Straight Edge refers to a subculture of hardcore punk which was a direct reaction to the sexual revolution, hedonism, and excess associated withpunk rock. Since the late 1970s, straight edge hasbeen a part of the punk scene. During that time, a wide variety of beliefs and ideas have been incorporated into straight edge including vegetarianism, animal rights, communism. In many parts of the United States, straight edge is treated as a gang; however, recent studies suggest that only a small minority of the people who refer to themselves as straight edge are violent.
The “X,” Straight Edge’s universal symbol, emerged in the early 1980s, when music club owners marked the hands of underage concert-goers with X’s to ensure that bartenders would not serve them alcohol. Soon the kids intentionally marked their own hands, both to signal club workers of their intentions not to drinkand, more importantly, to make a statement of pride and defiance out of not drinking. The movement appropriated the X, a symbol meant to be negative, transforming its meaning into discipline and commitment to a drug-free lifestyle. Youth wear X’s on their backpacks, shirts, and necklaces; they tattoo them on their bodies; and draw them on their school folders, skateboards, cars and other possessions. The X unites youth around the world, communicating a common set of values and experiences. Straight edgers find strength, camaraderie, loyalty, and encouragement in their sXe friends, valuing them above all else.A variation involving a trio of Xs, XXX, is often used in show flyers and tattoos. This can be usedto show that an adherent is extremely straight edge. Also, it can be ironic based on the fact that three X’s are a cartoon way to signify alcohol or poison. The term is sometimes abbreviated by including an X with the abbreviation of the term “straight edge” to give sXe.
Straight edge values
Throughout Straight Edge history, trends in the movement have come and gone almost as quickly as have Straight Edgers. Identifying a coreset of principles that spans time and geography is difficult because values change, each scene has its own flavor, and even individuals within thesame scene have different interpretations of Straight Edge. Straight edgers recognize that Straight Edge means something different to each person, assuming the identity and, as with any group, individual members’ level of dedication varies. However, while individuals are free to follow the philosophy in various ways, often adding their own interpretations, there is a set of fundamental values that underlays much of the Straight Edge movement: positivity/clean living, lifetime commitment to the movement and its values, reserving sex for caring relationships, selfactualization, spreading the subculture’s message, and involvement in progressive causes.T-shirt slogans, song lyrics, tattoos, and other symbols constantly remind Straight Edgers of their mission and dedication: “It’s OK Not to Drink,”“True Till Death,” and “One Life Drug Free” are among the more popular messages.