Recently, the New York Times released an article that’s been making its way around the Internet addressing feminists pledging sororities. If you haven’t read it, the gist is that sororities are changing from the inside. The sorority girls profiled in the article are Kappa Alpha Theta’s at Columbia, and they’re “not your ‘typical’ sorority girl[s].” They went on spring break in Cabo, but they didn’t take their tops off or knock back shots at the bar. They discussed topics like “toxic masculinity,” and the “privilege” that allowed them to be there.
From The New York Times:
“I was saying all through recruitment to anyone who would listen, ‘I’m going to get in this system and I’m going to turn it on its head,’” said Jamie Fass, a Barnard first year and new pledge. “I think the world is working in a way where if we want to be competitive, it’s better to be competitive within the system.”
“It is an imperfect system for sure,” echoed Jing Qu, a political science and women’s studies major at Columbia. “But I think our generation is working to change it from the inside.”
Instead of remaining groups of stereotypical, bleach-blonde, future trophy wives, sororities can finally become groups of substance when feminists choose to rush. Instead of holding women back, sororities can empower women when they stop only letting in leggy blondes and allow in women of substance with opinions and ambitions. That all seems well and good until you take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What exactly are you saying about current sorority women? We’ve now been put into a box as a stereotype, and one that absolutely must be changed in order for world progress to move forward.
So that leaves us with the question: is it possible to be a stereotypical sorority girl and still be a feminist? Can I go to a fraternity party and still support equal pay? Can I wear a hairbow and aspire to a CEO position? Can I believe that women can do anything as I clap and cheer recruitment chants with 150 other girls in matching dresses? Are we all doomed to be housewives because we curl our hair and wear pastels on gamedays?
To me, the answer to this is obvious. Of course you can live in both worlds, and frankly, it’s pretty offensive to assume that just because I wear lipstick doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent, I’m not ambitious, and I don’t support the rights of women. Nothing supports the ideas of feminism more than being in a sorority. Sororities aren’t just groups of superficial girls that pay for their friends, their manicures, and their lattes. Sororities are so, so much more. Sororities are groups of like-minded women that are all pursuing higher education in order to have a career. Sororities are organizations that allow us to raise so much more money and awareness for charity causes than we could ever do individually. Sororities are safe places for women to come together, support each other, and build each other up, not just for four years, but for life. And if that isn’t feminism at its core, I don’t know what is.
The most anti-feminist thing you could possibly do is tear down any woman, no matter her decision — and yes, that includes the decision to rush a sorority. Just as not all sorority women look alike, neither do all feminists. I’m proud to say that I take pride in my appearance, I curl my hair, I put on dresses, I love my sisters, and I am a feminist. I have a college degree with one more on the way, I have huge career dreams for myself, and there’s nothing I love more than being surrounded by thousands of women nationally who have the same goals, dreams, and ambitions. So before you say that sororities are what’s holding back women’s progress and that they need to be infiltrated by “true” feminists in order to do good in the world, maybe it’s time to take a step back from judging other women and realize that no matter the differences in how we dress or look or speak, that these organizations are already advancing feminism in amazing ways — and you, the judger, are the one causing us to take a step back.
Whether you’re in Greek life or not, whether you want to be or not, ultimately doesn’t matter, but what does is your opinion of those who make different choices than you. This tearing down of female stereotypes, the idea that women can’t be both bubbly and brilliant, is exactly why women are still struggling in the 21st century. We don’t need one more division among women — what we need is support. So the next time that you want to speak out against another woman’s decisions, take a pause. Are you upset that she’s going against what you stand for? Or are you upset that you just manifest the same belief in different ways? There’s room for both groups of women, affiliated or not, to come together and to work together to ensure that women have the opportunities to lead the best lives imaginable. Perhaps it isn’t sororities that need to change in order for feminism to succeed, but the opinion of those who haven’t fully explored all Greek life has to offer the world. It’s not all frat parties and warm cases of Natty light – it’s intelligence, service, and, yes, sisterhood. And if feminism doesn’t build the case for a loving, supporting sisterhood, I don’t know what does..
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