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Goths: the radical demonisation and sexualisation of the community




We all know that Goth isn’t about how you look, but what you listen to. However, there still is a look some goths choose to adhere to. Inspired by many early artists, such as Siouxsie Sioux and Bauhaus. Goths started to dress in dark clothing, with big hair and bat-like eyeliner. Gothic fashion combined the conventional punk look with Victorian and pagan clothing and took inspiration from figures such as Bela Lugosi and Theda Bara whilst usually intensifying the look to appear darker. As time went on, more ways of dressing appeared, adding more colour or different fabrics: some of these styles include trad goth, romantic goth, nu-goth, etc.



THE DEMONISATION OF GOTHS


Due to the dark and sombre appearance of the gothic fashion for those who wear it, many people began to misinterpret and not understand, and of course a lack of understanding can occasionally cause a hatred towards another thing, and a desire to eradicate it. This is seen at a certain level in the form of hate speech towards goths. Some people see goths on the street and shout out words such as “freak”, “weirdo”, and “devil-worshipper”. Of course, this is not only seen the streets: comment sections of goth posts; classrooms; direct messaging; and many other areas of life carry these hateful messages. These words are not only harmful to the individual they are directed at, but also the goth community as a whole. The idea of goths being “freaks” and “devil-worshippers” paints a bad image of the goth movement, people see the frequent use of these hateful comments against goths and begin to associate them with such things. This creates a growing distaste for the goth movement and its subcultures and subsequently damages everyone involved.

Goths typically do not dress in such a way to appear “evil” and attract unwanted negative attention, a number of goths use its style as a form of self-expression and individuality, dedicating hours to makeup, hair, and accessorising: the iconic appearance of goths is an art form. The hatred towards the appearance and interests of goths encourages a more rigid society, and on a personal level, sends a message to goths that their identity is unacceptable. Carrying on from this, making a judgement of a person’s identity (in this case: a goth’s) personality based on their look is narrow-minded and ignorant, the hatred towards goths discourages individuality and diversity: it is not only harmful to goths, but also society.



THE SEXUALISATION OF GOTH WOMEN


The fear of goths had turned quickly into objectification. People – mostly men/boys - had started to associate their demonic perspective of goths as being promiscuous, something sexual, something unusual meant something easy, something that they could get. This exotification was only made easier by many figures in media, particularly animated media. Characters that many goths love for being relatable are seen as something to desire, often due to their strength or violence being interpreted as “sexy” and “dominant”, as well as the unconventional clothing they wear.

This issue was especially prevalent in animation during the aftermath of the second wave of goth, with characters such as Raven (Teen Titans), The Hex Girls (The Scooby Doo Franchise), Catwoman (Batman), Misa Amane (Death Note), and Gwen (Total Drama). It's not unusual for characters to be stereotyped in cartoons however that doesn’t make it any less harmful. People tend to assume what they see on their screen is how things are in real life, some boys will see the cold yet aggressive characters, the lack of duality in the characters makes it so much easier to think, that must be what they are lack in real life, it also may create the idea that they could “fix” them and “melt” the characters cold heart if they were real.

Goth women do not dress to attract the sexual attention and exploitation of men, due to the sexualisation of goth women, many are accused of yearning for the attention of men, the more they are sexualised, the more and more negative attention is paid to the goth community, people begin to look down on it, viewing it as “undignified” and “inappropriate”. More and more men begin to sexualise goth women as the idea spreads, with goth and alternative porn rising in popularity. As if women aren’t treated bad enough, goth women face objectification on the daily, as more ideas perpetuating the narrative that goth women are sexual objects pertaining only to a man’s own pleasure spread. Paedophilia also begins to manifest within this, underage goth girls face an equal amount, if not even more sexualisation from men and media. The more that goth is hated, the more desirable it becomes, the more desirable that goth is, the more it is hated.



REPERCUSSIONS OF THIS


So many goths experience the repercussions of such things. They have fallen victim to the ‘I love big-tittied goth girls’ phenomenon, they face constant sexualisation both online and in daily life. Searching ‘goth girl’ on TikTok leads to

recommendations of hundreds of videos along the lines of, ‘I want a big-tittied goth girl’ and so forth. This becomes unbelievably harmful as the idea spreads, and an increasing number of goths face such comments. Additionally, goth girls as young as 13 are being subjected to such sexualisation, of course, the sexualisation of anyone at any age is inexcusable, but towards minors it is appalling. The hatred and treatment towards goths make the idea of being goth undesirable and strengthens the negative lens that a large portion of society views it through. The hatred towards goths, in some extreme cases, has devastating consequences, violent attacks and even murder. Nobody should have to endure the fear of not knowing what you may face when you leave the house, all due to how you choose to dress.

The demonisation and sexualisation of goths heavily changes the meaning of goth for outsiders. Rather than being a music-based subculture, many started seeing it as a way of dressing, “just people wearing black and silver jewellery and a bit of eyeliner”. People have started to confuse the different subcultures and merge them all into one. It gets to the point where many of us goths must constantly reiterate that goth isn’t a way to dress, goth isn’t a fashion style, goth isn’t a weird fetish. However, no matter how many times you reiterate the point, many never understand it. This can create legitimate danger for goths, not because many don't know what goth means, but because of the harassment of goths and other subcultures, both online and in real life.

Despite all of this, it is important to still dress in whatever makes you feel the most comfortable in your own skin, if we just stop dressing up “goth” because of these certain people, we will never be able to end the harassment for future generations. It is also important to note how things have massively improved from how it used to be with older goths having to face “beat the freak” days in school. Nowadays, most of the harassment comes from blank faces online, but alongside them are also fellow goths -as well as people who just appreciate the time and effort goths spend on creating their looks- who spread love to each other.



Co-written by Lydia Anderson & Caitlin Mulherin from batz in leeds

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