A University of Alabama sorority took down a recruitment video over the weekend after a newspaper op-ed called it "worse for women than Donald Trump," an allusion to the noted tie magnate's pattern of sexist behavior.
The video shows a group of women, presumably all members of the campus branch of Alpha Phi, waving and smiling, and apparently enjoying a number of different activities. They lounge on lawns, do flips on a football field and splash around in a river. But in an Aug. 14 column for Alabama Media Group, writer and editor A.L. Bailey argued that given the bathing suits, the "bouncing bodies" and the "glitter and girl-on-girl piggyback rides," the video could be mistaken for one produced by Playboy or "Girls Gone Wild."
The recruitment video "has a clear sales pitch: beauty, sexuality, and a specific look above all. They're selling themselves on looks alone, as a commodity," Bailey wrote.
The column also said:
It's all so racially and aesthetically homogeneous and forced, so hyper-feminine, so reductive and objectifying, so Stepford Wives: College Edition. It's all so... unempowering.
Are they recruiting a diverse and talented group of young women embarking on a college education? Upon first or even fifth glance, probably not. Hormonal college-aged guys? Most assuredly yes. Older, male YouTube creepers? A resounding yes.
An Aug. 17 column by Alabama Media Group opinion writer Leada Gore seemed to double down on Bailey's essential message.
"Women -- even young women -- have the right to display their bodies as they see fit," Gore wrote. "I do wish they'd think about those decisions more, however."
The Alpha Phi video -- which does not depict nudity, excessive alcohol consumption or any activity that appears to be illegal -- isn't very different from the Alpha Phi recruitment videos at Penn State University or the University of Arizona, or the recruitment videos made by other sororities all the time. Such videos are often celebrated on websites aimed at the collegiate and Greek life crowds. They're appreciated by Bailey's "hormonal college-aged guys," yes, but also by women-oriented sites like Total Sorority Move, whose Rachel Varina criticized the controversy in a Monday column as something that's "almost so absurd, you can't even be mad."
Writing at TSM, Varina noted that sorority recruitment videos in general are "ridiculous" and that everyone who appears in them is perfectly aware of that. Such videos, she wrote, are just meant to send the message that students can have more fun as part of a Greek organization.
"We have the right to represent ourselves however we want," Varina wrote. "That’s what feminism is about. If we want to blow glitter and lay in a circle with our sisters and laugh, we can do that. And if people have a problem with that, that’s fine too. They don’t have to join our sisterhoods."
Alpha Phi's Alabama chapter and national headquarters did not respond to requests for comment from The Huffington Post.
A copy of the Alabama Alpha Phi video can be seen here: