The counterargument that LGBT students participate in Greek life in order to conform to ideals of masculinity falls apart when the same argument is applied to college women. Is the idea of masculinity only exclusive for males? Or do the traits of masculinity also apply to the other gender and the phrase “masculinity” is only called that because it is male-centric? For example, in Beer and Circus, it is a “masculine trait” to be able to drink to excess, ironically being called “feminine” if one decides to drink safe and responsibly. However, statistics showed that while women drank less than men by virtue of their naturally lower weight range, they still pursued in drinking to excess. This implies that women do not have a “feminine” ideal that counterparts masculinity. If they did, then women would be pressured by their female peers to stay feminine and avoid binge-drinking.
Friday, April 21, 2017
In “Out on Fraternity Row”, one of the respondents to the Lambda 10 Project show even gay fraternity men engaging in homophobic behavior in order to protect themselves from ostracization. A student rushing a fraternity was “blackballed” from the brothers due to suspicions of him being gay. The gay brothers did not speak out for him and in fact, were the ones that exposed him by telling other brothers about the student’s past gay experience. The argument for homophobia is the idea that other Greek organizations and people will not want to associate with a fraternity suspected of being full of gays. Even brothers who are ambivalent about the topic will know that letting in openly gay men will potentially kill the fraternity chapter due to fear of social isolation.This case of a student being blackballed is a direct example of homophobia and why others must speak out in order to provide visibility. Gay fraternity men who joined the organizations in order to feel brotherhood and acceptance, fear being rejected and participate in the irrational behavior of their homophobic peers to stay “undercover”.
My theory is that LGBT students who seek to join a fraternity or sorority, do so knowing that despite the problematic culture of hazing, binge-drinking, and toxic behavior, will gain acceptance if they assimilate into this culture. One of my sources, Guyland, explains the behavior of why men in general join fraternities: to feel validate by their peers in order to transition from boyhood to men. Some terms and phrases that I see in this book are also referenced in my other sources such as: masculinity, homophobia, binge-drinking.
This image is a collection of words and phrases that define and relate to ideas of masculinity. Notice how many of these words are implicitly negative, such as “not preparing for academics” and “drinking to excess”. There are also problematic terms that imply that saying these will increase one’s masculinity. The concept of saying these phrases and acting in certain ways are touched upon in several of my sources such as “Out on Fraternity Row” and “Guyland”.
- Greek Life and Homosexuality
- Topic: Greek life in universities is an environment full of socializing and gaining acceptance. LGBT students struggle finding acceptance compared to heterosexuals due to their sexuality, seeing how they experience fraternities and sororities provides an interesting insight on why and how they pursue this culture. Some things to look into are why people join Greek organizations in the first place when there are a slew of “problems” such as binge drinking, hazing, and homophobia. Another is defining masculinity and why men choose to pursue this ideal in order to be accepted. On top of that, do women fall under the same standards men do in pursuing the ideal traits of their gender?
- Research Question: Why do LGBT students pursue Greek Life and how are their experiences different from non-LGBT students.
- Theoretical Frame/Approach: Looking into concepts of acceptance, masculinity, manhood, hazing culture, liminality of students, unique experiences of LGBT people in a general setting.
- Case, Additional Questions, Research Plan.
- Look into direct experiences of LGBT students in Greek life. Research things not explicitly explained in the experiences such as the concept of being “in the closet” and being “outed”
- Additional questions may be to look into hazing as another topic altogether
- Research plan: research LGBT experiences and concepts, Greek culture concepts, and college culture concepts in order to find a pattern of intersectionality.
- Nathan, Rebekah. "Understanding Student Culture." Anthropology News 46.7 (2005): 17-18. Web.
Smith, Emily Esfahani. On Fraternities and Manliness. N.p.: The New Criterion, 2017. Web.
Freeman, Pamela W., and Shane L. Windmeyer. Secret sisters: stories of being lesbian in a college sorority. Los Angeles, CA: Alyson, 2001. Print.
Freeman, Pamela W., and Shane L. Windmeyer. Out on Fraternity Row. Los Angeles, CA: Alyson, 2001. Print.
