“Sorority girl: a slutty high-maintenance cliquey bitch for whom drama is a kind of oxygen. This is the kind of girl who actively enjoys judging other girls for their worthiness and keeps a tight group of girls exactly like her. They don’t realize how much disdain they receive from the rest of the student body and even future employers.”
The above definition is taken from Urban Dictionary. Of course, everything from the site needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but this sort of view of sororities is not limited to just this site. It has become culturally pervasive, seen in movies like Legally Blonde and House Bunny and heard at dinner conversations across the country. This opinion of sororities implies that they are full of catty women who join just to dress up and be judged by the male gaze, and that in this way they are sexist and, ultimately, inherently unfeminist.
This would be certainly news to me as someone who both identifies as a feminist and belongs to a sorority. There are certainly problems within the nationwide Greek community (racist fraternity chants, for example), but I don’t think that sexist sororities are one of them, and here’s why:
1. Sororities Are Made By Women, For Women
As a women’s organization, sororities essentially champion women. To me, it’s difficult to find something more feminist than the idea of a group of women banding together and supporting each other through college and beyond. The friendships formed through sorority life are meant to last a lifetime. While it’s true that sororities often have events where sisters dress up, I don’t think that wearing heels and a dress means a group is inherently unfeminist.
2. Sororities Promote Good Grades
Most sororities have a minimum GPA requirement for sisters to remain active in the organization and have a plan of academic support in place if a sister dips below the required GPA. Many also host mandatory study halls for sisters to study together. Sorority life doesn’t revolve around partying or shopping: sorority women are held to high standards in order to remain in their organization, and are offered support to help them succeed and achieve these standards.
3. Sororities Grant Women Leadership Roles
Obviously, as a women’s organization, the leadership roles in a sorority are all filled by women. There are numerous positions that can be filled, and it is often expected that members will take on at least one leadership role during their time in the sorority. These positions help prepare women to take on leading roles in their careers down the line.
4. Sororities Help Women Find Careers After College
Sororities afford women the chance to network at national conferences or alumni weekends, and many offer workshops on topics like building a strong resume and internships. These experiences will be valuable as young women enter the workforce, and allow women to be independent, one of the core ideals of feminism.
I am not writing this article to say that sorority girls are a marginalized group due to negative stereotypes, because that is not at all the case. However, it is entirely possible to consider yourself a feminist and still craft a paddle, dress up for formal, and participate in other facets of sorority life. Sororities help prepare women for life after college by helping them be successful in school, granting them numerous leadership opportunities, and offering career resources. I will wear both my letters and the label of “feminist” with pride, because my sisters are some of the strongest, most supportive, incredible women I have met.
Image Credit: Rose Beerhorst on Flickr, Giphy, Admitsee on Tumblr, Seattle Globalist, Pedestrian