The "Cattoo:" A New Symbol To Challenge Sexual Assault

Nov 17, 2016


In response to the tapes of Donald Trump’s locker room talk, Utah tattoo artists are taking a stand against sexual assault. During an event called “Can’t Grab This! Pussycat Tattoos Against Sexual Assault!” owners and workers from two Wasatch Front tattoo parlors inked images of cats on a crowd of fellow supporters.

The supporters gathered on a sidewalk in busy downtown Salt Lake City. Madeline Roberts and Macy Keith waited in a crowd for their names to be called. They weren’t the only ones standing in line hoping to help raise money and awareness about the issues they say has surfaced during this year’s presidential elections. They will take on a permanent symbol against sexual assault - a pussy cat.

“It’s going to help combat sexual assault, just by raising awareness," Roberts said. "I think word of mouth is really going to help too."

Mermaid and Pokemon cats or a sleek outline of a feline are some of the more popular pussycat tattoos.

“I think a lot of people are going to be like, ‘Oh, I like that cat tattoo,’" says Roberts. "And to be like, ‘I actually got this at a fundraiser for the Rape Recovery Center.’ I think a lot of people don’t even know we have a Rape Recovery Center in Utah. I had some friends who didn’t even know before today.”

Six artists tattooed nearly 140 people for free, with nearly five times that number of people showing up to take a stand against sexual assault. The event was planned by one of the tattoo artists after hearing President-elect Trump say objectifying comments about assaulting women. The event raised over $4,300 for the Rape Recovery Center in Utah. Keith agrees with Roberts that the body art will draw attention to the cause.

“We are seeing that sexual assault is a really big case right now," says Keith. "But also we are seeing where the sexual assault starts - in the sexist mentality and this very misogynistic and possessive attitude. It’s going to be something that we as a nation need to address.”

Tattoos are often used to express a person’s individuality. Tattoos are also used to make statements, in this case, “Pussycats Against Sexual Assault.” Roberts is looking forward to sharing the message of consent through this personal art form.

“This will be my fourth tattoo - and honestly, so far it’s going to be the most important to me," she says. "I really like it. I love the way that people choose their tattoos as a way to express themselves. If you look around today, you see a lot of people with some crazy tattoo ideas that you would never even think of and you look at them and think, ‘Wow, that must mean a lot to that person.’”

And for Keith, her body art is a way for her to express a viewpoint to others in a peaceful way.

“Art has an amazing impact on people," she said. "Because of the way people can interpret it differently. And artists can create this beautiful masterpiece of whatever it is and give you a very vague title. And then people start extrapolating it and they start talking about it. And that gives room for not only the artist to express what they feel but also for the viewer or the consumer or whatever title that is for them to explore that within themselves.”

Personal and group protests, social media forums, and even cattoo's are some of the many forms of expression we’ve seen following this month’s elections, meant to help bring attention to the topic of sexual assault.