Manuela Soto tattoos hentai porn on people

Cat calls, beauty standards, reproductive rights, rape culture, objectification in media – the list of the ways women’s bodies are heavily policed goes on forever. It has always been simultaneously shamed and put up on a pedestal. Let’s face it, pussy runs everything, it is the LITERAL axis of visual advertising, oppression, sex, and the origin of human life – shout out to all the moms out there.

For some reason, the dehumanization and objectification of women is so easily overlooked in the name of art. You can look through your IG explore page for proof and you can even look back through the centuries of art history that our world has to offer. That doesn’t mean all art concerning a naked woman isn’t empowering, but too often women are painted, drawn, or photographed by men for men.

Female artists have always clapped back, reclaiming their image in innovative ways. We sat down with our girl Manuela Soto (better known as @soto.gang) to talk about how she’s turning hentai porn into something that women can find strength in. Check it out below…

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Where did the idea to start tattooing hentai inspired girls come from?

I’ll start by saying I’ve been experiencing sexual abuse since a young age and that has definitely shaped my mind into thinking the way I do today. I went thru my teenage years feeling like my shapes could put me in danger anytime, that my body didn’t belong to me. As far as I can remember, sexuality has always been complex and a subject of research to me. I naturally came across the hentai imagery – the sweaty, voluptuous curves and amazing color scheme. I instantly fell in love with it but as I digged deeper into it, I was shocked by the abusive and rapey aspect of hentai porn.

It woke up something in me, I recognized myself in it.

I tried to develop a style that would represent the pride I feel when seeing such a beautiful representation of a woman’s body and switching the message to something empowering.I have a lot of women asking me for their self-portrait, it helps them heal. It is actually very therapeutic. My feeling is that every victim of abuse is trying to get their power back, whether physical or moral.

Why do you think your work caught on so well online? Since your work is inspired by things that cultivated heavy audiences on the internet, Do you think that without social media and the internet it would have?

I was definitely one of the first female tattoo artists that came out of the “no school” wave; meaning people tattooing without training or apprenticeship. This trend opened the world to a whole new different approach on tattoos, it didn’t have to be pretty anymore, that was a big change in the industry.

I posted my first flash sheet on Instagram in 2014, it was literally a f*cked up Sailor moon, an uzi and a Nike swoosh. Same year, GhettoNails found my IG and invited me to tattoo at their pop-up at Art Basel and since then, it has never stopped. For sure wouldn’t be where I’m at without social media! Instagram is my office, I know how to make that thing work and run my business good but it’s a LOT of work to stay relevant to your customer and keep yo shit poppin everyday.

What do you think about women’s role in pornography in general? Why is what you’re doing different?

I’ve always felt like women have all the power, that’s why men are seeing prostitutes, going to the strip clubs and watching porn on the daily like they tryna return to the womb lol. We run this.. pussy rules money, money rules the world but it is all about power dynamics. Of course like any industry there is abuse and violence.. free porn websites are making girls lose mad bread too, we gotta find new ways around it to support women but I couldn’t talk much as I ain’t a part of it. The difference with my work is that I see it as a therapeutic way to get your right over your body and sexuality back, I’m a woman working for women and LGBTQ+, the money stays in our community and to me it’s a very important aspect to any business.

How do you think that women’s bodies in art and pornography have shaped beauty ideals for women ? How do you think they impacted you?

I personally feel like porn provides women of all shapes and colors, also plenty of bad angles and funny faces which made me realize nobody can be perfect at all times lol.. It is self love to find beauty in your flaws. But of course I’m impacted by beauty standards! My stomach is as big as my butt! I’m out here eating chips in bed in my waist trainer, scrolling thru IG models making me wonder if I should buy this damn flat tummy tea.

