Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Goths are Close-minded.

Goths have a reputation for being open minded. If you see a testimonial about Goths from the perspective of a Goth, chances are they will talk about how open minded and accepting the culture is of anything you want to do. Even the Urban Dictionary definition touts this, adding that we "also seen to be more open minded to other cultures, sexualities etc." However, after a visit to the Goth Confessions tumblr, my faith in Goth's reputation as the most accepting subculture to ever sail the seven seas has waned somewhat. So, let's talk bout it.

Source: Tumblr

I can think of multiple issues that have arisen again and again in the subculture that have to deal with acceptance. One of which that comes immediately to mind is the issue of Goths of Color. Why this is an issue, I'm not sure. I've never met a Goth who has said that if you are not white you cannot be a Goth, but I chalk that up to me not being friends with racists, not to everyone in the subculture being inherently open to all races and colors. After all someone, and apparently multiple someones, had to start the controversy. There has to be racism in the subculture somewhere.

The image that I chose for this article is the image that actually sparked this whole debate. From the Goth Confessions tumblr, this lovely bit of slut shaming goes to show that the subculture cannot escape its own human instinct to express preference over other people's clothing and say that one style is better than another. The evolution of the subculture has sparked a fair amount of controversy, including what is now deemed Goth clothing, but I'm fairly sure that miniskirts have always existed in the subculture. However, since the Romantigoth clothing style reigned supreme for a time and was then overtaken by Death Rock (miniskirts galore!) this has caused a lot of issues. Of course, maybe I was overreacting by calling this picture slut shaming. If you interpret it as just a preference of clothing style, then you have to admit that people have their preferences which they will inevitably express at some point. That doesn't make us particularly open-minded, does it?

Beyond the clothing debates, there is the in-scene fighting. Oh yes, you know the type. CyberGoths aren't real Goths, Batcavers have their heads tucked up where the sun don't shine, anyone who likes Nine Inch Nails has to be a poser. Even the argument about whether the subculture is more founded in clothes or music can have Goths tearing at each other with black-painted talons. If your interpretation is different than someone else's, the argument can heat up pretty quickly. "But they're wrong!" is the chant for these people, and I've seen it ruin multiple acquaintances.

Even outside our own culture, it's not hard to find Goths trashing other subcultures or groups. Emos and Juggalos seem to be prime targets, and anyone who decides that tanning is a pretty fun thing to do. ("But skin cancer!" they cry, puffing on their clove cigarettes.) If they aren't us, they're "normals" or "mundanes." After all, we were enlightened in the darkness. We've been known to roll our eyes and say that Punk is dead or that scene kids really need to get a hair cut and stop with the bad poetry (as we were told by the Punks way back when, I imagine.)

Of course, the ever debated sexuality of the subculture comes to mind at this point. Some people are quick to look at pictures of Peter Murphy in bondage gear and then proclaim that all Goths are BDSM lifestylers or fetishists. Just as quickly, some Goths will respond that "No! We're not like those people!" If you've ever heard this argument, the disdain and sometimes disgust of the Goth in Question will be completely obvious. Moving beyond how you chose to have sex with someone, there's sometimes a fuss about who you chose to have sex with. Incidents of homophobia are not unheard of, even if they're just an emotional response to someone claiming that all Goths are at least Bisexual.

I'll be the first to admit my close-mindedness. I think that people who think that Goth is about the clothes you wear are wrong. I think that tutus are unflattering and that pastel Goth is just too weird for me. I think that if you think you're not a Goth 24/7 you're doing something seriously wrong (Goth should not take work, it should be what you are.) I think that corset details on clothing are unflattering 90% of the time and that arm/leg warmers are almost always tacky. I judge people in my head for saying that their favorite bands are one of the Big Bands until they can name some of their less popular songs (I'm not one of those people that quizzes people, but I do silently watch and wait.) I also judge people for liking Emilie Autumn, which I've mentioned before. I am a Goth with certain prejudices.

