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Straight Edge Interview Project- Anastasia, 29, Seattle (Berlin)

Tell us about you? What do you do for a living? Do you have any pets, hobbies, pet projects?
My name is Anastasia, I am 29 years old, currently living in Seattle (moving to Berlin in a few days though) and I use she/her pronouns.

Tell us about you? What do you do for a living? Do you have any pets, hobbies, pet projects?

I am a Technical Artist for a well known gaming company. So my hobbies tend to include coding, playing video games, drawing, doing arts and crafts, mostly anything creative. I have one pet right now, an 8 year old fluffy cat named Luke, but we will be getting him another cat companion soon!

Favorite straight edge (or non-straight edge) bands? If you have links, please provide them!

My favorite bands change so often, but right now I’m listening to a lot of Mugshot, Knocked Loose, Dying wish and Bloodbather.

What is your definition of straight edge?

My definition of straight edge is really just as simple as respecting your body. Sure, I don’t drink, do drugs or smoke, but for me that’s really a choice I made as a way to respect the vessel that I was given. I know some people consider certain things toxic to your body, like pharmaceuticals or coffee, but for me it’s just avoiding mind altering addictions.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

Considering we’re in a global pandemic it’s a little tough. But I do think there is still a strong straight edge scene out there, you just have to know where to look. I think the people who are straight edge now tend to be a little older and maybe more mature so I think there’s a lot of positivity in the scene. It makes it easier for those interested in being edge, and I think that’s pretty awesome.

There’s an ongoing debate on whether one can be straight edge without being a part of the music scene, what’s your thoughts on this?

You can be whatever you want, wherever you want (as long as your not harming anyone in the process). I think in all things people need to categorize themselves, and also make “tiers” or “ranks” for people (probably so that they can feel superior to others…barf), and I personally am over that crap. Saying you can’t be something positive like straight edge because you don’t like a certain music is really only hurting our scene, it’s driving people away, and I think that’s garbage personally.

What are some funny/common misconceptions people have about you being straight edge?

I think the only misconception I have run in to is that people think I don’t want to be around them if they are drinking. Sure, it’s not my favorite past time to be hanging out with people who are drunk, been there done that, no thank you. But if a friend invites me over to their house and they have a glass of wine with dinner I’m not gunna lecture them for an hour about it, it’s their choice. So I guess the misconception being that straight edge people are intolerant, when really for me it’s just about respecting my boundaries.

What are some challenges you have faced when interacting with other people who are also edge? If you haven’t had any challenges, tell us some challenges you’ve faced when interacting with people who are not edge?

I’ve definitely encountered the superiority complex of other straight edge people who judge me for not always being edge. I never really did anything crazy but before I knew what being straight edge was I definitely did some things to “fit in”. I don’t think it’s fair of people to judge others for that either. Hell, if I had known what straight edge was when I entered high school at 13 I most definitely would have been, but I just wasn’t exposed to it. I have also encountered other straight edge people judging me and my friends for not only like straight edge and hardcore music (I tend to listen to a lot of metal as well), but that ones easier to handle.

Is your diet influenced or informed by your choice to be straight edge i.e. organic, antibiotic infused meat, genetically modified foods, vegan, vegetarian?

I am vegan but not because of straight edge, just because I love animals, and I don’t want to support factory faming, not to mention the health benefits. When I went straight edge I was not vegan or vegetarian. Then about 8 years ago I went pescatarian for health reasons, and about a year ago I finally transitioned to veganism. I love it so far and I’ve had a ton of success with it.

What’s your straight edge story? Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life? How old were you? How did you find out about straight edge, was there someone in the community that introduced you, or were you introduced to it through people/bands, etc? What drew you to it?

This’ll be a long one. When I was little my family used a lot of drugs. Because of this I was constantly around drugs and alcohol and the not so pleasant people that that can attract (not to say all people who use are bad by any means). Because of this drugs, and the drug culture made me very uncomfortable for most of my life. I stayed away from mostly everything until high school. When I entered high school I still felt very uncomfortable around even weed, but was now faced with constant questions about “why I didn’t smoke” or “if I wanted a drink”. It got really exhausting telling people who I barely knew that I grew up with a family of addicts and for me, it was safer to stay away from this stuff altogether. Luckily my long term boyfriend, now husband, knew of straight edge and introduced me some hardcore bands. I really fell in love with the energy and family aspect of straight edge and realized that this is something I would want to be apart of. So my senior year of high school I started “claiming” straight edge. I actually lost a lot of friends when I made this change “official” and it only confirmed to me that these people weren’t truly me friends, and that I had been missing this sense of belonging that straight edge gave me.

Define what straight edge means to you? Has this changed over the years?

