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I’ve decided to come down from shooting Jameson Rockets (whiskey/absinthe/Redline) on my roof to address a specific student columnist at The University of Pennsylvania, who wrote an article entitled “Why We Need To Get Serious About Boycotting Frat Parties.” Now, we normally don’t do this, but after reading the column I agree with her that it highlights extremely important issues in our society: misinformed prejudice, cultural predisposition and willful lack of empathy. The columnist can’t expand her thinking even the slightest bit to understand why we do what we do.
She begins by calling out frat parties as “incomprehensible and insidious.” Not a good start.
In my Africana Studies class, we talk a lot about perspective: how things that seem acceptable or normal to a society at a given point in history can often seem incomprehensible to that same society several generations later…There are many things still happening in 2017 that are incomprehensible and unbelievable and, when looked at closely, insidious. And one of the most glaring instances that I see on our campus is what I call the standard fraternity party.
Congratulations to the columnist on taking an “Africana Studies” class. Seeing as she looks about as white as Steve Buscemi’s clammy butt cheek, it’s important and valuable to broadcast to everyone that you are immersing yourself in other cultures. Navigate those waters carefully, though. Getting dangerously close to cultural appropriation. But I invite the columnist to explore our culture. Fraternity culture. Her narrow and short-sighted depiction of the fraternal experience overlooks important and necessary considerations that are central to the fraternal way of life.
You approach a frat house. Some guy you might vaguely recognize from your freshman seminar stands in front of the door and surveys you. He’ll let you in if you’re with a group that meets the required ratio: three girls to every guy; or if you’re what he deems “a really hot chick”; or if you happen to be on the guest list; or if you can recite the names of some members of the fraternity. You have to, of course, prove that you’re worthy to enter.
I’m going to be radical — I’m going to put my social status on the line — and say that fraternity parties are both covertly and overtly sexist.
The columnist argues that the existence of “quotas” and “ratios” for women at the door is what makes fraternity parties “sexist” — both “covertly” and “overtly” which must be some type of damn wizardry to accomplish both.
In some ways, she is right. Fraternities are sexist. Against men.
It takes a person who can truly see another’s perspective to realize this. The columnist has never considered that the admittance decisions she’s criticizing are drawn directly from the bedrock of Maslow’s hierarchy.
Safety. Risk management.
The fraternal ideal is actually utopian; a world in which we can all chill, hang out, and build camaraderie. The reality is that dudes tend to be a huge freaking liability. They break things, they get in fights, and they steal shit. Fraternities have drawn on decades of experience to favor more women than men at their parties because of risk tolerance. Hence the existence of the ratio. Ditto if you can name members of the fraternity, because that means somebody can be responsible for the trouble you get up to.
If the guy at the door thinks you’re a “really hot chick,” he’s taking a risk that you can be sure he’ll be accountable for if you end causing property damage or destroying things.
If we never protest the ratio, if we never think about the implications of the fraternities controlling all the party variables — physical space, alcohol and the people present — if we keep going to frat parties as they are, things will never change.
The columnist is right, that no matter what she does, fraternities will continue to have parties. It is a fundamental aspect of our culture and cherished institution of American college life. But being (mostly) private entities, we are still entitled to limit who can come onto our property—in order to protect ourselves.
People who enjoy and go to fraternity parties understand this intuitively. They know they are guests in our houses and give us the benefit of the doubt. They afford us the respect to run our own institutions.
If only everyone could be so open minded..
[via The DP]