ANN ARBOR, MI - Legend has it that a posse of sorority girls today looks like this: designer sneakers (that cost more than my scholarships), Canada Goose winter coats (that cost more than the STAMPS art school), and the quintessential pastel-toned Greek letter sweatpants (that cost more than Schlissel’s life coach’s antipsychotics).
It’s hard to be a white Woman in America right now, harder than ever before. The misogynistic “K*ren” slur, the flagrant opposition to Amy Coney Barrett, or Bill Burr telling white Women to “sit down and take the talking-to” alongside white men on Saturday Night Live — these all prove that being in America while (white, middle/upper-class) female is proving to be harder now than ever before. What’s left for us now that the PoC people are winning the oppression contest? Do people no longer respect the struggle of lesser people making fun of you for wearing a coat that costs more than a month’s rent?
When Black and Indigenous Women have causes such as forced sterilization or slavery to stand behind, what is left for white Women to make angry rant threads about on Twitter? In a similar vein, hy is it okay to leave hate comments on my thinkpiece about why we should only buy fast fashion from sweatshops that only employ women; do girls no longer support girls? In a culture where girl power is being abandoned by scores of Women of People of Color, white Women are being left out of a conversation, and we have to speak up about the discomfort we feel when things aren’t about us.Why shouldn’t the struggles that come with being the most protected class in the room deserve the same amount of retweets?
I had an opportunity to speak to Kayleigh McKinlaw, the president of campus sorority Gamma Gamma Iota, who is a Business major: “It’s time for us as a community to come together against anti-sorority sentiment.” She argues that one of her sisters was recently uninvited from an intimate friend get-together because she posted incriminating pictures of herself a couple weeks ago at a large open-air maskless football tailgate hosted by an anonymous fraternity (for confidentiality reasons). “I think it’s just like when the Chinese were getting hate crimed just for being Chinese because people thought they had the coronavirus. They’re forcibly excluding us from society just for the crime of being sorority Women, and, well, I refuse to apologize.”
I thought that the concept of anti-sorority sentiment oppression was fascinating, and absolutely a problem that exists in real life. I decided to dig deeper into the subject. I had the opportunity to interview another sister of Greek life about her experience with anti-sorority sentiment. “So, I’m a Woman in STEM, and that’s because my life’s goal is to be the first female designer of bombs designed to kill baby Muslims in Afghanistan,” she begins. “And it’s really a male-dominated field, so you have to be super competitive if you want to make it far at all. Nobody expects you to be able to calculate the landing site of a baby-seeking missile as accurately as a man, for example, because you showed up to class in your [Greek letter] [Greek letter] [Greek letter] sweatpants. You constantly have to be on your toes proving that you are just as bloodthirsty as your male competitors, and it’s exhausting.”
To learn more about Greek life’s misunderstood culture, I asked our interviewee about the rush process. How did one get the process started? “Well, you see, we don’t see race in Greek life. Whether you’re Black, white, brown, yellow, purple, whatever! -- you are just another person to us UNLESS you’re that Ohio State red!” She let out an excited whoop as she proceeded to make a double thumbs-down and stick her tongue out for an awkwardly long moment, refusing to break eye contact. “It’s a lot more simple than that! We go straight to asking for your address and looking up the value of your house on Zillow so we can tell if you’re rich or poor. That way, we can be covertly racist instead of overtly racist! And we also make sure we only get the sisters who can pay the $1,100 for the standard issuecustom Canada Goose coat made from a coyote who was killed in a claw trap.”
“I honestly think it is really difficult to be a white Woman in America these days,” she continues. “It’s hard enough that people can’t understand why we were chicken-dancing and cha-cha-sliding in the streets when we heard that Biden won even though no one can really tell what we had to lose in the first place! But aside from that, we have to always be so careful in what we say and how we present ourselves in front of others. I can’t talk about that time my dad was being a total goofball at Martha’s Vineyard a couple summers ago even though he was being a total cutie pie, why? Because he’s an oil baron, and when people start talking about how I’m ‘privileged’ and my dad’s ‘destroying the earth’ whenever they find that out, I’m just like, ‘My dad works so hard every day…’”.
My anonymous interviewee and Kayleigh McKinlaw made the point that Women in sororities have really paved the way for every other Woman to defeat whatever circumstances she is in. In fact, science shows it’s true: statistical proof shows that sorority Women actually are responsible for ending all oppression. From the suffragettes who gave Women the right to vote to the brave Women in law who gave it all for white Women white simultaneously running Black and brown Women through the proverbial wood chipper, we would be nowhere today if not for the accomplishments of rich white Women using girl power to power the bus that runs Women of color over.
Not to mention the enormous struggles that white Women in sororities have faced in past and current history in the United States. Sorority Women only gained the right to vote in the 1960s after years of disenfranchisement from other girls who totally were not using girl power to support their fellow girls. It’s also been proven that there is an intense culture of hiring discrimination for sorority Women, because of their exotic Greek life culture being too conducive to #girlbosses that threaten to take power away from other white people.
So the next time you look at a group of sorority Women, not girls (and we’re calling them Fraternity Men now too), and you dare to pass judgement on their outfits that could pay your student loans with their Greek letter emblems showing you that they only interact with other white people on a daily basis, think to yourself: am I exuding girl power from this? Am I casting maximum feminist energy with this? Are my vibes good? Do I have good girlboss vibes right now? Am I girls-supporting-girls-ing this right now? Am I supporting these girls for being girls? Am I a girl? Can I support these girls for being girls? What even is a girl? Girls?