|"Spank him hard, but after each spanking make|
sure to caress his tender cheeks." Photo Credit.
Two days ago, residents of Oligarch University's historic quad, where all first year students are housed, were interrupted in their evening activities by a line of young men chanting. As the Oldest College Daily (OCD) reported,
At their pledge initiation....DKE members shouted phrases such as “No means yes, yes means anal” and “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I f--- dead women.” Some of the students were blindfolded and being led in a line with their hands on each others’ shoulders.
Perhaps even more stunning than the fact that any young man thinks that declaring himself a rapist is a reasonable prerequisite for joining a campus organization, was a senior DKE brother claiming in Thursday's story that the pledges, and only the pledges, were responsible for this incident. Saner heads prevailed, or someone from the national and/or the university administration called with a stern warning. As of today, the president of DKE has apologized for the chants.
The good news is that the Oligarch Women's Center went into action almost immediately. The bad news is that, with the exception of SAE which has had a steep learning curve on hazing and sexual violence since an incident in 2008, the other fraternities still don't have a grip on what is wrong here. According to the OCD,
When William Bradley ’12, president of SAE, heard of the event Wednesday night, he contacted the Women’s Center and the Pi Beta Phi sorority to express his regrets about the incident and apologize on behalf of SAE. But Bradley referred to the pledge’s chanting of “SAE” during their initiation as part of the good-natured rivalry between the two frats and “friendly banter.” President of Sigma Nu Matt Chesky ’12 said he thought despite the campus reaction, DKE did not intend to offend anyone. James Berry ’12, president of SigEp, said he did not see the issues of sexism and sexual violence as limited to Greek life at Yale, but rather as a larger issue that is not talked about enough. Harry McNamara ’11, president of Sigma Chi, and Bill Toth ’11, president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, declined to comment on the incident.
Some confusion in the ranks, isn't there? Wouldn't want to screw up pledging by deferring to a bunch of feminazis and their pu$$y-whipped male counterparts. OK, let's get to the takeaways.
First, all fraternity members are always responsible for anything that happens in any initiation ritual. Always. Any fraternity chapter that does not understand this should have its charter lifted immediately. A hallmark of hazing, and a reason why it is against the law many places, is that it is a lot like rape. Hazing depends on inspiring fear and humiliation by making people do dangerous, physically intrusive things against their will. Because of this, unless tightly controlled by sober people who understand the elements of physical safety involved and the limits of consent, hazing becomes more and more extreme depending on both the tolerance/fear of the pledges and the new normals that are set as the hazing process escalates. This is true whether you are talking about scavenger hunts, forced drinking or pranks (check out this one, where an SAE pledge at the University of Kentucky was set on fire, or this one in which a Sig Ep at Florida Atlantic was kidnapped, bound with duct tape, verbally abused and forced to drink until he vomited repeatedly and passed out.)
Second, a strong women's center, staffed by professionals, is essential to any campus that cares about preventing sexual violence against women or men. The quick response, and prior organizing efforts, of Oligarch's women's center was important to initiating a positive and firm institutional response to this incident rather than the de-centered rage and tension that can sometimes obscure the issues at stake around sexual violence. What is more important is that the university can only punish the individuals involved. But a community informed by institutionalized feminism can do the kind of consciousness raising necessary to address the fraternity's underlying assumption that sexual violence can be "just" a joke, or worse, is necessary to men creating intimate bonds with other men and therefore isn't anyone's business but theirs. In fact, it is the cloistered quality of frat hazing, and its homoerotic content, that makes initiation violence so dangerous to the campus community as well as to individual pledges. Consider the following suggestion for effective hazing rituals over at Frat Beat:
Inserting objects into a Little Brother's rectum is a tradition that stems all the way back to Prostatus Engorgum and his Unity of Anal Fixation. Keys, whisks, squash racquet handles, boots, bottles, whatever. It may pain him, but it will teach an important lesson: sometimes life hurts. Indeed, the Little Brother might even cry while learning this. He might fight the handcuffs and bleed, but you can diffuse his misery quite easily. Masturbate afterwards and this will show him how proud you are. Upon completion of your self-pleasure, mark him as your territory and he will surely squeal with delight. The two of you have a bond that can never be broken. So crack a beer and hit the sororities, dude!
Other suggestions include nipple torture, urine play and group-humping a water melon.
Frat rituals that turn young men into "bitches" are so powerful because of the pre-existing assumption that women and gay men are already "bitches" to proper men. Even when hazings do not simulate S/M sexual practices that should only be attempted by highly knowledgeable and consenting adults, fraternity initiations are always, in some degree, sexually abusive to men. Hazing temporarily makes men into "women" and "queers;" it then recuperates them back to proper masculinity from what the ritual itself has articulated as a despicable and lowly socio-sexual position. Until college and university administrations address the role male eroticism and sexualized violence have in fraternity and team hazings, they will not be able to come to grips with sexual violence and homophobia on campus either.