Body Art: An Expression of Masculinity or Femininity?
Evelyn Derus, Honors Psychology, University of Alberta
Supervisor: Dr. C. Baerveldt
- Is body art an expression of femininity or masculinity?
- When examining the BSRI in association to the presence or absence of body art, no significant results were found (X2=1.27,df=3,p=.736).
- When considering the types of body art separately, the BSRI was also not associated with the presence or absence of a tattoo (X2=2.26,df=3,p=.520), or a body piercing (X2=2.19,df=3,p=.534).
- However, when examining whether or not a participant had considered a tattoo or a body piercing, significant results were found.
- Participants who were high on levels of masculinity and androgyny appeared to be more likely to have a tattoo or have considered getting a tattoo. Conversely, those low on these two measures, appeared to be less likely to have a tattoo and to have considered getting a tattoo (p=.030).
- Participants who were high on levels of femininity and androgyny appeared to be more likely to have a body piercing or have considered getting a body piercing. Conversely, those low on these two measures, appeared to be less likely to have a body piercing and to have considered getting one. Although results were not significant (p=.052), it was approaching significance.
- When examining the masculinity scale in regards to tattooing, significant results were found.
- Participants scoring high on levels of masc appeared to be more likely to have a tattoo or have considered getting one (p=.018).
- Males scoring low on the masc scale, appeared to be less likely to have considered a tattoo (p=.005).
Body art is everywhere. Although tattooing and body piercing have been construed as signs of deviance, during the past two decades body art has began to filter into mainstream culture as a popular and effective form of self expression. Tattooing and body piercing have evolved over the years both in the meanings and symbols associated with these acts, as well as the types of customers interested in these practices. The practices of tattooing and body piercing not only challenge dominate notions about the usage of the body, but also challenge rigid cultural standards of beauty, and proper expressions of femininity and masculinity. Body art in the past has been viewed as an act only appropriate for the male body. However, recent research has shown that the female population has increasingly expressed greater interest and intrigue in donning their bodies in tattoos and piercings (Armstrong, 1991).
- Although the BSRI levels were not associated with the presence or absence of body art, interesting results were found when looking at whether or not the participant had considered body art.
Presence of a Tattoo and Tattoo Consideration
n=46 n=47 n=48 n=44
n=46 n=47 n=47 n=44
- When examining levels of femininity and masculinity separately, the masculine scale presented significant and interesting findings in regards to tattoos only. Low, Medium, and High Levels of Masc represent the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles of the masculinity score distribution.
This study explored the intrigue behind body art practices by investigating the association between level of masculinity and femininity and the presence or absence of body art.
- 251 Introductory Psychology University Students
(110 Males, 141 Females)
- Participants completed an online body art questionnaire consisting of four sections: Demographics, Body Art, Tattooing, and Body Piercing
- To assess the participant’s level of masculinity and femininity, participants completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem,1974)
- The BSRI classifies respondents into four groups:
Masculine (High Masculine/Low Feminine)
Feminine (Low Masculine/High Feminine)
Androgynous (High Masculine/High Feminine)
Undifferentiated (Low Masculine/Low Feminine)
n=55 n=105 n=59
n=21 n=47 n=24
This study suggests that although levels of masculinity and femininity are not associated with having body art, masculinity appears to be associated with the consideration of having body art.