Friday, November 27, 2015

Toxic Masculinity in Fraternities

The banner above was put on display by the Phi Delta Theta fraternity on the campus of Texas Tech University. Unfortunately, this type of date-rape promoting ideology is not uncommon among fraternities. According to The Guardian, studies have shown that men in fraternities are 300% more likely to rape women than men who are not in fraternities. What is it about the culture surrounding fraternities that make frat brothers more likely to rape? I personally believe that frat culture takes our larger culture's messages about masculinity and violence and amplifies them. The stereotype that men are sexually aggressive and unemotional seems to be strictly enforced within frat culture. The issues of hegemonic masculinity and groupthink also play a role in the frequency of sexual assaults committed by frat brothers. Being a member of a frat is all about conforming. Pledges often go through harsh hazing in order to become initiated. Studies have actually shown that the worse the hazing is, the more committed the pledge feels to his or her fraternity/sorority. Basic social psychology tells us that people naturally want to conform to those around us. So if sexual aggressiveness is praised for some members of the group, others will soon follow. People are also less likely to speak up against sexual assault if they view it as just part of the culture. This behavior and mindset harms both women and men on college campuses. Women are obviously impacted not only because they are more likely to be assaulted, drugged or raped but also because they are forced to live in an environment which encourages fear of men. Men are harmed because they are forced to conform to violent stereotypes of what "real men" do.

This is not to say that all fraternities condone date rape. Of course there are many wonderful men in fraternities and some fraternities go out of their way to discourse this kind of behavior in their frats. However, when 3 times as many men in frats rape, as those who are not in frats, you have to wonder what causes that correlation. Do frats make men violent? Or are violent men attracted for frat life? Either way, something about the culture of fraternities increases the likelihood of violence from it's members and we as a community need to address this issue to make our campuses safer.

Here are several articles talking about fraternities, masculinity and several cases of improper behavior by fraternities:
Fraternities Tend to Suffer from Toxic Masculinity

Texas Tech Frat: No Means Yes

Sexual Assault Ban on Frats

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