Wannabes, Goths, and Christians (Blog Post #6)

Wannabes, Goths, and Christians: The Boundaries of Sex, Style, and Status, written by Amy C. Wilkins, dives into how young people (particularly women) are drawn to subcultures looking for status, acceptance and a sense of coolness. Even though each subculture is extremely different from one another, they are all connected through race, class, gender, and the want to be accepted. According to Wilkens, her most accurate observations are when it comes to the sexual desires and strategies that each group tends to pursue. Goths engage in non monogamous and “freaky” sex, and they can do so without being scrutinized by outsiders as hypersexual. Even though goth women have more freedom from stigma, they are still “objects of … critical gazes” (p. 67) and their bisexuality is viewed as less courageous than men’s. However, Christians deploy rhetoric about sexual abstinence, which gives them a temporary reprieve from the pressures to perform heterosexuality. Wilkins exposes how “temptation talk” (p. 127) that is used to demonstrate self‐control and responsibility is also embedded in race and classed assumptions, and she makes it clear that all three groups are still conformist in their quest for romance. The goth’s darkness, the Christian’s happiness, and the wannabe’s attitude also distinguish them from the mainstream.

I thought the book was an interesting read, but I didn’t really take anything that was new away from it. I also was not a big fan on how she made a lot of generalizations about these groups, and tended to lump them all under one central idea, when I know there are many variants of Catholics and Goths who have very different morals and ideals. It was really interesting though to see how Wilkins was able to tie together three totally different lifestyles and connect them in ways I had never even considered.

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