Project comment In the Dark

The Goth Subculture

By Sydney Rivers










What is Goth?

Goths make up a rich and diverse subculture that is often dehumanized by the misunderstanding public. They are unified by their love of things that are traditionally considered to be dark and mysterious. This inclination towards the conventionally gloomy has caused many unfair misconceptions to emerge concerning the goth subculture. Although goths are usually depicted as being moody, depressed, and possibly violent individuals, members of this grouping are frequently peaceful, creative, and intelligent people who find joy in unorthodox places. A variety of music and fashion styles have arisen from and are enjoyed by the gothic cultural community. Humans who identify as goth should be given the dignity that they deserve as living beings, not despised for deviating from the mainstream.



History of Goth

The goth subculture arose in the United Kingdom during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Its name is derived from gothic rock, the fans of which formed the original goth movement and its associations with dark music and fashion. Notable founders of gothic rock and influencers of the goth subculture include the Cure, Bauhaus, Siouxie and the Banshees, and Joy Division. Since its creation, goth has diversified into multiple different subgroupings and remains a noteworthy population in multiple societies to this day.

The term goth itself originates from Germanic tribes known as Goths, who sacked Rome and helped to bring about the fall of the Roman Empire; they became widely acknowledged as vulgar barbarians. Between the 12th and 16th centuries, Romanesque architecture in Europe was replaced by flying buttresses, pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and gargoyles. This kind of style became known derisively during the Renaissance as ‘Gothic’ architecture for their supposedly uncultured nature when compared to Roman and Greek design. Novels and poetry written in the 18th and 19th centuries often took place in Gothic buildings, with significant themes of horror and romanticism (kind of an odd combination if you ask me). This kind of literature became known as Gothic fiction; notable authors of this category include Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Charlotte Bronte, and Edgar Allan Poe. Goth then became associated with darkness, horror, romance, and mystery. Eventually, goth was used to describe the 1980’s music genre, before finally designating the contemporary subculture.


Goth Stereotypes


It is well known that all Goths:

Wear black

Exclusively listen to dark music

Are a cult and have the same beliefs

Are chronically depressed

Hate everyone

Want to kill everyone/themselves

Probably worship Satan

(By the way, black birds are not omens of death and really should not be treated as such.)


Goth Realities

In actuality, Goths:

Do not all wear black

Have different musical preferences, and do not necessarily listen to only dark music

Are not a cult and hold many varying beliefs

Can often be contented and cheerful people

Do not hate/want to kill themselves/others/the world

Are frequently interested in magic and paganism, but this does not even approximate Satanism (Seriously? Why would people even assume this?)

Commonly are accepting, peaceful, and creative people with good senses of humor who find happiness in all things dark

Love tradition, the mysterious and supernatural, nature, and romanticism



Testimony From the Goths


“I feel like it is more honest to be a goth. Normal people have the same amount of depression as goths, but at least there’s more honesty about it in goth culture. I like goth music and shows. I just gravitate towards it as a personal thing. There is no peer pressure. I was always depressive by nature. I had a difficult childhood and a pessimistic outlook on life. For a few years before I embraced the gothic subculture, I played at being twee and surrounding myself with false cheer and bright colors in an attempt to ignore how depressed I truly was. Admitting, understanding and owning depression are much better ways of handling those feelings than trying to suppress them by pretending to be happy when you’re not. If people are already depressed, they will gravitate towards the goth culture. But there are quirky goths who are not depressive at all.“

Lydia, 25, London

“I was a goth in the 1980s. I even saw [goth pioneers] Bauhaus at their final ‘RIP concert’ at Hammersmith in 1983. Back then, it was just about an image, and it was fun. It was also cheaper to be into punk and goth because you could buy black clothes in charity shops. From my experience as a goth, my friends and I were always more sensitive in nature. I feel more in line with my emotions and am more willing to admit to feeling happy or sad. I don’t think being a goth predisposes you to being depressed.“

Karen Anne Chudley, Hampshire (former goth)

BBC: Young Goths and Depression – Your Stories



Hatred Against The Goths

Since their appearance in the 80’s, members of the goth subculture have suffered prejudice and intolerance, especially due to their atypical styles of fashion. People identifying as goth have endured bullying and either intentional or accidental marginalization by people from outside their community. On August 11 of 2007, a couple in goth dress were violently attacked by a group of teens as they walked through a park in Lancashire, England. The woman, Sophie Lancaster, subsequently died of her injuries, while her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, survived. Two of the teens were given life sentences for the murder of Sophie Lancaster; the other three received lesser punishments for the assault of Robert Maltby. Although this was an extreme case, goths are frequently misunderstood for their love of darkness and gloomy aesthetics.


