And yet: I don’t really regret it. I enjoyed aspects of sorority life, and genuinely liked the majority of the girls. I very willingly dressed up as all manner of ho for themed mixers -- CEOs & Office Hos, Golf Pros & Tennis Hos, GI Joes & Army Hos. People knock the phrase “everyone else was doing it” as a critique against individualism and that’s true, but when it isn’t going over the edge and everyone is having fun, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. And when you’re young and suddenly aware that figuring out who you are is on your to-do list for basically the rest of your life, the best way to give yourself an identity is to align it with others’. It’s how we feel less lost... particularly at giant Midwestern state schools. It just happened that the culture I joined to make me feel less alone also set me, and all the young women around me, up to crave validation from the wrong places and encouraged young dudes to think that’s how it works. The fun-to-demeaning ratio just ended up tipping a little too far in favor of the latter, and I wanted out.
A few years after I transferred, I dated a boy who was in the art school at the same time I was, but we never knew each other. Turns out he had rushed a frat for a project called “The Stranger,” as part of a conceptual thinking class. The goal was for him to integrate into a community that he was not a part of, and create an art piece based on that experience. We tracked the dates and realized that the year Matt rushed was the same year my sorority had made it to the finals of the annual mud football fundraiser hosted by one of the top-tier frats. Greek life spent weeks gearing up for the event; practicing and competing in a bracket to determine who would end up sparring in the giant mud pit that was made with hose water in this frat’s front yard. The main event was, of course, frat versus frat, but the halftime show was a ladies game. The girls, my "sisters," had practiced for weeks with their assigned fratboy “coach” and they took the game seriously -- they were athletes and excited that they’d made the playoffs.
As Matt watched from the sidelines, one of the brothers turned to him and motioned towards the women, "It's better than porn isn't it? If we can get them to play football, we can get them to do anything. You can have anyone you want.”
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Carrie Dennis is the national editor at Thrillist and doesn’t really have any solutions here. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrrieDennnis.