Friday, June 15, 2012

Poll: Is Goth a choice?

I'm an avid reader of Gothic Beauty Magazine. Cover to cover, I devour all it's articles and reviews. A good chunk of my iPod is from recommendations I received through music reviews, whereas my wishlist often has a fair few items from the ads in the magazine. Some of the articles are extremely thought provoking and I'd like to discuss something mentioned in this past issue.

Source: Gothic Beauty

The article in question was "Gothic Off Days" by Gail Brasie, an interesting look at what we can do to make being Goth (particularly dressing the part) seem like less of a chore on "off days." While the article itself is interesting and informative, I found one bit that was more thought provoking than the rest. Brasie says, on page ten, "This article is to help remind you that being Goth is a choice..." Well, is it? Really? I'd like to discuss that with you today.

My knee jerk reaction to this question was a resounding no, but I think that also has to do with what I think Goth is, at it's center. Goth is a matter of taste. Taste in music, clothes, literature, whatever your preferred definition is. Personally, I didn't chose to like Depeche Mode or corsets. I just do. There are some things I definitely can't control about my relationship with Goth music, particularly. My mother, an ex-Goth, listened to The Cure and Bauhaus all the time at home while I was growing up. I now consider that music comforting because it was what I listened to at a happy time in my life.

On the other hand, one might argue that it's a choice that I act upon these desires, thus making myself a Goth. I find this argument slightly flimsy because I don't know anyone who just says "no, I'm not going to listen to the music that I like" and makes that decision. Of course, those people probably exist somewhere, but they're definitely in the minority. Then again, if someone likes Goth music, prefers Black clothes, loves Gothic literature and Tim Burton movies but instead wears pastels, listens to The Beatles, reads nothing but gossip magazines and watches Oprah (for whatever reason, so long as it's a choice) can we really call them a Goth? Or, if someone doesn't like things that are considered Goth but partakes in them anyway for whatever reason (to impress someone, etc.) are they Goths?

So, readers, what do you think? Is Goth a choice or were we just born this way ?

Is Goth a Choice? free polls


  1. It won't let me use your poll but I consider Goth to be a choice. Mainly because I know a few people who could easily call themselves Goth based on their taste but simply don't. I think you have to consider yourself Goth to be Goth, along with music taste etc etc.

    1. How strange! I'll fix up the poll in a moment. Also, thank you for sharing your thoughts. :)

  2. I think it's more of a "you learn to like it from your circumstances" type of thing. Nurture more than nature.

  3. I can't do the poll either.

    I think it's a personal thing, but for me being Goth wasn't a choice. The part I did make a choice about was how I dress, but other than that...nope. I love the music and litterature.

    There was a time when I forced myself to not listen to/read/wear the things I loved because I was scared of what people thought. Looking back that was such a stupid thing to do.

    As long as it's not hurting anyone, why not do what makes you happy?

  4. Being a Goth is not a choice. All I do is just read a lot of books and watch some classic movies. I just like walking in the cemetery as well. I just do whatever makes me happy.

  5. While people try to tell us what to like and think, there's somethings we just can't take to. To me, a being a Goth is not a choice, it's simply a word that makes it easier to describes ones self. Now there are people who choose to be apart of the subculture because they like the fashion or the music, but are both goth inclined than being a Goth. I think those who find being a goth a chore are those who are only goth inclined, not Goth through and through; which there's nothing wrong with that, but for some of us, trying to not dress goth is the chore and there is no "off days."

  6. I think that what probably was the point of the article was that "goth" is a subculture and all subcultures are based on certain symbols that the ones who identify themselves to be part of the subculture recognize. Therefore it is "a choice" to show with symbols that one belongs to that subculture. Basically it is very Baurdillard's simulacrum - sort of a way to see things.

    BUT I think subcultures are not just meaningless marks and I think that goth is not a choice in a way that there is something sinister inside those people whom are thought to be goths or just close to that subculture. Therefore it is not a choice, since it is something sinister within a person that is seen in the way they tend to dress or listen some bands or see certain movies.

    I can say from my own experience that when I was forced to not show my identity for 10 week period I became a bit depressed. I was in an on-the-job training at an institute for people suffering of long-term schizophrenia and to avoid conflicts it was best to dress in a plain and not provocative way.

  7. I do really agree that being Goth is not a choice at all. I do agree there's no such thing as "off days". However, I thought that we all have good days and bad days because we're humans.

  8. I believe that being Goth is not a choice. You dont choose what you WANT to like, you either like it or you don't! I do think however, that you can choose whether you do or don't wan't to be labeeled AS a Goth or not.

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  9. To me, being Goth isn't a choice; it's just me, being myself, liking the things I like. Of course we have "off days" where we slob around in jeans and tees with no make up on, but doesn't everyone? It doesn't make us less goth, it makes us human.

  10. You can not choose what you like, but you can choose how much effort you put in making it become real.

  11. Interesting post!

    I can't help that I love Gothic literature, Beethoven, bats, and spiders; that black lace-embroidered garments make my heart beat faster; and that I have books filled with strange and unusual personalities that tumble from my imagination. But I can, and I have in the past hidden under layers of indie rock and blue jeans, hiding my sketches and stories from human eyes (I wish I was kidding). You can't help what you like but you can choose to act on it, and that's where the rubber meets the road.

    When you said the "I'm not going to listen to music I like" bit, I think a bit closer to the truth of the thought process is, "I will listen to music that doesn't really appeal to me, because if I don't people will think I'm weird and treat me differently." And they will... I just like myself now, so I don't mind.

  12. When I was young, I liked to read ghost stories and books about the Salem Witch Trials and the lIzzie Borden murders. I watched Tales from the Crypt, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and the Addams Family. Socially I was awkward because I was trying to 'fit in' with my friends when I didn't really understand why they behaved or liked what they did. I don't think I really liked myself until I started dressing darker and pursuing things I was interested in. Was I Goth at the time? The interests that I had was not a choice for me, but I did not start using the word Goth as a label for myself until I had done significant research on the term and subculture. Being myself wasn't a choice, but accepting Goth was.

  13. It's not a choice, but expression of it is.

  14. The mindset that goes with being a Goth is not a choice, you can't choose the way your brain is wired and what interests you. What you can choose is how you express those interests, whether to impress Goth fashion or go the complete opposite and wear floral and pastels despite liking The Cure and Bauhaus.

    Also I'm sorry to hear about the death in your family :(
    I personally can't really dress Goth at this point in time, I'm unemployed and have limited money coming in and what I do get I help mum pay the rent with, but on a certain level I do still consider myself Goth as my interests in music, horror etc tally in with the Goth subculture.

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