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Emo Trend No Real Cause For Concern

30 December 2012

Dr. Alaa Alghamdi

WHAT THEY REFER to in American culture as the "generation gap" has been manifesting itself in Saudi Arabia in a visible way in the past few years, prompting action to contain it as one would an infection that threatens to erupt into an epidemic. This phenomenon involves young people behaving and presenting themselves in a way that seems subtly subversive, even if we are not quite sure why. Some youth are becoming androgynous, seeking to blur the distinction between male and female identities. While girls, defiantly, define themselves as tomboys, boys cultivate a softer, more vulnerable edge. Some, from both genders, use makeup to enhance their features, and are inclined to define themselves as ‘emo', a term stemming from the word ‘emotional'. The youth who do this, see themselves as introspective, poetic, sad, and vulnerable.

The Government and the police have sought to stem the trend and prevent its spread by banning emos and tomboys, along with youth with suspect sexual orientation from our schools and colleges. However, they may actually be doing more harm than good.

Indeed, the emo trend is bewildering in a number of ways. Here are youth seeking not to glorify themselves by making themselves appear stronger or better; rather, they seem to be trying to blur personal distinctions between themselves and others of their group. The differences between the genders grow increasingly ambiguous. It's no wonder perhaps that the movement has become associated with homosexuality — although it is by no means certain that homosexuality is part of the tomboy or emo styles. The trend is not unique to Saudi Arabia – in fact, it's worldwide.

It is, above all, evidence of the globalization of youth culture. A few years ago, in almost any North American city, we would have heard talk about ‘emo' dress, music and behavior. All the hallmarks of it were the same; the longish dark hair, often concealing the eyes; makeup (on both boys and girls) to accentuate the eyes; the tendency to wear dark, strangely child-like clothing and virtually the same type for boys and for girls. And along with the ‘look' came the distinctive demeanor – moody, thoughtful, a little depressed, and fond of writing poetry. Parents in the West watched with distress, as it was occasionally associated with self-harming behavior, like cutting or drug taking. But for most kids, it was a relatively harmless trend. And, like most trends, it had its moment, and then it was gone. You would be hard-pressed today to find an ‘emo kid' in a major American city.

Our job is merely to protect our children from harm. There is much that they may do that remains obscure to us; they are busy creating tomorrow, in their own way. My personal opinion is that this emo trend is to be addressed frankly and discussed with the youth. Stern opposition to it will only fuel the fire. If we could make these youth look the other way with regard to styles of dress, and focus mostly on the things that matter for their future — like school, achievement, health and the environment – the rest will take care of itself. And in five years, today's youth will feel a mild sense of embarrassment that they were once ‘emos'.

 

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