I don't mean to demonize the subculture that I love and call home. I mean to humanize it. For every person who does say a racist remark or who participates in in-scene squabbles, there are probably five who just want to enjoy their chosen lifestyle in peace. My point is, in a nut shell, that Goths are people too. They come with prejudices and preferences, they don't become paragons of open mindedness and acceptance just because they have Siouxsie on their iPods. The same goes for people who tout "Goths are not depressed", or "Goths are not violent." We're a varied subculture, and some of the people involved are bound to fulfill stereotypes that the subculture has been trying to shrug off (or dawn, as the open minded portion of this post indicates.) What do you think?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Goth Challenge 26-30

Yes, today marks the final installment of The Goth Challenge from Juliet's Lace. I hope you've enjoyed reading my answers and I thank you for sticking with me even when I do this instead of posting real content. Still, I'm about to Graduate to I'm extremely busy. So, without further ado:

26. Show a photo for every year (or month if you're new) that you've being into Goth.
Age 12, rocking the side bangs and horribly bushy eyebrows.

Age 13, just after I cut my hair off at chin length and got bangs but before I decided to dye it.
Age 14, with the really intense eyeliner and more bangs. At least I didn't fall prey to the "IT MUST ALL BE BLACK" stereotype.
Age 15, just after I dyed my hair. Here we can see the cat eye makeup getting more subtle. I still have that necklace, but it's tarnished now.
Age 16, hiding coyly behind a fan. That is actually my skin tone with flash, that's not face powder. Here my hair is starting to grow out the black but at least I have my eyebrows in order and no more of that catliner.
Age 17. Actually, I cheated. This is me about two weeks before I turned 17. But you know what? Close enough. You can see how long my hair got, how it's black and how I haven't regressed into the cat eyeliner stage.

27. The worst thing you ever did to a newbie.
I don't think I've done anything mean to a newbie, really. I only know one newbie and she was dating my younger brother, but I never interacted with her really.

28. Do you consider yourself an eldergoth?
Pfffft. No. Not at all. 17 is hardly "elder" status. Give me a couple decades and maybe I'll be considered an eldergoth, though by then all the original batcavers will be in their wheelchairs and grumpily calling me "middle aged."

29. What do you think will happen to Goth in the future?
I think that the definition of what Goth is will grow more and more broad, but it will produce so many wonderful things under its umbrella that I won't complain. Of course, the eldergoths might bitch and moan about it, but I'll just watch it happen. I think we're seeing the wave of nu-goths that are cropping up, and they will be the first of many. I don't mind them really, but I know some are vehemently against them. I just remind myself that some of the "original" Goths don't consider Victorian Goth "real goth" but you know what? It doesn't matter to me. They can think what they want.

30. Make a list of blogs you regularly read and link to them.
In no particular order

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Lineage Vest

I'll choke down my sobs for long enough to write this post. After that, no promises. I've been holding off on this post for a while, actually. It's subject has been completed for months. If you remember my post about WackyButtons, you'll know that I needed buttons for a project. A lot of buttons. In this post I thought I'd show you guys why buttons were so damn important to me. And hey! It has to do with Goth, sort of! This is my lineage vest for my Literary Arts class, the last day of which was today (hence the sobbing.) The Lineage project is a rite of passage in the program, all seniors make one. The Lineage is a visual representation of your growth as a person and a writer. Others have done doll houses, decoupaged cardboard forts, a tardis filled with books, decorated trees, and a number of other things. I thought for a long time about what I wanted to do for my project until, eventually, I decided that the easiest thing to do would be to go back to my roots.

Well, not my Scottish/Irish/English/French/German/Polish mutt roots. I took on my Goth roots and decided to go with a decorated vest, a la the DIY punk and deathrock jackets that have long been symbols of personal taste. After looking through the archives of the FuckYeah! Punk Jackets Tumblr, I had enough inspiration for my vest. The leather of the jacket used to be a knee-length, far too big coat that my older brother had and decided to donate to my cause. After ripping out the lining, cutting it to sit midway between my waist and hips, and ripping off the sleeves and zipper, it was starting to look like a vest.

