At Princeton's Frattiest Eating Club, It's Women Who Are Binge Drinking Men Under the Table
Tiger Inn (or TI) is commonly known as the "frattiest and hardest-drinking" of the eleven co-ed "eating clubs," or frats at Princeton University. Like many other frats, TI has its own “crazy” practices, which include projectile vomiting and "penis guitar" strumming. But what may be more surprising than these practices is the fact that most of the rushees, or “bickerees,” are actually girls.
Many female bickerees say that they join TI exactly because it is super-fratty — “there is no pressure for a girl to be a girl,” says one member. They can drink as much as they want without being reprimanded for being “unladylike.” But it’s not like they are forced to drink — while it may be encouraged, they are not required to drink a lot or even at all; the choice is completely theirs to make. They say it is this freedom to choose that draws them to this super-frat club, which became co-ed in 1991.
The increase in the number of female bickerees who don’t want to be pressured to “be a girl” is certainly understandable. According to a study published in the journal Sex Roles, new sorority rushees showed greater signs of eating problems than those who did not rush. Many new sorority girls continue to have body image problems even after rushing. Perhaps this is because many sororities still enforce standards of dress and conduct, such as “wear[ing] makeup and pretty dresses, carefully select[ing] ‘appropriate’ hookup partners, and never drink[ing] enough to ‘get sloppy.’” As author Nora Johnson wrote in The Atlantic, Eastern women’s colleges subtly instill into their students’ minds the concept of the ideal American woman: one who is strong, educated, efficient, intelligent, and presentable (but not more so than their husbands). And perhaps it is because of this culture (minus the husband part) that makes failure to comply with their standards of conduct punishable in the form of being banned from social events and/or loss of membership.
Drinking is also one reason why more girls are joining these frats. College women are significantly more likely to binge drink than other women their age. College women are also more likely than their male counterparts to “exceed the weekly drink limits suggested by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,” according a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. One explanation for this is that since the 1950’s, more and more men and women are living together (not necessarily as a result of marriage), and as a result, women are exhibiting traditionally masculine behaviors, like drinking, more often.
However, while the independence and freedom to act however one wants that come from being in a fratty frat are fine and dandy, it may also come with an unwanted side of rape culture. According to a blog post from Zen College Life, research has shown that frat men are at higher risk of committing sexual assault because of “alcohol consumption, sexual outlook and group attitudes toward women” (which does not mean that they all commit rape, though). A study from the journal Sex Roles showed that “individual frat men are more likely to display objectifying images of women in their rooms, have supportive attitudes about rape and believe women want to engage in rough sexual acts even if they act disinterested.”
This culture is also reflected in the way frats recruit new brothers: according to The Fraternity Leader, frat recruiters need to make sure that girls are present at nearly all rush events in order to attract new recruits. The author goes to on to explain that “it really doesn’t matter if they are girlfriends or strangers, they need to be there. Girls turn an average rush event into a great one … Having a bunch of guys swim is pretty lame, but throw in a few girls and it turns into a great time.” Even though the author does instruct recruiters to “always treat [their] female guests with respect,” this use of women as tools to attract frat recruits nonetheless contributes to the continued objectification of women.
My take on this? It’s completely up to you if you want to join a frat and participate in a round of “harmonious chanting of ‘tits for beer,’” but just be careful.
A foam party held at the Tiger Inn at Princeton University.