Gothic Religion

Being part of the goth subculture does not necessarily dictate an individual’s religion. Like other ‘normal’ people, goths can believe in whatever faith they choose, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Paganism, Agnosticism, and Atheism. Goth is a secular movement, not one connected to a specific religion. Regardless of your chosen theology, you can be assured to find, quite possibly devout, believers who also happen to have a love for the darkness. Thus, the goth subculture does not provide a barrier of religious tolerance, nor are they inevitably Satanists. As an aside, it is not uncommon for goths to have inclinations towards Paganism, but this belief system does not equate with an adoration of the devil. Pagans tend to be more interested in magic, nature, and spirituality rather than the promotion of all things Lucifer.



Goth: The Artistic Side

Signifiers of the goth subculture are its unique music genres and fashion styles. Goths themselves can be sub-divided into multiple categories; these groupings include traditional goths, casual goths, romantic goths, vampire goths, cybergoths, pastel goths, ice goths, and hippie goths, to name a few. Each of these communities have their own customary clothing and musical inclinations, all of which represent the beauty found in the darkness of this world. While most goths have dark fashion styles featuring solid black, many goth types do not. Ice goths, for example, wear outfits consisting almost entirely of white, while pastel goths showcase many bright hues in their outfits and accessories. There are also multiple different kinds of goth-related music genres, such as death rock, gothic rock, ethereal wave, and cold wave. Goths have created their own artistic culture, most significantly in the categories of music and fashion.

Traditional Goth

Originate from the late 70’s and early 80’s

Usually listen to ‘official’ goth music such as dark wave, goth rock, and death rock

The stereotypical goth: black hair, black clothing, pale skin, and black makeup

Black fishnets, leather, chokers, boots, and other ‘customary’ goth clothing and accessories.



Casual Goth

Goth dressed down

Wear traditional gothic clothing, but frequently paired with other non-gothic pieces, giving them a more casual and everyday appearance



Romantic Goth

Wear typical Victorian, Edwardian, and similar types of clothing combined with goth styles, such as lace, velvet, corsets, high-collared coats, dark jewelry, large dresses, and other formal attire

Frequently wear black with colorful highlights, such as red, green, or purple

Captivated by the literature and poetry of the Romantic era

Drawn to the sorrow and beauty of tragic romances

Emphasize emotion, dreaming, romance, and artistic expression



Vampire Goth

Try to emulate vampires in their fashion styles; this includes dark hair/makeup, pointed nails/teeth, and often piercings or tattoos

Like the Romantic goths, vampire goths are influenced by the Romantic Era

Find the beauty in death and darkness; they generally have a specific fondness towards classic vampire stories such as ‘Dracula’

Not to be mixed up with the vampire subculture; vampire goths do not usually drink blood or believe themselves to be actual vampires

Goths have been associated with vampires essentially since the subculture was created


Futuristic, post-apocalyptic fashion styles

Wear fluorescent colors, silver, black, and white

Accessories such as gas masks, goggles, and neon dreadlocks feature in cybergoth outfits

Music preferences typically include the techno and industrial genres

A unique subgrouping that blows the depressed, moody goth stereotype out of the water





Pastel Goth

Relatively new goth category

Mixes goth styles with pastel colors

Also known as Creepy Cute and Kawaii Goth

Attempts to combine cute with disturbing: pastels and glitter will be added to blood, tears, and bandages

Takes inspiration from Japanese styles such as Lolita and Harajuku

The Pastel goth fashion styles are similar to those found in Japanese manga and anime; designs tend to be young and highly feminine

Ice Goth/White Goth

Look for the darkness in the light

Replace traditional black clothing with all-white outfits

Sometimes known as ‘Negative Goth’ for their inversion of customary dark fashions

Clothing ensembles usually include lace, veils, and black or ice blue makeup

One of the lesser-known Goth styles






Hippie Goth

Blends traditional goth subculture with typical ‘hippie’ values

Often animal and eco-friendly – commonly vegetarian/vegan

Black clothes that tend to be long and flowy: billowing shirts/pants, bandanas, hanging dresses, and large glasses

Frequently are interested in occult and pagan religions (e.g., wicca)

Typical music genres include folk music and pagan rock



Mall Goths: The Poseurs

Mall goths began to appear in the United States during the 1990’s; they are also called ‘poseurs’ by true goths. The term mall goth began as a pejorative to describe people, usually teenagers, who dressed in goth styles without understanding the actual goth culture, which is largely based in music. ‘Mall goth’ refers to how they would spend their time at shopping malls, and especially to how they bought goth items at Hot Topic. Mall goths have been alternately called a subgrouping of goth and as their own subculture influenced by the other community. Marilyn Manson and Amy Lee are artists who are associated with and helped to shape the mall goth movement.


