Sunday, 9 September 2012

Reader Question: can Goths be accepted?

This is an email that I had from a reader: "Being fifteen and having to constantly silently battle with my mom and repressed emotions makes the mundane everyday a hard battle. But then there's you, just seeing you, a goth who is successful and accepted by her family [aw, thanks :-)] gives me proof that things, as they trudge on, will get better and slightly lighten up.

"My mom is stubborn and strong with her beliefs (with extra emphasis on the 'stubborn' part of the equation). She sticks with what she knows. I was trying to print out a confession from the Goth Confessions tumblr (it was the one where the person could not decide between the elegant and deathrock version of goth) and my mother came down the stairs. She asked me what I was doing and looked at the computer screen.

"She then said "Oh hell no. F*cking quit with the gothic sh*t because you're not f*cking gothic. When I worked for Sears we had a nice clean-shaven man come in for a job interview. He was respectable and he got the job. However, the next day he came into work dress f*cking gothic with the piercing and tattoos, the frinking shebang. The manger looked at him and said 'This is how we f*cking hired you. Now take off that sh*t or your fired."

"That concluded her story, and I was interested as to why she would bring up a situation that happened in the late 80's because, certainly, the world has changed and must be at least a little more open now. My mother told me that goths aren't accepted in society, but it's okay to do it once in a while for parties like she did when she was a kid. I tried to explain to her that, for me, goth is not just some cool fad that trendy kids do and she concluded the conversation by saying, "Goths aren't accepted by people and you're not f*cking going goth and if you are I'm disowning you and people who dress gothic everyday are f*cking morons."

"I ultimately do not know what to think about this. She is a strong woman who sticks to her beliefs... the fact that she still carries prejudice with her amazes me. I'm not sure what to make of this, do you think that you can please help me understand this whole thing a little better."

Hi there :-)

As a fully-paid up member of the Moronic Goth Club, it genuinely sounds to me as though your mother has less of an issue with the Goth scene itself (hence Goth being 'okay for parties'... aw :-)) and is more worried about how being Goth would affect you and your place in society. She's seen first-hand how other people's prejudices can push people who are different out of opportunities that they are perfectly qualified for and is clearly concerned that if you continue with your interest in 'alternative' things that the same will happen to you.

Let's be honest here - your mother is not entirely wrong. Sadly there is still a chunk of society that is intolerant and possibly even frightened of anything with the 'Goth' label attached to it; and there is always the chance that you may come up against one of these people in a job or college interview or at another important stage in your life. It's wrong and unfair and incredibly upsetting, but it does still happen.

What, presumably, your mother doesn't realise, is that one can be a Goth, or affiliated with any of the various facets of dark alternative culture, without it being obvious from their outside appearance; or they can adapt, like most of us do when we grow up, by adopting more corporate and formal styles of dress and learning when it's appropriate to tone down their appearance. Frankly, I like to think that most of us would be a touch more subtle than the chap in your mother's anecdote and would introduce inoffensive elements of their personal style gradually, over time. (Which is why, I assume, your mother thinks that full-time Gothionistas are 'morons' - I'm guessing she probably thinks they are like 'that guy' and are preventing themselves from getting good jobs and otherwise getting on within society. Thankfully this is usually not the case!)

For example, I would imagine that if you were to show your mother a picture of, say, the lovely Trystan of This is Corp Goth, she wouldn't recognise that Trystan is indeed a Goth, because she thinks of 'people who dress Gothic every day' as looking rather more like this (which is gorgeous, but not appropriate for most workplaces, particularly if you live in a conservative area). If such is the case, by the way, you have a HUGE advantage in the 'undercover Goth' stakes, because a casual dark-toned outfit with some subtly spooky jewellery could take you a long way without your mother even noticing (oh, and go all-out for those parties, because you can!). ;-)
Hint: don't dress like Danielle Dax at work
Of course, there is another side to the 'Goths are not accepted by other people' argument, which is that, yes, making oneself look visually 'different' in any way does have its dangers. People have been assaulted and even killed for the way they dress and I have no doubt that your mother wants to protect you from this kind of horrendous behaviour. My family are accepting of my style, but they are also aware that it puts me at risk sometimes, which can make them wary (and has, on occasion, led to, "You're not going out dressed like that, are you?"). I do obviously advise all of my readers to be aware that Goth dress attracts attention (postive and negative) and therefore to be prepared for this and if necessary take precations, e.g. if you know you will be in an area filled with, ahem, disruptive youths, make sure you will have somebody else with you.

I think you're right in saying that things will improve on this front as time goes by; when your mother sees that your Gothy tendencies don't make you unable to decide on suitable attire for a job interview and that you allow your chosen dark aesthetic to accent areas of your life instead of preventing you from living a full one, she may well come to realise that her preconceptions are - in most cases - mistaken.


Insomniac's Attic said...

You are wise beyond your years, Amy Asphodel ... excellent advice.

ggdawnofthedead said...

great advice Miss. Asphodel! I have been reading your blog for several months and have left some posts under anon but i have finally figured out haw to leave a post under my email {technophobe, i know}. I love your blog so much, and you have great hair and tattoo :-}

Amy Asphodel said...

Thank you both! :-D <3

Anonymous said...

The mum sounds absolutly tyrannical.
I hope life gets easier for the goth-in-need as time goes on, love. :D

Miss Rose said...

