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Inside Greek U.: Fraternities, Sororities, and the Pursuit of Pleasure, Power, and Prestige - Alan D. DeSantis


None August 28th, 2008

insidegreeku

The University Press of Kentucky

Parents eager for their college-bound children to "go Greek" as they did decades ago might want to think twice about steering them in that direction, based upon the findings in the book "Inside Greek U.: Fraternities, Sororities, and the Pursuit of Pleasure, Power, and Prestige." To put it simply: Things. Have. Changed.

For the book, University of Kentucky professor Alan D. DeSantis "” a frat alum and former Greek faculty advisor, it should be noted "” simply set out to see how the system shapes the gender roles of its participants. Through hundreds of focus groups and personal interviews, he found cause for both celebration and worry.

That worry informs much of this study, given a "disturbing trend" toward aggression among men and violence toward women. DeSantis believes that graduating Greeks' potential is severely "limited by a rigid gender classification system that insists that 'real men' must be tough, unemotional, promiscuous, and violent and 'nice girls' nurturing, passive, nonconfrontational, and domestic."

It's not as if the Greek system began as squeaky-clean; the author reminds us of its origins as a segregated group open only to the wealthy white. But the stereotypes perpetuated by the likes of "National Lampoon's Animal House" and, one could argue, actual Greeks one has known, are reinforced by his subjects' own words. DeSantis writes that today's fraternity system encourages its members to sleep with as many women as possible. By contrast, sororities tend to shun sexually loose members "¦ however, in order to adhere to those morals, they've hypocritically labeled oral and anal activities as not actual sex.

DeSantis talks to frat members who have no emotional connection to women; the attractive girls interest them only sexually, while the unattractive girls merit scorn. "We've got a competition of who's fucked the most girls this year," one Beta brother tells the author. "We're tied nine to nine right now."

Granted, college is an experimental time for most, but DeSantis argues that the "higher ideals" of the Greek system's founding fathers "” i.e., philanthropic work "” have taken a backseat to perpetuating elitism and intolerance. He doesn't think all is lost, provided that everyone involved "” students, administrators, alumni, parents "” work toward change.

The conversations with the students aren't exactly eye-opening, but confirmation of every parent's worst fears. It's sad to see that in this day and age, with how far women have come, that those interviewed in this study still view them as something to be used and discarded. For men, respect is held for oneself first, for "brothers" second and precious little after that.

DeSantis said he did not set out to tarnish the super-secretive Greek system; he's only reporting what its current members told him. They've told him plenty.

"”Rod Lott

 
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