A Short Post on Dealing with Elitist, Gother-Than-Thou Types

Despite the Lady of the Manners’ best intentions, a post for September just didn’t happen, and the Lady of the Manners would like to apologize to you Snarklings for that. Of course, with October being THE goth month of celebration, things have been extremely busy around here at the Gothic Charm School lair, so while the Lady of the Manners is working on a new post, have a piece of … bonus content, as it were. ”

Elitists. Gatekeepers. People who say “You’re not a REAL goth unless”. The Gother-Than-Thou scourge of our subculture, and a persistent problem that many of you keep running into. So here: A selection of questions and (slightly rewritten) answers, taken from the gothiccharmschool tumblr, about how to deal with those types of lowly wretches.

Anonymous asked: What’s the difference between being a poseur and being new to the gothy culture? Sometimes it feels like the same thing… =/

Honestly? The Lady of the Manners thinks that “poseur” is a term thrown around by elitist types who are feeling a teensy bit insecure about their “coolness” in comparison to everyone else.
The only thing that would make the Lady of the Manners even consider using the term “poseur” is if someone professed interest or knowledge in something (anything, not just things to do with goth) but were fibbing in order to make themselves feel cooler. If you’re new to gothy culture, fantastic! Go forth and explore, and be thrilled that you will get to experience it for the first time! Don’t feel you have to act knowledgable and jaded; if someone mentions something you haven’t heard of, ask them about it. If they scoff at you or call you a “poseur” in response, the problem is with them, not you.

(There is no Elder Goth Cabal, and if there was, it would be more interested in introducing people to our spooky wonderland, not in being cranky gother-than-thou gatekeepers.)

Anonymous asked: As an eldergoth, what’s your opinion on the recent topic going around YouTube on whether or not you can be goth or not if you don’t like the music? There seems to be a mix of “yes, goth is more than music!” and “no, goth is ALL music.”, and even both “Maybe, just know the history.” Have you ever seen something like this in the past when you were a younger goth?

Of course the Lady of the Manners saw that sort of thing when she was a younger goth. There were people drawing arbitrary lines in the black sand and shouting at each other from both sides: “You’re not a real goth if you don’t know all of the bands and have the limited edition bat-shaped vinyl release of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” by Specimen!” vs. “You’re not a real goth unless you are constantly clad in fishnets, black lace, and velvet, with your hair sky-high and perfect swirly eyeliner!”

For the record, both sides are absolutely wrong. The goth subculture is a combination of the music and the fashion, and ALSO includes the books, art, and movies that provided the loamy cemetery soil for the modern goth subculture to claw its way out from.

You don’t have to like all the music. You don’t have to embrace the every aspect of the fashion. But YES, please know at least a little bit about where the whole thing came from.
Finally, if any elitist gatekeepers try to tell you otherwise, laugh at them and tell them that your Auntie Jilli and the Elder Goth Cabal (which doesn’t exist) says they’re wrong. Then ignore them forevermore.

Of course, there are other ways you can deal with elitist gatekeeping types, if you don’t quite feel like laughing at them:

Anonymous asked: Do you have tips on how to handle with elitist goths?

Ignore them. If they insist on interacting with you, smile coldly at them and practice saying things like, “That’s your opinion” and “How nice for you”, in as disinterested a tone of voice you can manage. Smother your words with as much bored sarcasm as you possibly can manage.


With that, the Lady of the Manners is going to throw the (as always, moderated) comments open! How do you Snarklings deal with elitists in our subculture?

17 Responses to “A Short Post on Dealing with Elitist, Gother-Than-Thou Types”

  1. dad and patty Says:

    Being a Goth is a Work in Progress. Some are less finished than others. Imagine what they will be in another year, or ten.

  2. Lady of the Manners Says:

    Hi Dad! 🙂

  3. Thea Maia Says:

    And there are those of us who found Goth through the earlier Punk movement. I have never really liked most music that was made specifically under the “goth” label, as you know.

    But really, music is just a tiny facet of such a huge movement of appreciation of the Gothic.

