Thursday, August 9, 2012

rape culture is not a part of alt culture!

so a friend recently posted the following link on FB: which i highly recommend, btw. i've seen quite a lot of similar stuff popping up in recent years. i think it's important that we talk about this. i think it's fantastic that a lot of it is being posted by my male feminist friends. i think it's necessary to put into words what we all see simmering below the surface and don't talk about. the thing is that some of the statistics in these articles really shock me and a lot of the things they talk about (like "the pact"), while i certainly know what they're talking about, DOES NOT HAPPEN IN MY COMMUNITY! i'm not remotely saying that there's no need for us to talk about it, rather i think the fact that we do is one of the reasons the alt community seems to me to be stronger and healthier than the mainstream world. we post articles like this, and then we talk about them. we consistently support each other and stand up for what we know to be right. we are politically active and fight for an end to bigotry and violence. i was recently writing about the differences in dating in the alt world vs the "normal" world and i think that has a lot to do with it. the community being small makes it easy to manage. in the 13 years i've been in our community, i have only heard about 2 incidents of people acting unacceptably (in the ways that would be defended or accepted in mainstream society). in one i was there for the aftermath where a guy showed up to a birthday party and a girl immediately wanted to leave because he had raped her. he was immediately asked to leave, everyone's opinion of him as a person changed radically, and we all stood behind her as having done nothing wrong. the other someone was drugged at a party. her friends immediately realized that she was not ok and took care of her. the person responsible was called out for it and is no longer welcome at any of our events. this is the place i proudly call home. i am surrounded by honourable men who do not put up with their friends preying upon women. i am surrounded by strong women who are not afraid to speak out and stand up for themselves. we do not find racist or homophobic or sexist jokes funny. we respect each-other as humans. if we are catty or dramatic, it is based on people's actions. stereotypes are not brought into it. all of my friends know that i was sexually abused as a child and have been sexually assaulted as an adult. i have never had anyone react to that knowledge in a negative or unsupportive way. i am female and pansexual and i never get discriminated against for it. coming from that basis of support gives me the strength to deal with people out in the "normal" world who are not so enlightened. it gives me the baseline for what is actually normal and sensible so i never consider other opinions may be true. i'm not battered with hatred and objectification on a daily basis. i keep it out of my life so it can't infect me like the plague it is. and i'm not afraid to walk down the street alone at night. i'm not afraid to be in an elevator with a strange man or cross a nasty area of town alone. i'm healthy and strong and capable of defending myself. i have my head on straight about reasonable risk. failing all that i carry a large knife and the training to use it. living in a healthy community gives me the strength to deal with an unsafe one. attending events and making friends here is a tacit agreement to abide by our rules. when we bring new people in we have a good idea that they are respectful and open minded. usually they share some interests but far more important is their attitude. i think that's why it's very common for people to come out to an event and immediately get the feeling "oh god, i'm home!". they are. this is what we were all looking for. the environment and the people where we fit. i'm not sure how we can extend these social rules into the rest of the world. maybe this kind of strict control only works in a small group or maybe that's the only reason we're able to be so different. i'm told that in cities where the alt community is huge it's the same. maybe it's just that we're used to being different in our clothing and our music and our interests. we don't care if our social rules are also different. we have no problem saying "i don't care if that's acceptable where you come from, that shit doesn't fly here". maybe it's just that the world needs to stop wearing their wishbone where their backbone aught to be. it starts with one person influencing their social group. it starts with one company choosing to market things in a way that focuses on their product without demeaning any group of people. it starts with you. stop wringing your hands. the next time your buddy makes a crack about getting a girl really drunk so he can get laid, don't laugh. tell him that's not fucking cool. stop going along with things. stand up and say no. people will respect you for it.

