Analyzing Gender in the Gothic Subculture

When I think about men in the gothic scene, I perceive them as young, white, skinny, having jet-black long hair, wearing all black, tight clothing such as leather pants and jackets, and having many piercings. I picture them as heterosexuals, and even though they have gloomy mentalities, they still display masculinity by battling for dominance, territory, and females. They tend to look on the darker aspects of life, such as death, the eerie supernatural, and transgressive sex, and find joy in it. They typically stay to themselves, or hang out with others like them, never fitting in to the norm that society has established.

When I think of women in the gothic scene, I see them as young, white, skinny or even anorexic, have colorful hair, ranging from black to pink, wearing either all black clothing or contrasting clothing such as long dresses or tight-fitting, revealing corsets, short skirts, and long socks. I see gothic women to be bisexual, being comfortable with either men or women. I still think that, like men, they compete against each other to be the “top-dog”, to be the most attractive (in the ways goths can be attractive), and seize the most men. They also share the dark personas of men, which is what draw them together into a group.

After reading the articles “Dancing on Bela Lugosi’s Grave: The Politics and Aesthetics of Gothic Club Dancing” by Tricia Henry Young, “A Critical Examination of Gender Relations within Goth subculture”, and “Into the Darkness: Androgyny and Gender Blurring within the Gothic Subculture” by Christina Goulding, I realized that the gothic subculture encourages androgyny, the sharing of characteristics between men and women. For example, both gothic men and women wear heavy amounts of make-up to make them give the impression that they are as pale as a vampire. Both men and women wear high boots. For women, they symbolize being on equal ground with men, giving them power and authority. Men are allowed to have long hair, like women, and not be judged. While gothic subculture promotes androgyny between men and women, it also promotes hyper-masculinity and femininity. Hyper-masculine attire includes: leather pants, kilts or skirts, large metal-plated boots, band t-shirts or combat shirts all often adorned with iconic buckles, and chains. Hyper-feminine attire includes: high-heel or platform shoes, stockings, petticoats, dresses, gowns, corsetry, often combined and adorned with matching chokers, rings, gloves, arm-warmers, and further accessories (Kle·pas). Gender lines are blurred and taken to the extremes in gothic subculture, which lets both men and women explore and identify themselves.

While gender lines are distorted and accepted without judgment, so is sexual orientation. While the gothic subculture mainly contains heterosexuals, there are a noticeable amount of homosexuals and bisexuals. They feel comfortable enough with their surroundings to go against gender norms enacted by modern day society and experiment with different behaviors that society would generally frown upon. Using androgyny or hyper masculinity or femininity, Goth participants can explore with who they are and who they want to be.

The song “Friday I’m in Love” by the English band The Cure demonstrates androgyny in gothic music. The lead singer has a large amount of make-up on; his face is powdered white, his lips a deep red from lipstick, and dark eyeliner above his eyes makes him almost seem like a woman. Also, he performs girly movements, such as bending his legs close together, moving his hips from sided to side, grabbing his heart to symbolize heartbreak, and running his hands through his hair erratically to symbolize frustration. He is also wearing a long-sleeve baggy shirt sloped to one side with tight pants, which is something you would expect a girl to wear. His voice also wavers and shakes from point to point, making him seem even more feminine.

Other band members are noted to be wearing almost the same as the lead singer; lots of make-up on their face, long sleeved baggy shirt with tight pants, and high boots. They also all have long hair, which one would expect women to have, not males. One band member has different clothing than the rest though. He has on a long robe-like top on with a long red sweater over it, a long skirt or kilt, tight pants under it and girlish boots on. Even though they perform more manly moves than the lead singer while playing their instruments, they still sneak some girly movements in there too, like making girly hand gestures and moving their hips like a girl.

Overall, gothic subculture promotes androgyny and tries to create a “genderless zone” in which males and females can cross gender boundary lines to experiment with themselves, and find where they belong. Androgyny can be seen in gothic music videos, such as “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure, who wear heavy amounts of make-up and perform womanly gestures and actions. Gothic subculture is a very open and welcoming place for trying new things and going against norms set in place by modern society, and I respect those who do embrace it, because they are stronger than the average person who just goes along with what the world says is right. They have the courage and strength to go against the tide of the world and figure out who they want to be, and find a place where they belong.


“Into the Darkness: Androgyny and Gender Blurring Within the Gothic Subculture.” By Christina Goulding, University of Wolverhampton Mike Saren, University of Strathclyde Pauline Maclaran, De Montfort University John Follett, University of Wolverhampton. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2013.

“Kle·pas.” A Critical Examination of Gender Relations within Goth Subculture. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2013.

Young, Tricia Henry. JSTOR. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2013.


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