Next Time They Threaten To Fire You… Sue Them!

This might apply only to the Japanese society.
Or it might apply to your society as well… I don’t know, I’ve been living for so long in Japan, I kinda forgot how these things went in other countries…

Thing is, even now — XXIth Century — young people are threatened (and not only threatened) to be fired for having tattoos. Oh, yeah, just like that! Hard to believe, heh? Well it is true and, in my 9 years here, I’ve encountered it so many times I can’t remember, both from people who ask me to make sure the tattoo fits above the lower margin of the t-shirt sleeve (or, for that matter, above the lower margin of the average above-the-knee skirt) and from people who were either forced to wear clothes in such a fashion as to hide their tattoos or got literally fired.

They’re not a majority, most of the young Japanese nowadays aren’t afraid to show their tattoos and aren’t bothered with the fear of loosing the job, but they do exist, in large numbers, say, approximately 2 out of 5 people I get to tattoo.

I’m not going to dissect and analyze all the reasons and motivations behind this — they range from local policies every place of work maintains (especially activities that involve working with the customers directly, such as restaurants and stores) to simply “this is how it is, can’t bother taking responsibility for this” statements…

What I want to talk about — and I’m going to make it short — is what these young people ought to do, should they be faced with such situations.

Which, in my opinion, is very simple and straightforward: sue them. Sue the bosses, the owners, the managers. If they threaten you, make sure you have a whitness and then sue them. Or threaten to sue them. They threaten you, you threaten them back.

For discrimination. For marginalization.

You can’t sue them for being a bunch of assholes and you definitely cannot head-butt them or crack a chair on their already-bent spines, no matter how much this appeals to you in those moments.

You shouldn’t bow to their demands and wear longer-sleeved shirts or skirts either! Because it’s not fair and it’ll only feed their status-based self-esteem and allow them to do it again and again, to others like you.

I always tell my clients — those whom I sensed fearing this issue — to refuse the stupid rules they’re forced to follow and to not allow to be threatened by their superiors.

Sexual harassment had seen its death when — fortunately — women gained enough strength to make a stand for themselves and tell the patrimonial society that they must be respected and treated as equals.
An army of virtuous lawyers helped, mass-media helped, the evolution of society in general helped (not talking about Japan here, their society is still force-kept in a pre-war, medieval state).

Racial and sexual orientation -related discrimination is still an actual issue, but people do make a stand for themselves, helped by the very same lawyers, mass-media and evolving society.
And they’re going to put an end to racism and homophobism (I wish I could say “religion fanaticism” too, but — unfortunately — this is not something I’m going to be basking in during my lifetime).

So why not?
Why discrimination against methods of self-expression (such as tattooing, body piercing and fashion) can’t be brought to its end?
I can see no reason at all.

So I say: next time your manager, boss, shop-owner or any superior threatens to fire you because you won’t comply with their stupid rules and hide your tattoos, sue them.
Threaten them back with a law suit and, if they still won’t pull their heads out of their asses, sue them.
Send e-mails and letters to newspapers and TV, gather friends to support you and then sue the bastards! Don’t let them dictate what you should or shouldn’t do, especially when it doesn’t have any connection whatsoever with your ability to do your job as anyone else.

Same applies to not being allowed to use a gym or swimming pool for the same reasons.
Sue them, make them understand they’re wrong and they can’t just treat you as if they owned you.

This is the XXIth Century, for fuck’ sake, we don’t need or have to obey anymore!
All these self-righteous, censorship-loving, spineless hypocrites need to understand that we won’t join them in their oblivious, 9 to 5, obedient, complacent so-called “life style”.

Or head-butt them and look for another job, if you hate lawyers like I do :D

3 thoughts on “Next Time They Threaten To Fire You… Sue Them!”

  1. Dali, I totally hear your rant man. Especially cause you are an artist, and your work in Japan is sought-after but it’s also loaded with social implications. As you pointed out, those who get tattoos are most always concerned that it will impact their lives here.

