Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Open Letter to a Frat Brother on the view of masculinity

(No folks this is not an official return. I wrote this post today and while I'm waiting on a response on having it published at Good Men Project I decided to run it here. Enjoy.)

Dear Frat Brother,

By now I'm sure that you have noticed that the email you recently sent out about “Luring your Rapebait” has gained quite a bit of attention and quite a few responses.

As others have said there is a lot going on that's unhealthy when it comes to dating and having sex with women. And while that's true I noticed something in the very first paragraph before you even get into conduct with women at the party.

I'm talking about what you said here:
“Alright chods, some of you could use some help on how to mack and succeed at parties. Mostly pledges do, but some bros could use a review. For anytime throughout the party… If you are standing by yourself at any point, YOU ARE OUTTA HERE!!! If you are talking to a brother of your pledge brothers when there are girls just standing around, YOU ARE OUTTA HERE!!!"
What I see here is something that has been treated like a part defining pillar of masculinity for a very long time and (I think) serves as a basis for the things that follow in the rest of your email.

You're holding your pledges and brothers to a condition that they must be there with the express purpose of finding a sex partner. You even threaten to kick out guys that do so much as stand alone while women are around or talk to a pledge/brother while there are women around.

Why do you feel the need to hold them to that condition?

Why must they be on the constant search for a woman to get together with in order to justify their presence at the party?

I can understand that sex is a desirable thing but I worry that you, just like many others, place too much priority on having sex with women as being a necessary part of masculinity.

Have you considered what affects this pressure can have on guys, namely guys who are in a position where they need to gain the approval of others? Don't you think that pressure can lead to them doing things that range from immoral to illegal in order to gain favor and approval?

Yes, you can say that "They choose to do that stuff." That would be true. But why do you exert such pressure in the first place? Why expect those pledges to be on such a vigilant lookout for sex partners? Why not just let nature take care itself and just throw a party and if people want to get together they get together on their own rather because they might get tossed out of the party and shamed for not looking for women?

The thing is the view on masculinity is quite chaotic these days and things like what's in your letter are contributing to the chaos. And it also doesn't help a lot of the discourse on addressing it is centered around women. While that's important I think it has to start with us, with men. With that in mind I have to say that one of the biggest things to get clear is that how sexually a man is with women shouldn't be used as an indication of how much of a man he is. Let the pledges be when it comes with their sexuality, because when you get down to it---exactly how does their sexuality factor into the roles and responsibilities they are taking on as members of the fraternity?