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.