on social rules and dating in the alt world

eeps! it's been so long since i posted anything blogger has changed the whole layout. hopefully i'll be on here more in the near future. i wont bore you all silly with my news. if you care about such things i'm sure you've been kept informed on FB, etc. the point is that i finally have something new to say and the time to do so. i've been attempting recently to date outside of the alt world. the community is small and eventually you have either dated or discounted everyone in it. hence my testing the waters of dating in the "normal" community and getting really confused. i think i'm starting to understand why people do the modern formal dating ritual. it's a lack of trust thing. you meet in public to keep it safe. you don't trust the other person to like you so you dress up and spend too much money and act overly polite and bland. in the alt world we know and trust everyone to some extent so it's fine to hang out in private and it's fine to be ourselves. i think our way is better but it only works if all parties understand and agree to it. the goth world in insular because we all started as outcasts. the freaks no one liked. if you've ever wondered what became of the strange kids who thought that leggings, scraps of fabric and string made a great outfit, or that a dead bird was beautiful, that would be us. we found family and support and friendship together and learned to trust again, forming our own community. the rest of the world is not included in that trust. new people are brought in carefully and vouched for as safe and like-minded before being accepted. it's a bit like the bro code but far more specific and strict. we enforce our rules ruthlessly and unacceptable behaviour will lose you the trust of the community. we all know each other and we hear everything that goes on. there are no big secrets and you don't get away with shit. you also can't have feuds. the tribe is too small to not learn to get along. we accept each other's differences and revel in our shared interests. many of us are huge geeks. there's a lot of crossover to the hippy and punk and metal communities. i'll be talking about all of this under the umbrella of "alt" but it applies most accurately to goths as i'm examining our culture, i thought i would talk it out and provide some instruction for new people in the process. some differences: talking about sex in mixed company, even with people you don't know, and in detail, is totally fine as long as you're talking in general, not about a specific person. this is not even considered flirting most of the time (unless you're clearly checking if you're compatible with someone and they're reciprocating). talking about heavy emotional issues is fine as long as you know the person a little and often leads to closer friendships. it's not weird to lean on anyone from the community for support. you never overtly hit on anyone. ever. it isn't done. if you're interested you flirt more until you're fairly sure they like you as well and then talk about it or arrange to hang out one-on-one (note, not a formal date) or you "make a move" in a respectful way (a kiss for example). no one really goes on formal dates and there's certainly no unspoken rules about sleeping with them on the 3rd date or such nonsense. we just hang out, either one on one or in a group, or invite them to events. since you already know the person at least in passing, they have been vouched for by the group. we are REALLY big on sexual consent being freely given and never coerced, so this is perfectly safe. no one from the tribe is going to push you or put you in danger in any way. sleeping with someone does not have rules about when you would then contact them or what that now makes the two of you. we are honest about what's just a fuck buddy and what is a relationship of various kinds. neither are shameful. lots of people are poly, gay, bi, or pan sexual and bigotry of any kind is not tolerated. we're far more likely to judge someone for having unsafe sex than to keep track of how many people they've been with. slut shaming is very rare. your clothing does not say anything about you besides "i think this looks cool", or possibly "i like the band on my shirt". showing a lot of skin does not make you slutty, nor does it entitle anyone to touch you. one the subject of touch, we're particular about personal space. we're often touchy-feely with friends, sharing hugs and massages and maybe drunken kisses. this does not apply to people we don't know, even people in the scene. if you don't know someone you would assume you have no permission to touch any part of them besides a handshake for any reason until they touch you first. the rule seems to be that the less assertive of two people should be the one to initiate contact but that isn't set in stone. you get a feel for it, its just watched a lot more closely then outside the alt world. touch someone inappropriately and you could even get injured, either by that person, their friends, or the bouncers. at the least you will get a whole lot of "WTF?" aimed at you, depending on how badly you just fucked up. dancing with someone is sometimes flirting and sometimes just silly fun. it's all about what kind of dance. we are all very aware of the undercurrents in our encounters and we interpret them in a much more straightforward manner. we also talk about such things openly. you can see that the lines between friends and relationships tend to blur. this is why the "friendzone" isn't so much of a thing. if someone says you're just friends it's either that they are not attracted to you, or you are such close friends they couldn't risk losing you (i'm sure you'd know if that were the case). there's no wavering or having someone put you in the friend box so even though they think you're hot and it wouldn't be devastating to lose the friendship they wont change their opinion. that shit doesn't happen. the community is too small (a few hundred people maybe, in vancouver). if you like someone as a person and are attracted to them you just start flirting and see what happens. relationships evolve organically and are usually not officially defined for several months, even though you're communicating about it. i love our community and believe that all of this promotes safety and acceptance. we can be snobby and closed but we are fiercely loyal and supportive. lately i've been seeing the alt world growing as being geeky becomes more socially acceptable. on one hand i would love to see the group grow in numbers and there's certainly advantages to having our interests and way of seeing the world become more popular. on the other hand i worry that our being less selective about who we call our own will lead to a blending of morals and viewpoints with the "normal" world and we will lose some of what makes it unique and amazing. what do you guys think? what did i leave out?