Do fraternities cause rape culture?

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Odds are, if you’re a female who has ever been on a university campus, you’ve heard the warnings about the frat boys. Testosterone fueled, alpha males is the stereotype. Now, I’m not saying that I necessarily believe this. Do I know frat guys who seem harmless enough? Sure. Have I heard of frat boys drugging and assaulting young girls? Absolutely.

Yesterday, on campus, tours were being given to high school seniors.  On the stairwell, I heard a young man( who I have had a class with and is a junior) asking one of the high school girls how long ago she turned 18 and if she would like to come to a party at his apartment this weekend. I can’t say that I was shocked, and I realize that your choice of sexual partners is your own business. But the sad thing is that the stereotypes about the fraternities have a lot of truth to them, and I felt bad for the girl who isn’t too much younger than me.

Studies have shown that men who are in fraternities are more likely to commit a rape then those who aren’t, and as many as 70% to 90% of gang rapes are committed by fraternity members. The worst part is that the fraternity members are almost always allowed to get away with their actions, because of a “boys will be boys” approach to the problem. People treat the rumors of frat house rape as just that; rumors that shouldn’t really be given much credence.

Today, my local news station shared a story from Georgia Tech. A leader of a fraternity sent out an email titled “Luring Your Rape Bait.” The whole email was instructions on how to charm a girl: chat with her, dance with her, and take her back to your room. The email itself can be read here (warning: some people found it to be somewhat graphic). It also makes me wonder about the little high school girl.

Studies suggest as many as one in four college-age women are the victims of rape. A full 10% of these rapes are believed to have taken place in fraternity houses. As is typical with rape, however, very little of it gets reported, possibly as low as 10%, and in even fewer cases the perpetrator is ever brought to justice.

Obviously not every fraternity is full of misogynistic rapists, and I do not think that the Greek system as a whole should be accountable for the assaults. And even if you did shut down every fraternity, there is no way to keep college aged males from living together in groups, which some researchers think is the problem. Group think can be a dangerous thing, and the truth is that when there are no clear consequences people have a tendency to push things as far as they can, especially when alcohol is involved.

So, what do I believe is the solution? People have to be held accountable for their actions on an individual level so that the  men who do commit these crimes can finally see some tangible consequence for their reprehensible behavior. Men as a whole are not responsible, and the few frat brothers who commit these acts are making the whole fraternity system look like animals.

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3 thoughts on “Do fraternities cause rape culture?

  1. I’m from a fraternity (IFC one too) and I’ll share with you a story.

    Many moons ago, when I was an active (I’m alumni now, and happily married), I was at a mixer with our guys, a sorority and all of our rushes. I was not drinking that night as I was not feeling well, but I was well enough to attend the mixer and hang out with the guys and gals. One of the sorority rushes was very drunk and was definitely getting friendly with the other gentlemen, but I could see that she was not of proper mind to make any rational decisions. So I talk to one of her sisters and tell them that this girl needs to be taken back to campus. None of the sisters were sober but they all trusted me to “do the right thing.” So I got in the car, made sure I didn’t have letters on, (underage drinking was always illegal…) and took her back to campus, which was about a mile away. I got her out of the car, spoke to the RA on duty and explained that I’m just putting her in her dorm room, and I am not spending the night or doing anything scandalous. Gave my ID, and place the young woman in her bed (though I was not going to remove any clothing.) The young woman attempted to “thank” me physically, but I flat out refused and just kept telling her good night. Reported back to the RA (this was about 3-5 minutes…) to get my ID, and went back to the mixer.

    Yes, there are scumbags who would have taken advantage of this young woman, but there are more guys who would do the right thing. It’s just like the news; you never hear about any good news; only the bad. Also, good guys aren’t looking for medals for doing the right thing. We do the right thing because it’s the right thing; not for praise or laurels. So to say that “studies have shown that men who are in fraternities are more likely to commit a rape then those who aren’t, and as many as 70% to 90% of gang rapes are committed by fraternity members” is flawed logic, at best and almost libel at worst.

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