After a fraternity's picture and its corresponding email were leaked to BroBible, Pike suspended its Michigan chapter today. Fraternity nationals explained the decision by saying in part: “Countless undergraduate and alumni members throughout our organization have contacted the office voicing their displeasure and the Fraternity is taking this situation very seriously. Pi Kappa Alpha does not condone this behavior, the image it portrays, or the claims which have been made by the Chapter."
As the person who wrote the original piece, let me be the first to say that this is a ridiculous overreaction and a blatant abuse of the national fraternity's power. Pike's national fraternity should reverse this ill-thought-out decision before any damage is done.
I refrained from editorializing on the original piece. I thought the photo and email spoke for themselves, and I probably wouldn't have published them, period, if it hadn't become clear that they were quickly circulating around Michigan's email listservs, as these viral treasures tend to do. But now, we're here, and it's editorializing time.
The photos were hilarious, a clear turn of gender norms that showed the guys could "objectify" themselves without asking the women to do the same. And the email? Harmless and equally humorous. Honestly, I wish I hadn't even put it in proximity to the Duke Kappa Sig email—this was a case of a group making fun of itself in a witty way (with, yes, some off-color humor); not a case of a group throwing a party that could potentially offend a race of people.
Read the comments on this Jezebel article. 95% of its commentators—feminists, all—loved the email and the picture. Read Buzzfeed's take: Every comment save for one or two thought it was at best, funny, or worst, a non-story. Read the take by the conservative Daily Caller, which has a fanbase sure to jump all over any possible act of "flag desecration." The top-rated comment is by a guy calling the picture "hilarious." In fact, I'm absolutely, 100% sure the use of the flag wouldn't be an issue if it didn't take place in a fraternity setting. Why?
Random girl found on Google:
Actually, wait! Where did I get that above pic of Jessica Simpson? Ah, right! The Daily Caller's list of "10 Hot Girls in American Flag Bikinis." Jessica is joined by nine others on there. We just never bat an eye when women (literally) wrap themselves in the flag.
Pike Nationals have no case here. And—this is speculation—I'm struck by the sense that they feel they have to act strongly here because of that whole Tennessee incident.
If that's the case, don't take it out on this group of guys. They've done nothing wrong.