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Essay: Alpha Phi Video and Greek Life
Yard Full of Blonde Girls, Furlongs Ahead: That Alpha Phi Video Still Matters
By Christopher Sloce
Retirement plan: buy a racehorse and name it “A Fraternity Fucking Up," because nobody's went broke betting on that yet. The fraternity system exists as a sort of petri-dish for faux pas and all it takes is tossing a rock. Sigma Phi Epsilon held a “Kanye Western” party where attendees covered their foreheads with charcoal. Sigma Nu brothers recorded themselves saying they “wanted to rape some bitches.” FIJI at James Madison sent out a guide to getting pledges laid that included room numbers and a hotness scale. Boys will boys, so it goes, etc.
Sororities, on the other hand, have a better reputation. They deserve to. They have to. Sororities have to be ladies. In the Greek world, there exist no female Animal Houses. There are only wives and bust-downs. The shortest skirt is the one you wear forever, whether you sleep in a petticoat from that point forward or not. Frat boys can wear cargo shorts, then throw on a suit and a bowtie with elephants on it, tada, gentlemen. Innuendos and dick jokes turn to bromides about brotherhood, charity, service; Vladmir Vodka transmogrifies to bubbly champagne; slow dances replace humping Chad’s pillow. Until the after party, where they get to be party animals.
Every fraternity boy worth his salt reacts to the fear that he’s Patrick Bateman with either the Alfred E. Neumann shrug, “What, me worry?” or Prince Hal’s jesting confession “What I rob, I a thief? Not I, by my faith.” Either he’s a dog and knows it or thinks the paucity of moments he’s used his claws have turned him good. Sororities don’t get to ask that question. They get to make a decision they have to stick with. The New York Times’s article on the saddest midlife crisis ever titled “The 38-Year-Old-Frat Boy”, about a Michigan 38 year old grad student who decides to join a frat and ends up in the emergency room because to put it in Pulp Fiction terms, he’s a bubble-gummer joy-popping, could only be a frat boy. Male scoundrels charm, female scoundrels are Amy Dunne. This is how Kevin James got a job.
This year, Alpha Phi at the University of Alabama released a sorority recruitment video, featuring lots of blonde women in white dresses cavorting about in the foyer of a mansion, blondes holding hands, a couple of conveniently placed cheesecake shots of a girl in a bikini hoisting the letters from behind, also blonde, and a blonde blowing glitter onto the lake, maybe to turn the fish blonde. You wonder if there isn’t a factory in the deep south that spits out blondes on the hour. This video received criticism for its homogeneity: how’d they all get to be so blonde, so white?
As a guy, it’s both not my place to be offended by this video. At worst they expect me to marry a girl that looks like her and I’ve always preferred Veronica to Betty, so the physical representation of a Jeff Buckley cover bores me. But sororities market themselves to fraternities, too. Judging by the reactions in the comment section of Total Frat Move, they marketed to a gaggle of frat boys very well.
It should be noted: I’m a Greek. More than I am a Greek, I’m a founding father of a chapter. I held an office position. I wasn’t there for beer and croakies. I wanted to make it work. I saw good. I saw the thing my granddad saw in the Masons. I left after unpleasantries I’ll leave private but let you guess. So I’m not martinet looking through frosted glass when I say the following.
We have to set Total Frat Move on fire.
Here’s a sampling of TFM article topics. “Drink Muscle Holocaust and Get Yoked, You Puny Bitch.” I personally try not to drink American Gladiators, so puny I’ll stay, and I only let people talk to me like that if I pay them to. “Open Letter to Chicks Who Don’t Swallow.” He advises you start. “When The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: My First Cougar Bar Experience”. I can only hope they took the parts they needed and left the carrion for vultures. It’s standard lad-book affair: bad humor, regressive politics, all under the guise of, “It’s a joke and fuck you if you get offended.” No joke ever is just, they’re veiled confessions of the truth as the comedian perceives them.
Again, I’m not offended. Offense is personal. Nobody is personally telling me, white guy Chris Sloce, that I am bad. I’m sure if they met me, they’d say otherwise, but I can pass at least. My status is not affected in any way by any of these. On the other hand, Dillon Chevrere’s “Stop Hating Sororities for Being Hot and White” goes beyond questions of affect and into sociopathy.
Chevrere’s argument is the website party line: “it’s a video and fuck you if you get offended.” Again, I’m not so much offended as I am cognizant of the issues with the video, but it has nothing to do with Chevrere’s assertion that critic’s issue is : “This sorority is too white, too attractive, and I don’t really know why that’s wrong but I don’t feel good about it, so it is.” I doubt I need to tell any woman that ‘attractive’ being a mathematical scale is problematic, especially when the formula for “attractive” is “blonde hair, thin, and more money than God.” More insidious is the idea that everybody wants to be white. I know his argument will be that I’m reading into his statements too much. But in that statement, if he can’t figure out that he’s singing that “attractiveness intrinsically tied to whiteness is what everyone strives to for and everyone else is jealous”, he needs better ears.
