Fraternities and Rape on Campus Author(s): Patricia Yancey Martin and Robert A. Hummer Reviewed work(s): Source: Gender and Society, Vol. 3, No.
4, Special Issue: Violence against Women (Dec. , 1989), pp. 457-473 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/189763 . Accessed: 16/11/2011 12:10 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
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For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] org. Sage Publications, Inc. s collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Gender and Society. http://www. jstor. org FRATERNITIESAND RAPE ON CAMPUS PATRICIAYANCEYMARTIN ROBERTA. HUMMER Florida State University Despite widespreadknowledge that fraternitymembersare frequently involved in the sexual assaults of women, fraternities are rarely studied as social contexts-groups and organizations-that encourage the sexual coercionof women.
An analysis of the normsand dynamicsof the social construction of fraternity brotherhoodreveals the highly masculinistfeatures of fraternitystructureand process, includingconcern with a narrow,stereotypicalconceptionof masculinity and heterosexuality;a preoccupation with loyalty, protection of the group, and secrecy; the use of alcohol as a weapon against women’ssexual reluctance;the pervasiveness of violence and physicalforce; and an obsession withcompetition,superiority,and dominance. Interfraternityrivalry and competition-particularly over members, intramuralsports, and women-encourage fraternitymen’scommodification women.Weconclude thatfraternities of will continue to violate womensocially and sexually unless they change in fundamentalways. Rapes are perpetrated on dates, at parties, in chance encounters, and in specially planned circumstances.
That group structure and processes, rather than individual values or characteristics, are the impetus for many rape episodes was documented by Blanchard (1959) 30 years ago (also see Geis 1971), yet sociologists have failed to pursue this theme (for an exception, see Chancer 1987).A recent review of research (Muehlenhard and Linton 1987) on sexual violence, or rape, devotes only a few pages to the situational AUTHORS’ NOTE: WegratefullythankMeena Harris and Diane Mennellafor assisting with data collection. The senior author thanks the graduate students in her fall 1988 graduate research methods seminarfor help with developing the initial conceptual framework.
Judith Lorberand two anonymousGender& Societyrefereesmadenumerous suggestionsforimproving our article and we thankthemalso. REPRINT REQUESTS: Patricia Yancey Martin, Department of Sociology, Florida State University,Tallahassee,FL 32306-2011.GENDER & SOCIETY,Vol. 3 No. 4, December 1989 457-473 ? 1989 Sociologists for Womenin Society 457 458 (ENDER & SOCIETY / December 1989 contextsof rapeevents, andthese areconceptualizedas potentialriskfactors social contexts. for individualsratherthan qualitiesof rape-prone Many rapes, far more than come to the public’s attention, occur in houses on college and universitycampuses,yet little researchhas fraternity analyzed fraternitiesat American colleges and universities as rape-prone contexts (cf. Ehrhart Sandler1985). Most of the researchon fraternities and reports on samples of individual fraternitymen.
One group of studies compares the values, attitudes,perceptions,family socioeconomic status, psychological traits (aggressiveness, dependence),and so on, of fraternity and nonfraterity men (Bohrnstedt1969;Fox, Hodge,andWard1987; Kanin 1967; Lemire 1979; Miller 1973). A second group attemptsto identify the effects of fraternitymembershipover time on the values, attitudes,beliefs, or moral precepts of members (Hughes and Winston 1987; Marlowe and Auvenshine 1982; Miller 1973; Wilder, Hoyt, Doren, Hauck, and Zettle 1978; Wilder,Hoyt, Surbeck,Wilder,and Carney1986).Withminorexceptions, little research addresses the group and organizationalcontext of fraternitiesor the social constructionof fraternitylife (for exceptions, see Letchworth1969; Longino and Kart1973; Smith 1964). Gary Tash, writing as an alumnus and trial attorneyin his fraternity’s magazine,claims thatover 90 percentof all gang rapeson college campuses men (1988, p. 2). Tashprovidesno evidence to substantiate involve fraternity this claim, butstudentsof violence againstwomen havebeen concernedwith fraternitymen’s frequentlyreportedinvolvement in rape episodes (Adams and and Abarbanel1988).Ehrhart Sandler(1985) identify over 50 cases of on campusperpetrated fraternity men, andtheiranalysispoints by gang rapes to many of the conditions that we discuss here. Their analysis is uniquein focusing on conditions in fraternitiesthat make gang rapes of women by fraternitymen both feasible and probable.
