It’s becoming inescapable. If you’ve been using social media a lot recently you’ve probably come across the big tiddie goth gf meme. It seems like out of nowhere the internet has collectively decided to have a very vocal goth fetish. And if you have spent a decent time in the online goth community you have probably also noticed how controversial it is. In the past few weeks in particular, a one panel comic from Art by Andi seems to have been making the rounds in the community. It’s a nice brief rant on why a lot of goths find the meme distasteful. But I feel that the level of discussion the comic has led to shows that the subject seems to strike a particular nerve and I feel that it is one worth examining more closely.
Being completely honest, the association the meme brings to mind is high school. It’s really embarrassing to admit, but when I was younger I did have somewhat of an unspoken preference for more alternatively dressed people of multiple genders. Looking back at it, I can understand why. Being someone who mostly kept to myself when I was younger, I didn’t really interact much with others, so when the inevitable teenage crushes happened, I didn’t really have anything to go by except looks. Whoever seemed to be the coolest, well they were clearly the most desirable. As I got older and more outgoing however, I kind of grew out of it. When you actually get to know people and talk to them, then you can find out that they actually are pretty cool and how they look doesn’t really matter that much.
The above anecdote kind of highlights some issues with the whole goth gf trend. The first of which is that it’s kind of juvenile. If it’s a bit embarrassing when teenagers do it, well it’s doubly damning to see full grown adults do the same. More importantly the attraction really was misdirected. In the example above I did not really know these people. Yeah they seemed cool, but ultimately it was just based on what someone could be like rather than how they actually were. It’s really not a good basis for a relationship, nor really a good sign that you actually like someone as a person. This is just a tip of the iceberg however, beyond some of the more face value misguided attraction, some of the ideas and attitudes that get packaged with the whole goth gf trend get much more problematic.
Just take a really hard look at the phrase, “I want a goth gf” itself. It doesn’t really seem to matter who this hypothetical girlfriend is, it just matters that she is goth. It reminds me of the story of the parakeet that went viral all over the internet. We had Kiwi and his goth gf. We aren’t given the other bird’s name, because apparently that’s not important, what’s important is that she is a black parakeet and she is with Kiwi. It’s almost like she is merely an accessory to go along with him. At face value it is just a cute story about birds and maybe I am being a bit too cynical, but the same sort of attitude seems to people too. The popularity of the goth gf meme kind of gives the impression that a large number of people almost see goth women as being somewhat of a commodity.
For a much more blatant example of this sort of commodification, we have this thought catalog article. In it the author talks about goth women almost as if they are goods or services rather than people. The way the author talks about these women seems to be centered around what they could do for him, the good qualities of goth women reduced to being an almost manic pixie dream girl sort of experience. This is certainly not helped with the authors statement that goth women don’t exist past age 25 and you should date them while they are young, as if it’s a phase in life you are both supposed to move on from. They way he talks about different “types” of goth women as if they are animal species kind of is dehumanizing on top of that.
While so much of the rhetoric seems to revolve around men pursuing women, it’s worth noting that this goes beyond the context of male – female hetereosexual relationships. Being queer myself I have run into quite a few queer women who also seem to really have been bitten by the goth gf bug as well. There are some differences with how queer women will depict this however. You’re not quite as likely to hear queer women talk about how they are into goth women for kinky sex of whatever, but the problem of viewing them as accessories is still somewhat of a thing.
In particular there seems to be a sort of meme about how a pink/pastel wearing girl needs their own goth gf. It sort of goes back to the thing about the parakeet above, part of the concern seems to be about how their partner would look next to them. But the way it’s also presented is almost in a way similar to butches and femmes, sort of a specific relationship dynamic that is idealized. Unlike butch and femme however, it’s not really a category that seems to exist within the goth subculture, goth women don’t specifically seem to desire more traditionally feminine women quite in the way the people desiring goth girlfriends desire them. Most sensible people aren’t going to want to date someone just because something is supposed to be a thing.
Try putting yourself in someone else’s position for a moment. Someone says they attracted to you. They may say how beautiful and different you are. But beyond being able to compliment your appearance, they don’t really seem to understand much about you. They seem to more like some idea of you they have crafted in their heads rather than you as an actual person. You may even wonder if you are interchangeable with any other person with a similar appearance. As you can imagine, it’s probably not something someone would feel all that good about. Most people want to be loved as the person they actually are.
It can kind of be dehumanizing to just be reduced to a set of traits. Quite recently I had a situation like this happen to me. I was at a party and had a small group of people who seemed really enamored with me, or at least my appearance. It was nice to be complimented, but it felt kind of hollow. Beyond commenting on my appearance, there were no real attempts to have any more meaningful conversation or get to know me, it was just look at the goth girl, isn’t she great. I don’t think there was any intention to come across that way by anyone I was talking to. But it was one of those awkward social situations that you just kind of want to get out of. Something just felt off.
To sum things up, it’s ok to think goths are attractive. Just be mindful in your words and actions. Understand that behind all the black clothes and make up, there are people, and they aren’t just a set of stereotyped traits, nor are they here solely to pleasure you. This really shouldn’t be all that radical of an idea, but honestly our culture has these kinds of problems with women in general, goth or not. But I think it’s important to try and be better.
Because this is a pretty personal subject for a lot of people, comments and feedback is greatly appreciated. My own experiences and perspective is pretty limited, being trans and mostly in queerer circle, and I feel like other people sharing their own perspectives would be particularly valuable for this subject.
About the author: Zazie has no particular qualifications. She just likes goth rock and going to events a lot and sometimes writes about it for the Belfry Network.
Special thanks to Aytakk for consulting on the article and helping with the images.