When STRAIGHT EDGE Walked The Earth So sxe has all but died out in Europe and is it any wonder? Its popularity was established as a trend rather than as a movement and so of course people are going to find it difficult to hold on to something so superficial. Maybe we need to be reminded that straight edge ethics are actually very radical, revolutionary and progressive. Being straight edge means I am saying no to some of the most manipulative devices that the Powers use to keep us from being free individuals. They want to drug us into ignorance and passivity. They want us to have artificially constructed desires and to make us forget our desire for freedom. They want to make money from these constructed desires. All the above things concern me of course but lately I have been becoming more and more conscious of STRAIGHT EDGE AS A FEMINST CHOICE. The feminist aspect is mostly about alcohol but I will mention the ëdonít fuckí aspect very quickly first.
DONíT FUCK When I first heard Ian MacKayeís lyrics I really was impressed to hear a man talking about sexuality in a responsible way for a change. The truth is that men are taught to be consumers of sexuality and consumers of women in the same way as they are taught to consume everything else in capitalist society. More recently of course women have been brainwashed the same way. We do not learn how to interact with other human beings, we learn how to use peopleís bodies and forget that those bodies are part of a complete individual. Men with this attitude behave hatefully toward women and occasionally they need to have their behaviour pointed out to them if they are ever going to try to behave differently. Sexual consumerism poisons all interactions between women and men. It is also another way men gain power over women in our patriarchal society. NB. The purpose of this article is to put forward my belief that alcohol is solely destructive. I am not advocating any kind of a ban on alcohol.
DONíT DRINK Alcohol has one purpose. A friend of mine recently pointed out the one possibly positive aspect of intoxication ‚ the fact that we all occasionally need to temporarily escape from ourselves to stay sane in our mad world. The way I see it though, we have healthier ways of doing this and at any rate I cannot think of a single person I have come across who has a moderate approach to using alcohol as a temporary escape in this way. I have however come across many forms of alcoholism.
VOMIT ON THE STREETS OF LONDON I live in an alcoholic society. Sometimes I think that almost everyone in Britain is alcoholic. The whole of working class culture is built on having a drink in the pub in the evening. Pubs are not for meeting people or spending time with friends. In a pub or bar one is constantly pressured to drink alcohol and to have more and more of it. Living in Britain is very expensive yet people spend huge proportions of their income on drink. Often of course they are getting drunk because they are depressed about their financial problems!
VIOLENCE ON THE STREETS OF LONDON For the record, I do know that alcohol does not create violence. Alcohol simply brings out the truth; it uncovers the emotions we usually keep under controls. Some people are jolly drunks, some are affectionate drunks, some are loud & obnoxious drunks, some are sad drunks. The most visible drunkenness for most of us though is probably violent drunkenness. Every Saturday night on every high street in Britain there are men of various ages whose lives are full of repressed fury. They have been raised to live down to masculine stereotypes of toughness and power-seeking. All their artificial desires are constantly frustrated (as they are supposed to be if we are to continue to spend money on satisfying them). The only emotions they have learned to express are destructive ones. So obviously the problem goes deeper than just alcohol, but as long as people use alcohol as a crutch, an outlet, and an escape they will never find constructive, positive solutions to their problems.
PROFITING FROM MISERY AND VIOLENCE Most of us have probably had bad or even horrible experiences with drunk people. Some of you may have even been raised by one or more alcoholics and lived in constant dread of what happens when a family member starts drinking. Drinking drains family incomes. Drinking turns people we love into violent monsters beyond the reach of reason or sense. Drinking is a huge factor in peopleís (letís be honest; usually menís) violence against their partners and children. Alcohol is the number one drug used by men to date rape women. The manufacturers of alcohol know all of this. They really do not care.
PROFITING FROM RAPE The definition of ërapeí should be made clear before we go any further. Many people still do not know what rape is. Rape is when someone manipulates or forces someone to have sex without their full consent. Rape can happen even when the rapist believes that the other person has consented. Everyone has the responsibility to clarify their sexual boundaries and their partnerís sexual boundaries. If one partner wants to limit the sexual boundaries at any point the other person must respect this; no exceptions. Being drunk is not an excuse for crossing someoneís boundaries. I see the production of alcoholic drinks as overall an evil and unethical industry. Alcohol capitalists make their profits by selling something which is chemically a poison. This poison is used by people to make themselves insensible and while they are drunk this generally prevents them from taking a positive role in the world. A drunk person is at best a passive consumer and at worst a thug, rapist and committer of domestic violence. Alcohol advertising revels in sexism and misogyny. Drinking will make you more feminine and more masculine. Drinking will enhance your ability to be a sexual consumer. Alcohol will get you laid. Alcohol companies are perfectly aware of the use of alcohol as a date rape drug and they market their product to men with the promise of sexual results. Personally I find it shocking that so few campaigns exist to inform women of the dangers of drinking. Right now there is a pretty good poster campaign in bars in London warning women about accepting drinks from strange men or leaving their drinks unattended because of the use of drugs like Rohipnol. Men drugging women however is relatively rare. Men using alcohol as a date rape drug is common and accepted because of course no one acknowledges that this is what is happening. The only campaign I have ever heard of about this was by the Womenís Campaign of the National Union of Students in the UK. New students at UK Universities are constantly pushed to drink when they first arrive and most end up drinking to excess. Many women end up having drunken sex in this situation which often is not safe and/or fully consensual. Unfortunately the NUS Womenís Campaign attempts could never achieve a very high profile in the face of all the pro-drinking propaganda. Many studentís unions only survive on the profits from the alcohol in their bars.
THINK ABOUT IT Every alcohol manufacturer in the world Every bar in the world Every bar employee in the world Ömust get some percentage of their profits from the use of alcohol to rape women. Ömust get some percentage of their profits from people who beat up their partners and children while under the influence. Ömust get some percentage of their profits from alcoholics who drink themselves to death. This is the industry you are supporting when you buy alcohol. I do not feel smug to be straight edge. I feel sad and frustrated about the effects that intoxication has had on the world and has every day. I also feel afraid for my own safety when I walk streets where drunk people are likely to lash out with violence against me or my friends at any time.
IN A WORLD WITHOUT ALCOHOL There would be one less excuse for rape. There would be one less tool for rapists. Many more people would be forced to confront their demons. Just think of the relative peace in our streets and homesÖ