The fraternity I founded is diverse in thought, heritage, and class; we are generally a progressive and feminist-leaning group of men. On my campus, and arguably most campuses here in the US, however, Greek Life is a system built on sexism and the objectification, shaming, and abuse of women. My friend was a first-year student pledging the largest sorority on campus: this story is about her experience. (I obtained her consent to write about this beforehand.)
One night while I was walking to my fraternity’s house, a friend called me asking to be picked up from a mixer. She sounded scared and wanted to leave. My brothers were willing to go, but I dismissed the possibility that there was anything to be concerned about. After a little while, a car pulled into our driveway driven by one of her sisters. She was in the passenger seat, and when she came inside she told me that she had been uncomfortable with the men at the mixer. They had made fun of her and her sisters, saying they were going to fuck them later, slapping them on the ass, and refusing to give her their address so that someone could pick her up. She tried to leave the room, but the brothers barred the door and told her she had to stay. She pulled me into the bathroom and I tried to calm her down, but I was far from calm myself.
One of the most offensive things about the entire situation was the assumed status of women at a fraternity party as possessions without any agency, only there to fuck them and unable to exercise their right to come and go as they pleased. This is a horror story we all hear often, but I’m still appalled it actually happens. Any connection between two people based on love and attraction needs to exist through freedom, and any act of coercion is not an act of respect, openness, or mutuality. I wanted to act on the situation and make some sort of positive outcome, and I reached out to the other fraternity in anger, expressing my frustration with their actions to a close friend in their chapter in hopes that I could get them to understand the true magnitude of their behavior.
But in the end, nothing happened. My friend’s sorority sisters blamed her for “starting shit,” said that she just shouldn’t have caused a scene, and they were banned from ever partying at that house again. Her sisters dismissed and blamed her. Sexism and objectification are built into greek life, so much so that a popular saying on campus is that the only purpose for joining a sorority is to “do arts and crafts and suck frat boy cock.” In the end, I was disappointed in the idea of “sisterhood” as fleeting and hurtful, cold and blissfully ignorant of the issues they could be taking effective steps toward improving. Greek life doesn’t have to be about coercion, assault, danger, or pain- and my brothers and I refuse to support, justify, or ignore any actions that are.