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It’s safe to say that fraternities haven’t been getting the best rap as of late. Over the past several months, the backlash has been primarily focused on serious hazing cases, the most recent being FSU’s decision to completely suspend Greek life following the death of a pledge. But late last week, the anti-fraternity swell took a different form as “rape” and “rapists” were spray painted on several buildings at William and Mary’s campus, including the Beta Theta Pi and Pi Kappa Alpha houses as well as the Fraternity-Sorority Community Building.
Despite the lack of any evidence specifically implicating members of the fraternities targeted by the vandalism, or any of the fraternities on campus for that matter, that didn’t stop a one Aditya Mohan from calling for the vandalism of frat houses in a column for Flat Hat, W&M’s official student newspaper. Prepare to get all sorts of pissed off at this doozy.
From Flat Hat News:
The spray painting of “rapist” and “rape” on the fraternity houses was a much-needed action against terrible and powerful institutions. There are legitimate concerns both about erasing the vandalism and letting it stay: Erasing it would constitute censorship and possibly the silencing of survivors, while leaving the text may make the already traumatizing environment of fraternity row worse for survivors.
I intend to focus on why actions that directly combat fraternities are preferable to actions that try to initiate discussion with them or appeal to the administration.
Within universities, fraternities are a microcosm of the patriarchal, classist and white supremacist structures that exist in society. It is important to recognize that instances of sexual violence are never isolated.
Crazy, right? And that’s not even the worst part. He continues with the claim that fraternities “are constitutionally institutionalized structures that perpetuate an imbalance of power and allow a certain section of society to believe they can control the bodies of another. This is why labeling all members of fraternities as rapists is justified.” Wut.
Mohan goes on to say that the only purpose of a fraternity is to serve as an “exclusive, protected environment for rich, white, cis men to network” and clarifies his all-fraternity-guys-are-rapists comment by saying that they are “complicit in a structure that deprives women and victimized people of power and, by extension, the ability to fully consent.”
Obviously, Mohan’s claim that frats are just a straight, white, rich boys clubs is a ridiculously lazy stereotype. He probably knows someone who knows someone who has a cousin who saw 20 minutes of Animal House 10 years ago, which he assumes now makes him an expert on fraternity life.
Now, him saying that all fraternity members (or, by his logic, just the straight, white, rich ones) are rapists is a much more dangerous and outrageous claim to make. I get that the heinous Harvey Weinstein allegations have created a systemic shitstorm, and in some cases, rightfully so. But to just recklessly fire off accusatory claims like a Wild West cowboy on crystal meth without any sort of hardboiled facts or even any outstanding allegations gets all sorts of people needlessly caught in the crossfire. At the very least, this wild rhetoric certainly isn’t contributing to any sort of larger conversation.
To be fair, Mohan himself admits that his intention here isn’t to initiate conversation, but to basically go all vigilante. Less dialogue, more fiery call-to-action. But even anti-fraternity vigilantes issuing fiery calls-to-action to vandalize and deface probably shouldn’t do a disservice to their own side by misrepresenting basically every single facet of the issue at large. It’s almost impressive how much damage he does in such a few amount of words. It makes Lena Dunham seem levelheaded and rational.
Speaking of damage, though, if you happen to be an administrator at a college affected by anti-fraternity graffiti, be sure to send the bill to Aditya Mohan. I’m sure he’d be happy to pay it..
[via Flat Hat News]
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