It was years ago.
The basement was dark, the music loud. I’d been led there, blindfolded, by an active member and told to wait. I stood there, sensing other voices in the distance. He told me, “Hold your arms straight out in front of you.” I did.
They became weighted with what could only be a tire. “Don’t let it fall,” he said. I didn’t.
“Now, recite the Creed,” he demanded. And so, from pure memorization, I did so. The words meant nothing. They were rushed, interrupted by yells from the background and the increasingly deafening music. “Not good enough. Start over,” I was told. I did.
When finally allowed to lower the tire, the music
ceased. “Congratulations,” he said. “Just one more thing.” He placed a condom in my hand. I didn't want to know what came next. I didn't.
I waited. I waited. Then, they tore off the blindfold and laughed. I laughed along. I did.
It was years ago.
It was hazing.
I could have walked out. I could have told them it was moronic and homoerotic. I could have told them, “I quit.” I didn’t.
Years later, I now serve on the National Board of Directors for my fraternity, so this obviously does not encapsulate my fraternal experience. And, certainly, I’m thankful now I decided to remain. I don’t harbor ill will for who led me down the stairs or the others in the background. But I’m not thankful for that memory.
What this experience highlights is the Culture of Silence Michael Kimmel discusses in his book Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. This silence permeates male culture in K-12 and college campuses alike.
I didn’t speak up then because I feared repercussion, humiliation, ostracism. I knew what was happening was wrong, but I allowed it. I let it happen to my fellow pledge brothers who descended those same stairs before and after. I did, because I didn’t.
The Greek system has so much to offer society, but if society is going to hear it, men can remain silent no more. Let’s talk openly and honestly about how it’s not a tire on the arms that makes a man. It’s living the words in the Creed he recites.
In : Hazing
Tags: "culture of silence" "michael kimmel" hazing greeks fraternity creed