I'm writing about this because Frezza is "president of the alumni house corporation of [his] MIT fraternity" and since I went to MIT and was in a fraternity (the coolest one ever, of course!), the topic is somewhat near and dear to my heart.
Frezza's title is clearly not the most politically correct thing ever written. It's also not quite accurate. The gravest threat to fraternities is the problem that they are comprised of young, adult(ish) males who, more than occasionally, do really, really stupid things, as they have since the emergence of our species (and probably long before). However, that problem can only be fixed by either eliminating fraternities, which would just mean the young males would just go elsewhere to be stupid, or eliminating males entirely, which might be bad for the species.
Frezza may, however, have correctly identified drunken females as a threat to fraternities, even if not the primary threat. For example,
A recent incident at MIT’s Lambda Chi Alpha chapter in which a drunk female student apparently danced her way out of a window has, once again, resulted in a clamp-down on all fraternity parties.Frezza's advice is, unsurprisingly, very, very fraternity-centric. After all, that's his job. His advice includes things like:
- Don't let male or female drunks into a party.
- If someone at a party seems drunk and out-of-control, ask them to leave, pay for a cab to take them home, and if they refuse to leave, call the campus police to escort them away.
- "Never, ever take a drunk female guest to your bedroom."
- "Do not let a drunk brother take a drunk female to his bedroom."
However, it didn't sound like sound advice to the folks who complained to Forbes and caused Frezza to be fired. For example, Austin Hess, the editor of MIT's student newspaper, The Tech, minced no words in responding:
Frezza’s sentiments are certainly not original — thinly veiled victim blaming is pervasive from students to politicians and sadly common among both men and women. What is far more troubling, however, is that he presents almost without pretense the fact that he cares far more about preventing the dissolution of his fraternity than preventing whatever sort of accident or incident that would cause such an outcome. [...]
An actual line: “Although we were once reprimanded for turning away a drunk female student who ultimately required an ambulance when she passed out on our sidewalk, it would have gone a lot worse for us had she collapsed inside.”Portraying it this way, it seems that Austin also doesn't much care about "preventing whatever sort of accident or incident that would cause such an outcome." Clearly he should be calling for changing the rules to NOT screw the fraternity if a drunken woman passes out on the premises since that would likely be better than her passing out on the street. Then she wouldn't have been turned away.
I am somewhat glad the piece was published, after all, because it provides a grotesque caricature of the entrenched proponents of sexism more poignantly than any Onion article.To me, the sentence above provides a grotesque caricature of "right thinking" and therefore, non-thinking, people.
But the fact that Frezza ever became the alumni president of Chi Phi begs troubling questions.
Is Frezza’s concern for preventing suspension over preventing rape or fatal accidents shared by others in the MIT fraternity system?Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. To me, Frezza's advice is very, very focused on preventing rape, sexual assault, unwanted advances, regret the morning after, and so forth. Let me repeat his advice: don't let drunks in, kick out-of-control drunk people out, don't take drunk girls to your room, don't let drunk brothers take girls to their rooms. Prevent rape, prevent suspension. Pretty straightforward.
Now let's backtrack and consider the title of The Tech article: "Can fraternities be feminist?"
Is it unreasonable to hope that fraternities adopt a strong stance — internally and externally — in favor of feminism? Not merely in platitudes and public statements, but in real, measurable actions?Yes, it's very unreasonable, in my opinion. Organizations have primary missions and need to focus on those and leave other missions to their individual members and other organizations. For example, the NRA doesn't take in homeless cats, the Bonsai Club doesn't host race car rallies, the Harry Potter Club doesn't maintain a fleet of yachts, etc. And none of those organizations are feminist either, though many of their individual members probably are. It is unreasonable for one of a fraternity's primary missions to be a feminist organization. Just keeping their members safe, doing well in school, and out of trouble is more than a sufficiently large agenda for fraternities.
I'm also lost as to which parts of Frezza's advice are sexist anyway? Why is worrying about possible events that may well cause suspension and dissolution of a fraternity sexist? Why is it bad or sexist to not take drunk girls to your room? Why is it bad or sexist to not let drunks in the door (the message seems clear to me - you want to come to our party? Then don't come drunk - and that's a very positive message)? Why is it bad or sexist for an organization to make survival a top priority. Why is it the job of a fraternity to ensure that other people don't get drunk when not on its premises? Why is it the job of a fraternity to take care of people who got drunk illegally not on its premises? Why doesn't the author of The Tech article drive around in his car on weekend nights looking for drunken students in order to rescue them? Why isn't it his job?
I have so many questions that my head is spinning (and no, I'm not drunk). I've never been so confused as I am by the reactions to Frezza and his article.