Last month, R&B artist, Brandy, had the Hindu god, Ganesh, inked onto her forearm. Soon after, she posted images of the new design to Twitter before her tattoo artist, Peter Koskela, finished work. Subsequently, fans from around the globe (most of whom are accustomed to the intact male) commented that it looked a bit too phallic. So Koskela decided to change it. "I wanted to fix the offending tip... remove the whole phallic aspect. I told [Brandy] I'd just swing it upwards."
And this week, that is just what Koskela did by adding flower pedals over the bulbous elephant trunk, turning it upwards, and making it smaller. What is slightly interesting, slightly disturbing, is the way that the pop culture media responded - first by agreeing with non-U.S. critic that the trunk was indeed "too much like [intact] male genitalia" and then speaking of the inked art as an imperfect, over-sexualized, man who needed "fixing."
"Brandy’s elephant tattoo resembled a pornographic 'man package'..." -Examiner
"[Brandy's tattoo] needed some work done to it, in fact one might say it needed to be circumcised." -Examiner
"Hopefully, a mohel was present at the time." -TMZ
"Brandy's elephant tattoo was officially emasculated this week..." -TMZ
"...before and after the penis nose!" -InCaseYouDidn'tKnow
"Brandy's tattoo gets circumcised!" -Examiner
"The artist decided to snip the tip." -TMZ
"The tattoo has been fixed, with a snip of the tip!" -Examiner
"...the elephant has been emasculated." -HipHopWire
Hmmm... not that the trunk on Brandy's Ganesh tattoo makes much of a difference to anything, but when are we going to start loving and celebrating the normal male body, rather than clinging to this myth that all U.S. boys are born innately disfigured and in need of 'fixing'? What good can this possibly do to boys' and men's self-image? And when are we going to start paying attention to those who do speak up (and are informed) and tell us how it makes them feel?
I can't help but wonder... how would this play out if Brandy's tattoo had looked a little too much like the vulva? Would it too need to be 'circumcised'? Would we joke and lend analogy to FGM? Likely not... And our boys deserve the same respect of their whole bodies.
Within Hinduism, Ganesh is the god of success, destroyer of evils and remover of obstacles. He is revered as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. A few important things we could probably use a bit more of these days...
Brandy shows off her new tattoo with ink artist, Peter Koskela