Sexualizing women’s bodies is easy to justify in the name of art, it’s happened through the centuries and even become one of the most common ways to advertise products that have nothing to do with women’s bodies. Your work seems to be providing a different narrative other than just a woman’s body through the eyes of a man or for the eyes of a man. What are you trying to say with the women you draw? How do you hope your work inspires others or changes the game?

I hope to give a positive message, I don’t think I would be that successful if it was anything else, my work is inclusive, honest, I see my tattoos as therapeutic for me and my customers, women feel the need to re-appropriate their femininity in a tough way… getting a lady tattooed used to be reserved for horny sailors and prisoners. I also just released my first unisex collection “Goddess” under Dawn, it’s another way to help people realize that we need to trust and respect women; Goddesses, we are the feeders, the healers, we forgive and love unconditionally. I hope we can spread this message and change mentalities little by little.

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What do you think the differences are between the male gaze and the female gaze in art is?

I don’t like to make gender comparisons because we are all a 50/50 male and female entity, it’s a matter of balance.

Why do you think female nudity is held so high in the art world but also so taboo like when nipples are censored and women’s pictures are taken down off IG but there are millions of pictures of women being objectified?

This is such a complicated subject, I think it just shows the hypocrisy that’s going on in our society. If it’s profiting big companies, as long as we can be used to make bread like we see in advertising, it works, but a natural representation of a woman body or public breast-feeding is still a shame?

Do you think that women should go along with the societal notion that women’s bodies are works of art? 

Definitely! Proof is the way woman body has been represented through centuries, not only in a physical way but also marks societal facts, like times of hunger made big woman appealing and booming economies made slim secretary with a full cleavage the new fantasy. Obviously, I’m speaking in the societal eye. A body isn’t much without a little soul to it, I see art in a woman’s hips when she walks, I see grace in her smile and tears. I truly believe beauty is a body/soul package.

What do you have to say about the judgement women face on a day to day basis about their appearance?

I’d love to be like “Do your thing shawty, nobody can tell you shit!!” cause I feel that way and I’m so very sick and tired of having to imagine how hard my day gon be if I leave the house with my titties out but we live in a world that loves to put women down. Always be alert, live your life to the fullest but keep an eye out at all times, practice your mean look, don’t be scared to be loud, to bark at anyone who tries to put you down, you’ll be an example and see other women stand right by you.

Have you ever had any experiences on social media or witnessed any where you felt that someone was being judgmental/sexist towards a picture of a woman’s body?

All the damn time! I swear I used to call out on all motherfuckers making sexist comments on random people’s pictures, I’d be beefin 24/7, it’s exhausting and you obviously can’t make a change that way. The most shocking was to see girls posting cute and empowering pictures of themselves with the #metoo hashtag and people would still hate and participate in shaming girls. It’s cool to be thicc but you gotta have your “stomach on flat flat” …what about my double chin tho? Stretch marks on the booty are cool now (shout out Kendrick) but what about on arms and belly? Yes to girls growing armpit hair but what about the ones with a lil mustache or hairy forearm?

Girls on IG are starting to post more selfies in an effort to make a space for body positivity and female empowerment free of men’s opinions. How do you think social media has the potential to help girls free themselves from impossible beauty standards? Do you think your work is a part of this?

I appreciate body positive accounts so much, it will definitely make a change for future generations and it already does! It is important for young girls to have role models, so without even knowing it we already building stronger girls by being as real as we can. I receive a crazy amount of beautiful messages from girls who feel empowered by the type of bodies I draw, showing them you can make it in a man’s world, be affluent and get your coins but also being honest about trauma and healing.

That being said, what are your thoughts on apps like facetune? Photoshopping selfies and OOTD pics is so common, do you think it’s contributing to a problem?

There will always be a girl walking down the street with the perfect hair or the body you want, competition is not only online. Even the Kardashians are retouching their pictures because they have a lil something they not proud of and it shows we are only human… if slimming your waist makes you wanna post picture of you, I say go, feel good about yourself.

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Photos by Jacqueline Kulla

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