Profiles in Straight Edge: Jenn Mascola, 32, NJ

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

I consider myself a loner, black sheep in the world. I am straightedge, and been into the punk/hardcore music scene since I was 14.  I have been vegetarian for more than a decade,  I play drums, and skateboard when I can.   I am an IT Engineer by trade, and a feminist at heart.  I have two Weiner dogs (Travis & Emma). My hobbies  include stage dives and high fives, as well as  going to comic cons, cosplay/anime, toy collecting, band memorabilia, and traveling when I can with my partner and friends. 

Do you play drums as a hobby or do you do as part of a group?  

I play drums as a hobby, I jam with friends when I can.

I worked in a software company for years (marketing) and it was my experience that at the time tech was really a boys club.  In the company, I worked for I was one of a handful of young women. When we moved to a new office space I was given an office from my boss (who was pretty cool).  One of the VPs asked him why a “junior member” like me was given an office, when my male counterparts with the exact same level of education, who were hired at the same time I was hired on, were not questioned.   I was also used as “bait” at trade shows. My job was to look pretty and smile at all the sales guys.   Have you had any experiences like this working in technology?

First off, I am truly sorry you experienced this, IT is mostly populated by men, and I am always getting man-splaned all the time, it’s frustrating.  Men in IT companies I worked for, treated me as if I was inferior then them or they were threatened by me because I spoke up all the time. 

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

For the record, my favorite hardcore genre is straightedge bands. (Older- not in this order)  Earth Crisis, Infest, Minor Threat, Limp Wrist, Floorpunch, Gorilla Biscuits, Insted, Chain of Strength (as you can see I love Youth Crew.)  (Currently) Inclination

What is your definition of straight edge?

Being positive, No drugs/smoking and drinking.  

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

“Common” people think I am this wild child, an uneducated loser with tattoos until they realize I am not.  I guess having “XXX” tattooed on the chest, attracts creepy men, asking me what it means.

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?

Just because you are straightedge it doesn’t make you a good person, there are some shitty straightedge people out there in our scene.

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 NEVER smoked, did drugs, or drank EVER, because I was brought up that way from my parents. My sister is also straightedge as well.  I like to be in control of my life and hope to inspire others as well. So I guess I been straightedge since ’88 but didn’t know what straightedge was until I was 14/15 when I listened to Minor Threat/SSD/ Gorilla Biscuits and Earth Crisis (RoadRunner/Victory Records) randomly through Napster, looking up Punk and Metal bands. It was a small group of us that were straightedge and stuck together through our youth and beyond.  What drew me to being straightedge? the passion, the commitment,  and being apart of a community/culture, where I can meet people with common interests.

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

No Drugs and Drinking, stay true to yourself, and be positive.  Nope, the edge has not gone dull

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

Staying true to myself and living a life where I am in control. Of course, having friends who share the same views always helps as well.

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

Tough question. I would say friends who were straightedge for a long time, who suddenly broke edge for whatever reason. When this happens, I feel like they died as a person I don’t know why,  maybe because the one thing that held true between us is gone.

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

Speak to my friends/my partner, go to shows, listen to a funny podcast, and hug my dogs. It’s okay to feel all types of emotions. 

You mentioned that you listen to podcasts.  What are some of your favorite podcasts and why? Can you provide links? 

I listen to Guys We Fucked, and Dungeons and Daddies, both can be found on Spotify. I listen to them cause they are relatable, and Dungeons/Daddies is a role playing game podcast, about adventures. Reality is way to boring, and quite violent nowadays, so its my getaway. Guys we Fucked, are hosted by two comedians, and it’s a anit-slut shaming podcast, its super funny. 

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

Actually fine, like I said I don’t know any other way, I grew up like this.  I do feel more anxious and self isolated, because I went to shows to socialize and watch friends play. So, I focus my efforts on other things I enjoy, but also keep in touch with friends.

You mentioned that you focus your efforts on things that you enjoy, what are some of those things?


Playing drums, reading, being with my partner, connecting with friends through social media platforms, being outdoors (walking the dogs, listening to music/podcasts), collecting toys, and watching anime & documentaries. 

How are you keeping in touch with your friends?  Have you noticed that some of your friends are struggling during this time?

Social Media, texting friends personally,  very few for meetups, while social distancing.  Yes, therefore, I try to reach out for support. 

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

Ha- Never.

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)?

Ha- Never.  if you broke edge, you are not edge anymore… you fuckin poser

Admittedly, I am a little older (turned 40 this year) and my be slightly (read a lot) out of the loop.  I’ve had submissions of this form wherein individuals have a much looser definition of straight edge than myself.   I’ve always seen it as a lifetime commitment.  To me, there are a few hard rules, No drinking, no smoking, and no drugs.  How do you feel about some people who, for lack of a better term, claim edge, then leave it open-ended,  trying “not to drink” or having a glass of wine “every once in a while”? 

