Sub-culture cross-overs

Helllooo Faithful Readers, and welcome to February’s Gothic Charm School. Now as some of you will remember, in Februarys past the Lady of the Manners has talked about the etiquette of romance and break-ups. Appropriate behavior, what NOT to say, that sort of thing. And she very nearly decided to talk some more about that subject, since it seems that several of her friends have decided to … re-group themselves. However, the Lady of the Manners decided against it. This month, the Lady of the Manners is going to talk about something that is becoming more and more of a burning issue in GothyLand — good manners for the ever-increasing cross-pollination between the fetish and gothic communities.

Oh yes, that cross-pollination is happening, didn’t you notice? Which is fine and dandy, because there are some mutual points of interest amongst the two sub-cultures; interesting or exotic clothes, some types of music, being regarded as a trifle odd by other people if and when you talk about what your hobbies are, and so on. Even with those things in common, there are still some issues that require sensitivity and tact from everyone in both camps. Luckily for all of you, the Lady of the Manners has come up with some guidelines to apply to just those sorts of situations.

1. Don’t automatically assume someone is of the same subculture as you. Just because someone is wearing PVC, leather, or a corset does not mean they are kinky. Even if they are attending something that is billed as a “fetish night,” they may be there merely for the music (or non-smoking venue, or because a friend brought them along). If you want to involve someone in … extra-curricular activities, ASK THEM FIRST. If they say, “no, thank you,” then smile and leave them alone. Gothy-types also need to remember that black clothes and suchlike are not exclusive to their own dark n’ gloomy lifestyle. Not all people wearing black PVC trousers are Goths, but that doesn’t mean those people are poseurs either.

2. Pay attention to what the event is billed as. If you’re attending the weekly “fetish night” at the local goth club, then don’t complain about the half-naked people wandering around or the floggings that are going on. That’s what “fetish night” means, you sillies. If you don’t want to see that sort of thing, then you know the sorts of events or nights you need to avoid, don’t you?

Contrariwise, the kinky folk in the goth scene MUST pay attention to what is going on at the local clubs too. If it isn’t a designated ‘play’ night or event, then keep your private entertainments just that — private. If the mood strikes you and you feel the need for your particular type of release, then leave the club and go somewhere more accommodating (and that DOESN’T mean the club restrooms). Yes, Goths are (supposedly) open-minded, but don’t push your luck. Besides, you never can tell who might be at the club that night, and it would be a horrible thing if your personal activities lead to some sort of legal unpleasantness for you and the club. Appropriate behavior in the appropriate places, that’s the thing to remember.

3. It is the height of rudeness to take up part of the dance floor with a spanking or other type of fetish/kink scene. The dance floor is for just that — dancing. If you are at the sort of place that is welcoming to the fetish community, then there are very likely specific places for fetish/kink play to take place. Goths tend to take up a lot of room dancing as it is, don’t encroach on their space anymore then they already do to each other, what with the flailing and the spinning and the outstretched arms and whatnot.

It is also rude to hang around gawking at people who are in the middle of a fetish scene. They aren’t doing those things for your entertainment. (Usually. Some clubs do have special “fetish performances,” but those will be fairly obvious about what is and what isn’t meant as spectator entertainment.) A discreet glance now and then is fine, but don’t stare. And especially don’t offer commentary or advice — if the people involved want outside participation, they will ask for it.

4. Tolerance, tolerance, tolerance. You don’t get to ask prying questions in a snotty tone of voice, you don’t get to say things like “You’re at a fetish club, why are you wearing so much clothing?” and you certainly don’t get to point at happenings and exclaim about them in scandalized tones. (Who would attend a fetish-y event and do something like that? People who are okay with the idea of the fetish scene in general but are not ready for the real-life sight of a middle-aged man wearing nothing but clear plastic.) No matter how alien the things you are seeing seem to your eyes, you MUST keep your composure. If you are really freaked out, then leave. The Lady of the Manners does not mean that in a chastising manner either. Sometimes you can’t tell if you’re really truly going to be okay with these sorts of things until you see them, and there is NO shame in deciding you don’t want to be around them. Shame comes in if after your realization you decide to start haranguing everyone around you and try to get them to stop what they’re doing. Remember that old saying of “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”? It holds true here. Just go home and do your scandalized exclaiming in private — that way you won’t upset anyone AND you can entertain your nearest & dearest with extended rants.

The flip side of this is that people shouldn’t feel pressured to “join in”. Just because someone is a Goth doesn’t mean they are part of the fetish scene OR have to join it. This holds true for a lot of behaviors that are sometimes associated with the goth scene but are not universal. “Goth” does not always mean “poly-amorous,” “bisexual,” “into blood-drinking,” “takes drugs,” “promiscuous,” “plays role-playing games,” or “really thinks they’re a vampire.” Assuming that any of those things are true about someone (even if they are a black-clad weirdo *wink*) is a Bad Move, and will probably start an argument. When meeting someone for the first time, a pleasant way to start a conversation is to ask what they’re interested in anyway, so you have no call for making assumptions in the first place.

See, aren’t those simple guidelines? The Lady of the Manners trusts you’ll be able to remember them with ease. Which means the Lady of the Manners feels that she can leave all of you to your own devices for another month. Until then, as always, send any questions or compliments to Gothic Charm School.

Comments are closed.

[ Home ]