The Sorority Stereotype And Why It Needs To End

sorority.stereotypes.2We’ve been labeled pretty much everything under the sun based on the fun fact that we were in a sorority in university.

The labels existed back then, and have persisted since, with the very mention that we were proud members of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority in university met with eye rolls and comments like, “obviously you were,” or “how shocking.”

Rude, right?

The thing is, joining a sorority is one of the best decisions I could have possibly made in my life. It resulted in my first taste of philanthropy, an infectious sense of confidence thanks to my driven sisters, unmatched teambuilding experiences, and a large network of supportive girlfriends who I have had since and probably will for life.

In fact, the very premise of Alpha Beta Pie as a network or support system of strong, intelligent, and driven women was inspired by our experience in a sorority. There is something very powerful about the coming together of a group of strong women, and we wanted to continue this idea into adulthood.

So we did.

We’re firm believers of supporting and promoting other females – not knocking them down. My sorority sisters have gone on to become everything from doctors to finance executives, and are celebrated entrepreneurs, strong businesswomen, and amazing mothers. They’re deep, thoughtful, and driven.

Collectively, we’re a pretty powerful force (if I do say so myself) – and a far cry from the stereotypical sorority girl who finds a rich husband before 25, then spends her days poolside with a latte or glass of champagne in hand and can barely spell her name.

Yet, the sorority stereotype exists.

That’s why we’re so proud of our sisters at the Delta Omega chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi.  With a mission to dispel the stereotypes associated with sorority girls, they created a photo-filled social media campaign to let everyone know who they really are. And who they really are, are real, hardworking people, some of whom have faced everything from anxiety to parental drug abuse.

The campaign begins with a definition to clear the air:

ster·e·o·type- noun: a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. There are so many stereotypes that people are given every single day. We are strong, hard working, and proud sorority women. We are the Delta Omega chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi.

It then features members of AOII, with their hands covering their faces. On the palm of their right hand is a stereotype written in black marker; on their left, is the reality.

It’s pretty powerful stuff:

“Sorority girls are dumb,” reads the text on one member’s right hand. “I worked my butt off for my 4.0,” reads her left. 

“You have to be rich to be Greek,” another member writes, “But I’ve worked two jobs since I was 16.”

“Sorority girls are judgmental,” writes another. “But AOII accepted me & I have CP.”

“They say anxiety makes you weak,” writes another member. “But my sisters make me strong.

Other stereotypes to arise in the photo series include the notion that all sorority girls are dumb, rich, slutty, and overly confident. They’re accompanied by realities of self-esteem issues, being overworked, being in long-term relationships, and serving the community.

The stereotypes we project onto females because of the fact that she’s in a sorority, blonde, stylish, or good looking (just to name a few examples) are just as potentially damaging as the ones associated with any oppressed group in society, in my opinion.

The fact that the degree of seriousness to which I’m taken has always been lower than average before I even open my mouth based on the fact that I’m an attractive, blonde, and social female hasn’t exactly felt amazing.

Nor does the surprise in the eyes of some when they read some of my work. Or the first date comments of, “wow, you’re actually smart as well.”

The fact that people still can’t get over the idea that one of my sisters can be gorgeous yet an accomplished lawyer; or that I don’t have it as easy as one would assume, based on outside appearances; or that my sorority friends are actually cultured and able to maintain a meaningful conversation with a stranger, continues to madden me.

How is the next generation of females supposed to be as confident and powerful as the world needs them to be moving forward if they’re faced with a perpetual, inevitable pre-judgement that they’re stupid or shallow?  That stereotype and subsequent label is what can diminish self-esteem of young women.  Being in a sorority, on the other hand, empowers them.

Let’s hope it ends soon – because none of us are going anywhere.

Erin

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