They are posers. It’s a lifelong commitment, otherwise, you are just a sober person. 

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.

I dated edge and non-edge people. I don’t people who do drugs, that shit is gross. My current partner is not edge, and it was hard for me to accept that my partner drank. After years, I adapted and educated myself that not all people who drink are alcoholics lol but more importantly my partner adapted and educated himself as well.

Overwhelmingly, members of the community wanted to know more about how relationships work (or don’t work) between someone who is straight edge and someone who is not. I’ve been married for fourteen years to someone who is NOT straight edge.   You mentioned that you and your partner have adapted. Can you describe some of the adaptations/compromises that you two have made?   

I think my partner needed to be educated on what straightedge is, and why it is important to me. My partner who only drinks socially, had to adapt to the fact that I don’t go to bars, and I don’t really party cause I personally don’t care too. His friends didn’t like the fact I was straight-edge, because they were a bunch of party animals, who did drugs and drinking. This has caused issues, because his friends tried to get in between us, and he realized overtime, that they were outcasting me, therefore till this day I don’t see them ( close to a decade), cause I don’t need the toxic judgy energy around me.  I guess when his friends felt judged because they acted like a bunch of morons, with no self-control, and I just wanted to get myself out of the situation. Long story short, we respect each other, if he wants to drink sure, but not everyday, keep it for the weekends, and/or with his friends, and we are okay.   If he drank way too much, and/or did drugs/smoke, I am out of the relationship, life is too short.

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?

Nope, my dad and sister are straightedge

My sister is straight edge too! Not my Dad though. Is your Dad also into the music scene?  Your sister?  

My Dad is not in the music scene but is straight edge, my sister is pretty ani-social, but does enjoy hardcore here and there. 

How do you think that having family members that share the same lifestyle choices has impacted you?   

It made me be a stronger person, and feel supported knowingly we share the same values. 

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?

YES, outside the hardcore/sxe scene. Many moons ago, their wasn’t a lot of females in the scene, so if a female was at a show, men always targeted them in the pit, and/or assumed they were a slut. Super irritating, but its at least ….its a little better today.

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

I say I am straightedge, I don’t do drugs and drink. if they don’t like it fuck them. 

Did you find that people didn’t understand you or pressured you to compromise in ways you weren’t comfortable?

I am a pretty blunt/upfront person. If something made me uncomfortable, I said it. But I also respect others and the way they think, even if I don’t support it. 

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?


Mixed feelings.  being sober and being straightedge are two different approaches.  But you do what makes you happy.

How have things gotten better?  


Better, as in Guys would come up and acknowledge there should be more women/people, and if I feel, pick me up, then leave me to get stomped on.  I always felt I needed to make my voice heard in hardcore, and that i am here to stay, so over the years, I have built a network of friendships. 

On the question about people in recovery discovering straight edge, I too have mixed feelings.  To me, as someone who is straight edge, I do not struggle with the concept of NOT drinking or NOT smoking, those things are NOT options for me.

SAME  

There seems to be something inherently different from the experience of someone who struggled with substance abuse.  They WANT to drink/smoke, do drugs, where I don’t.  How do we bridge those two, very opposite sides of the spectrum?

I personally don’t put these people who struggle in the same “bucket” being straightedge. They are more sober, then being straightedge. I would educate them. 

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

back then, Men (straight) did not play well with others, I was target quite often,  I believe it is better today but still an issue.

when was that?  

For me, I would say between 2004-2015 

How were you a target?
I would mosh in my own space, and guys would come by mosh at me, and give me faces after, like you don’t belong here. 

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

Yes, plenty. 

I too have had a few memorable negative experiences that were gender-related. Can you describe what happened to you that really stood out? Or was it more a series of small issues that added up? 

Hardcore was run by straight white men predominately, who expressed themselves. Guys would say “No Clit in the Pit” all the time. The good thing is when you started building your network, if you were fucked with, those people backed me up.  

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

6 years ago, more women have been coming into the scene, and it’s great to have more support.  Before that, very few went to shows, and men assumed they were sluts, and had no place in hardcore. Men who say “No Clit in the Pit”. I had plenty of intentional hits over the years.

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

Men assuming I was a slut, because I went to the shows with different guys and knew other guys from other bands. Men trying to pull my shorts down and unsnap my bra when I moshed. I just love going to shows… come on dude.

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

it is never enough. Women I think are a little more accepted, but other gender/race/social issues are still issues.

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?

depending on where you are from there always needs to be change

Where do you think straight edge is going as a movement?  Do you feel that it is rising, falling? In decline, making a comeback?   

I always felt it was rising. 

What are your feelings on those who learn about straight edge from outside the music scene? How does that square with you?

 Im fine with it. come on.. you need to know who at least Minor Threat is right?  haha

Please add anything else you think we should know or you would like to share!

Personally,, I think women need to support each other more in society, instead of each other.

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Written by kellysisterhood
Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org
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