Scarlet Letter? Hester’s Lucky She Didn’t Know This Guy..

Thanks to Alexa for this timely, and bizarre, article. It’s kind of like a modern-day “Scarlet Letter”, set in China…with a crazed, knife wielding, jealous lunatic. So, you know..it’s familiar.

The premise? Husband feels as though wife is cheating on him (and has been for some time). In an obvious moment of rational decision-making [rolls eyes], he attacks her, ties her up, and offers her the following choices:

1. Get a vasectomy and stay at home to take care of the children

2. Have her supposed lover give 1 million RMB to the husband (this is the equivalent of about $153,000)

3. They all go to court to solve the problem

4. The husband disfigures her face so that she will be unappealing to anyone else and her infidelity will be known

Raise your hand if number 3 sounds like a pretty good choice. Ok, good. In an equally compelling moment of wisdom, the wife opted for choice #4. If you ever find yourself in this position, you ought to know that the other alternatives turn out to be a bad idea…and that someone is going to go ahead and blog about you.

The victim, Xiaowei

Crazy knife wielding husband cuts the word “degrading” (cheap, lowly..depends on the translation) into both of her cheeks. But that’s not good enough. He proceeds to rub ash and dirt into the wounds. He makes sure she does not leave the house until well after the wounds have begun to get infected and scar, you know, making sure she doesn’t do anything crazy, like clean them out.

He’s in jail, she is disfigured, and I’m still shaking my head. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s got nothing on this story.

As disturbing as the story is, it brings to light another facet of tattoos often overlooked and sometimes forgotten. Tattoos are not always, and have not always been, art choices selected as individual expression. One need only look to the Nazi concentration camps during WWII, or the Russian prisons and Stalinist gulags. Tattoos have been used to mark prisoners, like branding cattle. These tattoos were painfully applied with needles, using ink made from soot and urine. Death was not uncommon.

As much as you can choose to permanently paint your body, that choice can very easily be made by another. When you are stripped of individual power and conscious decision-making, when you become nothing more than property, subject to whatever whim your captor may have, even your skin is no longer yours.

Tattoos have the power to convey your soul, to create art through aesthetic expression. Tattoos also have the power to corrupt, staining the soul or removing individual liberties. For good or for bad, these permanent marks will tell the world a story….

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