Great advice. It's the same with Lolita too; I've recently started college in Yarmouth which is less... metropolitan than I'm used too and even my toned down outfits get stupid comments. but yes, you're very good at giving advice ^^

linnea-maria said...

Very good advices! I think she should answer her mother in a polite manner to point out the bad language she use to her. But I guess it's no reason to try to speak to parents who act that way (oh I have the same experiences) because that only feed their fury.

App'y said...

I`m not sure were the `conservative area` bit comes in ? My new Thursday client, a self-made millionaire had been reading my blog and at the end of a note he left me, asking me to feed his cat he put PS I love the Sex Pistols and PIL. Even I didn`t expect that, but why not ?

Shannon Rutherford said...

It's pretty common for goths to tone down their style when they're at work, but this girl is still going to school, this is the age when she can put on whatever she wants and nobody will care because she is a teenager: wouldn't it be better to let her be free to be goth now, and then she can go corp goth when she will have to look for a job? So that she doesn't regret anything when she's older. :/

Anonymous said...

Thank you Amy. You're actually showing us how to deal with the people and the world around us.

[ nikki ] said...

From what has been posted, I think the way that the mother is treating their child is not only disrespectful but immature.

I, personally, find it rude that the mother is cursing at her child by dropping the f-word every so often, sometimes even directing at the child and their interest in the goth subculture.

My belief has a lot to do with the fact I grew up with the idea that cursing in front of your family is wrong. Yes, sometimes words do slip out.

I am even wondering how true her story is.

To say "Goths aren't accepted by people." would not be a completely true statement. It ignores the fact that there are people, outside of the subculture, who have no problem with people who are goth.

What really worries me here is that she threatens to disown her child if they are goth. I am sorry, but that's emotional abuse. That is not something you say to a person who is a part of your family.

Sometimes there is no getting through people. Sometimes people are so stubborn in their ideas that they will never accept that they are wrong, or that there are other sides.

Nightwind said...

My sister came by this weekend and for the first time, asked me if I thought my inside decor might be too negative. She questioned my motivations and I probably didn't offer the best explanations for my choices as I don't think she would understand.

I politely rejected her near insistence that I get something to balance the "negativity" in my house. I'm certainly not a teenager anymore and will dress and decorate according to my own preferences, but I found her lack of acceptance a bit disturbing.

The HouseCat said...

With that kind of language (swearing like that her own daughter!) and ranting from her mother, your correspondent has an up hill struggle ahead. I found the threat to disown her particularly worrying; her mother's reasons seem so shallow, it's not like the daughter is doing drugs or living a life of crime. I guess I'm lucky; my Dad is an ageing hippy and has never really been fussed by my dress and has taught me that acceptance isn't everything.

You have raised some important points - yes, we must be aware that our mode of dress can attract negative attention, and that incidents like that of Sophie Lancaster have happened. Also, the advice of subtly introducing Goth into the working wardrobe through inoffensive pieces is good advice. My work clothes and my personal clothes are vastly different, but it's not like hints of Goth are not visible to those who know; my mostly black wardrobe, my penchant for unusual silver jewellery, my slightly over formal wardrobe and tendency towards things like lace and velvet, etc. Sophistique Noir, though, has the best blog on corporate Goth!

TeamEdwardJace said...

Great Advice Amy! I feel for this girl . I am not gothic looking but I consider myself gothic on the inside.. Her mother is just being disressctufl. Yes sadly being goth or looking goth can attract negative and postive attention. Many people have come to be accepting of it but unfortnately there are still alot of mornoic, igorant people out there who sometimes take their opinons to the extreme such as in the case of Sophie.

To the reader, some additional advice there are different styles of goth, perhaps you can show your mom the different styles and the different styles of music of gothic. also for the workplace, depending on where you're going it might have to be toned down. also if it's a uniform, you have to wear it but you can still incoropate gothic the makeup and jewllery depending on what hte polices are. and you can still have cool hair. if you're working a food prepration area, you may have to wear the hair nets.

by outside, dress as you please(just stay away from the invereted crosses and if you going to wear a corest, bustier (there's also gthoic coreseted topics), or tiems similar, you might want to layer it or layer it and wait till you're a little older.

although it depends on low cut it is

i hope this helps

TeamEdwardJace said...

also, this mom and othes need to be educated. perhaps giver her links, show her the different styles and picutres of smiling goths and various others, at music festivals, and various styles. also tell her not goths have tats and percings except maybe for their ears show her the music, the fashion and the reader may also tell her, this is my decision. I love how I look. Franky manth others including among the goth and alternative subcultures and those from the non-alternaive community love it too. Also, even if they choose not to dress or be a part of the subculture they are accepting. also there are many christian goths

xToxicTears said...

Good lord. Her mother sounds like a horrible human being. .__. Threatening to disown your child because they want to dress a certain way? Wow. Very unfair and very nasty sounding.:(

I hope she wises up, I couldn't imagine being that bitter and narrow minded.:/

Kuroloki Roku said...

It sounds to me like the reader's mother had a personal bad experience with wearing goth (she mentions that she herself used to wear it to parties). Plus, what's up with the irrelevant Sears anecdote? She seems to have a lot of pent-up anger regarding goth. Such a shame.

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