Being straight edge is a choice to be proud of

Stephanie Markham, News Editor

Living in a college environment where drug use is seen as an almost mandatory means of recreation, I get mixed reactions when I proclaim “straight edge” as one of my life choices.

Many laugh at the very idea, thinking anyone who avoids alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and takes pride in that decision must be naïve and missing out on some essential right-of-passage to human existence.

Others believe people who identify as straight edge are judgmental and hypocritical by nature for promot­ing their way of life.

However, people should take the time to learn what straight edge is before assuming things about those who identify with it.

The straight edge subculture began within the hard­core punk scene and was a reaction to the glorification of self-abuse musicians and fans previously promoted.

The movement has evolved and expanded, and as such, many people still identify as straight edge but apply its meaning to their lives differently.

Looking at the musicians and pop culture figures within this movement can help to elucidate some of the differences.

Davey Havok, the lead vocalist of AFI, promotes straight edge as being morally against drug use, calling it a means of self-abuse, and believes humanity would be better without drugs.

Many straight edge people like Havok are also veg­an and promote a cruelty-free lifestyle, though the two decisions are not mutually exclusive.

Alissa White-Gluz, the lead vocalist of Arch Enemy who is also vegan and straight edge, promotes animal rights activism, though she is not as vocal about being straight edge because she views it as a personal decision of no consequence to others.

For the WWE wrestler CM Punk, being straight edge is his gimmick; he displays red X’s prominently on his gloves, and he often called his rivals and audienc­es weak for succumbing to the allure of drugs.

Others group the abstention from promiscuous sex into their definition of straight edge, though I can’t name any famous examples.

However, not everyone looks to popular culture to justify their decisions; some have been living straight edge their entire lives without ever hearing term.

Personally, I told myself I would abstain from drugs before knowing what “straight edge” was, and once I learned it existed, I found comfort that I could identify with a group of people who were empowered by that decision despite others’ tendency to disregard it.

Though I only discuss it when the topic comes up, people should not assume those who are vocal about being straight edge are judgmental.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard my peers boasting about the number of (insert addic­tive substance here) they have taken, the number of times they threw up because of it, and further after­math.

While I believe in their right to make those choices for themselves, I should still be able to talk openly and proudly about my alternate choice if I want to.

In a culture that does not often question the use of recreational drugs, it is making an actual decision using critical thought and analysis that one should be proud of, whether that decision is to go along with the crowd or against it.


Stephanie Markham is a junior journalism major and can be reached at [email protected].