Sorority Hazing Increasingly Violent, Disturbing

"I received an e-mail last week in which a girl told me that her sisters said she had to either take a hit of cocaine or use a dildo in front of them," Maxwell said. "Another woman from New York sent me a detailed schedule of the hazing that she was subjected to, and the sheer hours involved were more than a full-time job. The sessions went all night in some cases and were often violent."

Rhea Almeida, founder of the Institute for Family Studies in New Jersey and board member of the Council on Contemporary Families, said one reason violence and male-oriented hazing activities are becoming more commonplace among females could be because "in opposing femininity, girls feel popular and strong.

"Today, women are experiencing different gender roles and therefore are using more aggression and violence than they did a decade ago," Almeida said.

The University of Maine's Allan echoed that sentiment in a chapter she wrote for "The Hazing Reader" by Hank Nuwer, titled "Hazing and Gender: Analyzing the Obvious." Allan wrote, "Increasingly, girls and women gain credibility and status by proving they are tough, rugged and strong."

Alexandra Robbins, author of the book "Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities," said, "I saw a definite trend toward physical methods."

Robbins spent a year undercover following four sorority girls and was surprised by the amount of physical hazing that the women experienced, she said.

"One example was a girl named Arika whose pledge class had to answer trivia questions and drink straight vodka when they got a question wrong," Robbins said. "They were also presented with a sharpie, a knife, a hammer and a dildo and the sisters said if they got enough wrong they would be violated with one of those four.

"Arika ended up walking out but then she decided to stay in the sorority because her whole family had gone Greek and they said that's just what happens. That's how ingrained hazing is."

Emotional Hazing: Just as Harmful

Even though there is a growing trend toward violence in sororities, the emotional hazing that women's organizations have long been known for is still pervasive and equally scarring.

Emotional hazing can be hard to define but experts say it can include verbal harassment, such as calling a pledge fat or ugly, and games or rituals that aren't physically abusive but can leave an emotional mark: yelling out how much someone weighs or circling the fat on their bodies.

Some national organizations even define it as anything that differentiates pledges from sisters, meaning it can include sorority members telling pledges when to go out, who to speak to or what to wear.

The Cornell University chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority sent a seven-page e-mail to its pledges in January detailing what is and isn't appropriate to wear at different functions. The tone of the e-mail -- with lines such as "No muffin tops or camel toe" and "I will not tolerate any gross plastic shizz [jewelry]" -- drew criticism from the Huffington Post and many online young adult forums.

The Pi Beta Phi national headquarters does not believe that the e-mail constitutes hazing but, according to a statement e-mailed to ABC News from their Executive Director Juli Willeman, "The content in this communication in no way reflects the values of Pi Beta Phi nor the policy the sorority follows in its recruitment of new members."

Page
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...