What Are You Bringing to the Party: At the Intersection of Feminism and Fraternity

That's why women have such an easy time getting into frat parties, bars, or clubs: we are thought of as being there for consumption.
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In preparation for the upcoming Super Bowl, a few of the girls who live with me were doing what college students do best: planning a party.

Considering our limited budget, space, and access to any sort of kitchen, it wasn't going to be Sunday's most elaborate celebration, and it certainly wasn't going to be much like other parties on campus. There were fifteen or twenty people crammed into one dorm room, and the hardest drink there was root beer. We were in bed earlier than most due to our 8 a.m. classes the next morning. And, unlike parties on Frat Row, whether or not you got in had nothing to do with your gender.

Perhaps my favorite trend nowadays among young women is their ever-increasing ability and willingness to call out sexism in the world around them. Ever since coming to USC this past August, I have been fortunate enough to meet a variety of extremely intelligent women to discuss issues that are as diverse as our student body. One of which many of us are critical of: Greek life.

In a country that's becoming far more aware of the misogyny on many college campuses, with women such as Emma Sulkowicz bravely stepping forward with their stories, these conversations are more important to have than ever. However, some of my female classmates and I find that, all too often, when we try to initiate these discussions, we're immediately shut down by men indignantly pointing out, "You guys are just overreacting. You're the ones who get into parties for free, anyway -- you actually have it better."

Something about this argument never sat well with me, but I couldn't quite articulate the glaring faults in logic that I knew were there. That is, until my friends and I were planning our Super Bowl party and one boy announced that he was down to bring chips.

It occurred to me that when someone brings something to a party, they are seen as providing a service, doing a favor, and more often than not, they get in for free. That's why women have such an easy time getting into frat parties, bars, or clubs: we are thought of as being there for consumption. We are commodities, accessories to the festivities. Does BYOB now mean "bring your own breasts?" Is the objectification of women essential to a party's success? Think of how often you've heard something to the effect of, "Dude, that party sucked, there were hardly any chicks."

The issues with Greek life are serious and ongoing, but frank and honest discussions about why things are the way they are is the first step to ensuring that college campuses are a safe place for everyone. Personally, I'm looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday. It will be the first party I've been to in a long time where I know that everyone there -- even the guys -- consider me an equal and a friend.

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