Body Piercing: Reclamation, Enhancement, and Self-Expression Essay

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Body Piercing:

Reclamation, Enhancement, and Self-Expression

by

Jason C. Hillman

In America the practice of body piercing is everywhere, especially among young people. who are getting several parts of their bodies pierced either as an affirmation of their personal individuality, as a means of sexual gratification or stimulation, a reclamation of their bodies from physical or emotional trauma, or for as a means of adornment. Whateverthe reason, it's widespread. Body piercing is the piercing of the ears, nose, septum, cheeks, lip, tongue, nipples, navel, clitoris, labia, penis, and scrotum. Says California State University anthropologist James Myers, Ph.D. body piercing is "possibly as old as genus Homo." (Todd, Richard, p.1) Body
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Most accomplished piercers stress the importance of stringent cleanliness in the piercing environment. All piercing needles are used once and thrown away, usually into biohazard buckets, which are then removed by companies experienced in the disposal of medical waste. Materials which must be reused are autoclaved between each use (an autoclave is a device used to sterilize medical equipment) andthe autoclaves themselves are evaluated quarterly for efficiency (Alexander, p.2). There is also the organization known as the Association of Professional Piercers (A.P.P.), which helps keep the practice of body piercing safe.

For many, the motivation behind body piercing is highly sexual. Says one piercer with the A.P.P., "the act of piercing carries in and of itself a heady sexual component". (Alexander, p.1) This is one primary reason behind nipple and genital piercings. When the nipples or genitals are pierced the entire are becomes more sensitive. This is a delight for some piercees. Indeed, genital piercing in America was incubated in gay Sado-Masochistic circles. a 1985 survey of Piercing Fans International Quarterly (a popular piercing magazine published by the Gauntlet, America's first major body piercing studio) subscribers stated that 57 percent of its subscribers engaged in dominant-submissive play, which is itself the signature practice of Sado-Masochism (Wattenberg, Daniel, p.1). Interestingly enough, a third of the people surveyed also reported having

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