David Reitan believes, “if fraternities are going to continue to play a role on college campuses, the members need to address this idea of women only being a prize, an object of competition.”
In late January the internet learned of a hideous email that was written by a member of the Sigma Chi chapter on the College of William and Mary’s campus. Despite the severity surrounding other recent emails of this nature, fraternity men still think it is fine to preach that women are only to be thought of as sexual objects. While it may seem to the writer that his letter was just a bit of fun meant to be shared privately, his email is further evidence of how sex is a competition in fraternities.
It should come as no surprise that when you put a large number of young guys together they are going to contend for something. That’s how they are raised. Now competition is not necessarily a bad thing, but when fraternity members start urging each other to pursue women (or more specifically: sex) as if it’s the only thing that matters, there’s a chance they’ll do some dangerous things to get what they want: sex. That’s how sexual assault happens. It is dangerous and unnecessary to act like this. So why do it?
Like all competition, there are winners and losers. The winners here are the guys who get to have sex with girls. The losers don’t or, even worse, get friend-zoned. The mentality is that it is not enough to be friends with a girl; you need to have sex with them. This turns a fraternity man’s relationships with women into an all-or-nothing fray. Your brothers want you to have sex, you are being judged based on “how much you can get,” so you better find any means possible to have sex with as many women as you can because nobody likes to be friend-zoned and your brothers will degrade you for falling short of whatever arbitrary standard is set for you.
As a fraternity man, I do not appreciate that fraternity men are encouraging such unsafe acts. If fraternities are going to continue play a role on college campuses, the members need to address this idea of women only being a prize, an object of competition. Educating our chapters on how prevalent sexual assault is and how the objectification of women encourages these assaults to happen is the first in many necessary steps to correcting this problem. Taking a women and gender studies course, consulting the professionals in the women’s resource center or on IFC, or even talking with female friends on sexual expectations are all good ways to start learning how to stop this degrading behavior. Doing so will help make the college fraternity experience positive and safe for everyone inside and outside of the chapter.