They identify excessive alcohol of use, isolationfrom externalmonitoring,treatment women as prey,use of approvalof violence, andexcessive concernwith competition pornography, conditionsto gang rape(also see Merton1985; Roark1987). s precipitating The study reportedhere confirmedand complementedthese findings by focusing on both conditions and processes. We examineddynamicsassociated with the social constructionof fraternity life, with a focus on processes men’s relations that foster the use of coercion, includingrape, in fraternity with women. Our examinationof men’s social fraternitieson college and university campuses as groups and organizationsled us to conclude that fraternitiesare a physical and sociocultural context that encourages the are sexual coercion of women.
We make no claims thatall fraternities “bad” or that all fraternitymen are rapists. Our observationsindicated,however, Martin, Hummer / FRATERNITIES AND RAPE 459 that rape is especially probable in fraternitiesbecause of the kinds of organizationsthey are, the kinds of membersthey have, the practicestheir members engage in, and a virtual absence of university or community oversight. Analyses that lay blame for rapes by fraternitymen on “peer 1989; Walsh1989). We are, pressure” we feel, overly simplistic(cf.Burkhart suggest, rather,that fraternitiescreate a socioculturalcontext in which the use of coercion in sexual relationswith women is normativeand in which the mechanismsto keep this patternof behaviorin check are minimalat best and absent at worst. We conclude that unless fraternitieschange in fundamentalways, little improvementcan be expected. METHODOLOGY Our goal was to analyze the group and organizationalpractices and an conditionsthatcreatein fraternities abusivesocial contextfor women.We a conceptualframeworkfrom an initial case study of an alleged developed gang rape at FloridaState University that involved four fraternitymen and an 18-year-old coed.
The group rape took place on the third floor of a of house and ended with the “dumping” the woman in the hallway fraternity of a neighboring fraternityhouse. According to newspaperaccounts, the victim’s blood-alcohol concentration,when she was discovered, was . 349 percent,more than threetimes the legal limit for automobiledrivingand an almost lethal amount.One law enforcement officer reportedthat sexual intercourseoccurredduringthe time the victim was unconscious:”She was in a life-threateningsituation”(Tallahassee Democrat, 1988b). When the victim was found,she was comatoseandhad sufferedmultiplescratchesand abrasions.
Crude words and a fraternitysymbol had been written on her thighs (Tampa Tribune, 1988). When law enforcement officials tried to investigate the case, fraternitymembers refused to cooperate. This led, fromcampusby the university eventually,to a five-yearban of the fraternity and by the fraternity’s nationalorganization.
In tryingto understand how such an event could have occurred,and how a group of over 150 members (exact figures are unknown because the fraternityrefused to provide a membershiproster) could hold rank, deny knowledge of the event, and allegedly lie to a grand jury, we analyzed newspaperarticlesaboutthe case andconductedopen-endedinterviewswith a varietyof respondentsaboutthe case and aboutfraternities, rapes,alcohol use, genderrelations,andsexual activitieson campus. Ourdataincludedover 100 newspaperarticleson the initial gang rapecase; open-endedinterviews 460 GENDER & SOCIETY / December 1989 ith Greek (social fraternityand sorority) and non-Greek(independent) students(N = 20); universityadministrators = 8, five men, threewomen); (N and alumniadvisersto Greekorganizations = 6). Open-endedinterviews (N were held also with judges, public and private defense attorneys,victim advocates,and state prosecutorsregardingthe processingof sexual assault cases. Datawere analyzedusing the groundedtheorymethod(Glaser 1978; MartinandTurner1986). In the following analysis,conceptsgeneratedfrom the dataanalysisareintegrated with the literature men’s social fraternities, on sexual coercion, and relatedissues.
FRATERNITIES THESOCIAL AND CONSTRUCTION OF NMEN MASCULINITY AND Ourresearchindicatedthatfraternities vitally concerned- more than are with anythingelse-with masculinity(cf. Kanin 1967). They work hardto create a macho image and context and try to avoid any suggestion of Valuedmembersdisplay,or “wimpishness,” effeminacy,andhomosexuality.
arewilling to go along with, a narrow conceptionof masculinitythatstresses competition, athleticism, dominance, winning, conflict, wealth, material possessions, willingness to drink alcohol, and sexual prowess vis-a-vis women. f ValuedQualities Members When fraternitymemberstalkedaboutthe kind of pledges they prefer,a and litany of stereotypicaland narrowlymasculineattributes behaviorswas recited and feminine or woman-associatedqualities and behaviors were expressly denounced (cf. Merton 1985). Fraternitiesseek men who are “athletic,” “big guys,” good in intramuralcompetition, “who can talk college sports. ” Males “who are willing to drink alcohol,” “who drink socially,” or “who can hold theirliquor”are sought.Alcohol and activities associatedwith the recreational of alcohol arecornerstonesof fraternity use social life.
