"INK MASTER" Lesson in Feminist Strategy

Lesson in Feminist Strategy

HOW INK MASTER BECAME AN UNEXPECTED LESSON IN FEMINIST STRATEGY: America didn’t get its first woman president this year. That title went to a reality TV star instead. But on reality TV tonight, odds are that America will get its first woman Ink Master—contestants Kelly Doty and Ryan Ashley Malarkey are two of the three finalists. And if it happens, it will very likely be because the women on the show took a hint from the Obama administration.

This season #INKMASTER went from TV’s most masculine reality shows to the home of a Feminist uprising... The women on the Spike TV show formed an alliance that systematically worked to highlight each other’s strengths and pack the finale with as many women as possible. It was an example of “amplification,” which holds that women can help each other’s voices be heard in masculine environments by supporting and highlighting each other. The tactic recently made headlines when the women of President Obama’s cabinet told the world they employed it to have their voices heard in the White House. Ironically, that kind of amplification was exactly what Hillary Clinton didn’t receive. READ FULL ARTICLE VIA WIRED.COM

The eighth season of the tattoo reality competition Ink Master (subtitled as Ink Master: Peck vs. Nuñez) premiered on August 23, 2016 on Spike. A sneak peek premiered during the live season 7 finale.

Unlike the previous seasons, this season features Oliver Peck and Chris Núñez going head-to-head for the first time in Ink Master history where thirty artists battle for a spot on either Peck's team or Núñez's team with both teams consisting a total of 9 artists each. Major changes were also included for season 8. Not only does the winner receive the usual prizes which includes $100,000, a feature in Inked magazine and the title of Ink Master, but will also receive a guest spot at their team captain's shop.

The first seven episodes will feature each team battling their own members in an elimination-style competition for a spot in the top five. Then, both teams battle each other until its down to one artist on Team Peck and one artist on Team Núñez.

The current season started with 18 tattoo artists, five of whom were women. This alone is notable; while more women artists are entering the growing industry, there is hardly gender parity. In Ink Master’s eight seasons, a woman has never won. Ask most tattoo aficionados to name a single female tattoo artist and they’ll say one name: Kat Von D, who came from Ink Master judge Chris Nunez’s shop in Miami and turned her penchant for drama and portraiture into a successful career, on TV and on human flesh. So having as many women on this season of Ink Master was significant to begin with—and it’s what enabled the women to amplify, according to University of Illinois at Chicago feminist scholar Veronica Arreola.

Ink Master Season 8

“First, you need enough women ho want to do this, who don’t want to be out on their own, who don’t want to continue to play according to the old-boys’-network rules,” says Arreola.   

“When women start to support other women, the backlash erases everything else about that woman,” says Arreola. “It becomes about supporting women for women’s sake—as opposed to supporting women because they are smart and capable.”

But as the women in President Obama’s White House made clear, to make it in a man’s world, women need to work together. The women of Ink Master understood that and owned up to it. They fought in heels, with perfect makeup that matched their face tattoos—and tonight, one of them just might win.


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Emily Dreyfuss 

Emily Dreyfuss

Emily Dreyfuss is WIRED's News and Opinion editor. She edits WIRED Security, WIRED Opinion, and morning news.


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