When I committed to San Diego State my senior year of high school, the one thing I heard time and time again was, “To survive at SDSU, you have to be involved in Greek life.”
I had never really considered joining a sorority, but decided to register for fall rush. I quickly realized that it was not my cup of tea. The feeling of being pinned up against other girls based on outfits and appearance was not a good one. But I know that being a part of a sorority can be a good thing that brings people joy, so I support women who do it regardless.
However, you can’t really argue that the Greek system doesn’t thrive off sexism. Sororities are held to an unfair standard compared to their male counterparts. They can’t throw parties and have unrealistic standards for their members on social media.
Fraternities hold the power, and women in the Greek system are seen as tokens. Every party that is thrown revolves around “the ratio,” or the amount of women to men at a party. A party is a good one only if there are clearly more females than males. A group of 20 pretty girls have a better chance of being let in to a party compared to one non-Greek male.
Men who are not involved in Greek life have close to no opportunities to attend the same events that their peers in fraternities can. The entire system is structured to treat women as a commodity.
I’ve been seeing more and more of this as spring rush is in full swing.
A friend of mine recently received a text message from a male friend that read, “Can you write ‘Rush [insert fraternity name here]’ on your tits and send it to me? I need it for an activity, ask your friends too.”
Pledges are being marketed to through women being used as a marketing tactic. Active members are sending the ideas to pledges, “if you’re in our frat, these women will be at your disposal 24/7.”
Similarly, there are “rules” revolving around pledge pins (the pins that men pledging a frat have to wear at all times). Rumor has it that if a female touches a male’s pledge pin, they have to sleep with them.
Regardless of how much of a joke this is meant to be, the idea of having an abundance of females at frat parties perpetuates the idea to young women that sex is expected. The idea is if you are let in to the event, given alcohol and the time of day, the least you could do is have sex with whatever frat boy has been assigned to you for the evening.
This is before we delve in to the endless list of sexual assault and rape allegations and incidents on this campus and nationwide as a result of this entire structure.
Fraternities perpetuate rape culture.
As if we needed another toxic way to perpetuate damaging beauty standards, the Greek system is only accepting of conventionally attractive females. The first time I realized there might be some toxic undertones to the Greek system was when I realized that the majority of the girls getting called back to houses looked the same.
It was hundreds of tall, thin and conventionally attractive girls. I have seen girls get turned away at the door of parties because of their appearance or because they are in a “bottom house.” And the rank of each house is fully based on how attractive it’s members are.
These same “bottom” houses are also called derogatory nicknames by the frat boys who think they have any jurisdiction to judge the beauty of women. Sororities and fraternities comprise the very same power dynamics and bullying we all so deeply wanted to escape in high school. It’s childish and ironic.
As spring rush continues with a new season of frat parties on the horizon, I warn my fellow women to be aware of how we’re being valued, and demand for men to be better.
Sam Mason is a freshman studying criminal justice. Follow her on Twitter @sammmason.