Nondrinkersare viewed with skepticismand rarelyselected for membership. ‘ Fraternities to avoid “geeks,”nerds,andmen saidto give the fraternity try a “wimpy”or “gay”reputation. Art, music, and humanitiesmajors,majors in traditional women’s fields (nursing,home economics, social work,educaor tion),menwith long hair,andthosewhose appearance dressviolate current normsarerejected. Clean-cut,handsomemenwho dresswell (areclean,neat, Martin, Hummer / FRATERNITIES AND RAPE 61 One sororitywomancommentedthat conforming,fashionable)arepreferred. “the top rankingfraternitieshave the best looking guys. ” recruited “some big guys, One fraternity man, a senior,said his fraternity athletic”over a two-yearperiod to help overcome its image of wimpivery ness. His fraternity had won the interfraternity competition for highest several years running but was looked down on as grade-point average “wimpy, dancy, even gay. ” With their bigger, more athletic recruits,”our reputationimproved;we’re a much more recognizedfraternitynow.
Thus a fraternity’sreputation and status depends on members’ possession of stereotypically masculine qualities. Good grades, campus leadership,and communityservice are “nice”but masculinitydominance-for example, in athletic events, physical size of members,athleticismof members- counts most. Certainsocial skills are valued.
Men are soughtwho “havegood personalities,”are friendly,and “havethe ability to relateto girls”(cf. Longinoand Kart 1973). One fraternityman, a junior,said: “Wewatch a guy [a potential pledge] talk to women … we want guys who can relateto girls. Assessing a pledge’s ability to talk to women is, in part,a preoccupationwith homosexuality and a conscious avoidance of men who seem to have effeminate mannersor qualities.
If a memberis suspectedof being gay, he is ostracized A with a reputation and informallydrummedout of the fraternity. fraternity as wimpy or tolerantof gays is ridiculedand shunnedby other fraternities. Militantheterosexualityis frequentlyused by men as a strategyto keep each other in line (Kimmel 1987). Financialaffluence or wealth, a male-associatedvalue in Americanculture, is highly valued by fraternities.
In accountingfor why the fraternity involved in the gang rape that precipitatedour researchproject had been recognized recently as “the best fraternitychapterin the United States,” a had universityofficial said: “They were good-looking, a big fraternity, lots Afterthe rape,newspaof BMWs [expensive, German-made automobiles]. ” per stories described the fraternitymembers’ affluence, noting the high numberof memberswho owned expensive cars(St. PetersburgTimes,1988).
The Statusand Normsof Pledgeship A pledge (sometimes called an associate member)is a new recruitwho occupies a trialmembershipstatusfor a specific periodof time.The pledge period (typically rangingfrom 10 to 15 weeks) gives fraternitybrothersan to opportunity assess and socialize new recruits. Pledges evaluatethe fraternity also and decide if they want to become brothers. The socialization 462 GENDER & SOCIETY / December 1989 experience is structured partly through assignment of a Big Brother to each pledge. Big Brothers are expected to teach pledges how to become a brother and to support them as they progress through the trial membership period.
Some pledges are repelled by the pledging experience, which can entail physical abuse; harsh discipline; and demands to be subordinate, follow orders, and engage in demeaning routines and activities, similar to those used by the military to “make men out of boys” during boot camp. Characteristics of the pledge experience are rationalized by fraternity members as necessary to help pledges unite into a group, rely on each other, and join together against outsiders. The process is highly masculinist in execution as well as conception.A willingness to submit to authority, follow orders, and do as one is told is viewed as a sign of loyalty, togetherness, and unity. Fraternity pledges who find the pledge process offensive often drop out. Some do this by openly quitting, which can subject them to ridicule by brothers and other pledges, or they may deliberately fail to make the grades necessary for initiation or transfer schools and decline to reaffiliate with the fraternity on the new campus.
One fraternity pledge who quit the fraternity he had pledged described an experience during pledgeship as follows: This one guy was always picking on me.No matterwhat I did, I was wrong. One nightafterdinner,he and two otherguys called me andtwo otherpledges into the chapterroom. He said,”Here,X, hold this 25 poundbag of ice at arms’ length ’til I tell you to stop.
