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?

23 comments:

  1. can i just say 'yes'?

    i love to see the different faces of people when i go out in my lacy-outfits or in pvc & military stuff. :-P sorry, my closet holds a lot of different 'genre' things haha.

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  2. I agree with you on this.. sadly. Why must there be so much hate everywhere ><

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    1. There's hate because we're human. It'snot a great fact of life, but it's there, and we just have to make the most of it. :)

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  3. I liked that you admitted what you judge. It was very human of you. Admirable, even. And interesting. Thoughtful post, kudos.

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    1. Thank you very much. :) I actually deleted that portion before I made the post and then went back and added it in in a attempt to be more honest. I'm glad you appreciated it.

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  4. I would call this "hating" or "shaming". Most goths like to judge or talk about things, but never draw any consequences. Like seeing a girl in a not fitting mini skirt and talking about it, but never forcing her to take it of or making harsh remarks to her.

    In the end, everyone is human. Everyone has his own style and dislikes. Feeling like you belong to the gothic subsulture does not automatically clean you from any bad thoughts!

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  5. Mary Rose, it is great that somebody starts a conversation about this. I mean about the fact, that goth is a very variant subculture with all those suspecies and individuals. Like it is said in the comments, for humans it is common to be a bit reserved against otherness. It is not racism, or hating, because most of humanrace can come over their state of alert and get to know that otherness.

    Goths being quite 'other' in the eyes of mainstream aren't anyway better at accepting. Some are even more shut-down, perhaps for being teased and it is a defence mechanism. :/

    What I'm a bit confused is why goths have so many subspecies and why there sometimes seems to be obligatory to label every goth into some group/genre? I see that pretty much in the gothscene in my home city and sometimes it is quite aggressive. I'm puzzled with it.

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    1. Thank you very much! As for the goth subspecies, I think it's just a way of expanding the definition of Goth because we can't agree that a Cybergoth is the same as a Batcaver. The labels are my dad's favorite thing about Goth because he thinks they're so funny, and I agree. I don't even know what "type" of Goth I am.

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  6. I think that goths are way too obsessed with keeping their subculture "pure", which is often synonymous with inbred. It was a label imposed on a new scene, which many golden oldies of the subculture didn't even embrace, so why has it come to this constant bemoaning of what goth "is" and "isn't"? To me, the one defining feature of the subculture is that it's a celebration of the darker side of human nature, so with what logic can we decide that some bands or people (Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, etc) aren't goth but bands who, if I'm not mistaken, specifically did not embrace the term (yes I'm talking to you, Bauhaus), is? There never was a cut-and-dried definition of goth, so how can anybody think they have the right to discriminate? I think we are scrutinising this issue so obsessively that we can't see the wood for the trees anymore.

    Ok, rant over :)

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  7. I've been thinking along similar lines lately. A lot of vlogs and blogs out there are so desperate to defend the subculture and dispel stereotypes about it, they actually end up being dishonest. Saw a vlog the other day where a teenage girl adamantly denied that Goths practice cutting. "Goths don't do that; That's Emo." **eye roll** Of course it's no more emo than it is goth, and yes, there are some Goths out there who do this. As a culture we don't embrace it, but it happens, and there are groups who think they are "so goth" for it. I also find that most people who claim Goth is so open-minded will go on to castigate those who disapprove what Gothic subculture often embraces, only proving they are actually very close-minded, indeed, to anyone not fitting into a non-traditional, alternative mindset.

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    1. Not to mention claiming that cutting is somehow "goth" or "emo" is incredibly offensive to people with SI habits due to mental illness, emotional disorders and/or anxiety disorders. :/
      And the amount of hatred towards mainstream music, fashion, and culture--not dislike, hatred--is something I see VERY often in goth and (often to a far lesser degree) within other subcultures. That's why people stereotype them as misanthropic, antisocial depressed people in the first place!

