Individuals in society are inherently subject to collaborative norms and values that have been instilled in humanity, with the consideration that this varies across cultures. The paradigm between collective action and individual desire results in the formation of what is deemed socially acceptable, such as gender roles, sexual orientation, gender performance etc. “It is social norms that provide the constraints by which the interaction between the basic dyad of self and other is governed…social norms also provide the source of identity between the individual action, the complete system and the overall social order itself resides in the identity between the action and the system” (Jinks, 2005; 78-79) Deviations form societal norms result in the formation of subcultures, cultural groups that have different beliefs, interests and values than that of the great society. This essay will focus on Goth culture and the extent to which it challenges the hegemonic norms of masculinity. “Hegemonic Masculinity refers to a culturally dominant set of ideas and practices about what it means to be a man and how men should behave” (Mansfield, 2007: 1). It is, in simpler terms the general perception of what it is to be masculine that dominants society and the way in which most people portray their masculinity. It is hoped that through the course of this essay we will be able to present a clearer picture into whether or not Goth culture truly challenges hegemonic norms of masculinity or whether it just flatters to deceive.
When examining subcultures such as the Goth culture it is evident that many serve not only as a means of identifying one’s self by membership in that subculture, but to defy the culturally dominant set of ideas, norms and identities, such as Goth, rave and punk culture.
Goth male’s physical appearance is distinct in the sense that their attire and appearance makes them recognisable in society as being a member of the Gothic subculture. Goth subculture, “is derived from the dark side of human nature from the dangers that threaten our lives and the social and spiritual responses to fear death and loss” (Issit, 2011: 72). Thus a typical Goth will be dressed in dark attire, symbolic of their affiliation with grief. Heavy make-up, corsets and long hair are some features of a Goth male who is engaging in the set norms of Gothic subculture. Men and women are said to be seen as equals, Gothic subculture is underpinned by the notion of genderlessness existing within the culture itself. Classical subcultural characteristics are evident here, Goths style of dress and their values are direct deviations from societal norms. Thus, while it is clear how some of these practices can be seen to challenge hegemonic societal norms, this is but half the full picture as we will hope to show.
Studies of Goth cultures highlight practices that appear to challenge hegemonic norms of masculinity. Each of these subcultures norms and values serve to defy and rebel...