Fraternity Female Degradation Ceremonies

End the violence against women!

End the violence against women!

In college I grew to hate frat boys. They didn’t always deserve it, but too many did.

At San Diego State “The Daily Aztec” reported on a fraternity accused of shouting racial epithets at strippers.

At UCLA someone slipped a frat songbook to a feminist group on campus. Lyrics went something like this: “Who can take his organ, dip it in Vaseline, ram it up inside you till it tickles your spleen? The S&M man.”

Those are the only lines I can bring myself to write.

I knew men who quit fraternities because they were disgusted by their antics, including sexism.

Recent incidents suggest that things haven’t changed much:

  • San Diego State frat boys screamed obscenities, threw eggs and waved dildos at “Take Back the Night” marchers.
  • A guide on bedding girls called “Luring your rapebait,” was emailed at Georgia Tech
  • A banner shouting, “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal” was unveiled at Texas Tech

Unfortunately, I could go on.

“Players” demeaning women

Degrading women is the aim of a game in which “players” try to “score” by getting women to sleep with them. The point is to raise a guy’s status by getting women to “submit,” thereby “conquering” them.

This amusement depends on a double standard that celebrates promiscuous men but demeans the women — aka sluts and ho’s — who have sex with them.

SUNY Cortland men post back to school sign, "Freshman daughter drop-off"

SUNY Cortland men post back to school sign, “Freshman daughter drop-off”

Women are more likely to be raped by fraternity members (three times more likely) than by other men. Partly because the “game” encourages men to get women drunk to help them “score.” But sex with an intoxicated woman is actually rape.

Other times, gang rapes are degradation ceremonies by which men work to create a sense of male power and superiority over their female victims. The point isn’t so much sexual pleasure as dominance.

Sexist chants also help to create a rape culture that dehumanizes women, who are seen as “outsiders, or commodities, or worse, as prey, and where men make the rules,” says Jessica Bennett at Time.

Yet frat boys are dehumanized too, through these inhumanities.

In an exploration of fraternity culture that sought to reveal what made the difference between safe and dangerous fraternities, A. Ayres Boswell and Joan Z. Spade talked to men who belonged to both types. Guys who belonged to dangerous frats said that they respected women on campus when they talked to them one-on-one. But behind closed doors they were pressured to disrespect them.

But why are frat boys so bent on insulting and intimidating women? I’ll discuss that in an upcoming post.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 18, 2016, in feminism, men, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. Being in a social fraternity for more than 2 years, I think I have some insights about this issue. Fraternity is a very old tradition and the culture of the fraternity is surprisedly preserved over time. Dating back to the founding of the fraternities when men were privileged and when women were degraded, the culture of had been set. Hundreds of years later, this wicked culture actually get to be passed on generations by generations.

    This culture is basically about male pride and ego. These 18-year-olds just leave home and for the first time get real freedom. The culture lead them into having this impression that male is prevailed, that it shows power if you “score” many women and that raping get you respect among your brothers. This culture is the same everywhere, no matter which university or what location. Peer pressure works so greatly within these fraternities that even you don’t agree with the culture, you will be “forced” to act.

    I don’t really think we can expect this to change just by internal force within fraternities, even with their nationals since degradation on women is so rooted. External force from universities is crucial. Heavily forcing sexual assessment education and training for greek life and enhancing the restriction on greek life social activities is needed.

    • Yes, it’s very important for college administration’s to encourage safe experience for all students on campus. Thanks for sharing your experience with this.

  2. While applying to college I was well unaware of the rape statistics. But during my fall semester at CSUN I learned that 3/4 females are raped everyday during their freshman year. As I read this blog post it became more aware to me of why the statistics are so high for freshman women. The first year of college is when many people feel as though it is time to make a name for their self. They are freshly out from under their mothers wing so it is now time for them to experience the world. Although that may be a wonderful thing most freshmen decide that they want to party because that is what “college life” is based of off. This blog post not only shines a light (that may go unseen) on rape it also shows how these chauvinistic fraternities chose to behave.

  3. When young students decide to go out to college or any university the last thing on there mind would be rape up to several years it has become very popular thing in these fraternity homes when party are taken place, these horrible stories don’t really come up on the news a lot but there has been a lot of cases mostly involving young women we can see how a lot of respect toward women from men has been lost for example, a banner at Texas Tech saying, “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal” publicly shows the type of disrespect young men show to women plus the risk women can be around these men with such words can only be considered as rape. In some cases theres even gang rape when more than one man takes turns on a women something horrible that only makes the victim fall into depression and having the constant horror of thinking of such events.