In the next paragraph, he writes: “[Recruitment videos are] not created to empower women. They’re not created to make political statements...to advance women in the fight against misogyny. Their sole purpose… is to attract new members — members who are impressionable, eyes-wide-open 18-year-old girls who are aimlessly looking for a home in this big new world called college.” You can hear the “feminist bad” dog whistles, but I’ll scream over that and point something else out: if the purpose is to attract new members, why are you showing one small subsection of the sorority? . To be a cynic, that’s why advertisements, which, credit where it’s due, Chevrere argues correctly that this video is, are diverse. The other important thing is people need to see themselves so they can make it through this big old world called the world to know someone else made it. When you see a sorority with blonde girls only, only blonde girls made it.
But the article’s greatest sin is its eugenical approach to sororities. “American sororities are private organizations, meaning they can admit anyone they see fit, and exclude anyone they deem unfit. There is no evidence beyond “look how white and pretty they are” in this video that suggests they only target pretty white girls.” Okay. I hate to treat the absence of flaxen hair like I’m on the Benghazi committee, but where are they? Considering sororities are private organizations, meaning legally, they are people, then recruitment is free speech, and this video is no more troublesome than a profile note on Tinder saying “If you’re x race, swipe left”, meaning it’s pretty fucking troublesome anyway even if we see Chevrere and Justice Kennedy as being correct and if sorority is a person, I have my doubts regarding the number of invites to Christmas parties they will receive.
But, the Greek system are a collection of ubermensches, so there’s no chance for any racism:
“Yes, I’m aware of Bama’s less-than-flawless résumé of racial exclusion in Greek life, but the “innocent until proven guilty” mantra should prevail, even at Bama. And Alpha Phi’s name hasn’t previously been mentioned as possibly racially exclusionary. Is it conceivable that this group of girls simply found each other, enjoyed each other’s company, shared common interests, and chose to spend their college years together?”
Actually, it’s inconceivable . Alabama has a 25% African American population and even discounting out-of-state students, I would ask Chevrere to continue to do the math to see how statistically unlikely it is that not a single African American female wants to join Alpha Phi. That might be too much for him. Or it might just reveal too much for us. And, what, we could ask him, what are African American women into? Then we might really get into what he thinks.
The good thing is, he does that work for us in the next few paragraphs. To quote Cam’ron, take a few bars off and let Chevrere live.
If the university’s chess club put together a recruitment video featuring every member of their club, would you be up-in-arms if it showed nothing but nerdy white kids?
If the university’s hip-hop club put together a recruitment video featuring every member of their club, would you be up-in-arms if it showed nothing but young black people?
Like-minded students who relate to one another — it doesn’t make them exclusionary. It means they want to hang out together, and that’s not cause for a public shaming.
Ooooh, or how about this? If a bottom-tier sorority put together a recruitment video featuring every member of their sorority, except theirs was full of young, white, hideous misfits and overweight slobs prancing around in slow motion to cheesy music and rubbing glitter all over their pasty bodies, would you be up-in-arms about it? Because those videos do exist (we’re tipped off to them all the time), yet I see no one lambasting them for being too “racially and aesthetically homogeneous.”
Sorry, I shouldn’t have quoted a rapper. I’m a slightly nerdy, overweight white guy. I’ll let his argument stand while I rub glitter between my folds and scream “Knight to the corner, the opponent's a mourner!” Call the RZA and Humphrey Bogart and tell them their interest in chess was misplaced. Make sure nobody who doesn’t look like this jabroni’s spank bank ever gets in front of a camera lest his eyes shrivel.
This is juvenalia in its daddy’s clothes with a shoe polish mustache, saying, “I just tell it like it is” in vocal fireworks.
I know I’m late on this story by two months. Someone will argue it’s now a dead issue. But when a fraternity at Georgia Tech gets suspended for racial slurs, I guess I can chalk that up to a cadaveric spasm of the Greek world’s inclusion issues.
But there’s a real war going on outside in Total Frat Move’s mind, and Dillon Chevrere has decided to be Prodigy in this bubble goose come puffer vest update of “Survival of the Fittest”. Apparently “2015 will go down as the year America lost its balls, which is oddly fitting in this case,” because “The University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion is asking students and faculty to use the pronouns in order to create a more inclusive campus.” Note it’s one office. Note it’s an ask. UT did not come down and decree, “Anyone who does not say zim will become Smokey’s dog bowl.” It’s from one department, not the President.
He declares, “We’re not happy unless we’re offended, and we’re not complacent unless we’re fighting for something totally asinine.” Does fighting for the Greek world in its current iteration count as totally asinine? Hand-waving their constant incompetence as boys and girls having a better time than you because you’re not rich, white, attractive and if you are, well, you’re a geed so your time doesn’t matter.
As long as Greek orgs make money, they’re here to stay. But they don’t have to be so shitty. They could be better, include more people, not just be for WASP. Until then, A Fraternity Fucking Up is still running a furlong ahead and returning good on 2 to 1 odds. Double your money before someone gets offended and asks for a name change. It might just be a Greek member.
#Real #GreekLife #Fraternities #Sororities #AlphaPhiVideo
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