Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Pledging is a strange time. The idea behind it is to create bonds within the pledge class and fraternity by having them endure shared hardships. However, I believe that some people really enjoy the sadism that can be involved. Of course, part of this was to show that one could "take it like a man."
In my undergrad years, it seemed that each class had to endure just a little worse treatment. Brothers would say "well, I had to take it, so..." then add their own brand to whatever stunt was happening.
That said, sometimes the idea is a shared fun experience. If kept under control, this can be a good thing. We had "games" at Skull. Of them all, this was the goofiest and arguably the most fun. I say this having never been on the losing side of it.
Chapter 63: BSB
Saturday, April 11, 1987
“You maggots fucking suck!” Ernie shouted down from his perch on the landing. The pledges were bunched up beneath him. “We’ve never had such shitty pledges! Something needs to be done!”
“Games!” “Games!” The shouts rose from the brothers on the carpet behind the pledges.
Then, the inevitable suggestions from the Hood:
It gained a rhythm as the hood chanted. “B-S-B!” “B-S-B!” “B-S-B!”
“B-S-B! HEY! B-S-B! HEY! B-S-B!”
Ernie held up his hands to stop the shouting.
“B-S-B!” he shouted. “And like all games at Skull House, there are a few rules!”
“A FEW RULES!” the Hood shouts into the pledges ears.
“First rule: No talking!” Ernie shouted.
“Second rule! Line up and each of you choose the brother you want to party with the most!”
Collegian April 13, 1987
They lined back up in order. One by one, the pledges shouted the name of a brother. The Hood would shout stuff like “Bad choice! He’s the best at this! “You’re fucked!”. Then the pledges were sent running back up to the pledge closet as the brothers set up.
LPC took the lead in this as always. The dining room lights were turned on. We were using the 4 tables visible from the foyer. All chairs were removed from the “inside” side of the tables except one at each. Opposite that seat were two chairs for brothers.
The full name of the game was “Bourbon, Scotch, Beer” after the George Thorogood cover song. It was a relay race- the pledges vs. the brothers they picked.
The first table in was the shot table- first a shot a bourbon. Then the player would move to the second table, where they’d chug a can of beer. They’d go back to the first table where they’d down a shot of scotch. Then they’d run back and tag the first person in line and it would be that person’s turn. First team done wins.
Now, as always, we knew what was coming, so during the pre-meeting all of us cracked open beers and drank about half. These beers were on the hood’s table. Each of the shot tables had two bottles of bourbon and scotch. On the Hood table, one each was filled with iced tea. In addition, as the pledges were upstairs, we shook the shit out of the cans on the pledge table. While we set up, the selected brothers were upstairs getting “dressed.” For some reason, this was a “costume” event
After the brothers were ready, they told Ernie how they wanted to be introduced, and then waited at the top of the Brotherhood steps. The lights in the Foyer, Club Room, and dining room were turned off. The siren sounded, and the pledges scrambled down the back steps to their position lined up in front of the Hood, and counted off. The Hood shouted for them to turn around and face the Iota, who instructed them to line up behind Brother Good, who stood at the entry to the club room. They did so, and then all the lights came back on. The pledges looked at the set up and their faces seemed to say “what in hell do we have to do this time?”
Me? I sat at the brothers’ beer table with Wags. Best place to sneak a few drinks myself. “Watch me the first few times so you get the hang of it” Wags said, smiling as we toasted beers we’d just opened.
Ernie came down the stairs and stood in the middle of the foyer.
“OK maggots!” he shouted. “The name of the game is BSB!”
“BSB! BSB! BSB!” The Hood chanted until Ernie motioned for quiet. The Hood stood to the sides of the foyer and dining room, leaving the playing field clear.
Ernie explained the rules: shot, beer, shot, tag the next guy in line, first team finished wins.
“As always, anyone who does not wish to participate may step away now. No one will feel any less of you.”
The pledges looked insulted, and stayed in line.
“Are you ready to meet your opponents?”