    If you start with the creation of the term Gothic – started as an architectural movement in High and Late Middle ages. Gothic revivals began in mid-18th century England and flourished in the Victorian Era along with reverence of the the morbid (what is more morbid than making hair jewelry from your dead relatives? Or loving photos of the dead so you don’t forget them?) Gotta love Queen Victoria the original black wearing mourner setting fashion!

    I was reading Gothic Romances both classic and new in the 1970’s. And let us all bow down to Stevie Nicks and her original witchy fashion starting in 1975.

    As I have personally stated (and had to defend in college papers) about being Feminist – being a feminist is anything I want it to be – because it is what I am.

    So, I am a Goth. I dyed my hair black the first time in 1980. There was no word for what I was when I started.

    An artist is someone who makes art. A Goth is someone who makes themselves Goth.

    So – ultimately, if you accept the label of Goth and you live with it for more than a Halloween costume – it should be whatever you make of it.

  4. Miss Cherries Says:

    This applies to Stempunk too. You always give such good advice! I will use the “How nice for you. “ a lot.

  5. Nyxxia Says:

    I remember when I was a baby bat and feeling alone and lost in the “normal world” but FELT like I had found a subculture where I fit, only to be TOLD by others that I didn’t for one reason or another (like doing most of my clothes shopping at thrift stores and getting creative but not being able to afford nice corsets). It hurt realizing that there are insecure people who take that out on others EVERYWHERE. I learned to eventual employ the same tactics with elitist goths that I had with any other kind of bully I encountered, ignore them. Looking inward instead of outward for acceptance, no ones opinion matters but your own. 🙂

  6. Nyx Shadowhawk Says:

    The dictionary defines “poseur” as “a person that acts in an affected way to impress others,” which is a pretty accurate description of most babybats. I’ve taken it that poseurs are more interested in the IMAGE of being Goth than actually liking the subculture. So, that’s the difference. Babybats are genuine. Poseurs are not.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who was troubled by the music thing… I actually remember clicking on a video and having it open with “If you don’t listen to gothic rock, then you’re not a Goth.” That’s … dismissive. Most people who say things like this aren’t trying to be mean or exclusive, they just come across that way because they have a very specific view of the subculture. They tend to be the same kinds of people that draw a distinction between the adjectives “gothic” and “Goth,” describing anything that relates directly to the music scene as “Goth” and everything else as “gothic.” That’s what I’d call Insistent Terminology.
    Recently, I made a list of all the major Goth types, and literally, the ONLY thing they all had in common was a preference for the darker things in life. That’s what brings the subculture together. Not music, or fashion.

  7. TheRedhead Says:

    I’d call my sister-in-law a “poseur” as she’s more interested in the “oh my god you’re so weird” of being Goth than the subculture.
    If she can get some sort of attention from people, she’s going to do whatever she can to get it.
    For example, she has some very…ugly tattoos. I hate to use that word in reference to art, but whoever did them were TERRIBLE artists (yes, artists: all her badly done tattoos were done by different artists).
    And they’re very large and gaudy and she just LOOOOVES the attention she gets for having them.
    And heaven forbid something she likes goes mainstream. She’s going to LOUDLY whine about it and possibly say she hates it now and will never like it again.
    You’d think with her being an Elder Goth she’d be grown up but nope, she just wants ALL the attention she can get by being obnoxious and “weird”.
    Sorry for the rant, but I really don’t like her as she likes to mock me for reacting with something along the lines of “meh” when people say that I am/something I like is weird.
    And she does this to ANYONE she deems “Not Goth Enough”, which means anyone who’s not being Goth just to draw attention to themselves.

  8. Gene Wirchenko Says:

    I sometimes refer to myself as a near-Goth. I like some of the darkness.

    The snarkers would have a field day with me. Until they got my attention. Then, they would likely get scared. I do not take nicely to cattiness. I can be quite nasty in order to set things back to nice. (If I have to be nasty, I am going to put it to good use.)

    It is rude to mess with someone else’s harmless game whether it be being Gothy, playing board games, following sports, or whatever.

  9. Rae Says:

    I actually dislike a lot of the typical goth music. I find Souxie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and The Cure to be boring, bland music. Way too mopey. And I am no less goth for admitting it. Quite frankly, there is something pathetic about anyone whose musical tastes stay fixed in just one era, like continually beating a dead horse.