As I said straight edge to me just means to be good to your body. I have always used the definition of not using anything that is mind altering. To me this means things that make me act differently, like how alcohol would. However, my definition of straight edge has adjusted a bit. I have had anxiety my whole life, and for a long time was really against taking any prescriptions (I still don’t love the idea). But I recently started taking some medications for my anxiety and it has helped me tremendously, I am actually enjoying life now, which is wonderful. Over my life I have just become more tolerant in most things, if it works for someone and it doesn’t hurt you, let them live their life. The same goes for myself, I used to be very intolerant with what I would allow for myself but as I’ve grown up I’ve realized there’s no need to suffer to continue to meet these expectations you have for yourself. Make informed decisions, do what’s right for you, and if people don’t like it? Fuck ’em…

Do you consider yourself an activist? What is/are your cause(s), and how have you been working to advance them?

I do consider myself an activist. I am actively on a journey to become more educated and anti-racist. I’m working on unlearning some of the biases I was taught and educating myself on other’s experiences. I am also against animal cruelty, primarily fighting to bring awareness to animal cruelty in makeup and skin care. I try to educate on the terrible way we treat animals in factory farms. When it’s safe to I really love to protest and rally and generally just raise awareness on issues I’m passionate about. Really, just try to use my privilege to help others.

What, if anything, keeps you committed to the straight edge lifestyle?

I do consider myself an activist. I am actively on a journey to become more educated and anti-racist. I’m working on unlearning some of the biases I was taught and educating myself on other’s experiences. I am also against animal cruelty, primarily fighting to bring awareness to animal cruelty in makeup and skin care. I try to educate on the terrible way we treat animals in factory farms. When it’s safe to I really love to protest and rally and generally just raise awareness on issues I’m passionate about. Really, just try to use my privilege to help others.

What, if anything, keeps you committed to the straight edge lifestyle?

I mean, it sounds weird to say but it’s comfortable for me? The way I see it is making yourself uncomfortable is a good thing sometimes, if you are doing it to better yourself. But choosing to not be straight edge, in my mind wouldn’t be a positive change, so it wouldn’t be worth being uncomfortable for? Does that make sense?

What is something you didn’t think you would struggle with by claiming edge?

I am a type-A personality so I just put a lot of pressure on myself, and in a way, straight edge was another standard I felt I needed to live up to. As I said, I’ve lightened up a bit and realized I can still be edge and have ideals without killing myself over it.

What you do for stress relief instead of drinking/drugs, tips for peer pressure?

I tend to draw, work out or do something creative if I need to relieve stress. Also playing with my cat helps a lot. Hmm, as far as peer pressure goes it’s something I haven’t experienced in a long time. I have never super cared about what people think of me, and have always been very opinionated and strong willed. However, I can see how much pressure there is in the world for especially young people to “fit in”. I guess I’d offer this piece of advice, at the end of the day when you go to sleep you are the only one who has to live with your decisions. In those moments it doesn’t matter how many people like you, or how popular you are, it just matters how you feel about yourself. Try to remember that when making new choices, are you going to regret this, or is this a risk that can make you better and more of the person you want to be?

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

To be quite honest not much has changed for me in the pandemic. Not going to work was tough but my husband is my best friend and we’re pretty much home-bodies anyways. The biggest thing I have missed is shows, I had so many concerts planned this past year I’m really bummed we didn’t get to go to them all. That’s the only outing we do pretty regularly so that has been a tough adjustment.

Have you ever considered breaking edge? What were the circumstances, and what changed your mind?

Not really, I don’t have any curiosity about drinking or doing drugs. I mean there’s been times where a friend will say “this is really good, wish you could try it” about a drink but it’s never something they’re pressuring me to do, or something that I think would be so good it’d be worth it? I guess I just don’t feel tempted by it.

Have you ever stopped being edge for a period of time, and if so why? Did you regret doing so? What brought you back? If you have come back, how do you view your commitment (i.e. for life, for now)?

I smoked cigarettes for a long time but I never started drinking or doing drugs. Cigarettes were a very unhealthy coping mechanism I had and something I did to “fit in”. I regret doing that to my body for sure. I came back to edge when I was able to finally kick the habit. I’ve always seen edge as a “for life” choice, but I’m human and I’ve definitely made mistakes.

If you are in a relationship is your partner straight edge, or have you had a previous relationship with someone who was not straight edge? What, if any, challenges have you faced relating to your lifestyle/choices?

Well my partner is straight edge as well. However I have dated people who weren’t and it was hard. I noticed a lot of people have vastly different definitions of drinking and doing drugs “often”. So that took a toll on me emotionally. I’m very happy my partner and I had similar upbringings and have similar views on the world.

If your partner is edge do you have similar views/outlooks about straight edge? What are some examples of ideas/beliefs that you agree and/or disagree on?

I think my partner and I agree on pretty much everything to do with edge. Both of us are just trying our hardest but we’re human. We have similar issues with substance abuse in our families and we also don’t have the best coping mechanisms all the time, but we keep each other grounded.

