Earlier this year, during move-in week, that tender time of year when parents lug trunks and Target curtains into the new college campus residence of their children before starting the tearful drive home, Jezebel readers—and, indeed, the Internet At Large—were introduced to a frat tradition of unfurling welcome banners to incoming co-eds. The banners, in true Greek style, were horny, vulgar, and funny in a certain way.
I’d like to suggest that these banners are less “problematic” than they are, and, perhaps, exactly the solution we need. To wit:
These banners tell you so much about the men who live in the house, with such delightful efficiency. How often I have wished that there was some sort of app that would allow me to wave my Apple device in front of a potential lover’s face and then tell me exactly what sort of pathology I would be dealing with.
These banners are a form of hyper-transparency in typically opaque Greek Life, which is not really about brotherhood and sturdy handshakes with alumni at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast, but about Boozing and Bean Flicking! Do you want to party at a house filled with men who use the phrase “flick the bean”? These banners give you a chance to consider the question in advance. They represent actual truth in advertising: if you come into this house you are expected to drink and put out. PUT OUT YOUR BEAN SO IT CAN GET FLICKED!! There is no subtext. If that’s not what you want to do, then you should avoid this house!
If only all shadowy male run organizations spray painted their most latent inclinations on bedsheet banners, like “BLACKWATER: WE WILL PROBABLY KILL CIVILIANS AND DOUSE THEM IN GASOLINE.”
You are in college now. You have a bean, you want to get it flicked. You’re a grown woman and the idea of entering Testosterone Flats with a lasso and a freshly waxed What Have You is an arousing scenario. And why shouldn’t it be? You’re not old enough to know how alienating casual sex can get and how men in their twenties are essentially savages and the ones who toot their sexual bravado the loudest usually make for the most dismal orgasms. Mercifully, you don’t know all that yet. Right now, it’s all exploring and conquests and rowdy fun. Indeed, if most frat boys actually looked anything like the Abercrombie and Fitch visage of a hard-abbed Adonis with a triangle torso and plump lips, then what newly liberated co-ed wouldn’t want a go-round?
But know this, young ladies: most frat boys have incipient dad-bods, their faces go pink and porcine when drunk, and they ejaculate with the quickness rarely witnessed outside the confines of the Large Hadron Collider.
I extend this philosophy to most antics of Greek Life. Remember when everyone came down so hard on those white yet sun-kissed Alabama sorority girls for their wordless (glistening, undulating, sparkly) video pitch on pledging Alpha Phi? Sure, the video suggested deep dissociation—but do you join a sorority for a low-maintenance social life of book club meet-ups and charity work? No! You join so you can be part of some kind of exclusive in-group that guarantees you a “squad” and maybe shame you into better portion control. I actually thought that, in the lingua franca of visual advertising, the Alpha Phi video made its values plain: very conventional beauty, female friendship, parties.
These people, with their sex banners and strangely overproduced recruiting videos, are telling you exactly who they are.
Welcome to college! Here you will be confronted daily with the dumb shit people say and think. Some of these people will be your professors. A random dude who mansplains Baroque art to you in a survey course. Your roommate who says her favorite writer is Ayn Rand. The counselor who encourages you to go into to debt to attend grad school. The offensive op-ed in the campus newspaper. The majority of French Theory. But—what a thrill, what a messy rainbow riot of ideas, attitudes, and ideologies all jostling around for your attention and scorn. When this sort of freedom of ideas exists, we get to participate in the great Hegelian/Nolanist tradition of points and counterpoints, shuffling towards better and evolving ideas. For without this:
There can be no this: