A Law Student at American University recently wrote a scathing article about some members of the Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity at American University, who seemed to have taken their "Campus Beautification" campaign a little bit too far. Hate to see when shit blows up like this, but it's definitely the sort of thing that merits being talked about:
I used to go to the gym to take my mind off of daily anxieties, until another gym patron unthinkingly and unexpectedly threw my anxieties right back in my face.
Tonight there was a pack of “bros” all wearing their frat T-shirts, as per usual. As I was resting between sets of decline flyes, I spotted a shirt that said, on the front, “Please don’t feed the sorority girls.” And on the back, “Campus Beautification” and the Greek letters Phi Sigma Kappa. My empty stomach dropped. I unconsciously glanced at myself in the mirror and I fought the urge to cry.
Yes, there's something about putting that "Bro" in quotes that's vaguely off-putting. Running the risk of stereotyping an entire culture (both Bro and Greek) as these very characters. Making a loud minority reflective of the whole, if you will.
But as unfortunate as that may be, it mostly pales in comparison to Kendra Lee's actual argument:
I am a second-year law student here, and I am recovering from an eating disorder. It’s called EDNOS, which stands for “eating disorder not otherwise specified.” My behaviors and thoughts are consistent with anorexia, but I never lost enough weight, even at my worst, to “qualify” for the anorexia diagnosis. When the disorder at its worst, I would meticulously log each calorie – 5 calories balsamic vinegar, 17 calories egg white, 9 calories spinach – and then I would throw away half of the meal, so I was only eating half of the small number I was logging.
I avoided social functions, extracurricular activities, even class sometimes if I thought there would be food there. I didn’t work out because it made me so hungry I couldn’t control the urge to eat afterwards. What’s the point of burning 300 calories on the treadmill if I’m just going to go home and eat 400 because I’m starving? I might as well just stay at home and fast, again.
I’m recovering now. I still count my calories and eat less than I technically should. Every single day I struggle; I still feel like I don’t deserve to eat, like I should just control myself and stop. Every single day I have to tell myself that it’s OK to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. I work hard to resist the urge to throw out all my food and lock myself in my apartment until I wither away. Weightlifting is something I look forward to, something to help me get out of bed and remind me to put some fuel in my body and make me feel OK about myself.
...It’s not as if it was just one random guy in a gross shirt; someone in his fraternity came up with the shirt, and enough “bros” wanted it that the frat ordered it and stamped its letters on it and its members wear it to the gym. It’s indicative of an unsafe culture, where sorority sisters are worth little more than the cute donkeys and elephants dotting the campus. We’re just here for aesthetics, but only as long as we’re starving.
I was President of my Fraternity, which as anyone who's been in the same position could attest to, is both awesome and terrible. You've got 50+ guys in a room, all trying to outdo each other at all times, often heightened by alcohol and whatever the fuck else. It's not so much civilization as it is a minor riot-happy militia, which makes everything predicated on the extreme. Meaning that when it's great, there's really nothing better. But when shit goes wrong, it really goes wrong.
The way greek culture works, it's just very easy to get caught up. These are you're friends, and you've all chosen to become involved in this strange world, which due to its insistence on the alpha, has this propensity to go overboard. A lot of the times, this is harmless fun. But everyone's young and eveyone's trying to prove themselves in some sort of tryhard way, and when you combine that with the mob mentality that comes with a large group of dudes, it's easy to forget where you stand in relation to it all. Nobody so much thinks about it because (a. as a member of a large group, you tend to deflect responsibility, making it seem like said action isn't reflective of you, and (b. again, you're so immersed in this other world, you sometimes forget the actual consequences of things. Yes what these guys did was shitty, but I'd almost be willing to bet that the majority of them didn't even realize exactly what they were doing, or what effect it'd have on people outside the Greek bubble.
Part of being a male in college is building camaraderie with other males, and huge part of that is uniting through the perpetual struggle/alpha-induced competition that is the dating game. A huge part of that is looking, being, and acting impressive. Guys join frats because they make friends, network, and because "good" frats elevate one's social currency in a way that helps get desirable women, in many cases the other side of that built-in culture, the sorority.
T-shirts like the one Ms. Lee is describing are certainly not the norm, but the concept is certainly not foreign. Yes dudes will be dudes, but in the process of doing that it's REALLY important to never get too detached. Every once in awhile, you've gotta take a moment to really think about what you're doing. Is some cheap throwaway joke (which in this case, could've done a much better job in being funny), really going to resonate outside of the weirdly dissociated frat-world? Would anyone actually wear that shirt if it wasn't for the security blanket that is strength in numbers? The best humor will inevitably toe dangerously close to that line, but you've gotta remember the places where you simply cannot cross.
..I only ask that my classmates be sensitive to the ways they present themselves, and how they make others feel. They may be driving more women away from the gym, which seems to be the opposite of their tasteless, insulting point.
Yea, it's a little shitty she objectifies Bros, but the shittier thing is that her point is too valid. And it really doesn't have to be.
[H/T: The Eagle]