Monday, February 28, 2005

Beer-soaked Pearls of Wisdom

I usually like the columns of Daily Dartmouth writer Dan Knecht '05. His op-ed earlier this month, "The Monolith on the Hill", about the overpowering nature of liberal thought at Dartmouth was one of the most widely-read and well-received columns in recent memory, and I agreed with a lot of what he said. So it is disappointing to see Knecht follow up that very intellectual piece with "Cleaning Up Our Act," an article about the disgusting nature of the average frat basement. While I agree with his overall thesis, that fraternity members should do a better job of keeping their social spaces clean, the way in which he made this point stepped over the bounds of sarcasm and into the murky area of over-reliance on stereotypes. One section in particular stands out:

"Most females actually dress up! Freshman girls are notorious for this asinine behavior. They cake on make-up, coif their hair, break out the Louis Vutton and shine their shoes.

A few weeks ago, one eager freshman girl strutted up to me in a frat basement and boasted to me about her authentic Tahitian pearl necklace that she currently was wearing. Having barely completed her sentence, some intoxicated brute bumped into the freshman, causing her to dump the remains of her beverage onto her Lacoste shirt, dousing the necklace. A distraught look appeared on her face, though it immediately vanished. She instinctively recalled, "Frat dudes don't dig glum chicks." And surely she consoled herself by the thought that daddy would obviously buy her a shinier pearl necklace for having braved such emotional trauma. This scene is not uncommon in the frats. Well-groomed girls enter fraternities as if entering a Milan fashion show. Hours later, they exit reeking of beer and smoke, stained with mud and muck. This sort of activity must be a boon for the dry-cleaning business at Dartmouth."

Now I'd never imagine myself defending a freshman, since as a "seasoned" upperclassman I view '08s with the same disdain that I'm sure the 06's felt towards me last year. Still, while I do occasionally fall back upon the stereotype of the over-dressed, over-eager freshman who has not yet learned that it is necessary to have designated frat attire, Knecht's ability to roll this many stereotypes into one paragraph is astonishing. Materialistic? Check. Overly-made up? Check. Label-conscious? Check. Daddy's girl? Check. Spoiled? Check. Willing to mold herself to their expectations to snag a frat boy? Check.

When members of fraternities see nothing wrong with openly relying on these stereotypes, it's no wonder that the Dartmouth social scene is so unfriendly to women. Maybe in addition to cleaning up their basements, fraternities should clean up their attitudes too.


Anonymous ABK said...

But he's not a brother in a fraternity, he's a member of Sig Ep.

5:13 PM  
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11:13 AM  

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