Kimmel, Michael. Guyland: The Dangerous World Where Boys Become Men. New York: Harper, 2000. Print.
Sperber, Murrey. Beer and Circus: How Big-Time College Sports Is Crippling Undergraduate Education. N.p.: Holt Paperbacks, 2001. Web.
- Fraternity Hazing and the Process of Planned Failure
- Cimino, Aldo. Fraternity Hazing and the Process of Planned Failure. Journal of American Studies, 2016. Web.
- The analysis is a study conducted by Aldo Cimino who researches a pledge process at so-called “Alpha” fraternity (used for anonymity). He explains the general process that the pledges go through at every pledge meeting. The process includes a general cycle of calisthenics, force-feeding noxious food, and reciting fraternity information to the brothers. He sees a pattern in that hazing in the pledge process is meant to make the pledges fail. Hard work is not met with the same “amount” of rewards, it is random that the pledges get rewards or punishments with succeeding, but punishment is inevitable with failure to do fraternity tasks.
- Aldo Cimino has published several works on the topic of hazing, he’s an Anthropology professor at UC Santa Barbara. He made this particular work possible because he surveyed and analyzed a fraternity with the fraternity’s full consent, and contained identities to ensure trust and anonymity despite hazing being illegal.
- Hazing: the abuse of new or prospective group members. It is illegal in most US states and explicitly stated in Alpha’s university’s rules and own national fraternity.
Pledge: a newcomer who has received a bid to join the fraternity and accepted it. The pledge goes through a “pledge process” which typically takes up to 10 weeks where they have several meetings a week filled with tasks to do and information to learn.
- “To reiterate, planned failure is when a task is assigned that is specifically designed to induce failure. The way in which “failure” is created, however, can be quite variable. For Alpha, the pledge book is where planned failure begins. Alpha's pledge book enumerates the goals and ideals of the fraternity and provides general guidelines for pledge behavior.”
“For Alpha, “correctness” has multiple dimensions. Pledges must speak the items loudly and clearly, and they must not mispronounce any word. Even a single mistake in a long series of correct recitations can be met with hazing. Further, recitation tasks are often split up between pledges, with mistakes from one pledge creating hazing ordeals for all pledges.”
“One possibility is that planned failure is an attempt to shift some of the responsibility for hazing. If hazees believe that they can avoid some hazing, but continually fail to meet the conditions for doing so, they may blame themselves or “the rules,” rather than the hazers.”
- This analysis is particularly important to provide a look into the “secret” parts of Greek life: hazing. The audience for my paper may or may not be a part of Greek life, and those who are not in a fraternity or sorority likely does not know anything about Greek culture. The Alpha fraternity’s process should not be applied to all fraternities and sororities, but does show a “typical” layout of what a pledge process is like.
- Kimmel, Michael. Guyland: The Dangerous World Where Boys Become Men. New York: Harper, 2000. Print.
- Guyland talks about the passage from adolescence to adulthood. This passage was once clear but has become blurred due to the stages of liminality in men, who must explore what it means to be a “man” in order to feel validated.
- Michael Kimmel is an author/editor of more than twenty volumes on the subject of manhood. He’s a sociology professor at SUNY: Stony Brook.
- Guyland: a liminal stage of life between adolescence and adulthood where “guys can be guys” with each other, paradoxically grown men are fixated on boyhood and ignore adult responsibilities
Initiations: events that prove “misguided notions of masculinity”, transition from one status to another: boyhood to manhood.
- “Initiations in Guyland are about the passage from boyhood to manhood. Boyhood is the world of women… Many fraternities have equally infantilizing rituals. If initiation is going to validate your manhood, first you have to regress to babyhood.” (99)
“In the United States, providing masculinity appears to be a lifelong project, endless and unrelenting. Daily, grown men call each other out, challenging one another’s manhood.” (100)
- This book takes a look into initiations, pledging, and hazing. These Greek-life related concepts can provide an insight into the psychology of men who join fraternities. While the experiences described are not specifically for homosexual experiences, they can be one of the reasons why LGBT students join Greek culture despite problematic culture.