Hopefully the reviews, arts posts, and links to musicians and films speak for themselves. The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind.

Household crafts and creativity are not just for housewives and Martha Stewart, they are a way to become emancipated from living life according to what is on offer on the high-street, to reduce the amount of waste being thrown away, to live your own unique aesthetic and become more engaged with your material goods. Hopefully it is a way to realise owning stuff doesn't inherently make life better, and that making the most of what you already have does. Apart from all the pretentious-sounding philosophy, they're good fun, and that is probably the best reason of them all.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Wallingford Castle

In which I photograph everything but the castle...
Another place I went to on my travels earlier this year was the ruins of Wallingford Castle in Oxfordshire. I was in the town because it is near where some relations of mine live, and Raven and I were visiting them. There Wikipedia article on the castle's history can be read ::here:: and is a good place to start, although while long for a Wikipedia article, it only really skims what is a approximately a millennia of history. Considering the wars, sieges, and floods it has survived and its varied uses from defensive castle to prison to location for a stately home, it is a piece of land with a LOT of history! 

Exterior of College of St Nicholas
The weather kept changing between cloud and sunshine, and as such it was hard to get a consistent set of photographs. Unusually for me, I tried photographing mostly in colour as one of the interesting things about the ruins is how many colours of stone were used to build them and the vibrant lichens that grow upon them. Most of the photographs are from a Gothic and ecclesiastical building called the College of St Nicholas (which was an organised community of priests, not the modern usage of the word to mean an educational establishment) as that is one of the buildings that remains more intact than most of the castle, of which some sections of wall remain, but which is mostly surviving earthworks. 

Spring flowers and picturesque ruins - not that Gothic!
I had a nice day out, and went for a lovely stroll around Wallingford town. I wore a frilled jacket and layered skirts, as while it was quite bright, it was not overly warm outside (British springtime). Raven took a picture of my standing by the wall. My hair looks rather blue here, but I can assure that it is the same emerald green it has been for a while. The wall does not look that tall in the first photograph, and as I am 5'9" tall, that should give some sense of scale to the wall.

Being thoroughly distracted by
my adorable not-quite-2-yet niece!
I will be back in the future, that is almost guaranteed, as I try to go back to visit my family in England as often as possible. The next time I go, I will try to take some more atmospheric photographs, and to take more photographs of what remains of the castle itself. I have been photographed here before, a long while back, by Raven when we were first dating. I would think it a lovely location for a photo-shoot. 

Fancy monuments. 
Just off the edge of the castle grounds is a small and ancient graveyard, once that to All Hallow's Church, which is no longer there, and with the relocated monument to Thomas Bennett's charitable bequest to the town, which is now by the road and I think this has contributed to its need for renovation recently as the the fumes combined with British can't have contributed well to the sandstone's longevity. Inside the monument is a carving of a vaulted ceiling, which really requires clambering into it, or at least sticking your camera in and hoping for the best, to get a good view and therefore isn't properly photographed here. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Douglas Castle Gatehouse

Sometimes beautiful things are found in unexpected places.
Quite grand for a picnic area
During the school's Easter holiday break, Raven and I went on a road-trip down South to and through Wales, and then back North through England and then to Glasgow back in Scotland. On that trip, we came across Cairn Lodge motorway service station, near Happendon, in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It was a particularly unexciting service station with canteen food and dry chocolate muffins, and right until I looked out of the service station window, I would have quickly forgotten about it. 

I love arches!
Behind the service station is what remains of the gatehouse and stable-block, as pictured pretty much in full in the first photograph. I have not been to Douglas Castle, but all that now remains, apart from these parts of the stable-block, is one tower. According to ::this Wikipedia article::, a vast country residence in the Gothic style was planned, but once begun never completed, and in 1938 the castle had to be demolished after nearby mining caused subsidence issues. Interestingly, it was the 13th Earl of Home, who sanctioned the mining, and did so with the philanthropic idea to relieve unemployment in the local area. I guess 13 can be an unlucky number for some. It is apparently the inspiration for 'Castle Dangerous' by Walter Scott. 

