Warning: This post was published more than 10 years ago.
I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!
But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:
- My views might have changed in the 10 years since I wrote this post.
- This post might use language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate or offensive.
- Factual information might be outdated.
- Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.
Many thanks for your understanding.
Most youth subcultures encourage people to drop out of school and do illegal things. Most goths are well educated, however. They hardly ever drop out and are often the best pupils. The subculture encourages interest in classical education, especially the arts. I’d say goths are more likely to make careers in web design, computer programming … even journalism.
This is not normally the kind of thing I’d pick up on. I knew many goths, but could never claim to have been one. However, something does quite regularly strike me. Often, on a Wednesday, I trundle back from my morning in GP Land and stop off at Sainsbury’s to pick up some groceries and other sundries. Now, my local branch of Sainsbury’s (which is laid out most oddly, but that’s by-the-by) is just down the road from the local Sixth Form College, and many of the students pop down there to purchase their lunch (and they might possible pick up some other sundries too).
As I’ve shopped, I’ve become increasingly aware of the disdainful attitude of the staff and other customers towards these youths – some of whom are dressed in the Gothic style. This is despite that fact that during my regular visits, I have never – never – seen any of the pupils misbehaving in the shop. Yes, they’re boisterous and occasionally loud, but that’s not really doing anyone any harm. I can quite easily pick up my shopping with no trouble whatsoever. And yet these young people are tutted at, often stalked by staff, and generally treated as second-class citizens. This is based purely on their profile as young people.
I ask you, if the staff of Sainsbury’s had a similarly negative attitude towards elderly people, would it be acceptable? Certainly not. And yet the elderly cause more logistical headaches for the supermarket than do the young people, through no fault of their own. They tend to require more assistance, and tend to spend longer in the shop, for example. The basis for the blatant discrimination against the young people appears to be a popular stereotype perpetuated by the popular press, and no-one complains about this. Society views youngsters and a nuisance, not recognising that these are the doctors, lawyers, and priests of the future, whilst simultaneously rejecting the disrespect of the elderly based on their past lives as doctors, lawyers, and priests. And yet surely it is more logical to respect someone for what they have the potential to become than to respect them for what they have been, and will never be again.
If a section of the community is not respected, then respect is not fostered within that group. If we insist on discriminating against and criminalising the harmless, natural activities of the teenagers of this country, then we cause more problems than we solve. So next time you see a ‘goth’, or read about some kid being given an ‘ASBO’, please look beyond the stereotype, and respect that the individual you’re tutting at today might well be caring for you tomorrow.