Has your family and social life been negatively or positively impacted? Have you faced or are you facing any specific challenges because of your lifestyle choices? If your family/friends are unsupportive, how do you deal?

My family is very supportive. Noone in my family uses very often and we have all transitioned to a more healthy life style. My family was also very supportive when I decided to start claiming straight edge. In that way I have been lucky. As I said when I first started claiming edge I did lose some “friends” but in retrospect they weren’t very good friends any ways.

If you are single, have you found it difficult to date?

If you are single, have you found it difficult to date?

Some straight edge women/girls I have talked to have told me that they feel isolated and that they find it difficult to relate to people outside of the straight edge scene. Is this something you can relate to?

Hmm, this is an interesting question. I have found over my life that I always wanted to have a friend that was like me. Someone who I could shop with and do crafts with but also listened to the same music as me. Finding that “perfect” friend is almost impossible, at least in some ways. I have found that you will find friends who share a lot of similar interests but not all, and that’s ok. My husband and I share gaming, personality traits, and our humor. Where as my other best friend and I can shop and hang out and be crafty and like similar music (albeit not hardcore music). I would recommend to look for people who support the things that are important to you. There are plenty of people in this world who don’t do drugs or drink, and will respect your decision not to, but maybe don’t call themselves straight edge.

If you are straight edge and a parent, how has being straight edge informed how you parent and/or relate to other parents?

Only a parent to a cat 🙂

How do you explain your lifestyle to others outside of the scene? Do you find it difficult? What’s your elevator pitch?

Depends on the situation. If it’s in passing I just say I don’t drink or smoke. Some people could take that as smoke cigarettes, but most people in my life hear smoke and think weed so not doing either usually covers it. If someone is interested beyond that I usually explain what straight edge is, in historical terms, but then also what it means to be. My elevator pitch is usually just avoiding non-altering substances.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon the straight edge lifestyle and it has really spoken to them. Do you feel that the straight edge community has been welcoming to those in recovery? Do you have mixed feelings? Strong Feelings?

I don’t know about how welcoming the community has been for those in recovery. I think we need to do a better job about this. To me doing drugs is usually something someone turns to because they are trying to cope. Straight edge people saying they can’t relate to that, to me, is crap. Everyone has things they do to cope, even if it’s a simple as biting your nails. Now of course I don’t know how much I’d be able to relate to their struggle to stay clean, but I do know that I can relate to pressure and temptation. I think straight edge is a wonderful community for those in recovery and I think it’s a powerful tool for those people to have a family to relate to.

How do you feel your straight edge commitment plays into the bigger social justice movement for gender equity?

I think like a lot of things in the scene it was started by cis white males, and as we continue to grow and make our presence heard we start to gain allies in the scene. I think just by us being in the scene and doing what we do, we are influence others to be more present, more inclusive. I know that the discipline I have gained from being straight edge has helped me on a more personal level stand up for what I believe in, in and out of the scene.

Have you ever had a negative experience in the scene related to your gender?

Too many to count. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was strictly in the straight edge scene all the time and more just the scene in general. I think strictly in the straight edge scene it’s been more encountering people’s superiority complexes. In the scene in general it’s been just a ton of sexist bullshit.

Straight edge and the associated music scene have long been male-dominated. What do you see as a woman/girls role in the scene? How has this role changed since you have been involved and what changes would you like to see?

As I said above the more we’re in the scene the more allies we gain. A lot of the straight edge bands I listen to are very feminist. But there’s still a long way to go. I was never one to want to be in a band, but as more and more women join bands and dance at shows the scene as a whole benefits. I think our role is the same as any one’s, support the music, be present, be yourself.

What if any challenges have you faced that are specifically related to being a female in a male-dominated scene?

I mean I’ve had everything from “she probably doesn’t even listen to that band on her shirt” comments to blatant abuse. However those rare instances are incredibly minor compared to all the amazing experiences I have had in the scene and all the good times.

Do you feel the straight edge community has done enough to advance gender/race/social issues?

I think a lot of straight edge bands tend to be more political, more socially conscious. I don’t know if this is a side effect of being straight edge or just maybe the type of people who happen to be straight edge but I think that influence has been awesome. There’s a lot of bands out there who have made a huge impact in the scene, some even making it big outside of the scene who are straight edge and talk about these issues. So I think the straight edge community definitely benefits from the awareness they bring. I guess all in all, just…talking about it.

Is the scene as inclusive as it likes to think it is? Do you think there’s work to be done? If so, what would you like to see change?

There’s a ton of work to be done. I have seen a big increase in diversity the past few years but it’s still predominantly white males in the scene and I think we definitely can improve of making different genders and races feel safe and welcomed. I think we have a lot of good people who would welcome different types of people but I think that the lack of representation makes a difference. I am started to see a lot more bands of different genders and races, and I am hoping that this helps to increase representation and allows the scene to become more diverse and inclusive.

Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org

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