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  • Inside Greek U.: Fraternities, Sororities, and the Pursuit of Pleasure, Power, and Prestige
  • David S. Williams II
Inside Greek U.: Fraternities, Sororities, and the Pursuit of Pleasure, Power, and Prestige Alan D. DeSantis University Press of Kentucky, 2007, 234 pages, $40.00 (hardcover)

The Greek system at many colleges and universities often is regarded as taboo to some administrators. Although the Greek population of students may be a minority numerically, it is arguable to say that on different campuses while the Greeks may be low in numbers they are highly visible in student organizations and leadership positions. Due to the impact that fraternities and sororities can have on individuals, campuses, and society, the author of this text examines ways in which Greek life may challenge or reinforce traditional conceptions of gender. Over the course of seven chapters the author gives a brief introduction to the understanding of gender, examines five aspects of life in which traditional gender roles are reinforced through the Greek system, and concludes with practical implications of how various stakeholders can help fraternities and sororities challenge gender roles thus moving them in a more developmental manner towards the goals of higher education.

The introduction of the book informs the reader as to why the author chose to study fraternities and sororities and their impact on gender roles. Furthermore, the introduction gives further insight as to the methodology of the author's study. The data used for the book [End Page 637] were retrieved from three separate but interdependent models. These methods include statistical data from academic, governmental, and institutional research on the "demographic figures on membership, pledging, GPAs, alcohol consumption, hazing fatalities, and postgraduate occupations and salaries nationwide" (p. 9). Another method includes the personal experience the author had with Greek life including but not limited to as an undergraduate member, alumni chapter director, and faculty advisor. As the author began collecting data, conversations and interactions were noted on the spot or recorded into a digital recorder. Lastly, data were collected through focus group and individual interviews at one large, public university in America, the author calls Greek U or GU, with 217 fraternity and sorority members.

The first chapter of the book provides an understanding of gender as an aspect of one's identity. In this chapter the author describes several conclusions about gender that set the foundation for the book. One finding is the masculine/feminine dichotomy in which each category consist of certain characteristics. Each category's characteristic is symmetrically paired with the other's. Therefore, one cannot explain the characteristics of a one category without defining it as the opposite of the other's. For example, men in the study explain what it means to be tough and assertive by defining it as not being nurturing and caring, traits socially prescribed to women.

Chapter 2 describes the way the students conceived of sexuality. As we find in society men are often celebrated for sexual prowess and experience, while women are celebrated for chastity and absence of sexual behavior. The study of GU revealed nothing different than what society maintains for men and women. The men in the study maintain that they often see women as conquests and within their chapter other brothers look up to those men that can sleep with as many women as possible. The women in the study disclose how reputation is extremely important. A woman with a questionable reputation is often an outcast within her organization if she makes it that far; aspirants with questionable reputations often get overlooked and don't receive bids. Sorority women also describe the different activities that they will do to perform for men including provocative dances, wearing suggestive clothing, or kissing other women. Sex for some sorority women is also redefined in that nonvaginal sex is acceptable.

In chapter 3 the author describes the competitive and aggressive nature of Greek men and women. For fraternities and sororities the most intense competition is the rush period. It is during this time that groups fight for the best pledges and showcase their organization as the one to join. Rush events often pit organizations against each other as each wants to be number one...


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pp. 637-639
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