In this vox pop, I chose to highlight students’ views on Greek life at the University of Southern California. I walked around the USC campus interviewing both affiliated and non-affiliated students to get a more universal view of the Greek system.
Interestingly, many students responded to my questions about certain sexist aspects of this system saying that they had never really thought about the implications of such strict rules for sororities compared to fraternities. While many were aware of such policies, few had taken the time to consider the manner in which they normalize and advance discriminatory tendencies. For this reason, I chose to feature several more female voices than male voices in my final cut because women seemed to feel more passionate and have more to say about this issue having experienced more blatant effects of a system that promotes toxic masculinity.
While males are obviously also impacted by such a system in terms of a culture of hazing and, ultimately, a pressure to adhere to the construct of masculinity, these ramifications are even further disguised, so the vox pop format which relies on interviews was not ideal for exposing these male-centered aspects of sexist Greek life regulations. Additionally, it was interesting to note how affiliated members seemed hesitant to criticize the system, especially affiliated males. I am curious about the extent to which this hesitation stemmed from a genuine lack of thought about the system compared to an obligation to support an increasingly controversial organization.
In terms of editing my audio clip, I chose to open and close with the song “Frat Rules” by A$AP Mob which paints a perfect picture of Greek life as the male artists explain that they only want females that can satisfy them sexually at their party. This song illustrates the gendered expectations in our modern-day hookup and party culture, which is further exacerbated by differential regulations imposed by the North American Interfraternity Conference and National Panhellenic Conference.
From speaking to a variety of students, the main message I took away from this project was that conditioned male chauvinism in Greek life has ultimately emerged from an excess of freedom afforded to men juxtaposed with severe, and frankly absurd, limitations forced on women. When I asked students what they believed should be changed about the system, many were stumped. While some expressed that they believed Greek life would simply need to be eradicated completely, others felt that less restrictive rules placed on women would be beneficial. Still, others explained that the freedom afforded to men resulted in the very chaos and disorder that placed Greek life under the spotlight in the first place. In this way, they argued that in order for this system to survive and simultaneously become less sexist, stricter, more sorority-esque requirements should be placed on males, such as the need for a male supervisor, or house dad. While this is a complicated issue to address, the first step towards change seems to be pushing thoughtful deliberation about the reality of contemporary Greek life.