Friday, August 2, 2013

What's Wrong with Being a Girl?

One trusts that it is not a trend. For now the phenomenon seems to be limited to a few young women at Princeton.

Hopefully, it’s a phase, one that they will grow out of. For now, however, these women have jettisoned the notion of being strong confident women. Their current goal, consonant with their wish to belong to an eating club called the Tiger Inn, is to become imitation frat boys.

Eating clubs are important at Princeton. They are like co-ed fraternities. Membership matters. Among them, Tiger Inn is the rough equivalent of “animal house.”

Princeton undergrad Caroline Kitchener remarks that when Tiger Inn was forced to accept women into its ranks, the presence of the fairer sex might have had a mellowing effect on the raucous men of Tiger Inn.

Apparently, it produced the reverse effect. Young women desperate to belong to a testosterone-saturated culture became vulgar louts.

Kitchener describes the scene:

Walk down Prospect Avenue in Princeton, New Jersey on the first Sunday in February, and you'll find a horde of shivering college sophomores huddled together on a front lawn, smeared in ketchup, maple syrup, and egg yolk. They're organized into stations: one group choking down live goldfish, the other pounding out push-ups as senior members shovel dog food into their mouths.

These are the students trying to win membership at Tiger Inn (or TI), widely known as the frattiest and hardest-drinking of Princeton University's 11 eating clubs -- exclusive institutions similar to co-ed fraternities. This group is loud, unafraid, and endowed with a collectively remarkable gag reflex. But the most striking thing about the students standing on this lawn? Most of them are girls.

Evidently, girls who join the Tiger Inn are looking to express their equality, or better, their sameness with men. They are actively avoiding a sorority culture that emphasizes femininity.

To be charitable they are trying out a little role reversal, and making themselves a travesty in the process.

Kitchener has interviewed the women of Tiger Inn:

Most of the women that I talked to in Tiger Inn chose their eating club because they felt like gender roles were less rigid in a place like TI.  It wasn't necessary for women to act "all put-together." They could relax, which was exactly what they wanted. As one rising TI senior told me, "The guys always want us girls to chug a beer or take a shot, or be a man. There is no pressure for a girl to be a girl."

Pray tell, why would a young woman aspire to be other than what she is. What, after all, is wrong with being a girl or a woman, for that matter. Assuming that these women want to mate at some point in their lives, where did they get the idea that when a man goes looking for a prospective mate he wants to find someone who is as manly as he is.

For some time now I have considered this one of the dark secrets of feminism: committed feminists do not like being women. When do we get to call it self-loathing?

Regardless of whether these young women are a vanguard of hard-drinking, hard living, imitation frat boys, their behavior fulfills many mindless feminist slogans, with a few therapy culture principles thrown in for good measure.

Worse yet, they are not even emulating what I would call normal male behavior. They are imitating a caricature of male behavior that has been promoted by culture warriors who are in the business of demeaning, diminishing and disparaging men.

Somehow, Kitchener explains, these young women have gotten the idea that engaging in a drunken revelry is a way to get in touch with who they really are. Wherever did they get that idea?

As for therapy culture nostrums, one of Kitchener’s Tiger Inn friends explained her motivation:

She joined because it was the place she felt most comfortable--where she didn't have to live up to anyone's expectations. One recent TI alum told me, "Girls in TI are proud that they can act in the way that they want."

How about living up to your own expectations? One appreciates that college students feel that they are seizing an opportunity to let loose and make complete fools of themselves before they have to face adult responsibility. One appreciates that, having been fed these ideas from early childhood, they want to try them out.

But if they believe that they can act any way they want and not suffer consequences, adulthood is going to be bringing them some very unhappy surprises.

Kitchener mentions that young women on college campuses today are more likely to binge drink. Since the biological differences between the sexes are merely social constructs, why not prove the point by showing that women can drink as much as men?

Exactly why do women believe that such skills will serve them well in the future? Even if no single member of your eating club will ever cast the least judgment on your alcohol consumption, binge drinking is not good for you. It has the potential to damage your body and your brain? And it will allow you to do things you would never do if you were sober and rational.

Some of us who are older and more wizened try to warn young people of the potential cost of their behaviors. It isn’t because we take a special pleasure in condescending to them. And it isn’t because we want to tell them what to do. If the girls of Tiger Inn want to do what they want to do there is nothing that you or I can say that is going to stop them. But, someone has to point out that they are assuming large risks and that eventually someone is going to get hurt.

One hates to sound judgmental, but when women go out into the world they bring their reputations with them. Belonging to Tiger Inn will mark women in a special way. To make an intelligent choice young women need to be exposed to both arguments. For now they seem to be thinking only of one.

Then again, most young women, given the choice would easily choose sorority life over the unenviable role of being the live-in entertainment for the men of Tiger Inn.


Sam L. said...

Sounds like Feminism in action.

Lindsay Harold said...

"For some time now I have considered this one of the dark secrets of feminism: committed feminists do not like being women. When do we get to call it self-loathing?"

Indeed. I have often thought the same thing. Militant feminism, at it's core, is really about hating womanhood and femininity, not about equality or choice. They see being a woman as something to overcome rather than something to embrace. And yet they pretend it's everyone else who hates women.

David Foster said...

WSJ recently reviewed a book titled How to Create the Perfect Wife, by Wendy Moore. It tells the story of a gentleman in the late 1700s who found real women not totally to his liking ("young women in practice, he had sadly found, giggled and gossiped") and decided...inspired by "take a Woman's Mind before it is prejudic'd" and create the perfect wife by getting a girl very young and isolating her from all external influences.


Kath said...

I agree. Militant feminists are the ones that really can't stand women.

Leif said...

I was in Tiger Inn during the transition (it was all-male when I bickered, but co-ed when I graduated). It was awful. It destroyed the atmosphere at the club. Worse still, the women behaved much as the article portrays - they were trying (very hard) to be men, and vulgar ones at that.

Every few years, I return for reunions. And every few years, I am depressed by what I see at dear ol' TI.

Anonymous said...

A woman in law school told me it is offensive to refer to a woman as a "girl." I had a homosexual friend who said in peer counselling, "homosexuals can be homophobic too." Whereupon I learned the true meaning of homophobia: fear of a creature like myself.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, Leif, for reporting your first hand experience.

Anon.... apparently, it is now acceptable to refer to women as girls. Apparently, it's even acceptable to refer to girls as girls.

Anonymous said...

Years ago I extricated the word "offensive" from my vocabulary. Used in a sentence, that's the oft-heard phrase "I'm offended." When people say that, for whatever reason or context, they sound like thin-skinned, whiny victims. I don't give a @#$% whether you're offended.

Being "offended" is another way to control language and the trajectory of the conversation through emotional manipulation. The tactic is to put the interlocutor on the defensive for what he/she says, while offering nothing of one's own thoughts to the conversation. I won't play that game anymore.

There is nothing wrong with the word "girl" unless one is convinced it is somehow a bad thing. I find that womyn who are afraid to be called a "girl" have many more issues to be concerned about.

It is self-loathing, dripping in fear.


Dennis said...


It is why I pay no attention to words that are supposed to offend. Like ties, if one waits long enough they come back in style.
I am always gratified to read comments from women, especially young women, that demonstrates that they love being women. Being a woman is a great thing to be just as being a man is also.
Being a feminist is a form of self hatred. That is why abortion is such a fundamental tenet. Women only have one responsibility that is uniquely theirs. When one doesn't embrace and honor that responsibility then one is demonstrating a self loathing for that unique responsibility and for what they are as human beings.
An aside here. "Playboy" used to be a celebration of women and always left something to the imagination. When Hefner's daughter took over it became nothing more that a sophisticated "Hustler."
My daughters used to tell me jokes they had picked up and they were far raunchier that most of the jokes I heard from men and I spent a lot of time in the military.
I suspect that women think men are far worse than what most of them actually happen to be. That is why they sometimes become a caricature of men.