Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Reader Question: Can one stay a babybat?

Dear Mary Rose 
I just read your post on evolving from being a babybat, and I have a question.
Do I have to evolve into a fully fledged goth or can I just stay a babybat? I know that sounds like a silly question. The thing is I have always liked the goth subculture but I don't think I could ever become fully immersed in it. I don't particularly *love* most goth things, and I don't feel like the term goth could ever describe me properly. I have been influenced mainly by my metalhead friends so I like that sort of music, however when I read goth blogs and websites they mention bands that I'm not entirely interested in. And I don't want to be considered a metalhead for personal reasons I have with that subculture. I've also looked into emo and I definitely don't have the personality for it, it's also way too cutesy for me, though I might like few songs associated with it. I read up a lot about goths and I like the general idea of it, the darkness, mysterious, the clothes, expressing one's self, being considerate of others and accepting, being different and quirky and edgy, the supernatural and fantasy. I have a real appreciation for dark alternative subcultures. 
I guess the term babybat makes me feel like I can be in between 'normal' and goth with permission to mix it up with things from other subcultures. I like the idea of being semi-goth (kind of like how some people see Evanescence, goth but not goth. Evanescence is my favourite band so that might give you some idea of why would associate with babybat and not goth.) However, in the future I might discover some goth music that I like but that doesn't mean I will want to be a complete goth after that. 
Also I heard that you are a babybat as a teen only and that you become goth when you are 18/21, and I am 21 now. 
So I was wondering what your opinion is on me wanting to call myself a babybat forever (or untill I decide I no longer need the label)? 
From Tyla :)

Hello Tyla!

First, I'd like to challenge the idea that a babybat has to be of a particular age. Many of the questions that I get from older Goths that are new to the subculture seem to center around the idea that they are "too old" to be a babybat. I'm in the camp of thinking that a babybat is a person new to the subculture, and that it's association with younger people comes because A) many Goths join the subculture when they are young and B) the word "baby." So, yes, I believe it's okay to call yourself a babybat at any age.

But, I am confused by the idea that being a babybat is a step between normal and Goth. If your interests lie outside the Goth subculture, then identifying as a babybat isn't going to bridge that gap, so to speak. It's perfectly okay to like a subculture but not become a part of it (of my 11,000ish followers on Tumblr, I'd hazard that only about half of them are Goths.) As above, I mention that a babybat is new to the subculture, and that means that they are a part of the subculture, and it would follow that they like Goth things (music, aesthetic, literature, etc.) and are active in the community. Perhaps the solution for you would be not to identify as either Goth or babybat but to just hang around Goths and be a part of the community you seem to like.

As for how you identify, I promise the Goth cabal isn't going to come to you in the middle of the night and demand you call yourself Goth, especially when your interests seem much more varied and inspired by metal and alternative rock. Of course, I think it goes without saying that very few Goths become completely "immersed" in the subculture to the point that they don't like anything that is outside of it. Many of us have at least a soft spot for music outside of the traditional line-up, and if/when the time comes for you to decide that you want to identify as a Goth, you shouldn't feel that all of your interests must fall within the Goth category.

But, I would say, some of them must.

It also follows that without an interest in Goth music, many Goths will dismiss your interest in the subculture. Without a doubt, Goth music plays an important part in the Goth community's history and to ignore that in favor of other aspects of it, such as the fashion or literature, is enough to earn you a big "poseur" stamp from some Goths. Longtime readers will know that I've fallen out of favor with demanding that people do or like certain things in order to be a Goth, but I think it's wise to know that other Goths are fiercly protective of the subculture in that regard.

I hope that helps.

Readers, when did you feel that you "graduated" from being called a babybat into being a Goth?


  1. ...who cares if people think you're goth or not? Personally, I see nothing wrong with calling yourself whatever brand of goth you want--babybat, semigoth, whatever. I myself took the "goth" label when I got tired of explaining to people what the hell a rivethead was. Labels....we DO still hate them, right?

    1. Yep, we do still hate them :)

    2. I think "goths" have a love-hate relationship with labels. On one hand, they can be really useful when you want to connect with others with similar tastes and world views. On the other hand, we resent the notion of being forced to conform to rigid stereotypes, and much of that resentment comes from the fact that most of us struggled in our earlier years always being that odd one out, that person who can adapt, but never truly assimilate.
      In general "goths" are artists in some sense of the word, free thinkers for sure. We tend to appreciate the darker side of things and are open to alternative looks, avant-garde art and unconventional ideas. But I think our sub-culture has incorporated enough sub-sub-cultures that we're probably the LEAST rigid "label" out there.
      Which, if you live in a world that forces you to label yourself as something or another, isn't a bad thing.

