Friday, 17 December 2010

Goths and politics (not as bad as it sounds, honest)

The Dead Sea Surfers just added me as a friend on Yay, uber Goth points for me! To share the love a little, why not grab a totally free and legal Dead Sea Surfers track from their page? Tracks currently available for download are Alone Again, Never Know EBM, Whore and You Take It Too Far.

Anyway? What was I saying before I got distracted by awesomeness?

Ah yes, Goths and politics. Wait, come back! I know if you're anything like me, the 'P'-word is generally enough to send one running to the hills, but I promise not to get bogged down in heavy detail. There's probably a good reason why most people with a reasonable working knowledge of the various alternative scenes are a lot more likely to associate politics and political activism with the punks (or even hippies...). Goths seem to be thought of as introspective types, more concerned with their personal world than any big political picture. Wow, that sounds self-absorbed. But you know what I mean - the average Goth's idea of politics is more likely to be the gossip at the local club than, for example, standing as a Member of Parliament.

Photographer: Rachel Joannou
Source: Goth Fashion on Tumblr
And to a certain extent that's perfectly understandable. After all, when your appearance and possibly your outlook sets you somewhat apart from mainstream society and if you ran for election your hair and make-up alone would frighten off half of the voters, it seems sensible enough to make contact with the world of politics through newspapers and television rather than trying to form a party of black-clad spooksters and convince people to take it seriously.

Wikipedia says, "Goths may, indeed, have political leanings ranging from left-liberal to anarchist, but they do not express them specifically as part of a cultural identity. Instead, political affiliation, like religion, is seen as a matter of personal conscience. Unlike punk, there are few clashes between political affiliation and being ‘Goth’," which sums it up reasonably well.

But a little while back, the online Goth magazine Morbid Outlook ran a survey to discover a 'more tangible snapshot of Goths’ political views.' They sent a questionnaire of 21 questions on topics ranging from the Iraq war to gay marriage to readers of Morbid Outlook and members of the forums. There were, in total, 68 respondents. Based on the results (which you can check out here), Frederik Sisa, who conducted the survey, says, "So what can we say about Goths and politics? Is being Goth indicative of a particular kind of politics? The tentative answer actually may be yes. Insofar as Goth is open-minded, lifestyle oriented, and focused on individual expression – social qualities, in essence – Goths are liberal as demonstrated by overwhelming support of gay marriage and legal abortion. But on issues that are independent of these social qualities, like health care and gun control, Goths tend to be inline with the general population."

Well, it's not often that you can say Goths hold an opinion in common with the mainstream.

I have also noticed that recently there seems to have been a surge towards political activism in the Goth scene, with groups such as the Gothic Liberation Front, the Black Cat Campaign and the Sophie Lancaster Foundation taking a stand to fight for the rights of members of alternative cultures. You may remember the petition to change the hate crime law to define attacks on people because of their style of dress or subcultural affiliation? It would seem that, when it comes to defending ourselves, we Goths are not afraid to speak up and make ourselves heard.

Goth-friendly political activism
Radical cheerleading - Yes, cheerleading (don't panic). Radical cheerleading is NOT about miniskirts, footballers and cheesy grins. Radical cheerleading chants focus on spreading a message - MookyChick says, "Entwined with anti-authority and anti-capitalist views, the spirit of radical cheerleading was born in the sunny state of Florida in 1997. Started by two sisters, radical cheerleading has now gone global, spreading to other parts of the US, Canada, Europe and beyond. Radical cheerleading groups mainly perform at protest demos, but they also strut their stuff at feminist and radical festivals/events like Ladyfest." Plus, radical cheerleading uniforms are usually in Goth-friendly colours - black, red and pink - so there's no need to forgo one's fashion credentials. For more info, check out this link.

Blogging - starting a blog is a quick and relatively easy way to get your opinions out there. Popular blogging platforms include Blogspot/Blogger and LiveJournal (or DeadJournal, if you want to be really extra-specially spooky). The hardest part is getting your blog noticed - use links in your forum and e-mail signatures, and make sure your blog is added to search engines like Google.
Protest marches - let's face it, stark, dramatic make-up, six-inch platforms and neon-pink hair certainly draw attention, and in certain cases you may wish to use this attention to your advantage. The Parade of United Souls in Sheffield, organised by Alicia Thompson, certainly made locals take notice - around 100 Goths are estimated to have taken part in the march, which was arranged because of Sophie Lancaster's death. It was described by the Sheffield Telegraph as "a plea for tolerance from a society they (Goths) feel gives them little respect". One of the marchers was quoted as saying, "Some people think we look a bit scary, but we are only human. We have the same rights as everyone else and we just want an end to the bullying and prejudice."

Alicia Thompson said that whilst the police were very supportive of the march, the council was less so. Alicia, 32, added that a policeman told her he had never had to arrest a Goth in his 44-year career.

Listening to: Teddy - RazorBladeKisses


Julietslace said...

I'm unsurprisingly very political, Labour party for me ;) and I've obviously never met another Goth who supports the Tories.

ultimategothguide said...

Guess who voted Conservative in the last election?

You know, I had a feeling you'd be the political type. XD

I have no political affiliations, I just vote for whoever's policies I think are best at the time. I have to say I don't think much of Labour's prospects currently, though. Also, I can't stand Harriet Harman.

And yes, in case you wondered, I also read the Daily Mail. Every day. Despite the fact that at least one of its columnists is a bigoted moron.

Sample Survey Questionnaire said...

They are a lot of surveys in the world the Goths are symbol of Satanism or simply anti-Christ, Is that true ?

ultimategothguide said...

@ SSQ - No, not at all. In fact, I've previously written a post about such misconceptions that you might like to check out:

JSF said...

I found your post during a quick Google search for Politics and Goths.

Well, I am a Goth living in Los Angeles (usually hanging out at Ruin, Mode:m and Maladiction) but I have been active in American politics since I was 15.

I've worked in both parties, but in '92, I switched to the Right (carrying my Social Liberterianism with me). I've interned on capitol Hill, helped many campaigns and just got 5,205 votes for a Central Committee position (taking office in December).

I have my Blog; My political people know I'm Goth (dressing in California casual during those meetings, always with a touch of black or red) and my Goths know I'm a Republican.

It can be done. I am looking to go for a CA State Assembly or City Council run in 9 years or so.

You have a cool blog.

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