I don't know if the stables are now a private
residence or staff area. Either way, not a castle.
I, of course had to take photographs. It seems a reflection of the modern age that all the grand Gothic architectural ambitions of the medieval noble House of Douglas have come to being a lone tower and an amusement for tourists in a motorway service station car-park. All is transient. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Inverness Cathedral

The first instalment of Architectural Photography Week!
Firstly, this week is going to be architectural photography week here at Domesticated Goth. For the next few days, expect plenty of photographs of various buildings and ruins I have visited, and a few guest posts from better photographers than me as on Sunday 13th we went on a little trip to some interesting locations. 

The rose window has a pentagram
(and I've only just noticed!)
Secondly, enjoy these photographs of Inverness Cathedral. These are the only two I've taken that turned out well, and all the others are just the same angles with different settings as I played with the 'proper camera' on manual. Raven helped me, as I'm quite the photography newbie when it comes to the technical side of things. 

This one was intended as a cover picture for my Facebook
Inverness Cathedral is reasonably small by cathedral standards, but is beautifully decorated both inside and out. It is Victorian (1860s), built in the Gothic Revival style and it was designed by Alexander Ross, who also designed Eden Court, the bishop's house just a little further down the river. The two towers at the front were supposed to be full spires, but were never built at such. If you go inside the cathedral, there's a lovely watercolour painting of the original design with the two spires, framed up nicely and on display. I personally feel that the original design would have appeared more cathedral like, rather than church like. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Old-School Gothic Lolita Headdress

I swear it isn't green in real life. 
Back in April, I tried my hand at sewing a Gothic Lolita/kuro Lolita headband in the old-school style. These are the fabric head-dresses with lace that were an iconic part of the Lolita style about 10 years ago, but which have since gone out of popularity in favour of bows and bonnets, then more recently, floral crowns and headdresses. I quite like the old-school Kuro and Gothic Lolita styles, so when I finally got my sewing machine running again, I made this.

I hadn't sewn in ages, so it isn't perfect and I know there's several things that could have been tidier (the ribbon criss-crossing it is too loose, for a start, and the whole thing's been worn a few times before this photo was taken so it could have done with ironing flat again, the corners of the crochet lace weren't sewn the flattest, the bows at either end need to be more secure because they keep pivoting, etc.) I had to boost the photograph to make the headdress visible as it's all black-on-black; the blacks match better in real life! Other than that, I am quite happy with it. I hope to make a second one at some point, and improve on this.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Stereotyping From Within The Subculture And Inclusivity: Part 3 - Pale Is Not The Only Aesthetic

This one is so basic that I'm really annoyed that I have to even mention this, but you don't have to be as pale as paper to be a Goth. The very fact that there is this sort of notion within the subculture at all makes me irritated. 

I am very much the super-pale Goth stereotype. I am naturally very pale, and in the Goth subculture was very grateful to find a place where the same pallor that made me the object of ridicule ("oi! Vampire!" and that was even before I turned Goth!) and perpetual inquiries after my health ("Are you feeling alright? You look awfully pale...") and suggestions of good fake tans (No thank-you, I am quite happy looking the way I do) it was nice to find somewhere where this was not just accepted but seen as ideal of beauty. As such it can be easy to loose sight that other people within the community with darker skin ranging from more tanned European skin tones to very dark skin from African and Australasian/Pacific ancestry can feel like the community isn't as supportive of them. 

