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Straight Edge Interview Project: Madison, 24, United States, she/her/hers

 Straight Edge Women/Girls Madison, 24, United States, she/her/hers

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

I’ve worked in network and information security ever since attending DEFCON and BlackhatUSA conferences at 14. Currently, studying math/CS at university. I’m a competitive fencer. My hobbies include playing beach volleyball, hiking, reading, chess, and cryptography.

Favorite straight edge (or non-straight edge) bands?

Minor Threat, Youth of Today, XTRMST, Bishop, Call to Preserve. Favorite non-straight edge bands are Everest (UK), While She Sleeps, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, and Architects.

What is your definition of straight edge?

I like to joke that I took the D.A.R.E program in 1st grade too seriously. My flavor of straight edge is an extremely strict variation. No smoking, alcohol, recreational drug use, or nicotine at any point in my lifetime. Caffeine from either coffee or tea is okay. No lying, cheating, or stealing. No masturbation or porn use. A maximum of one romantic/sexual relationship over the course of my lifetime. If this ends prematurely for any reason, I take a vow to celibacy.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

Slowly recovering from the effects of the pandemic.

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?

No, the music scene is fundamental to the straight edge community’s cultural identity. Otherwise, it’s just called being sober.

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

I’ve been asked if I’m an anti-vaxxer. Or, they’ll assume I’m anti-science and against anesthesia or prescription medication. Usually, I’ll take the opportunity to spout memes about 5G towers and mind-control chips. They’ll also ask if I’m a Catholic nun. I’ll say I left my Bible in the car.

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?

People who are not edge think I’m cruel or unkind to myself for living with these restrictions. I believe that fidelity of the highest degree toward oneself is the ultimate form of self-kindness.

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

 Straight Edge Women/Girls Madison, 24, United States, she/her/hers

Everything in moderation.

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?

I was 14 when I was introduced to the hacker scene. DEFCON was the ultimate party. Everyone drank hard liquor as if their livers were reinforced with steel. They did drugs in their cars and hotel rooms. I thought they were stupid. In defiance, I’ve never touched alcohol or recreational drugs.

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

The highest level of commitment and loyalty. It represents the unfailing, lifelong fulfillment of my obligations and the strict adherence to all of my vows, promises, and moral principles.

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

Not necessarily related to straight edge. Mostly in the realm of net neutrality and philanthropy in education.

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

The fact that I’m still breathing and there are oscillating electrical voltages inside my cranium.

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

No personal struggles

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

Math.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

Frustrating to watch my friends spiral into alcoholism in their isolation.

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)?

Never tasted alcohol. Never experimented with any recreational drugs.

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?

Partner does not drink or do recreational drugs, he’s sober. In the past, he used to occasionally smoke weed. No challenges of yet.

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?

He wouldn’t fit my definition of straight edge, only sobriety.

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 has been mostly unsupportive. After hearing the music I listen to, they created this image in their heads that I’m a bad kid who goes around drinking, smoking, doing drugs and partying all the time. But this is mostly a projection of themselves when they were young adults.

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?

It’s very isolating having a completely different set of values from anyone else. I’ve never met anyone with exactly identical values or morals. A few people have been similar though.

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

I say it’s kind of like a religion. Or a cult. Then walk away, laughing ominously.

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?

Anyone who has experimented with drugs or alcohol in the past would not fit into my variation of straight edge. So, unfortunately, I wouldn’t associate them with that label. Luckily, I am not the gatekeeper.

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

Teaching kids to stay in school, not do drugs. Education is the most important tool for equality. No matter your sex, race, or gender.

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?

There have been more female-fronted bands for sure. But they’re still few and far between.

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

None. I’m very lucky.

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

It’s a work in progress.

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?

I’ve never not felt included, mostly because my values as a straight edge are an individual choice independent of my sex, race, and gender. It’s just very niche.

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

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