I’ve always been aware of the nasty stereotypes that surround Greek life. Fraternities are supposed to be full of hard-drinking, woman-objectifying, heteronormative bro-dudes, right?
That’s not my style, and it was because of these stereotypes that I almost didn’t rush in the spring of my freshman year. But in the name of keeping an open mind and verifying these stereotypes for myself, I rushed, well aware of the possibility that I might not find a fraternity that I liked.
You can imagine my delight when I found and pledged a fraternity that actively defied these stereotypes.
You can also imagine my frustration when I read College junior Priyanka Krishnamurthy’s editorial, “Cliques Should be Cancelled,” in last Friday’s Wheel. Krishnamurthy’s editorial is a reaction to an article titled “50 Ways to be the Perfect College Girlfriend,” which was published on the popular Greek life satire website, Total Frat Move (TFM). Krishnamurthy uses the article to accuse Greek life and, more specifically, fraternities for “subordinating women,” “promoting rape culture,” “slut-shaming” and “heteronormative generalizations.”
These accusations run counter to my own Greek experience at Emory and demonstrate a severe lack of understanding of the nature and purpose of Greek life as a whole. I find that this editorial is rife with inappropriate generalizations and perpetuates common misconceptions. In order to dispel these misconceptions and clarify these generalizations, I’d like to break down the editorial piece-by-piece.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
Krishnamurthy begins her editorial by citing some of the examples of a “perfect college girlfriend” listed in the article, including “there’s nothing less sexy than insecurity. Except maybe love handles,” “Have an attractive mother. Trust me it’s important” and “It should go without saying, but be in a sorority,” among other things.
While I acknowledge the offensive nature of these suggestions, I must object to the author’s assertion that “this [article] was 100 percent serious.” No, Krishnamurthy, it wasn’t serious.
There is very little, if anything, that is published on TFM with the intention of being construed seriously. TFM deals in a very specific brand of offensive comedy, one that makes statements so absurdly false that the reader cannot help but interpret them as satire.
I do not oppose Krishnamurthy’s suggestion that there is still much progress to be made in the realm of gender equality and that lists such as the one published to TFM can be harmful to such progress.
However, I find it hard to take seriously an editorial that uses an article as its foundation that has been construed entirely out of context.
If Krishnamurthy were to spend a little more time perusing TFM, rather than merely hunting for an article to serve as her soapbox, she would understand that the point of the website is to offend people. It seems to have worked.
Although Krishnamurthy claims that she is “not trying to generalize ‘frat bros’ or ‘sorority girls,'” she loses credence when she makes assertions such as one that the purpose of Greek life is for men to throw boozy and inherently sexist parties so that women can “come into their homes and drink said booze.” Not only does this assertion ignore the fact that Greek life is comprised of both men and women, but it paints fraternity men as an unruly pack of alcoholic misogynists.
I present the men of my own fraternity as a counterpoint to the author’s misguided assertions.
Although Krishnamurthy would have the reader believe that any woman that enters a fraternity house stands in grave danger of sexual misconduct, several of the men in my fraternity have undergone Sexual Assault Peer Advocate (SAPA) training, and we as an organization place a high priority on making everyone feel comfortable in our house.
While I would not go so far as to generalize and imply that this is the case at Emory’s other fraternities, I would very much like to believe that it is.
Although I wholeheartedly support Krishnamurthy’s message of tolerance and equality, her assertions that Greek life is comprised entirely of misogynistic “bros” who objectify women does little to support such a message.
Believe it or not, there are fraternities and sororities at Emory who support gender equality and the prevention of sexual assault. I suggest that Krishnamurthy not make enemies of those who might otherwise be allies.
Features Editor Nicholas Bradley is a College junior from Skillman, N.J.