” I did it even though my arms and hands were killing me. When I asked if I could stop, he grabbedme aroundthe throatand lifted me off the floor. I thoughthe would choke me to death. He cussed me andcalled me all kindsof names. He took one of my fingersandtwistedit until it nearlybroke….
I stayed in the fraternity a few more days, but then I for decided to quit.I hatedit. Those guys are sick. They like seeing you suffer. Fraternities’ emphasis on toughness, withstanding pain and humiliation, obedience to superiors, and using physical force to obtain compliance contributes to an interpersonal style that de-emphasizes caring and sensitivity but fosters intragroup trust and loyalty. If the least macho or most critical pledges drop out, those who remain may be more receptive to, and influenced by, masculinist values and practices that encourage the use of force in sexual relations with women and the covering up of such behavior (cf.Kanin 1967). Norms and Dynamics of Brotherhood Brother is the status occupied by fraternity men to indicate their relations to each other and their membership in a particular fraternity organization or group.
Brother is a male-specific status; only males can become brothers, although women can become “Little Sisters,” a form of pseudomembership. Martin, Hummer / FRATERNITIES AND RAPE 463 is “Becominga brother” a riteof passagethatfollows the consistentandoften masculine qualitiesand behavlengthy display by pledges of appropriately iors.Brothershave a quasi-familialrelationshipwith each other,are normatively said to share bonds of closeness and support,and are sharplyset off from nonmembers. Brotherhoodis a loosely defined termused to represent the bonds that develop among fraternitymembersand the obligations and expectationsincumbentupon them (cf. Marloweand Auvenshine  on fraternities’ in failureto encourage”moraldevelopment” freshmanpledges). Some of our respondentstalked about brotherhood almost reverential in One terms,viewing it as the most valuablebenefit of fraternity membership. enior, a business-school majorwho had been affiliated with a fairly highstatus fraterity throughout four years on campus,said: Brotherhood friendship life,whichI consider bestaspect, for its spurs although I didn’t it thatwaywhenIjoined.
Brotherhood see It bondsandunites. instills valuesof caringaboutone another, caringaboutcommunity, caringabout ourselves. valuesandbonds brotherhood] The over [of continually develop the fouryears[incollege]whilenormal comeandgo. friendships Despite this idealization,most aspects of fraternity practiceand conception are more mundane.Brotherhood often plays itself out as an overriding concern with masculinityand, by extension, femininity.
As a consequence, fraternities comprisecollectivities of highly masculinizedmen with attitudinal qualities and behavioralnorms thatpredisposethem to sexual coercion of women (cf. Kanin1967; Merton1985; Rapaport Burkhart and 1984). The norms of masculinity are complemented by conceptions of women and femininity that are equally distortedand stereotypedand that may enhance the probability of women’s exploitation (cf. Ehrhartand Sandler 1985; Sanday 1981, 1986).Practices Brotherhood of Practices associated with fraternitybrotherhoodthat contributeto the sexual coercion of women include a preoccupationwith loyalty, group protectionand secrecy, use of alcohol as a weapon, involvementin violence and physical force, and an emphasison competitionand superiority. Loyalty, group protection, and secrecy. Loyalty is a fraternity preoccuand pation.
Membersare remindedconstantlyto be loyal to the fraternity to their brothers. Among other ways, loyalty is played out in the practicesof mustbe shieldedfromcriticism. groupprotectionand secrecy.
The fraternity Members are admonishedto avoid getting the fraternityin trouble and to 464 GENDER & SOCIETY / December 1989 bring all problems”to the chapter”(local branchof a nationalsocial fraterthanto outsiders. Fraternities to protectthemselvesfromclose try nity) rather Council(a quasi-governing body scrutinyandcriticismby the Interfraternity composed of representativesfrom all social fraternitieson campus), their nationaloffice, universityofficials, law enforcement,the media, fraternity’s often takesprecedenceover what and the public. Protectionof the fraternity is procedurally, ethically,or legally correct.Numerousexampleswere related brothers’lying to outsidersto “protectthe fraternity. ” to us of fraternity Groupprotectionwas observed in the alleged gang rapecase with which we began our study. Except for one brother,a rapist who turned state’s evidence, the entire remainingfraternitymembershipwas accused by uniMemversity and criminaljustice officials of lying to protectthe fraternity. bers consistently failed to cooperateeven though the alleged crimes were felonies, involved only four men (two of whom were not even membersof the local chapter),and the victim of the crime nearly died.