    It might not go as heavy as being fired. But, and I can certanly vouch for that, you will not get into any gyms, pools or hot springs in this country at least.

    That’s my case. I came to Tokyo for work and I am appalled at the fact that I can’t go to gyms with tattoos showing. In my case it’s damn hard cause I have 2 on my skull and 3 on my forearm. Big ones.

    I don’t want to work out looking like a mummy, or having to wear a hat. Fuck that.

    At the same time, Japan is one of the only countries that truly discriminate against different people and it’s considered ok. Lots of establishments don’t accept foreigners here. Imagine a bar with the sign “no Asians” in NYC or something. It would be burned down!

    I can’t complain because I love the Japanese, there’s so much amazing stuff going on and the society as a while is so damn polite and respectful. But I canät close my eyes to discriminatory stuff.

    And – jesus christ. I do understand if I am a gaijin and I enter a bar that fits 8 poeple and I can’t speak japanese. I am a nuissance for that establishment. I see that. Ok, cool. Tell me not to gome in.

    And I also see that is a 50-year-ols Sony executive meets me and takes a look at my skull tattoo, he will probably associate my company with that. Sad but true.

    But…

    Going to the gym? Sweating under a bench press? Who cares? Am I representing anything that? Is it reminiscent of Yakuza shit? Or is it just that they find it “unclean”?

    I am puzzled.

    I mentioned that I was going to gover my tattoos up and head to the gym anyway – but I decided against it. I will instead run around the city, showing my beautiful tattoos off. :)

  2. Hey, Andre, thanks for dropping by!
    How’s it going? Have you found any gym in the area?

    In contemporary Japan — and pretty much in any other non-democratic country — complaining against this kind of stuff is like flogging a dead horse… They won’t hear you and, even if they will, they’ll shrug and pass the blame to their superior in the office and so on, where you can’t follow. These people who run things aren’t interested in issues like “discrimination”, “marginalization” or “user-friendliness”, because these concepts are from a plane they’ve never stepped onto.
    It’s like trying to ask a christian or a mason why women can’t hold high ranks in their organizations; they’ll understand the words, but they won’t understand the sentences :)

    As for the reasons they won’t allow you to use a gym — although I’m trying to avoid this because it makes a standalone topic in itself — they are pretty straightforward and simple, if you read between the lines. You will only get the “because other customers might feel uncomfortable”, but what they actually mean is “other customers might think you are a member of the yakuza and be afraid of you”.
    Which is pretty stupid — to say the least — because, for starters, the kind of tattoos the yakuza dudes sport are very different, in size, design and style, from 95% of the tattoos young people have nowadays, not mentioning that you won’t see yakuza guys going to a regular gym…

    No mentioning the fact that a non-Japanese person CANNOT be an yakuza member, which is so obvious that you have to wonder whether the guys who wrote those rules have a brain in their skulls or just a pile of shit to balance the weight…

    So yeah, basically, they deny you access because other customers might think you are an yakuza guy, get afraid of you and stop using the respective gym.

    Anyway, as I said, complaining is rather useless and a waste of your time and energy, because the person at the reception desk is nothing but a clerk — who follows a set of rules jotted by somebody else taking notes from a rich dinosaur — and they will shrug at you and suggest long sleeves and shit.

    But protesting — making a little bit of noise, blogging — might give some results.
    In the long run, most likely, but the more people hear and propagate your protest, the more chances you’ll have to change something.
    It’s no fun to be in a situation like this and I really sympathize with you.

    I do hope you find a gym you can use without bending under this stupid rule and yeah, man! fuck’em all, don’t cover your tattoos. They’re part of you and they’re art, there’s no reason to hide them just because a dumbass doesn’t get it…

    And don’t give up.
    I never do.


    P.S.: Speaking of discrimination in the Japanese society, did you know that nowadays (TWENTY FIRST FUCKING CENTURY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!) they have women-only cars on 95% of the metro trains in Tokyo?
    That’s right, almost every subway train in Tokyo has one car which men are not allowed to get in!

    To protect women from sexual harassment — they say :)

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