My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

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..

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Politeness and Goth Part 2: When Others Are Rude

This is a continuation of yesterday's post.
As Goths, we sadly receive a lot of negative and unwanted attention if we are visibly so in public, and  also sometimes from those we live, work and study with. The topics of how to deal with bullying at school, family that do not understand, and unpleasantness from co-workers have already been addressed by others in great depth; I thoroughly recommend reading the advice given at Gothic Charm School.  Here I am giving advice on not countering rudeness with rudeness. In life I have found that in the end, you are stooping to their level and it is better to take the higher ground, but rather than asking you take my word for that, I feel like I ought to elaborate. 

Firstly, there are those who shout abuse at Goths in public. Please do NOT shout and swear at strangers who make rude comments in the street. It is understandable to be angry if (or sadly, and more likely, "when") you get street harassment for being Goth, but retaliation does not help, and remember that once you react, people like that will try and provoke further reaction. Also, if you react and get involved in some kind of argument, there's the risk of it escalating. My advice is to walk on, don't even turn to look at them, and get yourself to a safer place. It is usually teenagers and young men (but also young women, just a higher percentage are male) in groups who do this, and their motivation is to show off to their friends, and to get some kind of reaction from who they harass, and they will generally be rude to anyone that has anything about them that distinguishes them. 

Yes, their words and sentiments are wrong, yes you may feel that you ought to stand up for yourself and your subculture, but your words will not discourage them, or change their minds, and in reacting to them, you are giving them what they want; a spectacle. If they are particularly aggressive, report antisocial behaviour to the police. In my experience, the police in the UK tend to respond actually remarkably sensibly without much victim blaming to these incidents, especially since the work of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation to work with police on the matter of street harassment for those in alternative subcultures. 

Remember that whatever they say is designed to provoke and upset the person they are harassing, and therefore do not dwell on their words and try not to let them trouble you. I have years of practice at this, so to me mean words have pretty much no impact, mostly because I know that I am doing no wrong, but they are.  It takes a while to become impervious to those who try and make a mockery, and some people never do, but even if you are upset, try not to let them see it has affected you. 


Do not try and scare people.
I think that deliberately setting out to scare and shock people is unkind, and really not a productive use of time, even with - no, especially - with people who have a problem with your Goth self. It can be so tempting to indulge in deliberate theatrics when faced with people who think you are a Devil-worshipping vampire-witch, but it is ultimately unproductive, and can sometimes be very counter-productive. 

An examples of this from my life:
When I was young and naive about the world, I tried feeding the rumours already being spread about me being a witch as a strategy to scare off the bullies at school, but then it back-fired when adults around me either thought this as confirmation that I was indeed an evil witch, or thought that I was a delusional attention seeker and other such things that caused me far more trouble than the bullies, and it did not stop the bullying; learn from my mistakes - I've heard of other babybats attempting that sort of thing, and it rarely ever works. I am pretty ashamed of how I behaved, and how stupid I was thinking it might work, but if it means that other people don't make the same mistakes, I am willing to share what I did publicly. 

I also don't think it is sensible to counter intolerance and prejudice by deliberately being defiantly as  Gothic and different as possible. I have myself been very tempted to employ this tactic against someone who spent much time during my teenage years trying to get me to be 'normal' by badgering me, ranting at me, complaining to others in my life, etc. and all to no avail as I am inherently different and changing me simply isn't possible.  While showing to that sort of person that there is no way you are going to change and that you are proud to be who you are is satisfying, there is no point emphatically making a big and conspicuous display of it; simply carry on as you are and ignore them as you still make your point without trying to provoke. Antagonising them in return will not achieve anything, but will only further entrench their beliefs, as people tend to become stubborn and defensive if they feel they are being openly challenged. It can be hard to walk away, and it is understandable to become angry, defensive and defiant yourself, but if reasoning with them calmly does not work, then other tactics will not either; you cannot force someone to realise or admit that they are wrong. 

I will be posting again tomorrow with more Goth advice, and later this week I will post about my adventures this weekend past.

If you have specific question, you can contact me privately by my Domesticated Goth e-mail address at: 
domesticatedgoth[symbole arrobase]gmail[point]com or by messaging the ::Domesticated Goth page:: on FaceBook

4 comments:

  1. It's interesting that you mentioned previous rumors that people considered you a witch. Every so often, I hear through the proverbial grapevine that some people down below consider me a witch of sorts. I am after all, the cemetery caretaker on the mountain who dresses in black.

    I consider their concerns about me a sort of protection however, as previous caretakers have had their living quarters broken into and property stolen. Of course, I do nothing to stoke their fears or superstitions and act non threatening with anyone I meet. Still, I can't help but believe that their feelings about me has been helpful in a way.

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    1. One of the problems with rumours about /me/ being a witch is that they're not entirely untrue; I don't like the term 'witch' but I'm a Neo-Pagan with an interest in the supernatural and various practices that could very easily be called 'witchcraft' - but, the kind of witch that people assume I am because of how I look has a lot more to do with the sort in frightening stories and horror movies and very little to do with how witches actually are... It becomes a double-edged sword, and it's something I'm planning to address properly in a future blog post.

      I'm glad you haven't been broken into; that would be terrible if it happened. Someone tried to break into my property a while ago, and although they didn't get in, it was quite unsettling.

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    2. I'm Neo-Pagan as well and although I haven't attended any rituals for years, I do, from time to time, practice on my own. As with you however, that's not why people consider that I might be one.

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    3. It's frustrating; I get non-Pagan people who assume I'm a witch because I bear enough sartorial resemblance to the fantasy version, and Pagan people who assume I'm not a proper Pagan and living in permanent-LARP for the same reason.

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