Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How the Greeks Pick Their Leaders

This is the second part of Taylor's account of how gender differences show up in fraternities and sororities – at least in the two she knows best.

"Working off of my last entry about the differences between sororities and fraternities, I wanted to talk about the differences in voting and how indicative it is of the gender of the members.
In [my sorority], the saying is, “the office selects the officer.” What that means is that you don’t run for any position in the sorority. Your fellow sisters nominate you for the position and then we vote (no one can see what anyone else’s vote is). That way, the members of our chapter can see who has what talents, instead of the person themselves choosing what office they think is best. Also, no one is expected to talk about voting or “slating” (as we call it) until the actual voting session takes place. That means no one should be walking around saying, “So and so should be president and so and so should be rush chair.” It works out well for us but it’s easy to see that it is a feminine way of doing things. We completely avoid any conflict because voting is never spoken of until one night of the year. Disagreement is discouraged – if anyone has a problem with an officer getting an office they have 24 hours to voice their concerns but it has to be a major problem, like the woman has been caught doing drugs or something equally bad. So, we effectively avoid any conflict in the entire situation. It seems like this is the most feminine way to go about voting that could ever be imagined. No one's feelings get hurt, no one knows what anyone else really wants, everyone is encouraged to accept and be happy about the officers. It’s very peaceful and reasonable. Of course, it has its problems. Mainly because women will avoid conflict with the person they are upset with but they will talk about that person behind their back. So, if one woman thinks another woman should not have an office then the secretive talking begins. It’s very typical of women and really displays well how we act around each other.
With [my boyfriend's] fraternity, voting is not at all similar. Whoever wants an office runs for it. They decide they want to be president, the write a speech, they (and the other candidates) give it and then they vote. It’s very direct, the conflict is in the open. The competition is obvious and the voting is open. Everyone can see how everyone else votes. It’s masculine because they have the competition out in the open, they don’t try to avoid conflict at all. I’m sure there are arguments during the process but they don’t last very long and in the end, people are happy with who gets what."

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