Being a student heavily involved with the Greek community, I often find myself with many questions about a girl’s sorority in comparison to a men’s fraternity. Why does my sorority need to have a house mom who enforces rules while some fraternities don’t have any type of guardian in charge at all? Why do we have strict hours for boy visitors but a girl can be inside a fraternity house at any time of the day/night? Why do boys get to throw wild parties in their houses, yet girls are getting their rooms checked to make sure they aren’t hiding alcohol? It seems as though these rules were created when the Greek community was first founded back in 1776. If the role of gender has changed so much in society since then, why have these rules not?
The first time I had ever heard of Greek life was when I was a sophomore in high school and my brother decided to join a fraternity. We soon came down to visit him and of course asked for a tour of the house. As we walked in I was in shock. The house was damaged, freezing, and very messy. I could not believe my brother lived here, let alone with around 40 other guys. I didn’t know that much about Greek life, but I kind of just assumed that maybe it wasn’t funded very well. Fast-forward another year and as my sister goes off to college she decided she wanted to join Greek life as well. However since she’s a girl she joined a sorority. Shortly after she moved into her sorority I was able to spend a weekend visiting her. I walked into her house and could not believe it. Everything was immaculate; perfectly arranged furniture, clean carpet, and it even smelled like fresh laundry. I quickly found out that my sister’s sorority was a lot different than my brother’s fraternity and I started asking myself all those questions I mentioned earlier. My experience with my own sorority house has not proved to be any different.
Today’s society continues to tell me that as a young woman I am no different, nor any lesser than any man out there. I am constantly pushed to be independent, confident, and achieve my best in both academic and professional settings. Yet my sorority, which is supposed to build me up and promote these ideals of feminism, contradicts itself in limiting what we as women are allowed to do, especially when compared to a men’s fraternity.
Specifically, I find the rule of no boys allowed in the house after a set amount of hours to be extremely unfair to girls. I feel as though this rule implies that every relationship I have with a boy is inappropriate and forbidden. For example, I can have my friends who are girls visit and stay with me whenever. There are no restrictions on what hours they are allowed to be in the house and they can even share my bed with me. Yet if this was to be a boy (even a boy who is homosexual, just a friend, or even a brother) can only enter my sorority house from a specific set of hours and are not even supposed to be in my bedroom.
These standards that are set are not only biased towards men’s fraternities, but they create a gender hierarchy that put boys on top. By allowing boys to throw the parties and host the girls whenever they want to “sleep over,” a slight feeling of obligation begins to occur. These boys are doing so much for us girls that we may begin to feel like we owe them something. This feeling is something that the Greek community works so hard to prevent yet in many ways they almost seem to be promoting it.
But my goal here is to not put down Greek life. I love my sorority, it has strengthened me in countless ways, and I have never felt extremely uncomfortable at a fraternity house. But the issues that are occurring here span much deeper than this. The way society allows this double standard to keep occurring is not okay. Women have made tremendous strides throughout the past that we cannot permit these unfair gender roles to continue any longer. In class, we have often discussed the idea of “post-feminism.” According to Storey, post-feminism “does not mean that all feminist demands have been met (far from it), and that feminism is now redundant. On the contrary, it suggests that feminism no longer has a simple coherence around a set of easily defined principles…but is instead a much richer, more diverse, and contradictory mix than it ever was in the 1970s’” (163). I find this to be extremely accurate. Feminism hasn’t reached its full potential and I believe I am an independent, intelligent, and a capable young woman. It’s time that popular culture reflects this belief as well.
Storey, J. (2015). Post-Feminism in Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction (7th ed., p. 165). New York City, NY: Routledge.