A kind read sent this on wondering what my response would be. It’s easy enough to report my initial response: Yuck! Apparently I’m the last person in the country who finds extensive and very visible tattooing indecorous to the point of repulsion, and I’m not impressed by a tattooed librarian. And the only thing less impressive than a tattooed librarian is an entire calendar full of them. Go ahead, call me a prude. It wouldn’t be the worst thing you’ve ever called me.
I have to admit I was mesmerized by the web page, though. Surprise and disgust turned into bafflement and disbelief. There just seems to be so much wrong with this entire idea. I’m working under the assumption that in addition to raising money, the calendar also aims to dispel librarian stereotypes. It doesn’t say this outright, but it does seem to be one intention.
That in itself is enough to annoy me. What’s so bad about librarian stereotypes? In some cases it’s absolutely true. When I remove my glasses and shake the bun from my hair, I am a sex goddess, and a tattoo would only ruin the effect. How many professions attract sexual fetishists, after all. It’s not like people conjure up images of engineers and say, "when he removed those coke-bottle glasses and that pocket protector, he was like a god!"
But back to the calendar. Let’s begin with the title: "The Tattooed Ladies of TLA." Why are there no tattooed men of TLA? There must be some male librarians down in Texas, and it being Texas and all surely plenty of them have tattoos. And why is it "ladies" instead of "women"? I hate that. Maybe they want to associate themselves with painted ladies (the houses, not the hussies), but then they’d need some librarians as big as houses. Those shouldn’t be too hard to find. The advertisement says, "Libraries thrive on and promote diversity and freedom of expression. The Tattooed Ladies ofTLA calendar is a testament to both." Uh huh. Having no men and calling the librarians "ladies" seems to me to promote sexist stereotypes more than diversity. But that’s just me.
It’s that "promoting diversity" baloney that makes me think this is one of those attempts to fight librarian stereotypes. These librarians aren’t prim and proper! They won’t shush you! They’re diverse! This isn’t just a big group of mostly white women. This is a big group of mostly white women with tattoos! However, they are fighting the stereotype of diversity propaganda. When institutions want to promote how diverse they are, they usually have pictures with at least some token African-American representation. University publicity sites love to have photos showing the harmony of ebony and ivory on their campuses. The closest this page comes is one Latina. Stereotypical diversity propaganda shows many people of many colors, but the tattooed ladies calendar dispels that stereotype by proclaiming how diverse a bunch of white, female librarians are.
They’re certainly not fighting the stereotype of librarians as behind the times, though. I mean, seriously, a print calendar? Who uses those things anymore? They say "forget those predictable calendars with cute puppies and nature photographs," but who would buy print calendars with cute puppies on them anyway? If the answer is librarians, I don’t want to know, because it would only depress me.
This is a fundraiser for the TLA Library Disaster Relief Fund, and I’m sure they need the money. Maybe librarians who look like biker chicks are a hot commodity down in Texas, and they know their audience. Obviously I’m out of their demographic, though, because I’d gladly pay $20 not to have to look at any tattooed librarians. Fortunately, I can usually do that for free.