- the idea that youth goth culture is pop culture dressed up as a sub culture complete with persecution and everything! But mostly with alienation, marginalization persecution, kick ass clothes, and feeling very sorry for oneself, because that’s cool! “Ohh…look Mommy! I’m being persecuted!”

What I Originally Thought
At first, when my daughter became fascinated with goth sub culture I was delighted. I thought, ooo, how wonderful. It was a fabulous look for her. And she had some political reasons which supported my desire to buy her neat clothes. And my SO and I could start going out on Saturday nights and hanging out with our friends because we both wanted to go to the same club on the same night!

When I Began To Shift My Thinking
It was research paper time. My goth daughter was trying to write a research paper – on the goth subculture. The requirements of the paper were very specific - other source material was cool to use - but we needed one book. I prowled, lurked and scanned every obscure and mainstream bookseller on the internet – and no book. Or rather no book I could get my hands on because they were all out of print. Even the rare book places couldn’t find a copy.

On one website, I found a bulletin board. Naturally, I posted to it – explaining my dilemma (my daughter’s research paper). Then I made the big mistake of mentioning how cool it is to be at a place in a sub-culture where documentation has become important to history, cross-cultural understanding and lifestyle validity and ….would anybody know of any reference material? That was the worst decision I ever made in my life.

The hate posts I received perplexed me to no end. So, I thought:

Okay, I’m an outsider. A hostile enemy. Maybe if I qualified who I was, they might take a minute to point me to some sources. Maybe if I explained how as marginalized groups, we share similar persecution. Maybe if we look at various sub cultures throughout history, we’d learn the importance of documenting a sub-culture. After all, I’d lived through being a punk, a separatist lesbian, a member of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party and eventually ended up living a quiet artistic life with a man. I kind of understood persecution in an intimate way.

The hate posts in response doubled! Ending phrases like: “No, we don’t have anything to document, we’re just misunderstood because we like a certain kind of music.” And “We like not being accepted.” And “We chose to live a life of alienation because we refuse to conform to society.

How I Suddenly Knew I Might Be Right
Silently, I wondered.
Choose not to conform to society? Umm, to what society are you actually choosing not to conform? The fact that my daughter spends a great deal of time choosing to conform to some sort of goth aesthetic suggests that she is conforming to goth society. I began to wonder who’s doing the leading and who is doing the following. Contributing to this notion was a noticeable rise in goth clothing stores at suburban malls where t-shirts cost $30 and gaming companies releasing things like Gother Than Thou.

What Made Me Waver On The Idea
Still, my daughter had some complex ideas about what goth means to her which involve feminist ideas about standards of beauty for women, and challenging the herd mentality. So, like a dumbass, I assumed there was something deeper to this sub culture.

How I Finally Knew I Was Right
In many – but certainly not all – cases, being goth has nothing to do with the very complex criticisms of society that fueled the punk movement. Most of my Goth friends (who are my age) and friends from the punk movement have evolved into people who are doing serious political organizing or are taking some small amount of action to create changes in the world around them.

The majority of young Goths I have met seem to revel in exercising their privilege in the dominant culture to safely - and with impunity - experience persecution. Mostly rich white suburban children who can’t accept that they are members of the owning class because that’s just not cool anymore.

Needless to say, after the research paper and my daughter’s own explorations into international goth sub culture, she hung up her black Morticia Addams dress. {Temporarily. She still wears it. But, she likes to have “a lot of different looks.”} She decided that, it’s kind of stupid to seek out, create and encourage persecution. As a bisexual, bi-racial, female in today’s world, she gets enough of it as it is. Leave that to the goth babies, anything mainstream enough for businesses to give a theme night might not have much to do with critical thinking and creating new ways of being in the world.

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