”Women must give birth, men have to be tattooed,” says one Samoan tattoo song, expressing an age-old idea of equality between the sexes. Both must endure pain. In traditional Samoan society all young males had to be tattooed when they reached their late teens. Otherwise they were not considered real men. Nowadays, the custom is no longer general, but it is still associated with manhood and male prestige, and hugely popular.

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