There is something gravely wrong with the Greek system, but let's get back to that.
Most of us are familiar with the term sexism, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as "unfair treatment of people because of their sex; especially: unfair treatment of women." But, unfortunately, there is a more surreptitious type of sexism that not many people know about—something we call internalized misogyny.
According to Cultural Bridges to Justice, internalized misogyny is the "involuntary belief by girls and women that the lies, stereotypes, and myths about girls and women that are delivered to everyone in a sexist society are true."
But is internalized misogyny really our fault?
No, the act is completely involuntary because of the ever-present sexism in our society and culture. We are taught from a young age through socialization that women are inferior beings. So, we compete with one another instead of celebrating our sisters, because society tells us there can only be one smart, funny, and attractive girl in a bunch.
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By no means am I the "perfect feminist," but I believe in girls. I believe in girls supporting girls. And, I once believed that sororities stood for just that, but, it took me accepting a bid into a chapter to learn (and witness) the harsh realities of the Panhellenic world; a world that preaches love and compassion to outsiders but is so heavily draped in internalized hate...
A former sister of mine, Melissa*, shared her own story about our chapter:
"Pam*, was recruiting a PNM (Potential New Member) during a "party" (an allotted amount of time split between different sororities where these PNMs come and meet the sisters of each house) and they were hitting it off—that is, until the PNM took notice of a girl, Josie*, sitting in the corner of the room, playing music for the party. Josie* was working what we call the 'backroom,' aka she runs the ins and outs of recruitment: music, lighting, etc. The PNM–clearly unaware of the roles sisters play during recruitment–asked Pam* if Josie* was also a sister. Pam* took one look over at Josie*, who was overweight and rocking a t-shirt, (which already separated her from the flock of black and gold dresses everyone else was wearing for the party) and responded with, 'No. We just hired her for recruitment.'"
Young women are paying thousands of dollars to enter into this social elitism only to be ridiculed—all in the name of "sisterhood."
Kristina*, a sister of Alpha Xi Delta, had her own story to share:
“I’ve been told that I’m supposed to play a big part in recruitment come fall semester because I’m one of the ‘prettier’ girls. And we have this anonymous jar in our house that we’re supposed to put “snaps” in [praises, compliments, strictly positive things], which get read aloud during Chapter [a weekly meeting for sisters] in front of everyone, and I had multiple “snaps” put in saying that I am not one of the prettier girls, and if anything, I was going to scare PNMs because I’m Hispanic.”
Sororities have become a breeding ground for insecurity and, as seen by Kristina's* case (as well as a plethora of others), even racism.
It is imperative that we change and we need to eliminate this girl-on-girl hate—inside and outside of the Greek system. Here are some ways we can get over girl hate:
– Stop with the generalized statements. Build other women up instead of tearing them down.
"Women are fake. Women are dramatic. Women are superficial."
Using blanket statements is detrimental because in doing so we are placing women on this otherworldly pedestal where we are divided into categories of pure/virtuous OR lewd/indecent beings. People can be fake. People can be dramatic. People can be superficial. By adding to these kinds of conversations, we are adding to the ever so present misogynistic culture of our society and pitting ourselves against one another as opposed to growing alongside each other. Instead, we should find a truly inclusive sisterhood in our shared struggles. Hasn't society already knocked us down enough? Why should we contribute to the already apparent misogyny of today?
– Respect other women's decisions and respect your own by changing your inner monologue.
There's no single "formula" for being a woman. Some of us are cisgender and some of us become women. Some of us embrace our body hair, some of us shave. Some of us have a little extra meat on our bones, some of us are thin. Some of us become mothers, some of us don't. If we stop focusing on the what other women are doing, we can subdue our urges to judge them.
How we judge others is ultimately how we judge ourselves. In order to stop judging other people, we need to stop judging ourselves. By changing our inner monologue, i.e. how we feel about ourselves, we can change the way we feel about other women, too.
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Chapters listed are from various institutions—not just the University of Central Florida. These chapter names have not been included to protect the privacy of individuals.