Is Greek Life for feminists? The movies show Greek Life as a structure that encourages women to all be the same, to fight with each other, and to put frat boys above everything else. Sounds like it upholds the patriarchy to me.
Let me start by saying my experience in a sorority was NOTHING like the movies. Both of my parents were in Greek Life, so I knew I wanted to rush, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t realize that going greek was arguably the best decision I made in college so far. I made my best friends (three of whom I live with), gained leadership through multiple positions, and grew in confidence. As soon as I accepted my bid I had a group of 200 women supporting me.
And that’s what I really wanted to talk about today, women supporting other women. In class this week, we talked about how a true feminist is someone cares for and builds strong, supportive relationships with other women, and I have Greek Life to thank for that. Brittney Cooper said “one can’t truly be a feminist if you don’t really love women,” in her book Eloquent Rage, and I agree with that. We can’t support each other without having deep and meaningful relationships.
Sorority girls are often stereotyped as the stuck up, mean girls. They are often portrayed as fake friends who talk behind the backs of others and show their true colors only to the audience, not the other characters in the movie. In my experience, that is so far from the truth. My sorority sisters are so special to me, because they support me. They love me for who I am and I feel like I can be myself. They told my whole pledge class at our first new member meeting, “you are not here because of the way you look, you are here because we liked your personality and think you will be a great fit to our sisterhood,” and that’s when I realized, I’ve found my place and my people.
I do want to quickly bring up the idea that Greek Life is rooted in racism. It deeply saddens me to learn that some people do not feel the same way as I do about the benefits of Greek Life, and that it has harmed people. I think it’s important to recognize this, and to learn from it. I personally have educated myself on the racist history of Greek Life and learned what I can do to be an ally. By addressing issues of racism and inequality in Greek life, I can help my organization grow. There are certain things I personally cannot change like legacies and dues, but I can be conscious of this as I recruit new members. I can encourage my sorority to be accepting of natural hair because it is beautiful and professional, I can recruit with the idea that differences are what make us special, and I can learn to understand experiences that don’t relate to my own.
Finally, I want to add that Greek Life isn’t for everyone, and my experience is not the same as anyone else’s. While my experience at JMU has been nothing but positive, I cannot say with certainty that this is the same for every one of my sorority sisters, or any women in one of the other 12 organizations.
Whether you are in Greek Life, a sceptic, or a potential new member, know that Greek Life is about women supporting women and growing while you help others around you grow. It’s rooted in feminism and I can say with certainty that Greek Life is for feminists.