According to a with officers repeatedlybrokeappointments grandjury’s findings, fraternity law enforcementofficials, refusedto providepolice with a list of members, and refused to cooperatewith police and prosecutorsinvestigatingthe case (Florida Flambeau, 1988). Secrecy is a priority value and practice in fraternities,partly because and see full-fledgedmembershipis premisedon it (for confirmation, Ehrhart Sandler 1985; Longino and Kart 1973; Roark 1987). Secrecy is also a mechanism,demarcating in-groupfromout-group,us boundary-maintaining from them.
Secret rituals, handshakes,and mottoes are revealed to pledge Since only brothersare brothersas they are initiatedinto full brotherhood. secrets,such knowledgeaffirmsmembership supposedto knowa fraternity’s fromothers. Extending and in the fraternity separatesa brother secrecytactics from protectionof private knowledge to protectionof the fraternityfrom criticismis a predictable development. Ourinterviewsindicatedthatindividual membersknew the difference between right and wrong, but fraternity normsthatemphasize loyalty,groupprotection,and secrecy often overrode of standards ethical correctness. men is normative. Alcohol as weapon.
Alcohol use by fraternity They use it on weekdays to relax after class and on weekends to “get drunk,””get crazy,” and “get laid. ” The use of alcohol to obtain sex from women is pervasive- in otherwords, it is used as a weapon againstsexual reluctance. According to several fraternitymen whom we interviewed, alcohol is the major tool used to gain sexual mastery over women (cf. Adams and and Abarbanel1988; Ehrhart Sandler1985). One fraternity man, a 21-year- Martin, Hummer/ FRATERNITIES AND RAPE 465 old senior,describedalcohol use to gain sex as follows: “Therearegirls that you know will fuck, then some you have to put some effort into it….
You have to buy them drinksor find out if she’s drunkenough…. ” mansaid thatat parties A similarstrategyis used collectively.
A fraternity with LittleSisters:”Weprovidethemwith ‘hunchpunch’andthingsget wild. We get themdrunkandmost of the guys end upwith one. “” ‘Hunchpunch,'” he said, “is a girls’ drink made up of overproof alcohol and powdered Kool-Aid, no water or anything,just ice. It’s very strong.
Two cups will do a numberon a female. ” He had plans in the next academictermto surreptitiously give hunchpunchto women in a “primand proper” sororitybecause “havingsex with prim and propersororitygirls is definitely a goal. These women are a challenge because they “won’t openly consume alcohol and commitwon’t get openly drunkas hell. ” Their sororities have “standards tees” that forbidheavy drinkingand easy sex. In the gang rapecase, oursourcessaidthatmanyfraternity on campus men believed the victim had a drinkingproblem and was thus an “easy make. ” According to newspaper accounts, she had been drinking alcohol on the evening she was raped;the lead assailantis alleged to havegiven hera bottle of wine aftershe arrivedat his fraternity house.
Portionsof the rapeoccurred in a shower, and the victim was reportedlyso drunkthather assailantshad difficulty holding her in a standingposition (TallahasseeDemocrat, 1988a). While raping her, her assailantsrepeatedlytold her they were membersof anotherfraternityunderthe apparentbelief that she was too drunkto know the difference. Of course, if she was too drunkto know who they were, she was too drunkto consent to sex (cf.
Allgeier 1986; Tash 1988). One respondent told us that gang rapes are wrong and can get one expelled, but he seemed to see nothingwrong in sexual coercionone-on-one.He seemed unawarethat the use of alcohol to obtain sex from a woman is grounds for a claim that a rape occurred(cf.
Tash 1988). Few women on campus (who also may not know these grounds)reportdate rapes,however; so the odds of detectionand punishmentare slim for fraternity men who use alcohol for “seduction”purposes (cf. Byington and Keeter 1988; Merton 1985). Violence and physical force. Fraternity men have a historyof violence (Ehrhartand Sandler 1985; Roark 1987). Their recordof hazing, fighting, property destruction,and rape has caused them problems with insurance companies (Bradford1986; Pressley 1987).
