Pop Media 'Circumcises' Brandy's Ganesh Tattoo

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


  1. Urgh. People are really okay with demonizing and pathologizing the sight of a penis, even something that just vaguely resembles a penis? And we wonder why people are willing to snip away healthy tissue on newborn boys.

  2. Sheesh! Why change your design over peoples comments? And why be offended?

  3. I gotta say - - - the original looks better than the "fix" - - - and I guess I'm weird, but I didn't see the phallic image until I thought about it for a second. It looked like um, an elephant trunk. Come ON, people! I say it all the time, but man, our culture is seriously messed up when it comes to sexualizing things. I'm with Carla. "And we wonder why we are able to [allow] taking healthy tissue off of newborn boys" . . . totally backwards!

  4. roger desmoulinsJanuary 30, 2011 4:09 PM

    Assuming that the topmost image is "before" and the one below is "after," Ganesh's trunk looked circumcised before, and then was given a leafy g string. Before the internet, the before image would not have mattered except that it would have caused some giggling and crossed legs among readers of certain fan mags. With the internet, images like this can "go viral," and damage your career.

    Thank you, Danelle, for explaining how Ganesh is a good fellow.

    It is a bit surprising that intactivism has yet to make a mark on popular culture. The reason may be that outside of the USA, people don't see what the fuss is about. Within the USA, nonJewish sophisticates are largely intactivists, Jewish sophisticates are made very uncomfortable by intactivism, and the unsophisticated are polarised.

    There is an Australian show called The Puppetry of the Penis, written by two youngish Australian blokes. No one under 18 admitted. The actors come out wearing capes, joke a bit with the audience, than doff the cape, revealing that they are nekked as jaybirds. One major role requires a cut actor, the other an intact one. I cannot say more, as I have not seen this play; my wife and only go to family entertainment, you see...

  5. All I have to say is "oh brother...". Really?! A penis? I don't see it, nor do I see the big deal even if it did look like one. People can be a bit phallocentric.




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