Gothic Music

Gothic music comes in many different genres and subgenres, all with the uniting theme of darkness in some form or another. These categories include:

Dark Wave

E.g., Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, Fields of the Nephilim by Moonchild

Ethereal Wave

E.g., Song to the Siren by This Mortal Coil, Land’s End by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Cold Wave

E.g., I Met the Beast by Martin Dupont


E.g., She’s Lost Control by Joy Division, Dark Entries by Bauhaus

Death Rock

E.g., Romeo’s Distress by Christian Death

Gothic Rock

E.g., Lucretia My Reflection by The Sisters of Mercy

Goth Folk

E.g., Danger and Dread by Brown Bird, Ain’t No Grave by Crooked Still, Things That Scare Me by Neko Case

Dark Ambient

E.g., Songs For an Empty World by Cryo Chamber, The Poignant by Kammarheit



Gothic High Fashion

Although people normally see goths as marginalized individuals, goth has been seen multiple times in the world of high fashion. Designers that are known for their darker styles include:

Rick Owens

Jun Takahashi

Yohji Yamamoto

Alexander McQueen

Rei Kawakubo

(pictures and names match from left to right and top to bottom)

Goth in the Media

Goths have been portrayed more than once in popular media such as books, television, and movies, albeit frequently stereotypically. On the other hand, characters have also been created that do not so much act ‘goth’ but fit the part aesthetically (Okay, Darth Vader is not goth, but you must admit that he does wear a lot of black).








The Meaning of Goth

“I was born Goth. This is not a decision because it is who I am at my core. Preferring the night to the day, the cold colors to the warmth, and death over life. Death…what a harsh word, isn’t it? But saying you love death doesn’t mean you hate life. On the contrary, it means you cherish every moment given to you so that others may never understand. It means that once death comes and it will, your life was a precious one. Also, death is a crucial part of life. Without death, no one would see life’s beauty.”

Arielle Lyon Living the Goth Life at Thirty-Five

“It’s about practicing that winged eye-liner. It’s about dancing in platforms without tripping. It’s about learning how to clean and care for sweat-drenched PVC. And how to lace a corset. And how to make hair HUGE. You start to wear a lot of black. Almost entirely, actually… But it’s also about embracing the darker side of life; a less conventional life philosophy that questions religion, questions mainstream culture, and is generally more poetic and romantic than what conventional culture celebrates and upholds as what we should aspire toward. It is very much a sub-culture of introverts, artists, free-thinkers, and creative types, if you want to make one sweeping generalization.”

Christine The 3 Goth Stages of Life

“Being goth is not something I’m going to grow out of. I’ve got masses of friends from the alternative scene. There’s this misconception that all goths are miserable. Yes, there’s a sense of macabre, but there’s an amazing camaraderie and sense of community…

I have a theory that lots of goths were bullied growing up. Society turned its back on us, so we all went off and did our own thing. The clothes and the makeup are just a way to differentiate who is worth getting to know. Some people look at the clothes and are put off. But the people who take the time to look beneath it are the ones worth getting to know.”

-Lee Edward Armstrong, 45 (longtime goth) Meet Britain’s Longest-Standing Goths


Goth Shopping


If my presentation was spectacular enough to make you want to ‘turn to the dark side’, then you can buy gothic clothing and accessories at the following places:


Gothic Plus

DevilNight (note that this store provides clothes that are far more ‘gothic high fashion’ than could be used for daily wear – they do have wedding dresses, though)


Unique Vintage

Alchemy Gothic

Dare Fashion

(As an aside, searching online for ‘goth clothing’ tends to turn up stereotypical outcomes. You would be better off identifying what kind of style you are looking for and trying to turn up results from more specific keywords.)

