Why Is the Frat Boy Culture So Sleazy and Sex-Crazed?
Continued from previous page
Misogyny Rules when Sex Takes Center Stage
By the 1960s, as a result of the sexual revolution, college women were more willing to have sex before marriage. Fraternity men thus turned to them not just for dates but also for sex, rather than to the prostitutes and working-class women of earlier eras who had previously met their needs. In 1957 two sociologists found that fraternity members were particularly likely to have attempted to take advantage of their female dates, some using "menacing threats or coercive infliction of physical pain." Fraternity men in one 1960s study, despite having more sex than their nonaffiliated peers, expressed the highest rates of dissatisfaction because, in the estimation of the sociologists, the pressure upon them to have sex was so much greater. Finally, in 1967 sociologist Eugene Kanin concluded: "Erotic achievement is now evaluated by taking into account the desirability of the sex object and the nature of its acquisition. A successful ‘snow job’ on an attractive but reluctant female who may be rendered into a relatively dependable sex outlet and socially desirable companion is considerably more enhancing than an encounter with a prostitute or a ‘one night stand’ with a ‘loose’ reputation." Sex was being used explicitly to bolster a man’s reputation amongst his fraternity brothers.
By the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, fraternity men had built upon some of these traditions and elaborated others as well. For example, fraternities foster an atmosphere where long-term intimate relationships with women are actually discouraged. As Allen DeSantis has shown in his recent book,
Inside Greek U
, many fraternity men perceive their brothers’ girlfriends as a threat both to the time that the brothers might spend with the fraternity as well as to their loyalty to the brotherhood. Casual sex is valued more highly because it can be chronicled in a way that many are unwilling to do when it comes to the sex they have with girlfriends. Regular reporting on each member’s
"conquests" further cements the bonds of brotherhood. This emphasis upon casual sex is part of a bigger problem, however. Social scientists have demonstrated that it places pressure on men who are not otherwise having sex to do so in order to save face, and this can lead to sexual assault. In order to ensure that brothers always have a steady supply of sexual partners, fraternities throw regular parties, often replete with grain alcohol punch. The parties are designed to supply intoxicated women who will either consent
-- or succumb
-- to sex.
Two other practices are also worthy of note. Some fraternity men take pleasure either in watching their brothers have sex with women or in being watched as they do so. One brother interviewed by anthropologist Michael Moffatt for his book
Coming of Age in New Jersey
put it this way:
"When my friends pick up chicks and bring them back to the fraternity house everyone else runs to the window to look at somebody else domineer a girl and I tell you what you almost get the same satisfaction. Some of the guys like to put on a show by doing grosser things each time. . . . Watching my friends have sex with other girls is almost as satisfying as doing it myself. . . . By the same token I enjoy conquering girls and having people watch."
The view of women as objects of domination seems to preclude any understanding that women might be acting on their own desires. That they are exploiting these women