  4. Victoria Betz

    It upsets me that the men in these frats don’t even realize that “frat boys are dehumanized too, through these inhumanities.” People look at them with disgust when they hear about what they have done. It also really surprises me that the schools and just students in general don’t try and make more of an effort to stop what they clearly know is going on. What also bothers me is that I am sure the women at those schools know what goes on at many of those parties, yet they do nothing to prevent themselves from being sexualized, dehumanized or even possibly raped. They cry out for help when something happens to them but then they still continue to attend these parties. Now don’t get me wrong, I am defending the frats in no way, but I think part of the issue is that women are allowing it and make themselves vulnerable, something that can easily be prevented. We not only need to teach the frats what is right and wrong and put an end to their wrong doings, but also teach the women how to prevent these assaults from happening.

  5. I have no idea why women are more likely to be raped with frat members. They see women as Targets, “scores” for them. It’s objectifying women as things. I look down on those people who see women as objects. Frat boys have lots of people. Thus, they get power to do positive things, such as helping others. Instead, they waste their superiority to do bad things.

  6. Michelle Staufenbiel

    I believe that Fraternities that are proven to encourage attitudes and activities that encourage non consensual sex should either be shut down or undergo a reform. Rape is not a joke, and when I hear stuff like how an article titled, “Luring your rapebait,” was sent out via email at a prestin college such as Georgia Tech, I was disgusted. It is horrifying that we still have college educated students that shamelessly chant, “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal”. It comes to show that even with a college education and diploma there is no guarantee a truly educated and wise person will be created. Fraternities like the ones that deem it ok to view females as conquests and objects take away from the whole college experience and make it hard to strive towards a more equal and safe society.

  7. Alexis Panos

    It seems like frat boys are from another world sometimes. Last school year I went to a big university out of state and I attended my share of frat parties. A few times I came out of them feeling kind of gross and degraded by situations I saw or things some men tried to pull with me. I also saw some really great guys I met in the beginning of the year transform negatively into total different people once they joined a fraternity, too. Its really sad how fitting in inside of a group of brothers that all claim such high, prestigious standards that date decades back has now become participating in horrible sexist, racist, and dangerous activities.

  8. Margaret Powers

    This is SO disturbing. I know that this stuff happens but reading about it just makes me cringe. I’ve always thought the media as far as tv and movies doesn’t help because they kind of glorify fraternities and sororities. People go into them thinking they have to be just like those they’ve seen on tv. I have a younger sister who just finished her sophomore year and I only truly worry about her when she goes to frat parties on the weekends. I just don’t trust the people in that atmosphere. Especially reading articles like the ones you’re posting about. How do we change this kind of culture? Education of what really happens in them? Encouraging women who have been sexually assaulted while under the influence to speak out and let them know that it wasn’t their fault? There must be something.

    • Education I think is the key. Educating women that they don’t have to join the notion that fraternities are the Center of campus life. Educating men, too, not to feel so pressured to go along with these harmful things. Sociology professor, Michael Kimmel, talks about helping one fraternity to stop behaving this way. So there’s hope!

      But also sanctioned by the universities. They shouldn’t allow this sort of behavior. Maybe educating the University and the students will help in that way. At least by getting more students to complain to university officials, And getting the university to take action.

  9. At my last university I was a member of Greek life for a year, and ultimately ended up hating it. But while I was a part of it, I was exposed to “exchanges” where one fraternity and one fraternity would have an exclusive party, which always had a dress code. When I first joined, I wanted to be able to go out with my new friends dressed comfortably, with my hair tied back and without much makeup on, but that wasn’t allowed. I had to be dressed in sexy clothes with my hair looking pretty and definitely wearing makeup. I felt like the sole reason I was going to the party was to look attractive for the guys who were going to be there.
    Another point made in this post points out how having sex with someone who is intoxicated, is rape, but I think the majority of people (college students in particular) don’t view it that way. Going back to the exchanges, everyone would be drinking (it was considered weird if you weren’t) and the girls definitely drank significantly more than the guys. A lot of them would end up having sex at the end of the night, and considering the amount of alcohol the girls had consumed, a lot of the time it was rape.
    One last thing: at my college there was a fraternity specifically known as the rape frat. They were notorious for drugging girls and raping them, but administration never actually investigated anything. My school was actually extremely bad at handling sexual assault cases, and often dismissed them without listening to the victim at all.

  10. The craziest stuff always seems to happen at Frat parties, I am not at all surprised that women are 3x’s more likely to be raped by a frat member… It is crazy that the way the Frats are organized are literally set up to breed this rape culture! Sororities are not allowed to host parties yet, frats are? @ USC companies like Bud-Light sponsor the Frat parties and create an environment of free flowing booze and even allowing under-age females into these environments! It is crazy to think we encourage young boys and girls to join into this willingly.. I hope things change and… soon! This is so sad to see continue to keep happening…

  11. As an in coming senior in high school there’s a lot of buzz about college and the sports, clubs and communities we’re looking forward to joining once we get there. Growing up I heard of sororities and the idea of having “life long” sisters was really exciting to me and a ritual that I was eager to join. However, over the years after hearing horror stories of the harassment of the women who belong to the sisterhood (and the ones who don’t) I just can’t bring myself to join a community that welcomes and tolerates such misconduct. It’s sad that a group of immature, creepy, ass holes have ruined what is supposed to be a philanthropic and happy community.

  12. The aim of these dangerous fraternities largely differ from their less violent counterparts. For example, these dangerous fraternities often have the ‘meetings’ to discuss unnecessary topics such as “luring your rapebait”, on the other hand, all the “good” fraternities will probably be discussing more meaningful discussions like creating a fundraiser, or organising a social night (may or may not include partying).

    This leads me to point out the difference in maturity level of the boys/men themselves. I don’t mean to accuse every frat boy, but unless these pre-pubescent men get a hold of themselves, the social stigma of dangerous frat boys will continue to live on.

  13. My best friend goes to the University of Arizona and when I went to visit her we both experienced this behavior by Frat boys first hand. First off, women would have to dress a certain way to be able to be let into the parties. We had to wear short dresses and heels to get in, which dehumanized us, and made me feel like we are only here to be a show for the guys, and be their “sex objects”. The boys at the party were all in jeans and basketball shorts. Also, when you walked in there would be a huge group of guys at the door only letting in the “hot girls”, and turning away all the girls which they didn’t feel were their “ideal girl”. Once you make it into the party it seems like every single guy in the party was your own personal bartender. Girls seemed to be getting endless drinks, but the guys at the party were only limited to 2-3 drinks. Every time a guy brought you a drink they would expect something back out of you whether it be a dance, a kiss, and some even expected sex. These parties almost seemed like a contest for the boys of how many girls they can get. Although a number of frats throughout the country are like this, most aren’t, and most frat boys are respectful and very nice, but every rose has its thorns.

    • Thanks for sharing about that. The Greek system was set up to mirror inequalities in our gender system. And in some ways things are worse now than when the system was first setup. You do a good job of illustrating what has happened — part of the problem, anyway.

  14. “frat boys are dehumanized too, through these inhumanities” — yes. Exactly.

  15. happyfreeconfusedlonelyatthesametime

    That’s upsetting

  16. Charlie Shields

    I blame a lot of it on our culture. We put so much pressure on men to be a certain way or else face being ostracized & demeaned. We always talk about how ‘vicious’ and ‘cruel’ women can be towards other women but we never talk about the brutality and cruelty men inflict on other men. All of it so they can be seen as the ‘alpha male’. Pfft, and ‘alpha male’ simply nothing more than a older male who never progressed beyond a 3rd grade mind set. They think less about how they hurt other people and more about their precious ‘status’. So in other words, they’re a bunch of scared insecure little boys who give into peer pressure and live their entire lives trying to please other people instead of living their lives for themselves. I ALMOST feel sorry for them, but they made their choice, and if they would rather subscribe to the sociopathic hive mind that these fraternities rather than think for themselves, live their own lives by their own standards, respect and treat other people the way THEY would want to be treated—-then they really don’t deserve any sympathy or understanding.

    • Yeah, you’re right. It’s strange how trying to prove manhood and superiority ends up really proving insecurity and inhumanity.

      Michael Kimmel is a sociologist who has tried to help deal with this, and I will write more later about how guys can buck the trend – because so many of the guys don’t want to behave like this at all.

  17. Jean Claunde

    Do you know that’s a phenomenon that occurs in the US? In Europe there is no such “Culture”. These things are unheard of, here in the colleges

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