Greek Life and Feminism
Are you or your daughter thinking of joining a sorority after this summer? Here is some insight to the status of Feminism in modern day Greek Life.
By Casey King
Learning about feminism can bring women motivation, empowerment, and self-esteem. It is something that, since learning about in my college experience so far, I value and want to fight for. So when my roommates from my sophomore year came back from one of their sorority meetings to tell me that we are past feminism because of the movie Frozen, I had to ask myself, could feminism even be included in Greek Life?
I don’t want to seem like a bitter feminist who is just picking an easy target to put the blame on for the post-feminism ideas that many college students may have today. So I have brought up the topic of feminism to other members of fraternities and sororities at my school. One conversation I had with a fraternity member resulted in him informing me that he was a “strong supporter of feminism“ because he believed that “girls shouldn’t be messed with, girls should be treated like princesses”. Which left me wondering if he even understood what feminism was, and how he fit into it. Overall, there seems to be a huge misunderstanding of feminism and a strong re-creation of stereotypical gender roles in these organizations.
Living with three different members of Greek Life has given me an opportunity to understand some things that happen in sororities. One of my roommates would come back every night from her sorority’s rush upset because of the harsh ways that girls are chosen over other girls due to their looks, who they know, and where they are from. These girls should join a sorority to further themselves, not to hang around pretty people.
Many of these girls have it engraved in their heads that their self-worth is measured by how many fraternity boys are interested in them. Girls will buy fraternity brothers gifts, do them favors, and fight over them. They put pressure on appearances and attracting boys, believing that by choosing to do these things they are self-empowered. While, at the same time, there are fraternities treating these girls with disrespect by calling them names and objectifying every part of them as a way to bond with their brothers.
However, not all Greek Life is sending out post-feminism ideas and creating the problematic association of self-empowerment and self-objectification. Living with these three women has also let me see some good that can come out of sororities. The idea of getting a larger group of women together to further each other and to do something good for their community is great, and some sororities really believe in these goals. At Towson University, Greek Life is responsible for raising thousands of dollars each year for different charities and volunteering many hours for community service. Many sororities choose to give money to charities that help women, like domestic abuse centers and breast cancer research. Some girls really do understand what feminism is about and want to make a change. After teaching my roommates some things I learned in my Women Studies classes, I could tell they are interested and understood more about how important equal rights are for women.
Greek Life may be a great experience for some women in college, but waiting out on rushing into a sorority could greatly benefit incoming freshman. Waiting a year before joining Greek Life lets girls form their own opinions of each sorority and if Greek Life would be a positive fit. Getting a large group of women together, who want to do good, is a great opportunity to fight for women’s equal rights, but if these women don’t even understand how they are being oppressed, all of that potential goes to waste.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
What are your experiences with Greek Life and Feminism? Have you felt empowered by your involvement? Are there misconceptions of how Greek Life treats young women?