Getaway Girl Blog

In a Daze Over the Haze

I love the movie "Animal House."

I think movies that depict 1950s and 60s era college kids joining fraternities and sororities (simply an early version of networking), wearing wool letterman sweaters and poodle skirts and walking around campus saying stuff like "Golly gee!" and "Twenty-one scoot to boot!" and calling one another names like "Butch" and "Muffy" are kinda cute and nostalgic, even when the entire Greek system falls apart, as it did in "Animal House."

Cuz, see, I think the real reason "Animal House" appeals to me is because of the way it points out the goofiness of actually paying money to make friends in college -- while in college! -- when most other students running around campus make lifelong friends doing mundane activities, such as, well, going to class and sitting in the cafeteria and simply saying, "Hi...is anyone else sitting here?" and striking up a conversation.

See, I've always wondered why people would subject themselves to the so-called "standards" of the Greek system. The whole thing struck me as ridiculously absurd when, as a college freshman, I watched some of my girlfriends from high school pledge their allegiance to sororities only to be humiliated by panty raids and other completely dumb and stupid activities in the name of "initiation."  I literally watched as one chum cried her eyes out, devastated that her long time and adorable boyfriend had been "blackballed" from a campus fraternity, thus, "forcing" her to break up with him or else face a similar fate within the sorority to which she had pledged. And she dumped him. For just that reason.

Now mind you, I was a college freshman back in the dark ages of 1981.  Since then, Greek organizations have "officially" banned hazing rituals, but any student enrolled at a traditional university knows that hazing still takes place; it's simply a matter of how silly or extreme it gets, depending on the Greek organization.

I mean, sure, I wanted to make new friends in college but a) I didn't figure I should have to pay extra for them (wasn't the cost of tuition, books and room and board enuff???) and b) I didn't figure any "real" friend of mine would subject me to any kind of intentional personal humiliation. 

So, all of that said, I cannot, for the life of me, understand what just happened in the past week on the campus of Colorado State University.

The Omicron Omicron chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, a nationally recognized sorority, lost its official sanction from the university after there were allegations of extreme hazing within the sorority. Over the course of a recent weekend, pledges were allegedly deprived of sleep, force fed onions to the point of becoming sick, and deprived of food unless cat food is a food of choice.

And mind you, all of this hazing allegedly was orchestrated by the chapter president, a woman whom, I am supposing, had her heart and soul ripped out during her own sorority hazing.

As a result, the sorority has been banned from campus and the media coverage has resulted in the expected commentary, "Don't paint all Greek organizations with the same brush! Many are do-good organizations that provide lots of charitable good works and donations, via our trust funds, within the community! People form lifelong bonds with other equally beautiful people! The Greek system is good!"

And, the flip side, of course, is all of the naysayers who make comments such as "Fraternities and sororities should be banned!  Boo to the hazing!"

I can't actually take either side because what really and truly appauls me is not that the Greek system and all of its idiosyncrasies actually exist in 2009. I figure if men and women want to live in the nostaglic 1950s and 60s and call one another Butch and Muffy, let 'em. To each his or her own.

No, what really and truly appauls me -- APPAULS ME -- is the utter lack of balls exhibited by the so-called "victims" in this case.  I mean, the last time I checked, most college freshmen (and women) were in the 18-year-old age range. The last time I checked, that makes you a bonafide legal adult in the good old United States of America. A legal adult whom, I might add, is fully entitled to all Constitutional rights, including the right to bear arms, the right to a speedy trial, and, of course, a special Constitutional amendment for women, providing us with the right to vote.

And finally, there is that whole freedom of speech amendment. The amendment to the Constitution that actually, in writing and everything, gives every single U.S. citizen a voice.  To speak up with.

And yet, apparently, none of them did. They sat there in the apartment of the sorority president for a weekend, puking their guts out and even passing out from exhaustion.  That appauls me.

What I really want to know is what kind of women is the Greek system attracting?  Not a woman my mother would be proud to call her daughter. My mother taught me to speak up for myself. She taught me that sometimes the right thing to do was not the popular thing to do. And perhaps most importantly, my mother taught me to protect my physical self from harm by knowing when to walk away from danger.

What parent doesn't do that?

And what 18 year old woman can't figure out that puking on cat food and onions and three or four days of sleep deprivation is harmful?

To be honest, as much as I want to just rip on those women (and I guess I already have), I also feel sad and sorry for them. I feel sorry for 18 year old women who so obviously have so little self esteem that self presevation doesn't kick in because somehow, in their twisted minds, being a part of some particular social group is more important than their own health and well being.

Women won the right to vote in 1920. The so-called "women's lib" movement happened in the early 1970s. The corporate glass ceiling was shattered sometime around circa 1980-ish.

So how did we get to this in 2009 when 18-year-old, presumably smart and intelligent, young women are still worried about "fitting in" and not getting up, looking the sorority president in the eye and saying, "This is complete and utter bullshit!" and walking out the door?  In 2009?

Virginia Slims cigarettes ran an ad campaign in the 1970s, during the height of the women's lib movement, that stated: "You've come a long way, baby."

Sadly, I'm wondering how much farther we've come, some 40 years later.

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