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Not all fraternity brothers

let’s talk sex

Not all men are like that.

This is a common protest that faces people who try to speak about gender violence issues. The messages many try to share about sexual assault often are brushed aside because it is an uncomfortable topic. “Not all men” was a common deflection used to avoid these conversations, but in 2014 it became an Internet meme and hashtag used to mock the very people eluding this dialogue.

It generally is understood that not all men are rapists. However, this conception cannot stop further discussion about sexual assault from occurring.

Just as “not all men” has been used as a diversion, discussions about fraternities as breeding grounds for sexual assault also are being evaded.

Again, of course, not all fraternity brothers are rapists. But the reason that fraternities often are discussed in issues surrounding rape culture and sexual assault is that fraternities foster behaviors that are recognized as risk factors for sexual assault.

The Duke University Student Experiences Survey states that Greek houses, along with bars, were the most reported locations of off-campus sexual assaults.

So what is it about Greek life that poses risk factors for sexual assault?

The most obvious answer usually is alcohol. The National Panhellenic Conference restricts the ability of sororities to host events with alcohol. This means that the majority of parties are hosted by fraternities, who supply alcohol to both Greek and non-Greek students in attendance. During the 2015-2016 school year, both victims and perpetrators of sexual assault reported a high level of alcohol and drug use.

Because fraternities are tasked with hosting parties, these parties are entirely male-controlled. The fraternity brothers control transportation, music, themes, and access to alcohol. Thus, the National Panhellenic Conference’s restriction not only stops sororities from hosting parties, but also forces the parties that sorority women attend to be controlled by males, rather than controlled by the entirely capable female sorority members.

The power dynamic created at parties sets up fraternities brothers to have power over the usually intoxicated partygoers. This power creates vulnerability; the women are not in control and consequently can be more easily exploited.

This power dynamic is often turned into victim-blaming: “Well, it’s her fault she got raped—she was so drunk! And did you see what she wore to the party?”

But in our world, where women do not exist to serve men, this victim-blaming is ludicrous. The age-old feminist argument is that women should be able to do whatever they want without being worried about rape.

I still believe this to be true. As a woman, I should not have to let fear dictate my actions. Yet I live in a world that demands it. I live in a world where my female-led organization enforces rules that lead me straight into a male-dominated, vulnerable environment. And I do it for fun.

Victim-blaming exists at Duke in many forms.

“I know I’ll never get raped because I don’t get really drunk and I don’t sleep around,” a fellow female Duke student told my friend. “It’s only girls that have sex with anyone who get themselves into a position to be raped.”

This victim-blaming is internalized; it shows that some women have been taught that only girls who “sleep around” get raped. This is damaging not only for other women to hear, but also for the girl who believes it. Drinking and sleeping around do not cause rape; rapists cause rape.

Duke has tried to become accountable for this. Duke requires all students accepting bids from sororities or fraternities to take Greek-specific alcohol, hazing, and sexual assault courses online. These are similar to the ones required of all incoming students, AlcoholEdu and Haven.

Along with this, the university has begun to increase its education about sexual assault by holding PACT training for new member classes in fraternities. This is meant to prevent sexual assaults from occurring, encourage bystander intervention and allow non-survivors to understand the severity of the impact of sexual assault.

However, the discussion of rape culture within fraternities often evokes defense. The discussions sometimes are perceived as blaming Greek life.

This is demonstrated in a tweet that recently went viral for its crack on Donald Trump: “Most rapists coming from Mexico are just frat boys returning from spring break.”

Depending on who reads this tweet, it could incite laughter or outrage. Regardless, it got 294,567 likes on Twitter.

Some people responded with the same outrage felt by those who say “not all men.” Not all frat boys returning from spring break in Mexico are rapists. Yes, this is true. But to ignore the message—and the 294,567 who liked this message—is to ignore the problem of sexual assault within Greek life.

I believe an overhaul of the entire Greek system would most effectively change the rape culture of fraternities; however, it is important that—for now—changes are made within the system itself.

Delaney Dryfoos is a Trinity sophomore. Her column, “let’s talk sex” runs on alternate Wednesdays.


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