Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Goth Human Rights!

For a very long time I thought the main fight was over. I thought us Goths had won our major battles. While I'm still not out as a crossdresser in public in my own town I've been wearing Goth clothes here since I moved here (except for a brief anti-conformist reactionary period when Goth became fashionable) over a decade without a problem. It's been years and years since the last time I was insulted for wearing a black velvet cloak or the like. I've gone out wearing eyeliner, black lipstick, painted nails with skull decals on them etc and got compliments on my appearance from little old ladies.

Once Goths were greeted with fear and revulsion. We were thought to be a dangerous bunch of suicidal satanists. Slowly though society calmed down about us. Studies came out to show we were generally above-average IQ mentally healthy balanced decent people that contributed to society and liked old literature.

Slowly Goths started turning up in the media outside of the Horror genre. Goth themed childrens shows emerged, not just the genre-humour stuff like the Danger Mouse spinoff Count Duckula but ones featuring Goth children as legitimate expression in cartoons like Mona the Vampire about a girl who dresses as a vampire and battles imaginary monsters and this trend has continued with shows like Growing up Creepie, Edgar and Ellen, Frankenstein's Cat, Ruby Gloom and the live-action Young Dracula.

Here's a little taste of my current favourite

Spanish and German language versions of the theme can also be found on youtube.

The current generation of goth-inclined kids have their culture and interests on tv! At one point on ABC's (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) afternoon programing on Fridays there was well over an hour of Goth programming back to back!

Then in the USA the Colombine Shootings were blamed by some on the music of Marilyn Manson and on Goth culture but that didn't seem to have that great a lasting impact overall on Goths, there were enough of us out there for many people to know that we aren't all going to go on shooting sprees.

But I was unaware of what has been going on internationally.
That was untill I heard of the Anti-Emo violence in Mexico (and yes I count Emo as related to Goth) and the hate-murder and bashing of a Goth couple in the U.K.

Now I hear of extensive anti-Goth discrimination in Russia. Plans to ban Goth and Emo looking kids from school, plans to ban Goth and Emo clothed people from government buildings, plans to ban Goth and Emo music!

Goth is not a new phenomenon, it's just a new name for it. People who find beauty in the shapes of skulls, the maligned creatures of the night, in stories of ghosts and vampires, people who love the dramatic, the old and the strange are not new. Centuries ago it was Poets rather than Musicians, people were reading penny dreadfuls about Varney the Vampire and Spring Heeled Jack and the Gothic Novel was decried as leading young women astray.

And it is hardly surprising that Goth and Emo and Transgender rights go hand in hand, not just because they are both about freedom of expression and self identification but because there has been a tradition of greater acceptance of broader gender expression in the Goth community.

I'm not a Goth because of that. Its not for aceptance of being transgender that I'm a goth, nor is it a reaction to bad life experiences. I don't wear Goth clothes and style to be identified as Goth or as some sort of uniform or to fit in with others or as an act of rebellion. I do so because I like the style, it expresses me. I'm not morose, I smile a lot. I'm not some sort of cliche.

And sure I look like a vampire sometimes, the long canines are natural, an inherited feature as is the pale skin (my brother got the tanning gene but I missed that one) and the family condition with the history of being missdiagnosed as dead with close relatives waking up on the way to the morgue and some in the past buried alive would all justify that... only it needs no justification!

Because I have a human right to free expression no matter the motivation or causation! So whether it's black lipstick or purple or red, whether it's worn with a Frock-coat, lace cuffed white shirt with Jabot and knee-high boots or torn t-shirt black cargos and chains or whether its a womens top with a velvet and lace skirt the same right applies to all.

Being Goth and Transgender are both parts of who I am, deep parts of me not just some surface bit of casual fashion. However my human rights to free expression involve the word FREE. It's a right not just to express what I feel deep in my heart but for those for whom such things could be 'a phase' or just surface fashion that is their right!

Alas I can't embed this one (minor language warning)
But to continue the International/Ruby Gloom theme I'll add this

I expect the anti-Goth and anti-Emo Russians think of death-metal listening satanists when they look at Goths, and death-metal listening satanists also have human rights but theres a lot more diversity to Goth and Emo culture than that stereotype.

Difference is valuable, difference is good. Diversity is valuable, diversity is good.


Marcus said...

thanks for the insight into Goth culture, the only people who I know of from the passed who have been Inclined towards Goth have regretfully been teenagers who have suicided - the sum total of 2 plus one passing aquaintance who jumped in front of a train in melbourne.

So it's good to know of a different side of the picture.

Battybattybats said...

I'm sorry to hear of those you've known who killed themselves and for whatever you ended up going through dealing with those events. (hugs)

Suicide is a tragic problem far too prevelant in all minority communities especially ones that face a lot of hostility.

But it should be a problem that can be significantly reduced accross all of society. Hopefully that is starting to be addressed.

Oliver A. FP said...

I remember having to explain a *lot* in my teens "I'm not suicidal because I'm a Goth! I'm suicidal because people keep kicking the shit out of me for being a Goth! And this has made me, understandably, fed up!"

I'm a trans man, and all the gothic clothing makes me look like a girl :-/ so I wear less of it nowadays. Paradoxically, I can pass fine with the kohl eyeliner, so I still plaster the stuff on.

Also, in England at least, I reckon most people's goth "phases" disappear out of necessity when we start earning our own money - £40 for a shirt? Bugger that, I've got to eat this week!

But... no matter how we look, we're still oh-so-Gothic inside.

Battybattybats said...

Hi Oliver,
Really nice to meet you!

Sorry to hear of what you went through. Bullying and unprovoked violence are simply wretched. I'm glad you survived.

I can see how much of the Goth clothes that work in my favour would not in yours. And the stuff that I expect would work, like those military jackets or long priest-coats cost a small fortune.

But as you point out Goth is so much more than appearance or fashion and I know a few like those you mention who have changed their style of dress but are still quite goth on the inside, or even never took up the fashion side of goth but are very goth within.

Especially as so many discover goth by ourselves outside of a culture with peers and traditions. I was collecting rubber bats and wanting clothes of black velvet long before I chanced upon the video clips from the Sisters of Mercy's album Floodland let alone heard of the word goth outside of history and art books.

Thanks for your comment and I hope to hear more of your views.

Anlynne said...

I have to say that loved everything you said. It's a very objective and analytical view upon the culture. When you think about it, humanity hasn't come far at all. There are still too many that judge based on appearances.

Three weeks ago I was surprised when a little old man held open a door for me while I was decked out in black (my nails too). I smiled, said thank you, and took it as a good omen. That is until everyone else in the place looked as though I was there to uphold it. What's ironic, is that I don't consider myself goth, never thought I had the right mentality for it.

We all hope for equality but not everyone wants that. We look down upon others because they are different, and it scares us. No one should change who they are to be accepted. We should take pride in being who we are. So thank you for letting your voice be heard!

Battybattybats said...

Hi Anlynne.

Thanks for your comment.
When I go to local art events I always get heaps of compliments from one little old lady.

I think people fear difference in the main because its seen as defiance. I think far more people would be different but for fear and that they look down on others in a mixture of jeollousy and terror.

After all many think that obeying 'the rules', the accepted mores is the source of good behaviour... yeah right. Social mores are frequently injustices. But i think its the source of many peoples fears, that people willing to buck social rules must be bad people capable of any wrong.

When often the opposite is true and the wrongs are done to the different a lot more than the other way.

I think this unjust notion of right and wrong is a large cause of injustice in society. Whereas if we taught ethics and philosophy in schools as astandard we could prevent much of it and make society more accepting of difference.