In manipulating Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photograph of United States Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima during WWII, I aimed to highlight the institutionalized sexism ingrained in both our nation’s Greek letter organizations and government.
To do so, I first replaced the American flag with a photograph of a flag made of women’s undergarments which was originally paraded by members of Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. This photo, published in the Yale Daily News in 1985, resurfaced in light of recent sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh who was an active member of this chapter at the time the photo was taken.
In 2011, the same Yale fraternity faced suspension for chanting “No means yes, yes means anal” in front of the University’s Women’s Center. For that reason, I also embedded a photo of a poster bearing this infamous slogan which was displayed during a Phi Delta Theta fraternity party at Texas Tech in 2014.
Lastly, by editing the DKE logo onto marines’ jackets, I attempted to illustrate the idea that many fraternities view women just as the marines viewed Iwo Jima, as property to be dominated and conquered. This perspective can be attributed to the long-standing heteropatriarchal ideologies that pervade Greek life as many of the system’s rules encourage male chauvinism. For example, the ban on alcohol in sorority houses not only promotes rape culture by granting men an outlet to assert control over college women dependent on fraternities for partying but also reinforces feelings of male superiority by allowing men access to authoritative positions simultaneously refused to women.
Ultimately, my image manipulation asks audiences to consider the extent to which a sexist Greek system is reflective of the workings of our own government. We can start by considering the fact that a Supreme Court nominee is currently facing allegations of sex crimes stemming from his time spent in a notoriously misogynistic fraternity.