“Sir yes sir!”
yelled Ernie, pointing to the stairs, “From the jungles of the
Beef hopped down the hood steps dressed like an island headhunter complete with headdress and spear, shouting some kind of made up gibberish, while the brothers cheered and chanted “Hood! Hood! Hood!” Beef took his place at the head of a line next to the pledges, who were laughing their asses off.
Collegian April 13, 1987
“Next: master of the martial arts and ninja extraordinaire: Kung Fu Ninja!”
Ninja trotted down the stairs, wearing his gi and black belt, bowed to Ernie, then to the pledges, and struck a kung fu pose. He then got in line behind Beef, who high fived him.
Dogger strolled regally down the stairs wearing a bedsheet as a toga.
“Hood! Hood! Hood!”
After a few minutes, all of the brothers playing were introduced and lined up next to the pledge that chose him. The rules were explained to the pledges. Ask permission to sit down, ask politely for the drink, permission to drink, permission to leave. Of course, the brothers didn’t have to do any of that shit. First team through their line wins. Simple enough.
I had put together a tape of the Thorogood song played over and over for forty five minutes (my contribution to the game). One brother (LPC) stood at the top of the stairs, and another at the stereo closet across from the Alpha suite. When Ernie shouted “music!”, the guy at the top of the steps would relay the order to the other guy to start the tape. Same for “stop!” at the end of the race.
For the pledges, it sounded like this:
“Are you ready pledges?!?!”
“Sir yes sir!”
“I said are you ready pledges?!?!?”
“SIR YES SIR!!!”
The guitar riff started and faded in.
As George started singing “Wanna tell ya a story… about the house-man blues” I watched Beef do an exaggerated bunny hop/ tribal dance to the first table. As he sat down, his pledge opponent was still asking permission. Beef leisurely sipped his iced tea as the pledge asked the brothers behind the pledge shot table “May I please have a shot? Pretty please with sugar on top?”
Beef did some kind of tribal spinning dance from the first table to the next, where he sat in front of me. Wags handed Beef a half filled beer, and he put his feet up on the table while drinking it. The pledge was just seeking permission to leave the shot table.
The pledge ran to the next table, eventually was seated, and asked for a beer.
“Do you really want it?” Rich asked.
“Sir yes sir!”
Rich opened the well shaken beer so that it sprayed all over the pledge, to the delight of everyone watching.
By this time, Beef finished his shot of “scotch” and hopped back to the line, tagging Ninja as he passed.
The pledge finished his sudsy beer, secured permission to leave and ran to the shot table.
And so it went until all the pledges completed the course. The brothers won by quite some time, of course. The assembled spectators chanted “Hood! Hood! Hood!” and Ernie called for the music to stop. The whole first floor smelled badly of beer- worse than at a party.
“Do you think you won that game?” Ernie asked the pledges.
“Sir yes sir!”
“Did you enjoy that game?”
“Sir yes sir!”
“OK! Let’s do it! Music!”
George picked up where he left off “Well I ain’t seen my baby since I don’t know when. I’ve been drinkin’ bourbon whiskey, scotch, and gin…”
Beef tangoed to the first table with Ernie.
This time, the pledges were actually allowed to be competitive. And they pledges all puked after drinking the warm foamy beer.
The Hood won again. LPC cleaned up. I turned to Wags as we both finished a beer.
“What was the point of this game?”
“Point? Does any of it have a point? It’s just fun. That’s all.” He smiled and offered me another half empty beer.
Monday, January 4, 2021
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Hi folks. it's been a nasty few weeks, as the semester ended. I had several papers due, and the Darkness slammed me hard at the same time. I learned that several friends have Covid, including one of my dearest friends.
In any case, this is one of the papers I wrote for a course called "Psychology of Gender/Sex." Got an A on the paper. This is an example of a "literature review" which means I read a bunch of articles and synthesized their meanings. Usually such things are used in introductions to scholarly articles and dissertations and such. Oh, and for classes.
So here for your dining and dancing pleasure is a sample of my academic writing. If it doesn't put you to sleep, see a doctor.
Did I mentioned it snowed? It snowed.
Masculinity and Violence Against LGBTQI
Each of the last four years, violence against LGBTQI (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Intersex/Queer) people in the United States increased. In particular, violence against transgender people increased dramatically, with both number of incidents and deaths sharply higher. One of my research goals for this course of study is to determine possible causes for the violence and murder of transgender women in particular. For this paper, I examine the role of masculinity in anti-LGBTQI violence, and review what the literature states. This review is not comprehensive, as every time I researched a citation, I found many more citations which led deeper. For the sake of time, I limited the scope of my search.
I write this paper acknowledging the limitation of possible bias, as I am a transgender woman. I also acknowledge my privilege as a person of white, western European ancestry, and that the land where I wrote this was once home to the Susquehannock people.
When discussing violence against LGBTQI people, one must first define some terms. The first is Homophobia, defined as “fear, aversion, or discrimination against homosexuals” (Definition of HOMOPHOBIA, para.1). A subset of this is Homophobic Masculinity, which is heteromasculinity centered within homophobia, “especially pervasive in contexts where men share close proximity with other men and feel the need to prove that they are heterosexual, as in the case of both male athletes and fraternity members. (Worthen, 2014, p. 185) Transphobia is defined as “emotional disgust toward individuals who do not conform to society’s gender expectations” (Hill, 2002, as cited by Nagoshi et al, 2008, p. 521).
Buck & Nedvin (2017) write:
“…transgender identity is not defined by sexual or romantic behavior… however, because of their association with LGB individuals, and because they challenge traditional views on the nature of sex and gender, they may pose similar social threats” (p. 642).
Violence against LGBTQI
Homophobia and transphobia can lead to violence. In 2019, the FBI reported 1,395 hate crime offenses based on sexual-orientation bias. There were 224 based on Gender identity. (2019, table 1). In the USA during 2019, there were 21 known murders of transgender people. (“Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2019,” para.2) I write known, because transgender victims are often misgendered in death by newspapers and the police. (“Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2019”) Also in the USA, there have been 42 murders so far (“Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2020,” para.1) That’s a 95% increase in one year. Between the time of my presentation of this paper, and the final submission, another transgender woman was found murdered.
Violence against Transgender
Stotzer (2008) writes “In the case of hate crimes against transgender individuals, violence based on people’s gender identity sends a clear message about the perceived worth and status of the victims as human beings” (p. 47). This leads to many psychological problems among transgender people, but that topic is outside of the scope of this paper.
According to a landmark survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE),
“nearly half (48%) of all respondents in the sample reported being denied equal treatment, verbally harassed, and/or physically attacked in the past year because of being transgender. Nearly half (46%) of respondents reported that they were verbally harassed in the past year because of being transgender. Nearly one in ten (9%) respondents reported that they were physically attacked in the past year because of being transgender. Nearly half (47%) of respondents have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime (James, et al, 2016, p. 197).
Disclosure: I was one of the 27, 715 people who answered this survey.
Like most phenomena in nature, masculinity defies a simple explanation. The term masculine means “pertaining to or characteristic of a man or men” (“Definition of Masculine | Dictionary.Com,” para.1). However, many varieties of masculinity exist. For this paper, I use four definitions.
• Normative Masculinity: “the behaviors and expectations culturally associated with boys and men” (Rubin et al, 2020, p. 1). Normative masculinity is the baseline of how men see themselves and conduct themselves.
• Hegemonic Masculinity: “a specific form of masculinity in a given historical and society-wide social setting that legitimates unequal gender relations between men and women, between masculinity and femininity, and among masculinities” (Messerschmidt, 2019, p. 86).
• Hypermasculinity: “an overemphasis and exaggerated adherence to the traditional male gender roles established by an outdated societal view… often associated with aggression towards women and other men who violate the traditional gender norm” (Zernechel & Perry, 2017, p. 3). Many transgender women practice this while in denial of their identity, including myself (Brown, 1988).
• Fragile/Precarious Masculinity: the idea that “that manhood, in contrast to womanhood, is seen as a precarious state requiring continual social proof and validation” (Rubin et al, 2020) (Vandello et al, 2008, p. 1325).