The inside of the vest is lined in the remnants of an old sheet which I painted with a glue and water mixture to make it easier to write on. Of course, it means that it isn't as comfortable, but short of lining the jacket with actual paper I struggled to find something that works half as well. On it, I've written words that I love the sound of, including "Milieu" and "Cyanide." The first assignment I ever got in Literary Arts was to write a list of my favorite words based just on how they sound, so I figured that this would be a good way to tie in the beginning of the class.

I decided to use studs on the shoulders and the front edges where the zipper used to be to lend to it being more punk-inspired, and the sides are "stitched" together with safety pins. On the back of the jacket is embroidered the phrase "Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice." which, if you're familiar with architecture, is an inscription on the floor of Saint Paul's cathedral about the architect, Sir Christopher Wren. It is translated to mean "Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you." After I went there, my love for the architecture has increased tenfold. I want my legacy to be what I leave around me, the world I have changed.

The buttons themselves are from all over the place: Etsy, Wackybuttons, gifts from friends, markets in Camden. Each of them has some sort of significance, whether they be the faces of my favorite musicians or quotes from my favorite Literary works or my favorite pieces of art.I chose buttons for the same reason that I chose to "stitch" up the sides with safety pins: they can be changed. In my life, I try to maintain a kind of homeostasis and this has often backfired terribly. I need to learn to accept change and realize that nothing is as permanent as I would like it to be. It's all significant to me.

Have you all ever created a piece of clothing that has meant something to you? What was it?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

World Goth Day

World Goth Day, for the uninitiated, is a little celebration of our beautiful, spooky subculture that has happened annually on May 22 for three years. It's mission is "spreading the love of the Darkside in the name of tolerance, come join us this year and help us with spreading it even further round the world," according to the Facebook page. While I joked on my Tumblr that "every day is World Goth Day" to me, I really do think that the event is doing some good.

Most people are, if you forgive the pun, still in the dark about Goth. We're still scary to many, and to some we're even dangerous. Whether we are purposefully avoided, judged, taunted, or worse, it's a lot to deal with. While this is not true of some Goths, the subculture also tends to be extremely welcoming to people of alternative sexualities, gender, expressions, ethnic backgrounds, etc. who also garner negative attention from people who are closed minded. The pressure of dressing like a "freak" adding to being naturally "different" is a lot for some people to handle. Not everyone can grow a thick skin overnight, and even the thickest skin can be pierced when the insult is strong enough or, goodness forbid, a physical attack is launched.

Persevering through these negative impressions of us is something to be proud of. Of course, not all Goths (particularly jaded Eldergoths) will say that being Goth is difficult, but anyone who has dealt with bullying and discrimination can attest to this. Since being Goth goes beyond your personal experiences, it can be said that you can be a "closet Goth" but why should we have to? Expressing yourself without harming others is a beautiful thing, one that Goths embraces, and that many people claim to embrace until they are faced with a black-clad individual who loves
ethereal music. In his novel Brave New World Aldous Huxley wisely sums up that "If one's different, one's bound to be lonely." Thanks to our online Goth community, the loneliness might be tempered, but people's misconceptions of Goth in the real world can seriously damage someone and make them feel totally alone. It's not necessary, it's not fair.

World Goth Day is a cheerful expression that, despite all the bad forces against us in the world, we are still going to be ourselves and not apologize for it. Whatever Goth means to you, you can take the day to express that to people and show them the real face of Goth. We're not dangerous, we're not scary, we're not something to discriminate against.

One day, I hope that every day will be our World Goth Day, a day to express ourselves and be proud outwardly. Until then, however, I'm proud to be doing my part to keep the event alive and well this year.

So, my readers, what are your thoughts on World Goth Day?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Mütter Museum Meet Up

A while ago, I made a post about a meet up for East Coast Goths at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After an off-hand comment I made on my Tumblr blog about wanting to go to the museum with other Goths, the idea spread quickly and a meet up was actually proposed. However, due to conflicting dates, no real plans were made. Until now, that is!

Source: Northstar

Yes, I'm pleased to announce that the Mütter Museum meet up will continue as planned. The current date is June 1st, this year. Any and all Goths and Goth-friendly folks are invited, but you should RSVP to the Facebook Group (Link here!) so we have an accurate head count.

