Thursday, May 1, 2008

"There's Only One Thing To Be"

I found this sorority chant on a facebook page (I've starred out the name of the sorority):

"Today we salute you Miss *** sister. Not only do you have the looks, brains, glamour and pearls, but most importantly the class to back it up. Sure, frat boys may talk to other ladies, but don't worry, their only dream is to date a ***. With your head held high and that sapphire sparkle in your eye, you are every guy's dream and every girl's envy. You can party like a professional with those golden keys worn proud, yet still keep that frat-tastic class. If you're dating a *** lady, raise your hand. If you're not, raise your standards. Then crack open an ice cold diet coke you sexy ***, and remember: There's only one thing to be... and that's a ***!"

After Lindsay's post on the Yale fraternity yesterday, I got to thinking about sorority culture. Can a sorority sister also be a feminist?

I feel the above chant is very un-feminist for several reasons. Firstly, it is very heteronormative, "You are every guy's dream and every girl's envy." What about the lesbian Greek members? Their presence is entirely ignored, devaluing their worth and denying their existence. Also, the chant relies heavily on the idea that the Greek sisters are "classy." But, how is classy defined? Well, pearls are mentioned as is "partying like a professional." But, are pearls and parties truly indicative of classy? And classy is, well, a very classist term, implying wealth and superiority. In fact, the whole chant implies superiority over non-members and ignites competition over men. This exclusive attitude and this competition is very harmful to women in the workplace, and it often begins in organizations such as these. And, what is with the Diet Coke reference? Is that really necessary?

I'm not trying to deny the wonderful philanthropic work many Greek organizations do, and I realize that the chant is directly representative of only one organization. But after reading it, I have to question whether Greek life does more harm than good.

Opinions? Any Greek readers?


Andrew said...

Well, perhaps you were hoping for a sorority member's thoughts, but maybe those of a fraternity member would be helpful as well.

First of all, I agree with you in your assessment of the above sorority chant -- it seems to just perpetuate a lot of unhealthy stereotypes. The creed of my fraternity (Theta Chi) is totally centered around our values and beliefs about right conduct and higher education. It is first and foremost a support community to provide friendship and academic assistance to all its members.

That being said, I would think sororities would be one of the best places for feminism to thrive, since the so-called "Greek" system originally evolved as a means of uniting one gender (contrary to what National Lampoon would have us believe).

Further, I would think a sorority would be the perfect place from which to reach out to other women and effect change in the larger scholastic community. My fraternity does it all the time with men and men's issues (and even women's sometimes -- we recently held a fundraiser for breast cancer research).

It seems just a matter of continuing to battle the Animal House stereotypes that are still, unfortunately, rather prevalent in the Greek system.

Lindsay said...

If you're interested to read a book about sorority life, I thought Pledged by Alexandra Robbins was fairly interesting. I mean, she didn't reveal any new insights on sorority life, but she does follow a couple of girls for a year.