There is a VERY good article on this at Coilhouse which I think all readers of this article should read ::here::

The usual excuse I hear is that pale skin is better for the cool-colours and monochrome aesthetic. Yes, unnaturally pale people are closer to monochrome, even more so if they actually paint their faces white, and thus fit the cool-colours only palette, but since when has this been the only way to achieve a Gothic aesthetic? And this is coming from one of those naturally ridiculously pale people; I have no necessity to think up what sort of colours co-ordinate with warmer and darker skin tones but I can still do so without much effort; all black works with everything, for a start. Goths who say it's impossible for dark skinned and warm-skin-toned people to do Goth properly either have no imagination for makeup or fashion or are just trying disguise their racism or silliness (because more tanned Goths of European ancestry get this nonsense too). Heck, if we can have people who are tattooed rainbow colours being acceptable Goths despite definitely falling out of the 'monochrome and cool colours only' bracket, then we can certainly dismiss the argument of "but warm tones aren't Goth!!". Also -what about all the Goths with red, auburn and other warm-toned hair (red, auburn and copper being particularly Pre-Raphaelite and particularly Steampunk related at the moment). 

Beyond the aesthetic argument, why should not being pale be any barrier to participation in the subculture? Goth is a vast and varied subculture, anyone who likes the music, the culture and the fashion can join - no restrictions on skin tone, race, ethnicity, religion or locale, because none of these things are even vaguely criteria for what Goth is. Go read my article ::What IS Goth?:: and see if I mention on there "must be as pale as Death's bleached skull"  - hint: I don't. 

This may seem like shocking news to some, but the subculture has been world-wide for years and there are even Goths in the Middle East and South America (I've seen the photographs from World Goth Day club nights in Brasilia - there were some awesome outfits going on there, and everyone looks like they had a lot of fun!). The scene has its own local characteristics wherever it sprouts, but it always has the same roots. An appreciation for the macabre is a part of human nature - there have been people with a dark wardrobe and appreciation for macabre beauty for a long time throughout history, long before the Goth subculture ever appeared and there are eccentric and darkly minded people all over the world. In the age of the internet and mass globally-distributed media it's not surprising that the subculture has spread as people find there's an entire subculture for people whose taste for the darker things might get them ostracised from mainstream society, whether that's in England or Turkey or Japan or America or Sweden or South Africa or anywhere else, and connect with like-minded individuals. This is a good thing and the diversity of input into the subculture stops it going stale. 

Talking of stale, I feel like there's a certain staleness in Gothic imagery and photographs (and remember that those photographs are aspirational material for many Goths) and they include an awful lot of very pale people, often women, looking undead in lovely anachronistic outfits, probably in a graveyard, in a creepy forest or in front of a cathedral - it's gorgeous, it's surely beautiful, and I am certainly a fan, but it is not the ONLY way to do Goth; it's not Dracula's wives or bust. I'm sure a lot of this is artistic laziness instead of deliberate racism; it's easier to just recycle the same imagery that's been around since  pre-Raphaelite depictions of Ophelia and probably before than come up with something completely new (they were old by the time of Hammer horror movies and The Addams and Munsters); it is a visual language so often repeated that we all know it like the words to a familiar song, but we can do so much more than that, and it is about time we stepped up to the plate and started embracing a more diverse set of Gothic imagery. 

There is no reason why post-apocalyptic Goths have to be pale; after all I'm sure even the palest people will develop tans after the sunscreen factories get nuked and radioactive killer zombies tear holes in your parasols. There's no good reason why vampires have to be a particularly pale version of European (anyone seen the Blade movies? Ok, just the first one?). Anyone can be the ghost lurking in the shadows of a haunted house or the unfortunate person to find the ghost. Even the Gothic clichés don't have to involve only very pale people. I'm sure Goths of parent cultures other than our own will have their own ghastly folk tales and history to bring to the table of ghoulish delights, and I am fascinated to see what can be done. We've had thousands of permutations of aristocratic European vampires, haunted mostly-wooden American houses with creepy things in the basement, and black clad witches in grim and tangled forests, and while I am sure there's plenty more permutations possible and I will always enjoy these themes, our grim folk mythology isn't the only one. 

If you are a Gothic artist or photographer, or any other form of visual artist in the scene, and you find yourself mostly making images of pale (and often very slender, and often female) people, question why, and question if you can't be a bit more diverse and try something different. Heck, it would be nice to see a greater balance of images between every other gender/sex and Gothic women, as most of the images I see are of women Goths! It will probably go a long way to make Goths with a broader range of skin tones feel a lot more like a valued and equally aspirational sort of Goth. 

