Opinion Writer Slams Sorority Recruitment Video and Calls for Messages of Female Empowerment
Hollywood tends to portray sororities and fraternities with a crazy-wild-party lifestyle. Frat parties, hazing, keg stands, and more—typically a “white America” fantasy college world. The stereotypical jerk frat boy, the bimbo blonde (though we can thank Elle Woods for somewhat breaking through that stereotype).
But that’s just Hollywood, right? One would hope that actual sororities and fraternities would try to stray away from this lone image. Instead, one would hope that they would rather highlight their philanthropic work, or values they represent. Values and work that created the strong foundation of Greek life. And hey, throw in an implication of those occasional mixers. We all know Greek life likes to balance fun and hard work.
Unfortunately, University of Alabama’s Alpha Phi sorority chapter did not do a balancing act when releasing their Alpha Phi 2015 Recruitment Video. Instead, Alpha Phi seemed to play right into the Hollywood stereotype. And opinion writer A.L. Bailey was not having it.
The author states: “It’s a parade of white girls and blonde hair dye, coordinated clothing, bikinis and daisy dukes, glitter and kisses, bouncing bodies, euphoric hand-holding and hugging, gratuitous booty shots, and matching aviator sunglasses. It’s all so racially and aesthetically homogeneous and forced, so hyper-feminine, so reductive and objectifying, so Stepford Wives: College Edition. It’s all so … unempowering.”
Before the Alpha Phi chapter removed the video—as well as it’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts—I managed to watch the recruitment video. Indeed, the short segment seemed to primarily have blonde white girls with the occasional brunette thrown into the mix. There were close-up shots, at different angles, of their bodies as they danced and laughed over one another. And that went on for the entire video. Nothing else, no mention of their work, values, or diversity were shown. They were simply dancing, young blonde women who continuously smiled at the camera and one another.
And while I do understand the opinion of some who have defended the sorority, such as this article on Total Sorority Move, saying they are allowed to have fun…I can’t help but cringe. Bailey’s words are ones I cannot ignore. Is this how Alpha Phi truly wants to be seen? Yes, they should be able to have fun—but why can’t a recruitment video, one that has the potential to go viral, as this did, also show brains, diversity, and the strength of women? And to those who are stating that many other sorority recruitment videos are similar, I ask them the same question.
Bailey also noted that we still have presidential candidates calling women “bimbos,” and that even though it’s 2015, there is still a struggle for women to maintain equal pay and respect nationally. He states that videos like this give misogynistic views reinforcement. “It lacks substance but boasts bodies,” Bailey says.
Again, Bailey’s words seem to ring true. Where is their message? Why are they objectifying their own bodies when the media and men do so and have done so for years? Don’t we want to break away from the California Elle Woods and merge her with Law School Elle? Or an Elle Woods of other races, not just white women? Why would we feed into the negative portrayal they already attempt to box us in?
“That’s 72 women who could be a united front for empowerment, not poster children for detrimental stereotypes and clichés…[And] Most importantly, did they realize they are a group of young women blessed with potential who are selling themselves, and each other, short?”
As stated previously, some people did not understand Bailey’s outburst. One sorority sister tweeted, “As a former Texas Tech Alpha Phi I see nothing wrong with the…recruitment video. This is crazy!!”
Another user, according to Buzzfeed, stated, “Maybe college is about having fun, football, and education. Not just solely education? It’s about growing up and being on your own.”
Regardless of the support of some people on Twitter, the backlash of Bailey’s article, as well as his supporters, forced the University and Alpha Phi to remove the video. While others have posted it since then, many of the YouTube videos now state “content unavailable.” They have effectively wiped the Internet clean of the recruitment video.
University of Alabama’s assistant vice president released a statement in response to the backlash, stating: “This video is not reflective of UA’s expectations for student organizations to be responsible digital citizens. It is important for student organizations to remember what is posted on social media makes a difference, today and tomorrow, on how they are viewed and perceived.”
Read A.L. Bailey’s full article here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AMY VAUGHN
As a Montclair State University graduate with a BA in English, my first love is writing, specifically nonfiction and short stories. International human rights and women’s rights are also strong passions of mine. I hope to someday be able to call myself Chief Editor, human rights advocate, and jewelry designer. I can’t live without Mad Men (er, Netflix), soy chai lattes, or my adorable Wheaten terrier, Pippin.