The reason for this paper’s focus on violence perpetrated by men is that males between 18-30 commit most of the anti-LGBTQI violence. (Conlin et al, 2020) (Jakupcak, 2008) (Parrot et al, 2011) (Parrot et al, 2011)(Stotzer, 2008) (Tebbe & Moradi, 2012). These ages were determined by survey data of perpetrators (Dunbar, 2003), statistics of the crimes (Stotzer, 2008), or self-reported (Jakupcak, 2008). Due to time limitations, I was unable to determine the reason why men of that specific age range commit the most crimes. Instead, I focus on possible reasons that men attack LGBTQI people.
The literature focuses on three possible masculinity threats which lead to violence:
· Challenge to Status/ Toughness/ Anti-femininity (Cheryan et al, 2015) (Parrot et al 2008) (Parrot et al, 2011) (Vandello, et al, 2008) (Worthen, 2014);
· Defending the Gender Binary (Nagoshi, et al, 2008) )(Parrot et al 2008)
· Gender Role Stress. (Jakupcak, 2003) (Rubin et al, 2020) (Worthen, 2014)
Challenge to Status/Toughness/Anti-femininity.
Men feel that their manhood is challenged by other men who don’t conform to the social norm of masculinity (Cheryan et al, 2015) (Parrot et al 2008) (Parrot et al 2011) (Vandello, et al, 2008) (Worthen, 2014). This is especially prevalent in situations where men are in close knit groups like sports teams and fraternities (Worthen, 2014). Many men feel that manhood is the opposite of femininity and that homosexual men / transgender women violate this (Harrison & Michelson, 2018) (Parrot et al, 2008) (Parrot et al, 2011) (Woodford et al, 2012). Parrot et al (2011) write that this is the “the most critical component of one’s masculine identity” and “because men equate homosexuality with femininity… men’s rejection of femininity is synonymous with their rejection of homosexuality (regardless of the sexual-minority person’s gender)” (p.42). Stotzer (2008) writes that the most common slurs said by perpetrators of anti-LGBTQI violence are “homosexual slurs or pejoratives”, while second most common insult are “gender based slurs” (p.47).
Another aspect of this challenge may be that men see LGBT as threats to the possibility of successful mating (Buck & Nedvin, 2017). In other words, if a man doesn’t have a chance to procreate with a person, that person may be a threat, or is useless to him.
Defending the Gender Binary
Morgenroth et al (2020) define the gender binary as “the belief that sex is binary and directly determines gender” (p. 1). They also write “Individuals who violate these expectations… are often harshly punished” (pp. 1-2). Men who assault LGBTQI people share many traits, including a strong belief in the gender binary, strong religious beliefs, high identification with masculine traits (Nagoshi, et al, 2008) )(Parrot et al 2008), as well as “right-wing authoritarianism… and hostile sexism” (Nagoshi et al, 2008, p. 521). These men also wish to preserve their societal position of dominance over women (Conlin et al, 2020) (Morgenroth et al, 2020) (Tebbe & Moradi, 2012) (Worthen, 2014). This is where hypermasculinity often plays a role (Zernechel & Perry, 2017), as the challenge to the gender binary is seen as a person challenge to their manhood. They seek closure and the re-establishment of the separation of genders that is a major part of their psychological underpinning (Morgenroth et al, 2020) (Tebbe & Moradi, 2012), which leads to violence (Jakupcak, 2003) (Parrott et al, 2008) (Parrott et al, 2011). Hypermasculinity is common with athletes and fraternity members, which I saw personally during my undergraduate years as a member of a fraternity (Corprew III & Mitchell, 2014) (Worthen, 2014). In my case, hypermasculinity is the main reason I joined a fraternity. I thought that by joining, my ‘dark secret” of femininity would be further obscured from view.
