Oh Snarklings, this time around the Lady of the Manners is answering two different letters about people’s reactions to Goths, and how Goths should react to them. One letter concerns Goths in public places and the town’s reaction to them; the second letter features a more personal plight, with someone questioning their commitment to the Gothic subculture after some annoying comments directed at them.
Goths banned from the town square in Glasgow? A reader called Aristocat wrote in to ask the Lady of the Manners her opinion:
I am an avid reader of your etiquette lessons, and enjoy them very much. While I find all your lessons to be extremely useful, apparently it isn’t enough in our council’s eyes…
This happened a few months ago now…In case the link doesn’t work, the short version is this: the council has decided that goths are anti-social, and a blight on the fabric of the square, and has moved them from their customary seating area, even going to the lengths of cordoning off the seating area and stationing security guards round it. I wondered if you had any thoughts upon what to do and how to react to this?
Well, the Lady of the Manners’ first suggestion is that the Goths in that town go to the open meetings of the council and present their side of the story. Make sure the most even-tempered and responsible of the local Goth community be the ones to actually speak to any officials. Ask the council for any documented proof that the Goths were responsible for any disruptions, for any proof of those allegations of drinking, drugs, and inappropriate behavior. Also ask the council if they have any documented complaints from shopkeepers. As a final question, ask if the council intends to ban any other social groups from town square if they seem to be disruptive. Remember, as a taxpayer to your town council, you have the right to free congress in public, council-maintained areas unless you are violating laws or guidelines, and that you are entitled to be heard fairly. (The Lady of the Manners would like to give a heartfelt “Thank You!” to her UK-dwelling friend who gave her advice about UK town councils.)
Another suggestion is for the Goths in the area to continue to peaceably congregate in the square outside of the cordoned-off area. The Lady of the Manners would like to stress peaceably; everyone on their best behavior, and very clearly not in the area that the council has deemed Off Limits, but right by that area. If the Goths that used to congregate in the square are school-age, make VERY sure to do this during free time, not when you should be in classes.
The Lady of the Manners is dismayed to hear that the town council thinks that the Goths are causing a disruption, and echos the sentiments of one of the young ladies quoted in the linked newspaper article in that there surely must be more important issues that the city council should be addressing than a group of eccentrically-dressed youngsters gathering in a public place. Please keep the Lady of the Manners updated on what happens with this.
The second letter is from a young creature named Wolfbane, who seems to be suffering from a crisis of confidence or faith in their dedication to the Gothic subculture:
Dear Lady of the Manners,
I have, for the past two years, been dedicated to the Gothic subculture. However, I am beginning to doubt myself. The other day at school, two ‘preppy’ kids were walking behind me, and were criticizing my choice of clothes. Normally, I would ignore them (and criticize THEM in my mind), but this time it really bothered me, and now I’m beginning to question my goth-iness. I would really appreciate your much needed advice!
Goodness, Snarkling, what made you question your gothiness? Could it just have been that you were having a somewhat low day to begin with, and having to put up with criticism from others made it worse? The Lady of the Manners is having a hard time understanding why this time such comments bothered you so. Were their comments more clueless and unkind than usual? (For you did say that normally you would ignore them, which leads the Lady of the Manners to believe that you’ve suffered this sort of nonsense before.)
The Lady of the Manners isn’t going to tell you that the annoying comments and criticism will eventually stop. The Lady of the Manners still has to put up with such things herself, and it’s still just as irritating. But the Lady of the Manners is quite certain of who she wants to be and what is important to herself, which makes ignoring those sorts of exasperating comments easier.
Everyone has low days, days where they question themselves and what they are doing. Days that are full of morose introspection and worries that perhaps not only have they made the wrong choices, but that everyone else is laughing at them and is right in doing so. The important thing to remember is that those days pass. Really, they do. If those sorts of days don’t pass, then you should go talk to someone you can trust, be it a friend, a relative, a teacher, or a co-worker. You shouldn’t spend your life constantly second-guessing yourself. The little annoyances life throws our way are much easier to bear if one has a strong sense of self.
The Lady of the Manners has to ask, though: are there other things that have made you question your “dedication to the Gothic subculture”? Bouts of introspection and questioning the things you’ve held dear don’t necessarily mean you want to give those things up; they may just mean you are feeling boxed in by your own self-definitions. Sometimes the way we define or label ourselves makes us think we can’t (or shouldn’t) do things because they don’t fit some pre-conceived checklist we have in our heads for that definition or label. That if we do explore interests outside of how we’ve classified ourselves, we have to give up all claims of belonging to that group or class. Which is utter twaddle, and goes right back to needing to develop a strong sense of self. While the Lady of the Manners believes that thinking of yourself as a Goth (or a geek, or a gamer, or a cosplayer, or a sports fan, or a knitter, or … well, you get the idea) can be a fun and terribly handy shorthand, you should never, EVER allow yourself to feel trapped by those self-imposed definitions.
With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to wander off and flutter her hands excitedly at the outfit that the wonderful Kambriel designed for her to wear to the Vampire Ball on March 29th. If you’re attending the event and see a lady in a black and ivory striped gown (with pink details, of course!), please introduce yourselves!
Does the Lady of the Manners need to give you all the correspondence link? So you can write in with any questions, comments, or interesting gothy links? Oh, let’s not mess with tradition: click here to write to Gothic Charm School!