There is nothing wrong with being a freckled Goth or a goth with olive, chocolate or walnut skin, or a Goth with inked skin in a variety of colours put there by tattoos, or with being a very pale Goth - I'm hardly saying it's passé and ugly now! We're all Goths, and no value judgement should be put on how Goth someone is because of skin colour, ethnicity or parent culture. I really want everyone within the subculture to feel that they can be comfortable in their own skin and not under any pressure to live up to some beauty standard that expects them to be as pale as the moon (and as thin as a willow leaf.. but that is another topic for another article.) and I especially think Goth should be a haven, especially for those who experience prejudice outside of the subculture, whether that is racism, ableism, homophobia or anything else, not to mention that our unusual tastes and interests can often make us outcasts to a degree at the best of times. 

I do not want to see Goth turn into something with the same rot as mainstream culture, just with a darker aesthetic, and I do sometimes worry that is starting to happen. I get worried when I see Goth adopting narrow standards of beauty, because it is both contrary to what I feel are the principles of Goth and something that causes, or is at least contributory to a lot of body-image and self-esteem issues in mainstream society, especially when these standards of beauty go from being what the fashion media are looking for in models to something the nastier people in society use to measure each other and judge. 

From what I've seen of old photographs from the '80s and '90s, there were quite a few people with a broad range of skin-tones and ethnicities in the scene. I don't want to hear any more reports of Goths with darker skins or from non-European ethnicities not being accepted as "proper Goths" (who put you in charge of deciding that?) or having their Gothic credibility questioned. If they are at the Goth club, wearing the same kind of clothes as you, and dancing to the same music as you, what gives you the right to question the legitimacy of them being there? Chances are they are there for the exact same reasons as everyone else at the Goth club, or spooky picnic, or internet forum about why Siouxsie Sioux is a wonderful singer or any other place where Goths interact socially. 

If you are still not convinced, then go visit some wonderful bloggers like ::Madame Mari Mortem:: and Colour Me Goth who are very damn Goth indeed. If that does not satisfy, have a look around Tumblr too.  

Dear Goth community as a whole, please stop making up excuses to be exclusionary; you are making Goth look bad, giving credence to the terribly mis-informed people who think we're Neo-Nazis, and making people who can contribute to the Goth scene just as much as anyone else feel left out. 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Stereotyping From Within The Subculture And Inclusivity: Part 2 - Gender Roles In Fashion

I feel like I should debunk each of the stereotypes and that we within the Goth subculture impose on ourselves and our community.  Today I am tackling another topic which affects me personally, and that is how it seems that Goth fashion (and interests, but today I am talking about fashion only) for female-identifing members of the community seem weirdly limited, and that there is another relatively narrow set for male-identifying members of the subculture, but for them a bit more breadth and freedom. 

As I mentioned yesterday, Goth, in being a sub-culture, does inherit some of the values of its parent cultures, but also has freedom to adopt its own values and needs to have the self-awareness to realise when it has adopted harmful or negative values from its parent culture. One of those appears to be that women dress one way, and men the other, and I feel that this is very narrow, and does not accommodate those who do not consider themselves men or women, and those who disregard any gendering of fashion, and various other positions. 

Within Goth, I tend to see a rather narrow set of fashion archetypes for women and female-identifying/dressing Goths. This is something I addressed quite broadly in ::this:: post, and I would suggest readers go back and read that post, because this is very much a sequel to it, as well as a sequel to yesterday's post. Goth is niche enough fashion, I know, but in a subculture where I thought gender boundaries in fashion would be more blurred, there is a surprising rigidity. 

