Snowflake: A story of tattoos and insults

So, very important fact about me: I got my first tattoo at the age of 26, and it is 2 small snowflakes on my right wrist. I got it in December of 2016.

You may be wondering why anyone on earth aside from me (and my mum) would care about whether I choose to get a tattoo and what it is, but the reason I am telling you this is because before 2016, I had never heard the word “snowflake” used as an insult. I had however gotten very used to it as a term of endearment and nickname from someone who means a great deal to me, and I had always thought that if I was ever brave to get a tattoo I would get a snowflake because it is feminine, meaningful and I just like it.

This article does a much better job of explaining the intricacies of the origin of snowflake as an insult, but in summary, snowflakes are used as an insult because actual snowflakes don’t withstand heat, are considered feminine, and finally, all snowflakes are unique.

The usage of snowflake as an insult is definitely not new but it has seen a resurgence in recent times and has spread with the aid of the internet and the global nature of media we currently experience.

Historically speaking, in the United States as early as the 1860’s, snowflake was used as an insult. In this particular context it referred to people who opposed the abolition of slavery, it was used because it implied that these people viewed white people as more important than black people.

Cue 2016 and the frankly surprising election of Donald Trump and suddenly everyone who disagreed with him was a snowflake or “sad” or any number of insults from his infamous twitter tirades (I’ve linked to his entire twitter there because frankly there’s such a constant stream of juvenile insults that I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you’ll find one of his dummy spits within seconds).

This insult caught on with such a vehemence that it was impossible to avoid it and I quickly realised that my tattoo was going to garner more than admiring looks, it was going to result in snickers about how I must be an easily triggered SJW. The thing is, I am absolutely, undeniably a Social Justice Warrior and I am so proud of it. The notion that fighting for social justice is supposed to be embarrassing or shameful is merely a tool used by the far right to shame those who stand up and oppose racist/homophobic/sexist/transphobic policies, speeches and actions by those in positions of power and the global community.

I refuse to bow down to the social and peer pressure that is increasingly present in my life to be silent when I see injustice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am angry, I am furious at the state of the world. When people I know and love are being threatened every day, you bet your ass I am going to stand up and be as loud as I can, but more than that, even if I didn’t know a single person being affected by the current political climate I would stand up and say that what is happening is categorically wrong and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen. When my own country is interning refugees and asylum seekers indefinitely, leading them to commit self harm or suicide or go on prolonged hunger strikes out of sheer desperation, I will stand up and fight for them, because the government of my country has silenced them so effectively it is frightening.

When the government of my country aligns itself with Donald Trump and continually announces itself as an ally of the US government, I will stand tall and say that they are not my government. I refuse to ally myself with a man like Donald Trump who has been accused of sexual assault no less than 15 times since the 1980’s, who has promised to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to prevent people crossing the border, who has incited racial and religious hatred through his comments about Islam, black people, and women.

I will be an ally to those who need it, those who are being oppressed and treated unfairly in a new political climate driven by fear, ignorance and bigotry.

I will proudly wear my snowflake tattoo because even though it didn’t start as a signal for being an SJW, it sure as shit has morphed into one, and I’m proud of that. I will always fight for Social Justice.

 

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