It was 30 degrees outside, at most. I stood outside of a fraternity for my first round of men's recruitment. I tried to dispel my worries and enter the house with an open mind. I was hopeful that the greek system wasn't just a real-life "Animal House," and that I wouldn't be rooming with the next John Blutarsky.
In the fifty minutes I spent inside the house, I was exposed to some of the most disgusting, misogynistic attitudes about women that I have ever heard. It began when the speaker asked some of his brothers about the best part of the fraternity experience. The answer? "F***ing a lot of p**sy," met with emphatic cheers and laughter from the other brothers. Throughout the speech, women were referred to not as individuals, but as disposable sex objects provided for the enjoyment of the fraternity men. Such attitudes received no rebuke, but instead praise from many of the men.
Welcome to the Animal House. I could not believe such beliefs were not only present on DePauw's campus, but also deemed acceptable to present to incoming recruits.
Nearly three weeks later, I sat in the Hub eating lunch. One Billion Rising, a worldwide protest against sexual violence directed towards women, had just begun outside. A coordinator of the event stood up on a table and began to speak. "One in three women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime." She was met with laughter and groans of disapproval.
As I watched her struggle to maintain the crowd's attention, I was brought back to that fraternity once again. The exasperated sighs and dismissive laughs of those around me are the very same as the cheers I heard during recruitment. The responses are different, but the message is the same: the struggle faced by billions of women every day, whether on this campus or across the world, is nothing to be upset about.
We all must address the misogyny that is perpetuated on this campus. However, we cannot simply point fingers at individual chapters, nor can we blame the greek system as a whole. I joined a fraternity myself, and am confident that the disrespect I experienced during recruitment is not simply a byproduct of going greek.
There are many true gentlemen who belong to fraternities all over this campus, and to judge them by the unacceptable actions of their peers would be unfair.
But the sexism and misogyny of our campus does not end at the doors of our fraternities. It exists in every rape joke, every slut-shaming comment and every dismissal of legitimate women's issues as "radical feminist talking points." We cannot allow such misogynistic attitudes to be considered acceptable in any space - greek or otherwise.
Until we address these opinions, we as a student body will only allow such sentiments to grow. No longer can we remain silent on attitudes that dehumanize and degrade over half of our student body. Now more than ever, we must start the conversation about the misogyny that has been allowed to grow unchecked on our campus. Surely, we can do better than this.
- Gordon is a freshman from Baltimore, Md. with an undecided major.