Fraternities presumably entail philanthropy, commitment and chivalry, yet it’s becoming clear that these aspects might be merely a thing of the past.
These components supposedly make up the concept of brotherhood, but it’s evident that brotherhood also embodies the objectification of women. On Oct. 15, Rachel Friedman, an undergraduate student at UCSD, posted her conversation with a Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge who asked her for a bare photo of her breasts.
“He wanted my breasts and to say ‘rush’ and the name of his fraternity,” Friedman told NBC San Diego.
This is just one of the many questionable incidents to have happened within a fraternity this fall. In August, the Sigma Nu chapter at Old Dominion University was put on suspension after members hung banners from their chapter house reading “Freshman daughter drop off” and “Go ahead and drop off mom too.” A Theta-Omega chapter of Sigma Pi at Middle Tennessee State University was also put on suspension for a banner that read “Freshman Girls Info Center.”
Occurrences that promote the degradation of women are always happening; whether it be a request for nude photos, the display of provocative banners, or even frat parties that have overtly sexual and absurd themes (i.e. “CEOs and Office Hoes”). And while these events are publicized, it seems not much action is taken. Sure, a fraternity can get suspended, even expelled from a university, but these punishments don’t stop the ongoing problem. It’ll raise a few eyebrows, but the problem won’t be completely eradicated. It doesn’t stop the sexist nature that underlies the greek community and the derogatory behavior displayed within other chapter houses that almost seems to have become standard.
The fact is, this is an inherent problem. The safety of women does not seem to be a priority. As people become more concerned with having fun, there’s a complete disregard for the well-being of women. It appears as if the voices of many affected by this culture are subdued, and that this issue is normalized, creating a silent acceptance of sexism within the greek community.
“This blatant misogyny and degradation of women has become so commonplace in society that it is now considered acceptable,” said Thasneem Syed, an undergraduate student at UCSD, on Facebook.
Fraternities need to reevaluate what a brotherhood should truly be composed of and what makes young people thrive and feel accepted. Instead, fraternities have been shaped into a misogynistic and denigrating culture toward women. Campus culture is only set back by incidents that promote the oversexualization of women. Being on campus should encourage the well-being and safety of all students; however, when women encounter some form of sexual objectification, especially by fraternity men, it only goes to show that our society is reverting to a history of inequalities and repealing the progress we’ve made. Gender equality and mutual respect appear lost and with it, the dignity of “men” within the brotherhood is lost as well.
It’s not to say that all fraternities nationwide don’t respect women; however, this is addressing a greater issue that lies inside the greek community. If members are influencing new recruits to demean women, it merely exemplifies that sexual assault and lack of consent are a major problem on campuses nationwide. Simply put, if fraternity men think it’s okay to hang a banner stating, “Rowdy and Fun. Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” or ask for nude photos of girls, then it may be safe to assume that they’re OK with sexual assault and lack of consent. Found in a survey given by John Foubert of Oklahoma State University and president of the One in Four national campaign, fraternity men are three times more likely than other college men to commit some act of sexual assault. Overall, BestColleges.com reports that, on average, 1 in 5 college students experience sexual assault during their college career. These mishaps among chapter houses only perpetuate the ongoing problem of sexual assault and degradation of women.
Ultimately, there’s a valid reason to believe that fraternities, whether on a nationwide scale or not, encourage inappropriate behavior and interaction with women. The pressure that rests inside a fraternity to hook up with girls by any means seems to be tremendously prevalent. There is an archetype underlying greek culture that evidently objectifies women. Though many men who are a part of a fraternity don’t partake in demeaning behavior toward women, it’s the greek culture that prompts objectifiable actions in the first place. Pledges are exposed to an entitled mentality where women are to be treated like nothing rather than human beings. The only way to prevent these derogatory actions from happening among fraternities is to stop advocating for the sexual objectification of women altogether and to start teaching common sense, respect and consent.