Now, what is the Mütter Museum? Essentially, it is a collection procured by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to exemplify the human body. Some of the exhibits are strange, some are just plain gross, and others make my spine shiver. So, it's not for the faint hearted, but appropriate for a Goth meet up! Notable exhibits include the soap lady, vintage medical tools, the famous wall of human skulls, and, currently, Albert Einstein's brain. If you're interested in learning more, you can find their website here with a whole host of information.

So, will any of you be showing your lovely faces (And meeting me!) come this June?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Poll: Graduating from Babybat to Goth

Chances are, if you're a Goth in your teens, older Goths are going to refer to you (sometimes affectionately, sometimes not) as "Babybat." Still, people shed the label at some point, don't they? I don't see many people telling Goths in their mid-twenties "Babybat." So, at what age do you shed the label?

Me, age 12.
Babybat or Young Goth?

Some will say that you cannot be a teenage Goth, only a teenage Babybat. Since Goth has much of its roots in the club scenes of the UK, teenagers cannot fully appreciate the scene until they are of club going age. Or, it's because we teenagers are forever ignorant in the eyes of the midtwenties elite (not that I think that you all are snobby, but oh boy have I been faced with this attitude sometimes.) Teenagers are supposed to only like Marilyn Manson and hang out only at malls, which is certainly Not Goth At All to these people. Still, less crudely, some people think that teenagers are Babybats because we're still fumbling and, maybe, it's a bit cute to watch.

However, some say that age isn't everything. It's how much time you have spend in the Goth subculture. This way, if I'm seventeen and have been interested and involved in the music, fashion, and subculture of Goth since I was eleven, I am less of a Babybat than someone in their twenties who has only been interested for one or two years. This method of defining allows for people who have some sort of connection in the subculture to shed the Babybat label sooner than those who have only just stumbled on it. However, this method of deciding doesn't take into account the amount you've learned in your time in the subculture. After all, just because you've been "a Goth" for ten years doesn't mean that you've bothered to look up the history and know that Nightwish isn't Goth.

The last, I suppose, way that people seem differentiate between Babybats and Goths is your tastes. Preferring Siouxsie to Manson, plain trousers or skirts to Tripp pants, Poe to Meyers, etc. seems to be the marker. This is the method that I, personally, subscribe to. After all, if you have internet access and are willing to do a bit of research, anyone from any age group can explore the subculture and discover its roots, no matter what age you are or your experience. Sure, there's sure to be a bit of fumbling at first, falling for cheap crushed velvet or calling Tom Waits goth or miles of black eyeliner swirls, but that can happen at any age group. To me, it's not how old you are or your experience, it's your tastes which will tell the world if you're a Babybat or not.

So, what do you think? When do you stop being everyone's beloved Babybat and start being a respectable Goth?

When do you graduate from Babybat to Goth? free polls

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Goth Bento?

As I continue on with Batfit 2012 (quietly, and not much on this blog) I've started to make a lot of progress in my healthy lifestyle. I would love to continue this at college, but the problem of easy and portable but still healthy food continues to loom on the horizon. As I continue to stalk Lolita blogs, I've discovered a cool way to keep food easy to carry and easy to fill with amazing and healthy food. That way is the Bento box.

Source: Flickr

According to my best friend ever, Wikipedia, Bento has been used by the Japanese for almost one thousand years. While traditionally filled with rice, meat or fish, and a vegetable, this method of serving food can be tailored to many a diet. If you're familiar with the Japanese film Kamikaze Girls, you might remember how Momoko carries a heart-shaped Bento filled with sugary sweets because she wanted "to fill [herself] only with sweet things." Since a diet of only sugary sweets are a little out of the question for healthy eating, I looked elsewhere for inspiration. Blogs such as Happy Little Bento and Just Bento provide a long list of recipes and styling which moves beyond just Japanese cuisine to any kind of food--so long as it fits in a box.

Still, I'm not big on the cutesy characters and flowery pink Bento boxes. To make this Goth-friendly, you have to do a bit of tinkering. The first step is to find yourself a Goth-appropriate Bento box. Many places sell Bento boxes with all sorts of patterns, and due to Otaku culture's love of skulls and other such iconography you'll find some that are suitably spooky. Add some coordinating utensils and you're good to go!

Source: Ebay

Now, the big question is what to fill it with. Chances are, your current dietary staples will fit just fine. Smaller fruits and vegetables like grapes, berries, clementine slices, broccoli, carrots, celery, red peppers, etc. will it just fine in the divided compartments, or you can make a (fruit) salad. Small portions of your favorite kinds of meats or other proteins can be a great addition. Bento making might be a little time consuming for the morning, but making it the night before can be kind of fun. The only thing I would not recommend putting into Bento is any kind of liquid or almost-liquid food product, such as soups, stews, yogurts, or etc. However, sauces and dressings can be carried in little containers or squirt bottles (very well cleaned out hand-sanitizer bottles work very well for this purpose.)

With Bento, playing with your food is encouraged. Creating what is called Kyaraben, or character bento, is a fun craft. Essentially, Kyaraben is the art of making your food look like animals, characters, plants, or other designs. If you ever get bored with looking at the same thing every day, Kyaraben is a great way to add spice back to your life. If you want to have even more fun, consider adding components such as colored rice or using cookie cutters (especially Halloween ones!) on all sorts of food items, from carrot shards to mini brownies.

So, readers, would you ever consider carrying Bento?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Updating an Old Bulletin Board

While I love second hand items for home decor, it's no secret that often they need updating to fit your aesthetic preferences. A coat of paint, a stencil or two, anything to make it look like you want. I was faced with the task of decorating this old cork board when my older brother gave it to me after cleaning out his room. I can always use a new bulletin board, but in this natural brown color? No thank you! The easy solution would have been to paint it black, but I don't have any paint right now to use, so I had to come up with alternate solutions. I decided to use what materials I already had around: scrapbook paper, magazines, and glue. Here's what I did to update the bulletin board.

First, I had to select a paper that I wanted to use. I wanted a repeating pattern which I could try to make look seamless. As I flipped through a pad of Halloween scrapbook paper, I found this. I know the picture isn't the greatest, but this is a repeating pattern of the word "CAUTION!" and skull-and-crossbones.

This is what it looked like when I had cut and glued the paper into place. Looking nice, right? I smoothed out all the lines where the papers joined, lining up the letters as I went so that the pattern stayed as solid as possible. It looks great, to me. Except, that is, for the frame. That's where the magazines come in.

My house has a lot of catalogs in it. A lot. So, I decided to loot some of the older ones for this project. I used the Pyramid Collection catalog, a Victorian Trading Co. catalog, and a Gaelsong catalog.

Then, it was time to go through the catalog. I kept in mind that my design scheme is mostly black, white, and grey, so I tried not to come up with too many colored pieces. While I didn't want to frame my cork board with all clothes, I found that the motifs and patterns of a lot of the clothing looked awesome cut out on their own. For example, this poncho is a bit silly, but look at those bat hems! I'm sure I could use some of those!

As I thought, these look wonderful when cut away from the rest of that poncho. Protip: Check the back of the page you're cutting before you go to cut out the design. I cut through a lot of nice pictures without noticing it because I'd only looked at the front of the page. Don't repeat my mistake!

Now, clip out more images. And keep clipping. Clip until your hands hurt, then go off and take a shower, and come back and clip some more. Clip more than you need. I thought that this pile would be enough, but boy was I wrong.

Now start gluing them on!

Now, once you've got everything glued down, let it sit to dry. Set it outside, if you like, since it's going to smell pretty strongly of glue. I decided to leave mine to dry overnight because I didn't want to risk tearing the wet paper. Now, the next step is up to you. You can use either a mixture of one part glue to one part water, or you can use modge podge. I decided to use the glue and water. You're going to take your sealant of choice and put it in a little dish. Now load your paintbrush up with the sealant and brush it over just the areas that you covered in magazines.

Now, rinse and repeat. You're going to want to brush sealant over top of your magazines until the finish is smooth. You're trying to eliminate the bumps caused by overlapping pieces. I used three coats of sealant. (I mixed this step with my camera, sorry guys!)

Here's the finished cork board! I think it's a huge improvement from the original, don't you?