bathing suit or fully naked ever means someone is ‘asking for it.’ We must create a consent culture to fight the status quo of rape culture.”
Sam said some people get tattoos to mark milestones or personal parts of their lives like recovering from sexual assault or addiction, remembering a loved one who passed or other symbolic symbols.
“Tattoos are very intimate and it’s not for the male gaze,” Sam said.
In the essence of this, Still Not Asking For It flash events follow certain guidelines and require the artist to submit an application.
The organization commits to transparency with a bill containing 11 rights clients have throughout the tattooing process–Some of these include the right to a clean and comfortable space; the right to equal treatment and service; the right to ask clarifying questions; and the right to be asked for consent about physical contact like the adjusting or removing of clothes
The event’s artist must also take a trauma awareness seminar led by artist Tamara Santibanez, who teaches trauma-informed tattooing as liberation work.
Lopez said it’s important to have these conversations because there isn’t an industry standard or code of ethics for tattoo work.
Julianne Raymond, 29, attended Sunday’s flash event and has received multiple tattoos from Kristyn Lopez and her husband. She thinks the bill of rights provided is a great idea to ensure comfort to a potentially vulnerable experience.
“Tattooing is an intimate experience where someone is constantly touching your skin,” she said. “It’s smart to provide the bill of rights as an educational opportunity.”
Out of the 23 design options, Raymond chose to have the Spanish needle, a white and yellow flower native to Florida, inked on her wrist to show support as an ally for victims of sexual assault.
“I had been itching for a new tattoo, but most importantly, I really appreciate what this event is supporting,” Raymond said. “I get an awesome tattoo, and I get to support great organizations in the community, so it’s a win-win.”
Kristyn Lopez said she’s booking appointments throughout the month of June for those who couldn’t attend the walk-in event but want to support the cause.
Contact Karter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @writtenbykarter