51 of the Best Online Gothic Stores

Dark References

What is Goth:

Aesthetics Wiki – Goth:

Being Goth:

What Does it Mean to be a Goth Right Now:

What is a Goth Person:

My Final Bow

In closing, goths have been misunderstood individuals since the subculture’s creation in the 80’s. Due to the strangeness of traditional goth clothing, as well as the goths’ love of darkness and frequent connections to Paganism, it can be easy to assume that they are bizarre, grotesque, violent people who may very well be Satanists. To understand the members of this community, we must suspend our preconceived judgments of them and listen to what the goth subculture truly revolves around. If we are willing to take action and banish the biases surrounding this movement, then it is possible for change to occur. The goths should not be shunned because they are different to the rest of society; they deserve the same respect and dignity due to all human beings. I hope that you, the reader, have learned something about what it really means to be goth.


By the Way…

In case you were curious, I am not part of the goth subculture, just someone who was interested and wanted to know more about it.

“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”

– Bram Stoker, Dracula




Farewell, friends. I will see you again at the rising of the moon…

Humanizing Presentation

Nakyung Park








Sex Workers




Sex workers are a group of men, women, and transgendered individuals that are out to receive money or goods in the exchange of sexual services. As much as they do not consider sex work as their occupation, they see it as an income generating activity. Most sex workers are dehumanized in the society and are looked down upon.






People believe that sex workers do not have families

Sex workers have STIs and are out to spread it to others

Sex workers are immoral

They raise children who will soon follow the same steps of prostitution

They are HIV positive (Benoit et al, 2020)

Once you join the streets you are bound to that life forever



What People Believe about Sex Workers




When will you get a real job?

You must get a lot of assholes

Were you abused by your parents while you were a child/

Are you addicted to drugs?

You are a porn star, therefore you must be very rich

People like you should be ashamed; you are home wreckers (Benoit et al., 2020).



Some Stereotypes Sex Workers are Tired to Hear




Most of them are fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers to others

They use protections during this act and most of them are very healthy

They do it as source of income to meet their needs

When they get better things to do, that can earn them income, they can always leave the street

They have respect for any other person’s work and always demand for the same

They love their lives and children that is why they must take care while in the business


Reality about Sex Workers




Increased sex revenues from taxes

Reduced sexually transmitted diseases

Relocation of law enforcement resources

Reduced rates of rape cases more so to minors

Advocating human rights for sex workers

Improved living standards of the people in the business



What are some of the Advantages of Legalizing Sex Work




Promotes sex trafficking

Will lead to increased illegal street prostitution

Will portray the bad image of a country (Pataki, 2020).

Increased child prostitution below the adult age.

Increased prostitution

Increased chances of spreading STIs within a region.



Reason why People are Opposed to this Legalization




Most sex workers enjoy their work

they are happy with what they do

Some of them fall in love with their clients

They are able to pay most of their bills through this kind of work (Pataki, 2020).

They live better lives than some of the people who do not do the same work

They are human beings and requests people to respect their work


Testimony from the Sex Workers




Most sex workers receive rejection since they are seen as immorally upright considering that they exchange money with sex while sex is ordained to be pure. Some also despise them because they see them as home wreckers (Lyons et al., 2020).


Hatred against Sex Workers




New Zealand







Countries that Legalize Sex Working




Was first mentioned as an occupation in 2400BC

In the temple of brothel operated by Sumerian priest in Uruk city

Later it was spread to various countries like Rome, India, Japan

In the bible, it was common in the ancient Israel

Biblical story of Judah and Tamar shows prostitution as well (Genesis 38:14-26


Origin of Sex Work




In countries where this kind of business is legalized, these individuals pay taxes to the government directly and it is mandatory. In this case, it must be an organized process where all members register with the government before involving ones self in the activity


Do Sex Workers Pay Taxes




It takes a lot of courage for individuals to become a sex worker. in this case most of them uses drugs to make them face the public and become known as a sex worker without questioning their conscience (Fehrenbacher et al., 2020).

They also become addicts since that is the only way they can face any kind of clients who come to ask for their services without fear of what the society will have to say.


Why Do They Become Drug Addicts




Most media personalities such as radio stations, TV stations have a negative portrayal of sex workers (Fehrenbacher et al., 2020).

They only say the bad things about them on TVs and radios.


Sex Workers in the Media




Like any other work they should be paid

They should have right to bodily autonomy

Right to security from violence

Right to privacy; anybody can have sex with whoever they want (Mgbako, 2020).

