A Samoan woman who goes by the name of ‘mystic_malu’ on instagram has posted about the double standards between Samoan men and women when displaying their traditional tattoos.
Describing herself as a modern day Pacific Feminist, ‘Lydia’ as she is known posted, “I find it really interesting (sexist) that Samoan men can show their Pe’a anytime and anywhere with no backlash. Walk around with no shirt? Great! Wear short rugby shorts? Represent! But when a woman with a Malu wants to show her legs, it’s tapu.”
She acknowledged the strong cultural meanings behind traditional tattoos but said that sacredness comes down to the individual – especially when it comes to a woman’s place in today’s evolving world.
“A Malu is a tattoo on a woman’s body, she knows it is sacred – but it’s sacredness is for her, not for you.”
Her opinions drew mixed reactions from Samoans worldwide on social media.
I’m all for women’s right & empowerment BUT this is about tradition & culture. You maybe the canvas BUT o le pe’a ma le malu, o mea na o Samoa. Afai e fia faaali lou tatau, taua ona ka se isi tatau.
“Ka muamua lou guku, fa’akua ka ai lou malu” https://t.co/ggSirAjfMB
— Fuatai (@SiMPLyTai) November 13, 2018
the evolution of women has nothing to do with the cultural practices of the Malu. Your Body but the Malu belongs to Samoa.
— Tim Kruse (@aquaticxmoon) November 12, 2018
& she has a taumalu, ain’t that enough to “embrace” the culture instead of displaying Samoa’s Malu?? smh her opinion is pointless, tryna wave the sexist card is completely pointless!!!
— TODAH (@Kyeehhh) November 10, 2018
This is really interesting. Where he says it belongs to our people and our culture how would it be applied to palagi who get the malu and pe’a? Or the palagi who use our designs on clothes etc?
— Morwenna (@MorwennaPetaia) November 10, 2018
if i wanna show my malu. Ima show it. If i wanna cover my malu. Ima cover it. I said what i said. Ima embrace my culture however i want and don’t need anyone’s approval of it. Thx
— jeffery 🗺 (@luanotjennifer) November 9, 2018
Lydia also features on the documentary Marks of Mana produced by Lisa Taouma which recently won an international award for Best Documentary in Canada.
The documentary will launch on Coconet TV this month.