    I don’t dye my hair black either: I look terrible in dark hair.

    I’m disturbed by the amount of elitist whining on blogs and other websites trying to define what makes a goth gothy. Should a newbie run into one of these putrid sites, they may find themselves warped by the narrow-minded thinking.

    One such blog I found contained whining about how clothing stores like Forever 21 are allowing non-goths to partake in quasi-gothic clothing, making for some disturbing trend called “nu goth” or whatever. But that’s not my perspective at all. As a college student, I don’t have tons of money to spend on goth clothing sold at specifically gothic boutiques, most of which look extremely costumey and distasteful to me anyway, nor do I have the time to attempt to make my own clothing. Forever 21 is in my price range, and much of their gothic clothing is tasteful and subtle (check out the pretty lace shirts they have, for instance). They make gothic fashion financially accessible for people like me. Elitist whining about things like that, and commenting on other kinds of clothing as “cheap looking” creates a disparity between goths who can afford more expensive things and those that can’t – and it’s also complete bunk, as much of the overpriced, officially “goth” clothing is made in China and looks cheap to me, and furthermore, many of us do not have the time or skills to make our own clothing.

    Another example of stupidity: A site called “What Is Goth” has a very warped perspective on what qualifies as gothic music. Who ordained the owner as the spokesperson for our subculture? (Certainly not me; I would have elected a person with more brains.) I hope this elitist pinhead finds your site and learns a few things.

    I sincerely hope that sites like this one give baby bats room to test their wings and grow into their own unique versions of goth, without the imaginary constraints of goths who are scared and insecure. Like history in general, the gothic culture must be free to evolve, and each goth has his or her own unique way of expressing the general goth sentiment.

    However, before anyone accuses me of being too broad-minded, let me say this: Subcultures *should* have a few rules; otherwise, they’d quickly disintegrate, and I often wonder if that’s at the heart of at least some of the elitist complaining. Speaking for modern times, I would say that goth is no longer defined by any specific type of music, since music itself has evolved and there are many genres that stem from traditional gothic rock that could now themselves be described as gothic. Instead, goth is defined by aesthetic, a dark worldview, a fascination with death and spirituality and of course our shared love for all things black.

    And damn it, I just don’t like mopey music.

    I agree that all goths should know a thing or two about the history of goth subculture. It’s actually quite fascinating. I’ll even go so far as to suggest that they should also know what differentiates them from other subcultures like emo, punk, metalheads, Satanists and others who also embrace a sartorial love of the color black.

  10. Katharine Says:

    I’ve noticed that the local ‘gothic elite’ do a lot of judging others based on how they look despite demanding that others don’t judge them in turn, and it’s…disappointing. I don’t have the energy or money to provide proper care for multiple piercings or tattoos, and my workplace has a uniform, so when I compliment someone’s band tee or tell them their makeup is fantastic, I typically get sarcasm in return (a dude once demanded that I spell Bauhaus out loud for him, for some reason).

  11. Peruda Florit Says:

    Thank you so much for this. Even though this is old it’s really helping me cope with a nasty encounter I had with a group of elitists today. I just wanted to join their forum.

  12. Presence Says:

    The comments above are very interesting and enlightening for someone like me, a baby bat. There’s no scene where I live so I hand with the music and youtube mainly.
    I hope that doesn’t disqualify me but I know now it won’t because Goth is in my heart and I have always loved darker things. You might see me walking through the nearby graveyard reading the nameplates. I can only hope the scene grows and develops in my area. Until it does, I will continue to be me and read you. Love to all.

  13. Anne Says:

    These gatekeepers put me off goth subculture completely, back in the 90s when I was in my teens. Although they claimed to be against consumerism and materialism, a lot of them would judge you for not wearing the right kind of clothes even though these clothes were difficult to afford. I am from a working class background and felt judged and looked down on by these arrogant middle class kids. So I just went off and listened to Depeche Mode and read Milton and Dante by myself. My friends weren’t alternative in any way but they were much kinder. It took me until my early 30s to start being comfortable enough with myself to dress how I wanted – and of course clothes are much cheaper in these days of fast fashion and ebay than they were back then.