Two universityofficials told us that fraternities”arethe thirdriskiest propertyto insurebehind toxic waste dumps and amusementparks. “Fraternitiesare increasinglydefendantsin 466 GENDER & SOCIETY / December 1989 legal actionsbroughtby pledges subjectedto hazing(Meyer 1986; Pressley 1987) and by women who were rapedby one or more members. In a recent alleged gang rape incident at anotherFloridauniversity,prosecutorsfailed nevertheto file chargesbut the victim filed a civil suit againstthe fraternity less (TallahasseeDemocrat, 1989). Competition and superiority. Interfraternity rivalry fosters in-group nd identification out-grouphostility. Fraternities stressprideof membership rivalries over otherfraternities majorgoals.
Interfraternity as and superiority take manyforms,includingcompetitionfor desirablepledges, size of pledge size and appearance fraternity of class, size of membership, house, superiority in intramural sports,highestgrade-point averages,giving the best parties, gaining the best or most campusleadershiproles, and, of great importance, attractingand displaying “good looking women. ” Rivalry is particularly intenseover members,intramural sports,andwomen (cf. Messner 1989).FRATERNITIES’ COMMODIFICATIONOF WOMEN In claiming that women are treatedby fraternitiesas commodities, we mean that fraternitiesknowingly, and intentionally,use women for their benefit. Fraternitiesuse women as bait for new members, as servers of brothers’needs, and as sexual prey.
Women as bait. Fashionablyattractivewomen help a fraternityattract new members. As one fraternity man, a junior,said, “They are good bait. ” Beautiful,sociable women are believed to impressthe rightkind of pledges and give the impressionthatthe fraternity deliverthis type of woman to can of its members.Photographs shapely,attractive coeds areprintedin fraternity and brochures videotapesthataredistributed shownto potentialpledges.
and The women pictured are often dressed in bikinis, at the beach, and are One universityofficial says picturedhugging the brothersof the fraternity. such recruitment materials give the message:”Hey,they’reherefor you, you can have whateveryou want,”and, “we have the best looking women. Join us and you can have them too. ” Anothercommented:”Something’swrong when malesjoin an all-male organizationas the best place to meet women. It’s so illogical.
Fraternities compete in promisingaccess to beautifulwomen. One fratera senior,commentedthat”theattraction girls [i. e. , a fraternity’s of nity man, success in attractingwomen] is a big status symbol for fraternities.
” One Martin, Hummer/ FRATERNITIES AND RAPE 467 universityofficial commented that the use of women as a recruitingtool is that so well entrenchedthat fraternities mightbe willing to forgo it say they cannot afford to unless other fraternitiesdo so as well. One fraternityman said, “Look, if we don’t have Little Sisters, the fraternitiesthat do will get all the good pledges. Another said, “We won’t have as good a rush [the period duringwhich new membersare assessed and selected] if we don’t have these women around. ” In displaying good-looking, attractive,skimpily dressed, nubile women to potentialmembers,fraternities implicitly,andsometimesexplicitly,promise sexualaccess to women. One fraternity mancommentedthat”part what of being in a fraternityis all about is the sex” and explainedhow his fraternity uses Little Sisters to recruitnew members: We’ll tell the sweetheart termfor Little Sister],”You’re [the fraternity’s We’lltell herto fakea scamandshe’llgo hang you gorgeous; canget him. all over him duringa rushparty,kiss him, and he thinkshe’s done wonderful and wants to join. The girls thinkit’s great too. It’s flatteringfor them.
Women as servers. The use of women as servers is exemplified in the LittleSisterprogram. LittleSistersareundergraduate women who arerushed and selected in a mannerparallelto the recruitment fraternitymen. They of are affiliatedwith the fraternityin a formalbut unofficialway and are able, indeed required,to wear the fraternity’s Greek letters.
Little Sisters are not nationaloffices and members,however;andfraternity full-fledgedfraternity most universities do not register or regulate them. Each fraternityhas an officer called Little Sister Chairmanwho oversees their organizationand activities. The Little Sisters elect officers among themselves, pay monthly dues to the fraternity, have well-defined roles. Theirdues areused to pay and for the fraternity’s social events, andLittle Sistersareexpected to attendand hostess fraternity partiesand hang aroundthe house to make it a “nice place to be. One fraternity man, a senior, described Little Sisters this way: “They are very social girls, willing to join in, be affiliated with the group, devoted to the fraternity.
” Anothermember,a sophomore,said: “Theirsole purpose is social- attendparties,attractnew members,and ‘take care’ of the guys. ” Our observations and interviews suggested that women selected by fra- ternitiesas LittleSisters are physicallyattractive,possess good social skills, and are willing to devote time and energy to the fraternity its members. nd One undergraduate woman gave the following job description for Little Sisters to a campus newspaper: It’s not just making appearancesat all the parties but entails many more responsibilities. You’regoing to be expected to go to all the intramural games 468 GENDER & SOCIETY / December 1989 to cheerthe brothers supportandencouragethepledges,andjust be around on, to bringsome extra life to the house.