Right to recognition before the law

Right to freedom of movement


Sex Workers and their Human Rights




Sex workers deserve respect

They are normal human beings and their rights should not be infringed

They deserve recognition by the government

Most of them are parents who are out to earn income to settle their daily bills

When legalized, a country may earn revenues by taxing them

Sex work began many years ago and was also in the bible.






Benoit, C., Maurice, R., Abel, G., Smith, M., Jansson, M., Healey, P., & Magnuson, D. (2020). ‘I dodged the stigma bullet’: Canadian sex workers’ situated responses to occupational stigma. Culture, health & sexuality, 22(1), 81-95. ttps://

Fehrenbacher, A. E., Musto, J., Hoefinger, H., Mai, N., Macioti, P. G., Giametta, C., & Bennachie, C. (2020). Transgender people and human trafficking: intersectional exclusion of transgender migrants and people of color from anti-trafficking protection in the United States. Journal of human trafficking, 6(2), 182-194.

Lyons, C. E., Schwartz, S. R., Murray, S. M., Shannon, K., Diouf, D., Mothopeng, T., … & Baral, S. (2020). The role of sex work laws and stigmas in increasing HIV risks among sex workers. Nature communications, 11(1), 1-10.

Mgbako, C. A. (2020). The Mainstreaming of Sex Workers’ Rights as Human Rights. Harv. JL & Gender, 43, 91.

Pataki, K. (2020). Legalizing Sex Work: The Mirage of Sex Worker Autonomy in the Netherlands (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh).



Humanizing sex workers

By Kelly Zhen



















































































































What are sex workers?

Definition: a sex worker is a person who provides sex work, either on a regular or occasional basis


























































































































































A sex worker is a person who provides sex work, either on a regular or occasional basis

Violence against sex workers













































































































Common stereotypes

Sex workers are often described by derogatory terms like “prostitutes”, “whores”, and “hookers”

Sex workers are disgraced, discredited, and frowned upon by society




















































A quote from an article written by Cyd Nova (a sex worker) states “I’m not trying to steal your man or start a thing with him. Although I may have enjoyed his company, we ultimately engaged in a business transaction.”

Sex workers are often associated with derogatory terms like “whore” and “home-wrecker” while the person on the receiving end is never criticized. They are simply doing their job, it is up to the client to request sex work from a sex worker.













































































































Legitimate employment

Often asked by people “When are you going to get a ‘real job’?”

This discredits Sex workers, furthering the stigma that sex work is not a legitimate field of employment





















































The truth behind this stereotype is that sex work is real work. All work is equal and valid, sex work generates income.

It is time to decriminalize sex work and recognize that sex workers are just people making income to support themselves (some also support families)













































































































Common stereotype

Another common stereotype is that sex workers are unintelligent and uneducated

They don’t fit the societal construct of the idea of what intelligence looks like




















































The stereotype that sex workers are unintelligent is 100% false. Your occupation does not define intelligence.

Not all sex workers are high school drop-outs, there are many sex workers who are college educated but choose to become a sex worker. But formal education does not define intelligence, pushing this stereotype that higher education equates to intelligence is classist.













































































































Drug use

A common stereotype is that sex workers abuse drugs

While many other professions can be linked to drug use as seen in “The Wolf of Wall Street”, sex workers are the ones who are constantly criticized for it




















































While some sex workers use drugs, not all sex workers use drugs. This stigma is harmful and degrading to many sex workers. What someone does for work does not indicate what they do to their bodies.

In “The Wolf of Wall Street” movie, people working in finance are shown to be heavy drug users. But this same stigma around drugs are not ever linked to wall street or finance related careers.













































































































Why do people become sex workers?

Sex workers sell sexual services in order to earn a livelihood

Sex work is sometimes the best option for those living in poverty, it sometimes provides better pay and more flexible working conditions


























































































Why they deal drugs

Why do people become sex workers?

Sex work enables workers to negotiate the services they provide and allows them choice over the hours they work

There is a high demand for sex workers and sex work does not require specific requirements such as formal education, making it widely accessible






















































































Why they deal drugs

Humanizing sex workers

Like most people, sex workers too have desires, needs, and dreams. We all share the same desires to be able to provide for ourselves and our loved ones. Sex workers have dreams of starting a family, starting their own business, getting married, travel, etc.


























































































































































Humanize: what makes them similar to us (desires, needs, dreams, etc.)

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