I feel it’s necessary to preface this article by sharing some personal perspective. Contrary to what many might assume about me, because of the website I represent and my inherent affiliation to all things Greek life, this topic is so far off my radar that I feel silly even commenting on it. I’m older now. I’ve been out of the game for far too long to be concerned about this stuff. Frankly, even when I was in the game, I cared very little about Greek mistreatment. Just not my thing. I never found it to be important enough to spend time thinking about.
I’m inclined to speak up on behalf of the University of Alabama’s Alpha Phi sorority, however (and not just because they hollered at me on Twitter about the video – hey ladies), and those alike who have faced community or even national backlash for similar reasons. That’s how mind-blowingly ridiculous this story is.
Bama’s Alpha Phi recently released their annual recruitment video. It features exactly what you’d expect it to feature: attractive, white, mostly blonde, young women prancing around in slow motion to cheesy music. Probably a lot of glitter, too.
Some people found something to be offended by in the video, because America loves to be offended in 2015, even by something as trivial and innocent as a sorority recruitment video orchestrated by 19 to 22-year-old college students. Did it feature excessive binge-drinking, drug use, thong-laden twerk competitions, or references to sexual misconduct? No, it didn’t. It literally showed members of the sorority prancing around in slow motion to cheesy music. Not much else. And, yeah, there was some glitter.
There were two pretty significant issues with the video, though, depending on which end of the “easily offended” spectrum you fall — 1) The sorority looks to be 100% white, and 2) They also look to be 100% attractive. Simply inexcusable.
After these heinous issues were brought to light in a scathing opinion piece on AL.com, the sorority removed the video, shut down their Twitter account, and made their Instagram and Facebook pages private. The video was later uploaded by a third party and can be seen below.
Cute, huh? Innocent, right?
A.L. Bailey, the AL.com guest columnist who wrote the piece, titled, “‘Bama sorority video worse for women than Donald Trump” (really, that’s the title) shares her thoughts on the absurdity that is the video. The below paragraph best captures the centric theme of the piece.
No, it’s not a slick Playboy Playmate or Girls Gone Wild video. It’s a sorority recruiting tool gaining on 500,000 views in its first week on YouTube. 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.
The article could be summed up in one sentence: This sorority is too white, too attractive, and I don’t really know why that’s wrong but I don’t feel good about it, so it is.
To watch that video in its entirety and come away with a reaction other than “look at these cute college girls having fun while making a silly video to attract new members” is beyond my comprehension. These videos are plentiful on the internet, and they’re all the same. Parodies with thousands of views exist that mock their redundancy and unoriginality. They’re not created to empower women. They’re not created to make political statements. They’re not created to advance women in the fight against misogyny. Their sole purpose, and this is important to keep in mind, is to attract new members — members who are impressionable, eyes-wide-open 18-year-old girls who are aimlessly looking for a home in this big new world called college.
That brings up the question of why this columnist is targeting this video, why this sorority. Has the level of hotness and whiteness just become too plentiful and overbearing?
I’m not very familiar with the Alabama Greek hierarchy, but I’d venture to guess that Alpha Phi is among the “top tier” of sororities on campus. Maybe even widely regarded as number one. And that, of course, means they are one of the most attractive there. Am I right? I am, of course. It’s no coincidence that Alpha Phi at UA, one of the best and hottest sororities at one of the most predominant universities for Greeks in the country, is being targeted, and not XYZ at Ugly U.
But what exactly are they guilty of?
American sororities are private organizations, meaning they can admit anyone they see fit, and exclude anyone they deem unfit. There is no evidence beyond “look how white and pretty they are” in this video that suggests they only target pretty white girls. Yes, I’m aware of Bama’s less-than-flawless résumé of racial exclusion in Greek life, but the “innocent until proven guilty” mantra should prevail, even at Bama. And Alpha Phi’s name hasn’t previously been mentioned as possibly racially exclusionary. Is it conceivable that this group of girls simply found each other, enjoyed each other’s company, shared common interests, and chose to spend their college years together?
Sororities aim to recruit and initiate like-minded young women. This video looks like a bunch of like-minded girls to my eyes.
If the university’s chess club put together a recruitment video featuring every member of their club, would you be up-in-arms if it showed nothing but nerdy white kids?
If the university’s hip-hop club put together a recruitment video featuring every member of their club, would you be up-in-arms if it showed nothing but young black people?
Like-minded students who relate to one another — it doesn’t make them exclusionary. It means they want to hang out together, and that’s not cause for a public shaming.
Ooooh, or how about this? If a bottom-tier sorority put together a recruitment video featuring every member of their sorority, except theirs was full of young, white, hideous misfits and overweight slobs prancing around in slow motion to cheesy music and rubbing glitter all over their pasty bodies, would you be up-in-arms about it? Because those videos do exist (we’re tipped off to them all the time), yet I see no one lambasting them for being too “racially and aesthetically homogeneous.”
Something else to remember: THIS VIDEO ISN’T FOR YOU. Emboldened, yet politically sensitive, adults are not the target demographic here. This video is aimed at incoming freshmen girls at the University of Alabama, and their purpose is to recruit a bomb ass pledge class, something they appear to be very successful in doing..
Image via YouTube