I think the easiest example of this is that collections of Gothic trousers for women tend to focus on skinny jeans (I know there are exceptions, but this seems to be the main trend) whereas Gothic trousers for men, while including skinny jeans cut for a different body-type also include the baggy trousers with pockets and straps, Romantic Goth trousers that lace up down the side, brocade trousers, knee britches, etc. I found some brocade effect trousers, but they're skinny cut, which I hate; I do not have skinny legs, and therefore I either have to buy trousers too large at the waist/hip to fit over my legs, or have them uncomfortably tight. Either way, I can find literally hundreds of differing skirts and dresses in a wide variety of styles from bustles to mini-skirts, to Gothic Lolita skirts designed to accommodate a petticoat, to pencil skirts, to industrial skirts that are (wonderfully) marketed as unisex (that is the sort of thing I want to see more of!). Men do have the option of skirts and kilts in industrial fashion, but there's a huge dearth of skirts for men too, although by the very nature of many skirts being only fitted for a narrow section at the waist, quite a few skirts for women are wearable by men, whereas as many trousers need to fit well from the waist to the upper thigh, men's trousers can look ungainly on women (yet I still wear Raven's combats... I think they're comfortably roomy, but hey...). 

For legwear I actually like, that is cut to fit my curved female figure, I have to shop from retailers half-way across the world from me that stock Ouji/Visual Kei fashion - in fact, Japanese Alternative fashion is quite pioneering for its gender-fashion flexibility in general - just think of Mana and what are known as 'Brolitas' in the west, and of the androgynous styles and girls who both cosplay and dress in 'male' fashions (girls in 'dandy', Ouji and prince styles, for example, or wearing Gothic Aristocrat fashion in the 'male' archetypes). I really wish more of this sort of flexibility appeared in Goth in Europe, North America, Australia, etc. 

I think men and male-bodied persons wearing clothes that are traditionally female gendered (platform shoes, long skirts, etc.), and male cross dressing in general is more frequent both in Japanese Alternative fashions than women and female-bodied people approaching clothes tha are traditionally gendered male. Goth. In the UK, I have seen quite a few male Goths wear skirts or completely cross-dress at Goth events, many of whom I know for a fact identify primarily or wholly as male, and I have seen quite a few transgendered and gender-queer Goths whose birth sex was male, and more flamboyant gay Goth men who are not afraid to wear garments and makeup that is seen by mainstream culture as 'for women' but are not trying to appear necessarily feminine, but rather ostentatiously masculine. I am very happy that the Goth subculture appears to be a largely accepting place in this respect - not being male, or male-to-female or otherwise flouting the gender binary from a place that is seen as originating as male, I cannot speak from their perspective or claim to know their experience, but I have certainly seen no overt hostility, and generally from the social encounters witnessed, a generally very accepting atmosphere. 

I think this climate of acceptance goes for Lolita to, where I think the women who are hostile to 'Brolitas' and interest in the subculture from those they perceive as male is a minority - all the advice boards, forums, communities, etc. where this has been raised from those Brolitas, transgender Lolitas and other gender-variant Loltias who have been curious and afraid has been vastly positive, and the nasty comments about them restricted to the likes of Behind The Bows and Lolita Secrets and other internet spaces dedicated to being nasty to people behind their backs and unkind comments, and coming from being newbie Lolita who was very off-put in general by the attitudes I found in these places, and then interacting with the wider community and finding that there's generally only drama and unpleasantness if you go looking for it and that the community as a whole are quite pleasant and helpful and a lot less elitist and rude than they are made out to be. 

However, I still see that most female Goths follow the same few fashion archetypes and I see very few tomboy Goths, practically styled female Goths, butch Goths, female-to-male transvestite Goths (or Steampunks, as I once was, with my male Steampunk alter-ego Raphael...), or other female identifying and women Goths who wear things that are not trying to enhance secondary sexual characteristics in either the fancy skirts, corsets and frills style, or the mini-skirts/booty shorts ripped-fishnets and high-heels vein, or something in-between. Most of the Gothic fashion shoots of women are while certainly beautiful, often very similar - a thin, pale woman in a corset that accentuates her waist and bust, miles of beautiful fabric and lace, long black or red hair, plenty of accessories and a scenic location, or a scantily-clad almost post-apocalyptic young woman wearing plenty of ripped and revealing clothes. I have dressed in both of these manners and have nothing against either of them, in fact, I am especially fond of the almost vampiric or witchy styles of rather elaborate anachronism, as anyone who follows this blog is aware.  I have also posed in an abandoned and ruined building in platform boots and ripped fishnets on my arms (something I ought to post here!). 

I  wish there was more variety, and that the variant images and styles were more popular, because as it stands, I feel that there is a certain pressure to dress a certain way to be accepted within the Goth community, which is ridiculous coming from a community that faces prejudice and a distinct lack of acceptance from many quarters because of the way we dress, and that my more traditionally feminine fashion will get me more page-views, more positive attention and more compliments and re-blogs than if I posted pictures of me in more traditionally masculine styles, and that the notions of what is beautiful in Goth are black-mirror reflection of what is beautiful in mainstream fashion and mainstream culture, and that is sad for a subculture that is supposed to seek beauty in what is considered taboo, in what is considered ugly, and that embraced this in its early days, but does not seem to do so now.  Fashion might be 'mere clothes' but we are not embodying the values of our own subculture, and we can do better than that. 

I am also concerned that the gendering of fashion in Goth will seem alienating to those whose gender identities do not conform to any binary notion and wish for their outward appearance to reflect this, and being alienating is something that the Goth community should really avoid. I would hope the popularity of figures in the online Goth community such as Sebastian Columbine who do not identify with the traditional gender binary is a sign that we are an accepting subculture, but I know that is not always the case. 

I am on summer break from work for the time being, and I hope to showcase a lot more outfits involving trousers and shirts now that I have the opportunity to dress for myself daily rather then spend 5 days out of 7 dressing for my work environment. You have seen me in skirts hundreds (it must be hundreds by now) of times. I think I have appeared in my work trousers twice on this blog, and in Goth trousers three times. It is important to embody the change you want to see in the world, so I am going to start by showcasing two things I wish to see more of in Goth fashion - women wearing dandy/historical male aristocrat inspired outfits, and women wearing practical Goth fashion. If anyone can send me links to Goth bloggers who specialise in tomboy, dandy and even butch fashions, I would be interested. 

Note: I have tried to word my references to people who do not identify as men or women correctly, if I have unwittingly used the wrong terminology, I am sorry and mean no offence. I am coming at this as an outsider, as I neither consider myself a part of the gender binary (I am a woman according to my sex, but do not think that this determines anything about me beyond some biology only really important to myself, Raven and my doctor, and those who are involved in my physical training.) nor as a gender identity that isn't cisgendered because I consider gender a cultural construct that I personally reject, although I will be respectful of others who identify in a different manner and have different ideas about the nature of gender, or who agree that it is a construct, but find it a helpful one.  I would presume that Female-to-male transgender Goths are not female identifying, and will be mostly dressing in clothes gendered as masculine and if not, would probably prefer to be seen as approaching female gendered clothing from a male perspective. If I am wrong on this, feel free to correct me. These are things outside my frame of reference, and I am very wary of talking about people incorrectly or accidentally offensively, but I hope that it is clear that I am trying to encourage acceptance of a wider variety of clothing choice in relation to perceptions of gender and that I have absolutely no negative opinion towards how others identify and while I may be ignorant, am not wilfully so. 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Stereotyping From Within The Subculture And Inclusivity: Part 1 - Financial Snobbery.

Firstly, happy Independence Day to my American readership. Have fun, enjoy barbecues and pyrotechnics if you are into that sort of thing!

I was reading ::this:: post by Fee over at 'An Honest Drug' and the posts she linked to - Nicolette Mason writing on IFB ::here:: it got me thinking about inclusivity in the Goth subculture in general, and about how I think certain stereotypes are being perpetuated within the online Gothic community. I think how Goth represents itself online is very important as a lot of Goths, especially younger Goths who don't have access to the clubs and gigs of the adult Goth scene, rely on the internet for a connection to the broader Goth scene.

