When I came home from my first semester of college and told my friends and family I had joined a sorority, the overall response was the same: open mouths, blank stares, and a resounding "You, a sorority girl?" It surprised most people to learn that an outspoken, liberal feminist would join an organization that, according to popular belief, promotes sexism, perpetuates misogyny, and sets the cause back decades. While I won't claim sororities are perfect — in fact, they are still plagued with issues of inclusion, racism, body shaming, and more — I will say this: being in a sorority is feminist. At least, it was for me.
Pearls, polos, and all, I found my sorority to be a great place to discover, encourage, and embrace my feminist self. While there are plenty of problems with the Greek collegiate system (as we've seen with the outrage around Alpha Phi's recruitment video), it doesn't mean sororities can't be places where feminism thrives. In Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay writes “When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.” The same thing can be said about sororities: there are groups and individuals that choose to act a certain way, but instead of condemning them, we condemn sororities as a whole. The truth is sororities — most sororities — have so much to offer even the staunchest feminist (like me).
First and foremost, sororities are women's organizations. They're for women, by women, organized and governed by women. In my experience, they are a place where women from different backgrounds come together to support each other, challenge each other, and teach each other. They encourage individuality, independence, and equality among sisters. They are a safe haven for women looking for the company of other strong women.
Still not convinced? Here are six ways being in a sorority is totally feminist.
1. Sororities are about women supporting other women.
You've heard the stories and you've seen the videos, so you know that hazing exists — in some cases. But instead of buying into the stereotypes that exist about the Greek system, take it from a former sorority girl: sisterhood is about support, not cattiness. Being in a sorority not only gives you a group of amazing women who have your back, but holds you to the same standard. Whether you are close with a sister or not, you will always be there for her, and we all know that when women lift other women up, incredible things happen.
2. Being in a sorority allows you to explore your femininity without asking you to give up your feminism — because the two are not mutually exclusive.
A huge misconception about feminism is that to be a feminist you cannot be feminine, because the two are opposites, but it's about time we let that myth die. Sororities can be very feminine. From the pearls to the formal dresses, if you're in a sorority, you'll definitely explore your feminine side — but that doesn't make you less of a feminist. The truth is, being in a sorority allows you to explore many sides of yourself, no matter how "girly" you are.
3. Sororities promote education.
To be in a sorority, you have to be enrolled in college. Once you are in, you're held to high standards of academics. Sure, everyone thinks that sororities are all about partying, but in order to be in good standing with your chapter, you have to maintain a good GPA. This system promotes women's education, and what could be more feminist than that?
4. Sororities help you find careers.
There has been a long-standing idea that sororities groom women for a domestic lifestyle as a wife and mother, but modern sororities have a different goal: independence. Between networking, career workshops, resume workshops, and so much more, sororities provide women with the tools they need to find a job after college, not a husband.
5. Sororities empower women to take control, and be in charge.
Sororities are organizations that are made up of women, and are run by women — and by design, they empower women to take leadership roles. Whether you volunteer to organize your sorority's sisterhood event, or are elected to the house's executive board, there are plenty of opportunities to take charge. Sororities make leaders out of women, and feminism could always use more strong women to lead the movement.
6. Sororities encourage sisterhood.
If there is anything that sororities and feminism have in common, it's the idea of sisterhood. It sounds cheesy, but it's true — sororities are, at their core, all about sisterhood. A sisterhood is a group of women you can count on, girls who will have your back when you're faced with conflicts, when you need help on a paper, or when you need guidance finding a job. Sisterhood is for life, and long after you've graduated from college, that sisterhood is something you can count on.