Freshman girls arriving at their first university party will find themselves sardined in a dirty fraternity house, like a school of fish circled by hungry sharks looking for an alcohol-induced hookup. At most, if not all, frat parties, the majority of attendees seem to be women. This ratio makes fraternity parties about having sex and hooking up, not about dancing or letting loose on the weekends.
New freshman boys who want to rush a frat or go to a party are soon hit with the reality that they must bring a group of girls with them to even get in. This ratio ranges from three or four to over ten girls to get inside. Prospective members and pledges begging for acceptance openly and proudly flaunt the women they’ve brought to procure acceptance and entry into these drunken basements. This system effectively turns women into cash-like objects to be bartered.
The ratio system is just one of the many ways frats at the university objectify female students. Some parties include themes like Playboy where girls are expected to wear more revealing clothing, even lingerie and bras. No such expectation is put on the fraternity brothers. There’s nothing wrong with a male or female student wanting to attend a party and dress in their clothing of choice. However, fraternities need to start offering equal access to these parties, regardless of a student’s gender, and stop the objectification of women who attend these parties.
If we accept this ratio system as a normal social practice, what are we telling women about how they can be treated? And what are we telling men about the way they are allowed to treat women?
It’s okay to create spaces on campus where students can gather with like-minded individuals; however, these spaces should not openly objectify women. Furthermore, many male students at the university join fraternities because they want to find new friends and a strong social group, not because they are searching for a sex-segregated society on campus.
Nonetheless, the actions of fraternities and their brothers need to be questioned.
Just because something has always been done, for instance the use of ratios at frats, does not mean it should continue. The practice of ratios at fraternity parties is harmful not just to women at the university but to society as a whole. In the moment, the greater implications of this practice are easy to dismiss.
However, this gendered hypersexualization of women and their role as a commodity for men reaffirms institutionalized sexism after college. How can we expect an equal workplace when prominent societies on our campus, and the campuses of other major universities, are so distinctly hypermasculine and sexist?
I implore you to question this practice and its misogynistic roots. Next time you’re at the door of a frat house, either in the flock of girls who want to have a fun night, as the guy who asked a group of his girl friends to come with him or the brother opening the door, question how your actions are perpetuating dangerous stereotypes and creating a harmful environment for our campus.
Austin is a staff reporter at The Review. Her opinions are her own and do not represent the majority opinion of The Review staff. She may be reached at email@example.com.