I am going to try and avoid simply repeating what has already been said about those who blog commercially having various pressures around them to adopt mainstream values and deviate from their image (basically, a pressure to 'sell out' to some degree, like with any creative industry) partly because it is too general for the audience of this blog and my interests, and partly because I simply don't like repeating what others can say better.  

I have tried to debunk mostly stereotypes imposed on Goth from the outside, such as Goths not being a subculture of depression (to be found at ::this:: post) and Goth not being an inherently middle-class subculture (to be found at  ::this:: post) to my being an example of the fact that Goths are not all teenagers and we do grow up and get proper jobs while remaining alternative. What I have not spent much attention to, though, are the stereotypes perpetuated within the subculture.

The first one I would like to debunk is that you have to spend lots of money on clothes, trinkets and generally applying the Goth aesthetic to your entire lifestyle, and that the flashier, more ornate clothes you have and the amount of times you can go to Gothic festivals (especially if you're travelling across Europe and America to go to them) can somehow dictate how Goth you are. I have mentioned this tangentially in various past posts about being a Goth on a budget. (::Here::, ::here:: and ::here::, for example) but you do not need to be rich to be Goth any more than you need to come from a middle-class background or be middle-class (as these are all tied to socio-economic status).  This is basic snobbery, and Goth is not run by the Goth oligarchy, because Goth has no leaders.

I am tackling this first, because as followers of my blog may well know, I am not very well off - my job is part-time and barely covers the rent, and to contribute towards utilities, taxes and bills I have to busk in my local city (followers of the Domesticated Goth page on FaceBook will know I do this). Currently money is very tight, and as I have mentioned before, I may well have some big life changes ahead, and I am not feeling that financially secure at the moment. I certainly feel a little left out when I see the beautiful gowns from WGT showcased on Viona Art, for example, or when I get the newsletters and FaceBook updates from my favourite alternative craftspeople and sellers and would like to purchase their wares and know that I can't even afford the sale items right now.

Nobody has been obviously and outwardly snobbish towards me, but I can't help but feel that I and my Gothy endeavours get more than slightly less attention than that of some of my wealthier comrades in Goth who get photographed seemingly endlessly in their finery at festivals, seem to be constantly updating their blogs and FB feeds with haul posts and product reviews and always seem to be slightly better dressed and slightly fancier than I can be. I cannot be honest without saying that I am a tad jealous, and I don't like being a jealous person, or feeling like there's a climate within the community that is contributing towards that jealousy.

I think it is important for me, and for other Goths not to get too caught up in this sort of materialism and commercialisation of the subculture. Independent craftspeople are certainly the lifeblood of the subculture, and buying their wares is certainly far better than buying mass-market stuff aimed at our demographic by large businesses who are not part of the subculture and don't care about it, but we shouldn't judge each other or ourselves on how much we buy, regardless of where those things come from. Your spending power is not a mark of dedication to the subculture. In some ways, I guess the percentage of one's income spent on the subculture could be seen as mark of dedication, as it shows the level of investment of one's resources, but compared to the time spent on and within the subculture, and one's contribution to it, even that sort of monetary marker is largely irrelevant.

Another factor is that having more money allows for a more polished internet presence - better quality photographs taken on cameras rather than poor-resolution phone cams (like on my old smart-phone), a larger wardrobe of more expensive and fancy clothes, and often less pressures on time for those who earn enough from one job to not be running about between various sources of income, etc. Some have even paid graphic designers and professional photographers, etc.

If you have money it is easier to produce higher quality content, but it is not the only way. I am lucky in that I can get Raven to photograph me sometimes, and the difference between his work, even on an off day, and my best selfies is staggering.  I know a little about web-design, and sometimes have days where I can spend days tweaking the Domesticated page, so I hope that my blog here is good from a design perspective (although comments and critique on this are always appreciated, and I know I need to update both the photo gallery and the site map) so while I don't have money to spend on high-end cameras, and while I'm not paid to model, I still have a few good images here and a relatively aesthetically pleasing blog.

