“Why are these male bastions that permit gender inequality and sexual violence still a part of modern university life?
Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Justin, who writes for the Education Database Online blog at onlineeducation.net. If you’re interested in writing a guest post for Spare Candy or cross-posting something, check out the guidelines or send an e-mail to rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.
“No means yes!” This and other misogynist phrases were chanted by a group of fraternity members, walking through the residential section of none other than Yale University. Some of the boys were blindfolded, chanting rhyming sexual slurs. Though the fraternity was immediately condemned by the Yale Women’s Center for “hate speech” and was reprimanded by the university’s administration, no further action was taken. In fact, fraternities on campus later retaliated by taking picture of each other in front of the Women’s Center with signs that read “We Love Yale Sluts.”
You don’t need an education to see that fraternities promote gender inequality. Their very existence excludes women. Incidents of sexual violence toward women and men during hazing rituals are only the tip of the iceberg. Drug busts, cases of alcohol poisoning and even deaths continue to occur under the auspices of Greek life and the noses of university administrations.
Why are these male bastions that permit gender inequality and sexual violence still a part of modern university life? The answers are not easy. Fraternities are descended from Freemason societies, and some date back to the American Revolution. Originated to promote and sustain culture, music and philosophy through their organizations, fraternities morphed along with society through world wars and decades of cultural and political upheaval. Relationships formed in fraternities became lifelong networks among the nation’s elite, reaching the very top of society in both business and politics.
Today, fraternities are primarily social organizations and do little to promote academic excellence. Frequently, their abuses are overlooked, ignored or lightly punished. College administrators who are also fraternity members are reluctant to believe the worst of these young men. They may also be loath to punish fraternities for their actions due to the influence of affluent families. As a result, it takes a death from alcohol poisoning, beating or rape for action to be taken.
Though fraternities are not alone in promoting gender inequality and the objectification that leads to sexual violence, they are a critical social link between boyhood and manhood for all who join them. Yet, it’s worth noting that the roots of the problem grow well before a person goes to college.
Consider the cultural influences on a potential fraternity pledge. By the time he’s a teenager, he’s likely gained access to Internet pornography, learning to see women as objects, not people. He’s been saturated with violence toward women on television and in movies, video games and on the daily news. Perhaps he’s witnessed or suffered domestic abuse. All of these experiences are carried into college life, where the boy encounters fraternities. [Rest.]
- [link] Want to stop sexual violence in war? Confront everyday inequality (feimineach.com)
- What Can Men Do to Stop Rape Culture? (feimineach.com)
- Pumped for awareness: Davidson frat walks mile in heels to bring attention to sexual, domestic violence (charlotteobserver.com)