  14. Infiltrat0r_N7 Says:

    Sorry to hear you had such a terrible experience with goths in the 90s Anne. Unfortunately you get these asshat gatekeeper types in all sorts of places. If you’re a girl and a geek or a gamer expect to be grilled about your knowledge of superheroes, comic books, sci-fi and so on and expected to prove yourself. It’s all so ridiculous. Same with pretentious goths who look down on you for liking heavy metal or whatever. It seems so bizarre to me that people who grew up being sidelined, bullied and ridiculed by the mainstream, then go onto do the same to people with similar interests to them.

  15. Mari Says:

    Imo, elitism is mostly a problem in the metal scene. But its something you Will find anywhere.

    Heres something that I can agree on: You have to atleast know some basics about the music and where its coming from. You dont necessarileey have to like everything that is part of the goth scene, but atleast know a thing or to. People are not necessarily Elitist for expressing the facts. But that being said, you Witll find People that are jerks in every place there is. Ignore them as much as you can. Stand your ground if you must. Dont let People gwalk all over you.

  16. MysteriousStranger Says:

    Thank you so much. I was really worried. I love the original goth music (Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, The Damned, etc), I love gothic metal and some other forms of metal, but I also love various kinds of hard rock and classic rock, I love punk, and I’m also really into the more alternative/conscious side of hiphop/rap (I like how it encourages people to question authority and not to conform, and I like the complex lyrics with lots of layers of meaning). I always feel like I have to justify or make excuses for liking hiphop in particular in case it makes me not a proper goth even though I love gothic fiction and dark science fiction and fantasy. It’s nice to hear from someone that there really isn’t a checklist.

  17. Anton Says:

    I’ve become more of a live and let live type of Goth. I got into the subculture back in the early 2000s (my teen years!). It was through a blog from a UK Goth that I learned about the scene (and her local scene). Emphasis was placed more so on the individual and their personality, music was mentioned but there wasn’t a checklist to gain entry into the scene! No scene in my small rural town during that time so there wasn’t anyone to learn from. Really just knowing where the subculture came from is enough for me. I actually started with Darkwave and Industrial along with Siouxsie and The Cure.

    I feel that it’s easy to sound like a “gatekeeper” when one is so passionate about something they feel is being taken over. This can be a detriment to the growth of our subculture if we aren’t careful. A few months ago I made a video about the differences between Goth music and the aforementioned. I also criticized some of the rappers who use stereotypes people have of Goths while also promoting negative things such as drug use and violence while using the “goth trap” tag. I’m a musician, a BIG metalhead, guitarist, former rapper myself. I just love music, hip-hop, dark folk, etc,..I mostly play Deathcore, Black Metal and Neo Classical Shred as well.

    I made the video mainly because I feel that some young Gothling may see that and associate that with the scene which would be bad. Goth is a pretty peaceful subculture. Could I have been a bit more nicer and eloquent overall? Definitely. I try to show videos of bands who perform at my local Goth night and provide fashion tips and just some words of encouragement. I was close to falling into the gatekeeper category myself until I realized that “hey you might think you’re helping define something but that comes off the wrong way”. So I’m alot more relaxed about it now

    Yeah people wear band shirts of bands they don’t listen to for cool points. Is it really impacting your day to day life? Some people only care about the fashion but maybe they’re new and that’s all they know, and if it’s a phase for them who cares? I’m not going to tell some kid they’re not doing Goth right. Unless they’re doing something harmful or potentially destructive to themselves or others because they’re super young and don’t know better. I wasn’t aware of the internet scene being so harsh on newcomers to Goth. I have seen enough posts on reddit. Lots of fear and anger! Fear of Goth disappearing.

    Not everyone knows everything regarding music especially if that person is new or into another part of the culture. (Art, Literature, etc,..)I’m also open to sharing what I know with people outside of the subculture.
    Thankfully my local scene is laid back, non judgemental and just a good place to be.

    I actually mix different styles, I wear black jeans but I also wear joggers styled like bondage pants, straps and all. I remember on reddit someone said that all Goths should dress like Deathrockers. No thanks, I’m either Goth’d out in black or I’m wearing my battle vest and metal band tee. Plus I love my dreads. I still don’t get the Metal hate, it’s weird to me. Oh well. Lol

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