Gender Role Stress
Manhood in western culture is not an absolute. Vandello et al (2008) writes “It might be said that womanhood happens to girls, via a series of inevitable physical and biological changes, but manhood is something that boys must make happen, by passing certain social milestones” (p. 1325). As manhood isn’t a given and is “earned”, it can therefore be lost (Schmitt & Branscombe, 2001) (Jakupcak, 2003) (Vandello et al, 2008). This was one of my greatest fears growing up, and what caused me to overcompensate with hypermasculine behavior. One of the social milestones I completed was being initiated into a fraternity, which signaled that I endured the rigors of hazing during my “pledging”, and was entitled to be seen as a man among my peers: part of the brotherhood. (Corprew III & Mitchell, 2014) (Schmitt & Branscombe, 2001) (Worthen, 2014)
Jakupcak (2003) writes that “Masculine gender role stress can result from situational demands or global self-appraisals in which culturally defined schemas of masculinity are violated” (p. 533). This is where fragile/precarious masculinity plays a major role. Rubin et al (2020) write that “not living up to masculinity norms has consequences for self-esteem and as a result, some men experience discrepancy stress when they fail to behave in accordance with what it means to be a man” (p. 2). In addition, gender role stress “can result from situational demands or global self-appraisals in which culturally defined schemas of masculinity are violated” (Eisler & Skidmore, 1987, as cited in Jakupack, 2003, p. 251).
Harrison & Michelson (2018) write that how much a person’s identification as masculine is a strong indicator of how they’ll think and act toward transgender people. These people may be insecure in their status among their peers, and respond violently (Jakupcak, 2003) (Parrott et al, 2008) (Parrott et al, 2011). They believe this aggression will lead to acceptance by their peer group (Corpew III & Mitchell, 2014) (Rubin et al, 2020) (Schmitt & Branscombe, 2001) in addition to satisfying their inner cognitive dissonance (Morgenroth et al, 2020).
The literature shows what is obvious to any person who is socialized as a male: that normative masculinity is a narrow and complex process which begins at birth, and one which must be re-affirmed constantly (Parrott et al, 2008) (Rubin et al, 2020) (Vandello et al, 2008, p. 1325). Failure means that the person isn’t a “real man” and could lead to being ostracized or worse (Morgenroth et al, 2020). Men aren’t permitted to show emotion or weakness, and to do so is perceived as “feminine” (Cheryan et al, 2015) (Jakupcak, 2003) (Morgenroth et al, 2020). While I was growing up, the worst insult that a boy could give another boy was anti-feminine (‘runs like a girl,” “wuss,” “pussy”, etc.) or to call them a homosexual (one of the many anti-gay slurs), which was seen as the same thing (Parrot et al, 2011). A boy was expected to instantly retort or fight physically, therefore proving his manhood. As a side note, I remember hearing somewhere that men insult each other by insinuating that other guys are feminine, while women insult each other using feminine slurs. Therefore, the worst insult is to be a woman. Hegemonic masculinity writ large!
Not all men subscribe to this narrow view of masculinity (Vandello et al, 2008) (Woodford et al, 2012) and have the confidence to live their lives not caring what other people think of them. Also, the majority of men does not react violently to LGBTQI people, nor react to them as a threat. One of the key factors here is actually knowing an LGBTQI person (Woodford et al, 2011).
However, enough men feel the pressure of their manhood as gender role stress, and feel that they must maintain their social standing as men: normative masculinity. From this subset of men arise those who attack LGBTQI people. These are the hegemonic and hypermasculine, who’s fragile self-view of their masculinity lead them to over-compensate and lash out violently. LGBTQI people are often the victims, especially transgender people. Historically, such violence may or may not have been punished, due to such concepts of “gay panic defense” and “trans-panic defense” which are still legal in some states, and due to the outsider status of LGBTQI people.
With the rise of gay rights, many more people now know someone who is gay/lesbian, and these people are more tolerant. Society still isn’t at that point with transgender people, especially transgender women. Perhaps this is why so many transgender people experience violence.
With this paper, I described different possible explanations for anti-LGBTQI violence. Hundreds, if not thousands of studies were performed and continue to be done trying to illuminate the causes of this phenomenon, determining the three major “masculinity threats” I’ve detailed. More studies about anti-transgender violence emerge all the time, which fills a gap in the literature. My next step is to review that literature, and hopefully someday add to it with my own work. I dream of a day when transgender women are seen as just women, and that women are seen as the equals of men. If my struggles and sacrifices help toward that goal, I will consider them worthwhile.
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