“These tattoos were designed as a whole and covered the back and both arms down as far as the forearms; and the middle of the chest, the upper abdomen and the throat and face were all left bare on the males though the womenfolk were tattooed all over, even their faces, in order to cause them more suffering, for they believed that women were born only to suffer” (172).
The tattoos were the way the males in the centaur society put the women in their place. The tattoos represented the traditional woman roles in the society, and by noting the pain that the tattoos caused we know that the women were meant to suffer. This coupled with the gruesome rape of Albertina and Desiderio’s pleasure allowed by the centaurs further advances the notion that the centaurs were a male-based society. What is interesting is that Carter writes this male-based society as very animalistic. The centaur is half man half beast, and the only events that occur around the centaurs are sexual or painful in nature. By making the interaction with these half-men be very instinctual Carter seems to be almost poking fun at traditional manliness by taking the nature of men to an extreme to show their oppressive ways.