[As a Little Sister] you have to agree to take on a new responsibilityother thanstudyingto maintainyour grades and managingto keep your checkbook frombouncing.You have to make time to be a part of the fraternityand support the brothers in all they do. (The Tomahawk, 1988) The title of Little Sister reflects women’s subordinate status; fraternity men in a parallel role are called Big Brothers. Big Brothers assist a sorority primarily with the physical work of sorority rushes, which, compared to fraternity rushes, are more formal, structured, and intensive. Sorority rushes take place in the daytime and fraternity rushes at night so fraternity men are free to help.
According to one fraternity member, Little Sister status is a benefit to women because it gives them a social outlet and “the protection of the brothers. ” The gender-stereotypic conceptions and obligations of these Little Sister and Big Brother statuses indicate that fraternities and sororities promote a gender hierarchy on campus that fosters subordination and dependence in women, thus encouraging sexual exploitation and the belief that it is acceptable. Women as sexual prey.
Little Sisters are a sexual utility. Many Little Sisters do not belong to sororitiesand lack peer supportfor refrainingfrom unwanted sexual relations.One fraternityman (whose fraternityhas 65 “wholesale”in the membersand 85 Little Sisters) told us they hadrecruited access to women that prioryear to “get lots of new women.
“The structural the Little Sisterprogramprovidesand the absenceof normativesupportsfor refusing fraternitymembers’ sexual advances may make women in this susceptible to coerced sexual encounterswith fraterprogramparticularly nity men. Access to women for sexual gratificationis a presumedbenefit of fraternity membership, promised in recruitment materials and strategies and man said: conversationswith new recruits.One fraternity throughbrothers’ “We always tell the guys that you get sex all the time, there’salways new girls…. AfterI became a Greek,I foundout I could be with females at will. ” A universityofficial told us that, based on his observations,”no one [i.
e. , Theyjust want fraternity men] on this campuswants to have ‘relationships. ‘ men plan and execute strategiesaimed at to have fun [i. e.
, sex]. ” Fraternity obtaining sexual gratification, and this occurs at both individual and collective levels. Individualstrategiesincludegetting a woman drunkandspendinga great deal of money on her.
As for collective strategies,most of ourundergraduate intervieweesagreedthatfraternity partiesoften culminatein sex andthatthis Martin, Hummer / FRATERNITIES AND RAPE 469 outcome is planned. One fraternity man said fraternity partiesoften involve sex andnudityandcan “turninto orgies. “Orgiesmay be plannedin advance, such as the Bowery Ball party held by one fraternity. formerfraternity A membersaid of this party: The entireideabehindthis is sex. Bothmenandwomencometo the party Thereare pornographic wearinglittleor nothing. pinupson the walls and usuallypornomovies playingon the TV. The musiccarriessexualovertones.
…Theyjustget schnockered and, [drunk] in mostcases,theyalsoget laid. When asked about the women who come to such a party,he said: “Some Little Sistersjust won’t go….
The girls who do are looking for a good time, girls who don’t know what it is, things like that. ” Otherrespondents deniedthatfraternity partiesareorgies butsaid thatsex is always talkedaboutamongthe brothers they all know”whoeach other and is doing it with. “One membersaid thatmost of the time, guys have sex with theirgirlfriends”butwith socials, girlfriendsaren’tallowed to come and it’s their [members’] big chance [to have sex with other women].
The use of alcohol to help them get women into bed is a routinestrategyat fraternity parties. CONCLUSIONS In general, our researchindicatedthat the organizationand membership of fraternities contributeheavily to coercive andoften violent sex. Fraternity houses are occupied by same-sex (all men) and same-age (late teens, early twenties) peers whose maturityand judgment is often less than ideal. Yet houses areprivatedwellings thatare mostlyoff-limitsto, andaway fraternity from scrutinyof, universityand communityrepresentatives, with the result that fraternity house events seldom come to the attention of outsiders.Practices associated with the social constructionof fraternitybrotherhood emphasize a macho conception of men and masculinity,a narrow,stereoof typed conception of women and femininity,and the treatment women as commodities. Otherpractices contributingto coercive sexual relationsand the cover-upof rapesincludeexcessive alcoholuse, competitiveness, norand mative supportfor deviance and secrecy (cf. Bogal-Allbritten Allbritten and 1985; Kanin 1967).
