Colleges like to celebrate their history and alumni by creating a culture around tradition to generate a sense of unity among students. Fraternities have existed at American colleges since the mid-19th century. They are a benefit for people who need to network. Being part of a fraternity looks good on a resume and can get you preferential treatment.
However, their values seem to be more than conservative. Out of all the traditions, fraternities seem to be the most archaic. Every year the news brings out a story about someone dying from hazing or a girl being sexually assaulted at a party. This year, the two biggest were at Northwestern University in February and at Indiana University just a month ago.
People know what happens in fraternities. Historically, fraternities have been a breeding ground for sexual assault, corruption, elitism, and an overall disregard for academia. Yet despite this being common knowledge, universities don’t do enough to prevent sexual assault on campuses. Universities provide resources to victims of sexual assault and do their best to raise awareness; however, they only seem to pay mind to damage control rather than fixing the problem itself. This is probably because it’s easier to console a victim than to prosecute a perpetrator. Fraternities need to be held accountable for their actions and universities need to press harder on them if they want to truly prevent sexual assaults from happening in the future.
Toxic masculinity is the lifeblood of most fraternities. To be clear, toxic masculinity isn’t the same as regular masculinity. Toxic masculinity is the perpetuation of inappropriate behaviors through shaming towards men who don’t perfectly fit the gender role of what society deems “manly.” The idea of a “man” is someone who doesn’t feel emotions, is sexually dominative and asserts their physical strength over intelligence. Fraternities are a breeding ground for these stereotypes.
They create a sense of exclusivity by only allowing the “coolest,” most “manly” bros in through hazing. The biggest part of proving “manliness” is proving heterosexuality. Homophobia thrives in fraternities. Men have to prove their heterosexuality as aggressively as possible through any means necessary, even if it means taking advantage of women.
What makes toxic masculinity “toxic” is that it creates an environment for rape culture. The stereotype of a “man” is someone who is as sexually aggressive as possible and doesn’t care about women. In today’s culture, being a male virgin is extremely shameful. Men are supposed to make their life mission to conquer a woman as early in life as possible.
Fraternities love objectifying women. They hold parties where they invite women into their weird dungeon parties and try to sleep with them. At the beginning of every year, the fraternities at UNCG will specifically target freshman girls who are anxious about starting college. Frat guys prey on freshman girls, promising a safe environment where they can just drink and dance. They round them up like cattle to bring to their parties, where there is very little they can do to protect themselves. I know because I was with a group of people who got pulled into a party by an upperclassman. He wasn’t even a member of the fraternity. They just wouldn’t let him in unless he brought a group girls. The only reason I got let in was because I was friends with the girls.
The worst part of it all is that colleges actively defend their fraternities. This happens because the point of a fraternity is to create an exclusive group of men who look after their own. Fraternities give their members a built-in network of professional connections with alumni so that they tend to get higher paying jobs. Alumni from fraternities donate to the universities and then have an administrative pull with them. Universities can’t risk losing donations from alumni which keeps them from holding the frat itself accountable for accusations of rape, assault or hate crimes.
It’s disgusting how often fraternities are accused of rape and then get away with it. The only way this stops is if the universities start holding their fraternities accountable. We need to stop creating rape culture by allowing environments where the mindset of toxic masculinity thrives.