I never saw a woman with a tattoo until I started hanging out in Winnipeg's gay bars in the mid-1980s. Occasionally, old-school 1950s butches would show up with tattooed forearms like the men of their generation had. Younger dykes would have feminist tats on their biceps or shoulders -- woman power symbols (with or without fists), Amazon labryses (double-headed axes), stuff like that.
Lesbians led the way in popularizing tattoos for women. Long before it became a mainstream fashion, lesbians loved tats for their edgy, defiant, gender-bending vibe. When I first came out, getting a matching tattoo with your lover was a popular way to demonstrate "family ties" before our relationships had any legal status. Barbed wire and Celtic knotwork armbands circling a bicep were favourite lesbian choices at that time too. Eventually tribal tattoos were all the rage. And so on and so on.
[Tomorrow's post: will our heroine get a tattoo?]