Worlds Collide: Feminism and Sororities

Here are two truths about me: First, I am a feminist. Second, I am a sorority woman.

In other words, I consider myself to be living proof that the two aforementioned qualifiers are not mutually exclusive. I’d be willing to bet that for most people, the word “sorority” calls to mind a variety of stereotypes, many of them involving raucous giggling or the interminable pursuit of fraternity men, and none of them capturing the full picture of what it means to be a Greek woman in 2016.

Joining a sorority at Bucknell has enhanced my college experience in ways I never could have expected. I’ll admit that before my first year here, I vehemently opposed the idea. I maintained my incorrect, outdated misconceptions that sororities were only for ditzy girls who wore bows in their hair. I considered myself “above” the Greek culture upon which which movies, media, and friends had given me such a firm grasp.

Throughout my first year, I was fortunate enough to meet and interact with upperclassmen women – women who were leaders, change-makers, originals – many of whom I came to realize were sorority members. The equation didn’t add up for me. How could the women I looked up to, admired, and strove to emulate be cogs in the Greek machine?

The answer became clear to me last September. From the day I became a new member of my sorority, not a day has passed in which I have regretted my choice. My sisters are my support system, my heroes, and my favorite people on campus.

As far as the stereotypes about sorority women being airheaded and shallow, these generalizations couldn’t be more false. My sisters and I encourage one another’s academic pursuits. We attend each other’s sporting events, performances, and speeches. We collaborate to build one another up, so that we can do the same for the greater Bucknell community. In the presence of these women, I have never felt ashamed for voicing my thoughts or being myself.

For all of these reasons and more, I feel that a sorority can be a conducive environment for feminism to flourish. Plenty of feminist issues are rooted in the fact that women can have the tendency to tear one another down. I look at my sorority as a microcosm for the future, in which, ideally, women will willingly and vocally build each other up.

In fact, a lot of the discussions I have with my sisters find themselves circling back, whether directly or indirectly, to female empowerment. Why could our campus benefit from more female leadership? How should one of us go about making the first move with a guy? Who says women can’t use the weight room in the gym?

None of this is to say that sorority women sit around campfires burning our bras and plotting for a female takeover of society. I’ll admit that some of the typical generalizations made about Greek women can have some truth. But just because some of us may enjoy attending fraternity parties, singing songs, and wearing matching letter shirts, does not for an instant mean that any or all sorority women ought to be pigeonholed into a single derogatory cliché. For a feminist who is a member of a sorority, she can unapologetically adopt the best of both stereotypes, forming a unique individual with the potential to exact change in college and beyond.