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  8. I think that everyone has opinions on what is beautiful, what is good music and how much eye make-up a person should wear, goths are no exception. But: I have never met someone who wasn't nice to me because I don't like siouxsi, because my skin gets this typical olive colour in summer or because my shoes aren't real leather. Maybe they think "Urgh, she's tanned" but I haven't noticed anyone in the goth culture being unfriendly to me because of my appearence.
    I do agree though that there are those "popular" thoughts, especially on the internet: "We're all straight, cyber isn't goth, no goth has depressions because it is an emo thing..." The scene is diverse and wherever is diversity there are different opinions. That is just normal.

    by the way, I follow the goth confessions on Tumblr and even though many are not exactly nice, I have found quite a few that do not concern shaming or hating and to which i can relate.

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  9. *Nods*
    This is a very thoughtful post.
    Have you heard of the blog youarenotsosmart.com ? They explain a lot about human psychology, I think these two articles explain part of the phenomenon pretty well:
    http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/02/10/deindividuation/

    http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/23/confirmation-bias/

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  10. A very interesting and thoughtful post! I think tolerance has a lot to do with respecting other people's ways of doing things even if you don't like them - you don't have to have the same tastes as someone to be tolerant, you just have to let them get on with their own thing, or at least disagree/make your own point politely. What I dislike is how... fanatical? argumentative? over some of these issues. It is fine to have polite discussion and debate, and to discuss varying tastes, etc. For example, I prefer longer skirts to shorter skirts, that is just what I think looks nicer. I think it is all a case of good manners and tolerance. I agree, though, that we must realise that we are all human and that as such we have imperfections and it is wrong to say that any one subculture is better, more tolerant, etc. than any other, because each subculture is a collection of individuals, and only such terms as "many" can be used, rather than "all" or totally inclusive terms.

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  11. I like your argument, but your comments about Emilie Autumn seem contradictory in that particular context. (I'm sure you're not bashing her for no reason, I'm just pointing that out) I'm not just saying that because I'm a huge fan, but because she never directly claimed to be a goth. Many in the subculture have embraced her, but wearing a t-shirt that says "got goth?" is not a proclamation. I make the live long and prosper sign, but I'm not a trekki. I have a Kick-ass t-shirt, but I only saw the movie and read the first comic issue. It's perfectly fine to overlap cultures.

    From what I can tell, she just does whatever the fuck she wants. Everyone lies, and I don't claim her to be perfect... but her honest expression of mental health is refreshing. I just wish fans would stop accusing her of supporting these things? She clearly stated that she thinks that the Victorian era/asylums are AWFUL, but they don't hear that. I don't go to the forum anymore because so many of them misinterpret her. They're idiots.

    Is she a purist? No. But I think many goths just shut out people who borrow from their culture without completely integrating. I'm not sure why. I have a lot of goth things and my art fits the theme, but don't consider myself a goth.

    Do I still think goths are open-minded? No. But I thank you for not giving into this and for being honest about your feelings. I have to stop being so politically correct. I don't understand why they're acting this way.

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    1. I list Emilie Autumn in the same sense that I list the other not strictly goth items in my catalog. Tutus are not Goth, but I mention them because they are liked by some Goths, similar to Emilie Autumn. I already made a post about my thoughts about Emilie Autumn, if you've read it, where I explain my thoughts more thoroughly. Thank you very much for your comment, it definitely gave me food for thought. :)

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    2. @Mary Rose.. Tutus aren't automatically non-goth because you don't wear them. I wear them commonly along with other items. We all have different opinions on things. Just because I don't listen to Bauhaus doesn't mean they aren't goth music for others. I thought this was supposed to be an open subculture? But this seems the exact reason why people drive away from the subculture because people say things like this. It makes me no longer believe that the subculture is as open-minded as one would like to believe.

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  12. Great article ☺ I had a lot of thoughts on it.