  2. Let's be very honest here- much "goth" music that labels itself "goth" really sucks. The good stuff, the stuff that actual goths over 30 (like myself) listen to, falls into other categories- new wave, dark wave, death rock, punk, post-punk, metal, black metal, industrial, etc.... Goth is so much more than the music, as musical tastes are so subjective. Goth is an aesthetic, an attitude, and appreciation of the dark arts. "Babybat" is a ridiculously demeaning term that should be done away with, by the way,

  3. Well.. I've never called myself, or have been called babybat, it's something I discovered on blogs.
    But now that I fill my wardrobe with goth clothes, people describe me as "the goth girl" at my university. It's like a success for me, because I really love gothic fashion. It's like I "graduated", to say that with your words ;)

    But, concerning music, I totally join Tyla. I am not interested in "gothic music", I prefer metal music BUT not only. I have some musical ovni in my playlists, because I am not stuck in only one genre.

  4. Personally, I have considered this my scene for the past 11 years...and I still have never dressed "full-fledged" goth (save for maybe one or two occasions where I glammed up for a night out). Initially, this was due to overtly-conservative parents who forced me to ditch the spiked dog collar at home and put sparkles on my black nailpolish to cheer up my look. However, even once I hit adulthood, I never went completely off the wall style-wise know...I like being employed and all that jazz.
    My playlist is haven of post-punk and cold wave, but I have Lady Gaga's entire discography proudly sprinkled in that mix and will gladly clock anyone who says boo about it. And despite my love for bone jewelry, punk boots and bat-printed clothing, I'm not above buying dresses in pinks, yellows and oranges when I fall in love with something in a store.
    I'm not "corp goth". I'm not "pastel goth". And I think the "baby bat" ship sailed well over a decade ago.

    Anyway, Tyla... if you're simply curious about the scene and the more comfortable identifying as a "baby bat", that's okay too and there is no age limit as to when its socially acceptable to explore something new.

  5. Thank you for answering my question and thanks for the comments guys :)
    I think I just need to let go of labels and just enjoy what I want to enjoy. I guess I could still be a part of the community without strangling myself with a name tag. it's nice to be part of a group but I should just be my own self within that group. That said, you guys seem nice and I wish I knew you personally :)

  6. I had an initial Goth phase, and then experimented with other subcultures for a bit, and eventually felt that Goth was where I belonged all along - I think it was about a year or two into my return to Goth that I felt that I was a 'proper Goth' - once I'd started falling in love with music from the earlier days of Goth, and then went off looking for more modern bands in a similar vein (pun intended) and felt really committed to the subculture. I still like stuff from outside Goth, and I'm still part of other group identities (sic-fi and fantasy fandoms, for example) and like music that isn't Goth (baroque and renaissance music, for example) and other things outside of the big black Goth umbrella, and this is coming from the woman with spider-web toilet roll and black crockery! You can be thoroughly and absolutely entrenched in the Goth subculture and still like stuff outside of it too. I've been Goth for longer than some of the younger babybats have been alive, which is starting to make me feel old O.O

  7. The fuss around the music is something I never understood. Gothic is supposed to be a lifestyle, rather a philosophy than a music genre, rather a way of thinking than a clothing style. People who say you can't be goth if you don't listen to Bauhaus, The Cure or Siouxsie And The Banshees basically states that deaf people or people without internet connection (as these music isn't in the stores anymore) can't be considered goth. Does anyone realises the oximoron here? Be yourself, express yourself, but listen to the music we tell you to?! It's like a quote from South Park really.

  8. I don't want to identify myself as goth, or anything else, because I feel that putting a label on myself somehow constricts me, that my creativity is being sufflocated, that people will have certain expectations of me, from the way I behave, to what music I like and how I dress. After all, in my opinion, if you strictly follow an underground- alternative style, believing that you are outside or against the norm and the masses, you actually become a part of another norm. Smart people know that there is not just THE norm and those outside of it, but many different norms. The main point is not to belong to a group, not to be different, not to be yourself, but to be your better self! Trying to improve yourself, you actually differ from people who are trying hard to conform to standars and norms, and those who try to be themselves without any improvements in their character and knowledge. So, you don't need to put a label on yourself, or to belong to a certain subculture or group. You can belong to many groups at the same time or none at all, or create your own. The point is to do what you like and to become a better person, not to let go of things you like in order to be 'accepted'. your approach is good, the character, the attitude, the knowledge and what you do with your life is what counts. I am also 21, and I've tried in the past to fit into many groups (hipster, emo, metalhead, goth, rock, pin up, rockabilly, gothabilly) but no group can include all my different tastes, tendecies and attitudes. I like to think for myself, not let others dictate who I am and what I should like.