Yes, this might attract readers, but it is the product of handwork, careful investment and a lot of hours, and not of a large budget, and as I have mentioned in my various posts on being Goth on a budget, there are plenty of ways to apply "time and effort" as a way to get a polished Gothic lifestyle in real life, and not just the internet, and as I would like to re-iterate, I think it is time and effort that prove real dedication the subculture, not how much one spends on it. There are many teens who have gone through a Goth phase that has not lasted who amassed lovely collections of Goth things because their parents bought them these things - and while there is nothing wrong with Goth being a transient phase for some, and I am not bitter towards those whose parents could buy them such things, to them Goth was not going to be a factor in the rest of their lives. I am quite grateful for the existence of these people, for when they leave Goth often they sell their things cheaply on eBay or donate them to charity, and I then end up with them at a price I can afford!

As Goth is a subculture with many of its own values being outside of the parent cultures, yet being influenced by them, we should try and be self-aware of how much we adopt the more negative values of the parent cultures when, in having our own subculture, we have greater freedom to adopt our own. Any kind of materialistic snobbery is something I think we should avoid, especially when younger Goths feel like they cannot participate because they cannot buy or have bought for them elaborate clothes and masses of black candles.

Yes, the dark and macabre have become more commercial and mainstream, and in some ways this is a sign that we are gradually becoming more acceptable to the mainstream (that itself is another topic for debate) but just because these things are available does not mean we have to buy them, and it does not mean that our subculture should stray too far from its Punk, working-class roots, and from the DIY attitude that spawned a lot of it. Early Goths may have had to be resourceful and thrift-shopping DIY-ers out of necessity, but even if we have everything from Hot Topic to Lip Service and Hell Bunny via Hysteria Machine, ::Kambriel:: and ::Merimask:: but that does not mean that the resourcefulness and craft skills of early Goths are not things to embrace and inherently worthwhile and valuable. I admire a Goth (or Lolita, or whatever) who can sew their own finery more than one who can simply buy it.  

I have noticed that DIY and crafting blogs tend to be especially popular if they have budget projects, and many of those are written by people who DIY due to financial constraints, so while the bloggers must have at least access to the internet (although that could be a friend's internet or library/municipal internet access), there is a space for poorer bloggers in the Goth blogosphere and I am glad when people are reasonably open about being on a budget, because I think it makes other poorer Goths feel like they are still part of the subculture and they're not alone or shameful because of this. Class and wealth is a HUGE divide in the wider world, and an insidious part of many other prejudices, and I feel like it is the sort of insidious thing I do NOT want to see take hold within our subculture.

An aside: I tend to avoid discussing politics and on my blog because it is off-topic and could easily derail what I am trying to do here, but the financial and resource inequality of our world is something that makes me vastly angry, and how all sorts of other prejudices are spread by those who wish to perpetuate that inequality for their own gain. I see too much "divide and conquer" perpetrated by those that see it as a means to profit and power, and too much advertising fosters a sense of self loathing to create a market for products that remedy made-up flaws.

We should be proud of our own creations, show-case them on our blogs, and when we see other Goths online and in real life, use their resourcefulness, ingenuity and creative skills to be fabulous and interesting, mention that - not in a patronising way, of course - because it is the sort of positive thing that ought to be reinforced and often the sort of thing that is quite admirable in many ways. I know I do my best to be a resourceful and creative Goth and to help others with that, but there are many who out-do me by far. Remember that Goth came from Punk, and that poverty is not shameful for the poor  -especially in a world where many countries have gone into recession in the last 5 years and where so many people have fallen beneath the poverty line. The only people who should be ashamed of poverty are those in power, both financial and governmental, that have allowed and encouraged such a world of inequity. 

You do not need a huge wardrobe of the fanciest anachronistic Goth clothes, three pairs of New Rock boots for every season, every Goth album ever on MP3, CD and vinyl, and to go to every club night and festival in a thousand mile radius to be a 'proper Goth'. You just need to love what is macabre, dress spooky, love some music from a more sombre sort of rock and see the beauty in darkness - spending power is irrelevant.