Some fraternity norms require practices exacerbateothers.Brotherhood “sticking together” regardless of right or wrong; thus rape episodes are unlikely to be stoppedor reportedto outsiders,even when witnesses disap- 470 GENDER & SOCIETY / December 1989 and prove. The abilityto use alcoholwithoutscrutinyby authorities alcohol’s frequentassociationwithviolence, includingsexualcoercion,facilitatesrape in fraternityhouses. Fraternity normsthatemphasizethe value of maleness and masculinityover femaleness and femininityand that elevate the status of men and lower the statusof women in members’eyes underminepercepand tions andtreatment women as personswho deserveconsideration care of Merton1985). nd (cf. Ehrhart Sandler1985; Androgynousmen and men with a broadrangeof interestsand attributes are lost to fraternitiesthroughtheir recruitment practices.
Masculinityof a createattitudes, andstereotypical narrow norms,andpracticesthat type helps men to coerce women sexually, both individuallyand predisposefraternity collectively (Allgeier 1986; Hood 1989; Sanday 1981, 1986). Male athletes on campus may be similarly disposed for the same reasons (Kirshenbaum 1989; Telanderand Sullivan 1989). Researchinto the social contextsin which rapecrimesoccurandthesocial constructions associated with these contexts illumine rape dynamics on campus.Blanchard(1959) found that group rapes almost always have a leaderwho pushesothersintothe crime.
He also foundthatthe leader’slatent homosexuality,desire to show off to his peers, or fear of failing to prove himself a man are frequentlyan impetus. Fraternitynorms and practices contributeto the approvalanduse of sexual coercion as an acceptedtactic in relationswith women. Alcohol-inducedcomplianceis normative,whereas, use presumably, of a knife,gun,or threatof bodilyharmwould notbe because the woman who “drinkstoo much” is viewed as “causing her own rape” and (cf. Ehrhart Sandler1985).
Our research led us to conclude that fraternitynorms and practices influence membersto view the sexual coercionof women, which is a felony crime, as sport,a contest,or a game (cf. Sato 1988). This sportis playednot between men and women but between men and men.
Womenare the pawns or prey in the interfraternity rivalry game; they prove that a fraterity is successfulor prestigious. The use of women in thisway encouragesfraternity men to see women as objects and sexual coercion as sport. Today’ssocietal normssupportyoung women’s rightto engage in sex at theirdiscretion,and coercion is unnecessaryin a mutuallydesired encounter.However, nubile to young women say they preferto be “in a relationship” have sex while men say they preferto “getlaid”withouta commitment(Muehlenhard young and Linton 1987). These differencesmay reflect, in part,Americanpuritanism and men’s fears of sexual intimacyor perhapsintimacyof any kind. In a fraternitycontext, getting sex without giving emotionally demonstrates “cool” masculinity. More important,it poses no threatto the bonding and Martin, Hummer / FRATERNITIES AND RAPE 471 brotherhood Farr1988). Drinkinglargequantities loyalty of the fraternity (cf.
of alcohol before having sex suggests that “scoring”ratherthan ntrinsic sexual pleasureis a primaryconcernof fraternity men. Unless fraternities’composition, goals, structures,and practiceschange in fundamental ways, women on campuswill continue to be sexual prey for fraternity men. As all-male enclaves dedicated to opposing faculty and and to cementing in-groupties, fraternitymemberseschew administration women, any hint of homosexuality. Their version of masculinitytransforms and men with womanly characteristics, the out-group. “Womanly into men” are ostracized;feminine women are used to demonstratemembers’mascurenewedemphasison theirfoundingvalues (Longinoand linity.
Encouraging Kart 1973), service orientationand activities (Lemire 1979), or members’ moral development(Marlowe and Auvenshine 1982) will have little effect on fraternities’ treatment women. A case for or againstfraternities of cannot be made by studying individual members. The fraternityqua group and organization is at issue. Located on campus along with many vulnerable women, embedded in a sexist society, and caught up in masculinistgoals, practices, and values, fraternities’violation of women-including forcible rape- should come as no surprise. NOTE 1.Recent bans by some universitieson open-keg partiesat fraternity houses have resulted in heavy drinkingbefore coming to a partyand an increase in drunkennessamong those who attend. This may aggravate,ratherthan improve,the treatmentof women by fraternity men at parties.
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