    Sexuality: I always thought that goths as a whole were friendly to kink! Most goths I know are involved/want to be involved in kink groups or practice BDSM. Even a lot of the fashion is borrowed from or shared with kink, like chains, collars, and (depending on context and style) corsetry and hosiery. Not to mention musical references (my favorite goth band is Black Tape for a Blue Girl, their 10 Neurotics is solidly kink and many of their other albums mention kink or BDSM. Just one of many kinky goth bands/albums). The kink connection is part of what draws me to goth. :P This surprises me.
    Racism: Reminded me of Lolita….I think any race can do goth or Lolita well and to pretend otherwise is bigoted. I follow many tumblrs promoting and supporting black lolitas and those girls and boys are beautiful! I also love seeing Muslim Goths and Muslim lolitas who incorporate their hijabs into their preferred styles. Diversity is rad.
    Fashion: I love OTT sweet Lolita, creepycute, fairy kei…and pastel goth too. You and others may not, but to each their own! It’s weird that people believe you can only have one look to be a “real” (insert subculture here). After all, variety is the spice of life. On a similar note, I'm fine with nu-goth and cybergoth being considered part of goth as a whole. there's many facets to goth and if someone applies to several, that's actually pretty cool.

    Looks like I should just turn in my goth license right now. I wear elements of punk, grunge/kinderwhore, rockabilly/psychobilly, fairy kei and OTT sweet and call myself goth. Not goth enough!
    (not to mention I have a white cat and work in a factory, I save my nice clothes for when I go out so they don’t get ruined…most of the time I’m in jeans.)

    Guilty: I tend to judge people who listen to Emilie Autumn. I think baby Goths are tacky but I don’t hate them because I was one. I judge people who say they’re goth and don’t listen to a single goth band, but it won’t make me not talk to or befriend anyone. I’m not a fan of ICP and think juggalos are silly, but I don’t devote energy to mocking them or even thinking about them much.
    I’m against certain destructive habits like tanning and smoking, but I can overlook that in most people.
    Things that ACTUALLY bother me though are pettiness, drama-mongering, glorifying abuse, rape, murder, mental illness, etc., bigoted or ignorant attitudes, excessive amounts of vulgarity and shock value without artistic merit. I see…a lot of this in goth circles. A lot of it is baby bats trying to be cool but sometimes it’s the people are “good” Goths. That existing in the community upsets me far more than any ugly outfit or crappy mislabeled rock group ever could.

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  13. Loved this article! Goths are almost compared to aliens at some point instead of humans. I'm guilty of expressing my preference one time recently - i thought some photos considered "goth" "not goth in MY opinion" and I never said for the whole subculture but as my own opinion. This was my first time - now when I think back to some I may have seemed to be harsh - but it was my opinion on something. Was I wrong for doing it? I didn't mean I wouldn't hang out with them or consider the person "less goth" - i mean i can say i'm "less goth" in some ways xD

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  14. Isn't Wiccans inherently the same as Goth?

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  15. i think it is funny because i would say most people on here are goth and their comments are all very respectful. They are also very accepting of the article, so to me it seems that we are accepting of others.

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  16. Some like tradition and have other things they find attractive. Yeah it does come out that way but same time could be they personally find those more attractive. Actually their is in fighting but thankfully not enough to be a constant pain. Area amount of us that are open minded but like everywhere else will always be that 1 set of jack asses till human race can get past that. Well put article also I wish you a good day.

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  17. Interesting post, for sure!
    While it's healthier to be open-minded about anything, defining "goth" is one of the most controversial topics... It should be obvious that the term exists for a reason and doesn't have more than "one definition", and for describing other dark references, there *are* other readily-available terms for it other than just using "goth" for it all (such as gothic or darkly-inclined), as those terms DO have dif meanings from "goth", yet share some similarly dark aspects.
    It's not close-minded to claim "pastel goth is not goth" or that "goth is primarily music-based", it's just how it is. Of course, those claims don't mean that they're "bad", or that like one who wears pastel goth clothing can't also be a goth + enjoy Goth Rock...
    That's not to say, a person should certainly pursue/enjoy a subculture or scene they desire to be a part of or feel they're a part of, given they have understandings of its meaning/background/history and all, but once someone decides to use a label, that label should be used accurately, not loosely. Otherwise, screw labels and just enjoy whatever! It doesn't matter whether one wants to use labels or not, it's just a case of knowing what you're talking about or interested in.

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