There seems to be an unspoken paradox when addressing rape culture within greek life. It represents an issue that is prevalent and alarming on a much larger scale. For many years, fraternity men have held a bad reputation for their actions and behavior towards women, but especially towards sorority women. Because of the ties and connections within a Panhellenic community, many tend to disregard or minimize the extent to which rape culture is being normalized. It’s time to start holding fraternity men accountable for their actions, and that process includes sorority women cutting ties with them.
Fraternities try to diffuse their actions and obscure their wrongdoings by the name of philanthropy. While I do believe that the common judgment towards sororities and fraternities in regards to diminishing their success with philanthropy does not apply in all cases, I still think that this excuse in no way justifies disrespectful and wrong behavior. I think the main issue with what’s been going on recently within greek life is that everyone wants to keep things on the down-low for the sake of reputation. However, some things cannot be silenced nor ignored. As a society, we have progressed a lot with the success and prevalence of the ‘Me Too’ movement. Many women are finding the right support system and security to speak out and against their rapists or assaulters.
However, we still have a long way to go, and more work is still yet to be done. I think it’s important to note that when a woman comes forward about something that has happened to her, we all need to listen. After listening, we need to support her and stand by her. But most importantly, we need to all work together so that these things do not keep happening. To try and fight this issue, we need to be able to understand why it happens to begin with. I think one of the biggest factors to this issue is the mindset of the community and, in specific, the mindset of greek life. Sororities are connected to a fraternity in one way or another. Whether it be through a sweetheart, big brother, or pageant it’s all just a network of connections.
In recent events, a sorority woman came forward and spoke her truth about something that happened to her. There was an overwhelming wave of support through social media that showed a step in the right direction in battling sexual harassment. However, I was very disappointed to see the aftermath of it all. I don’t think that support and fight end with a social media post or a message in a chat. You contribute nothing by posting on social media and then supporting the fraternity that has yet to take accountability for the action of one of its members. For real accountability to happen, there need to be consequences, not passes. A fraternity should not be able to still operate normally and host events without ever facing the repercussions of their actions.
Women need to be standing alongside each other and supporting one another, not just when it’s convenient. Support can be shown through: listening, understanding, sharing resources, and holding the perpetrators accountable. That cannot be done if you’re: running for their pageant, going to their events, engaging with them, etc. I think many people try to justify these actions, once again, through the works of philanthropy. However, I think if the reason you’re engaging in any of these activities is because of philanthropy, then I can guarantee you don’t need a fraternity to support that philanthropy. If it was really about philanthropy, then people would be making the effort to find means of participating and supporting philanthropy in other ways than through a fraternity with present rape allegations. That’s why I believe it is essential to educate ourselves and be real allies to victims, not allies when it’s convenient or serves us. Just because it didn’t happen to you, your friend, or your sister… doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Below are some links/resources for victims of sexual abuse/harassment:
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673