The Atlantic

Fraternities Can Push Boys Toward a Terrible Sort of Masculinity—Or Help Them Resist It

While frats often make headlines for dangerous behavior, healthy chapters provide young men with intimacy and emotional support at the time they need it most.
Source: Jay Paul / Getty

The first speech that Oliver, a West Coast fraternity-chapter president whose story I closely followed for a year, gave his new pledges was not the lecture one might expect from a fraternity brother. “We’ve worked really hard to build a reputation as a house of nice guys. If you endanger that reputation, you’ll immediately be kicked to the curb,” Oliver told the pledges. “That’s not the kind of people we want. We’re not the douchey frat house. We’re not here to ‘get bitches and get fucked up.’ We’re here to learn how to grow up a little bit. And with that comes learning how to be a nice human being; how to look out for each other, for guests, and for girls; and how to properly treat girls. If you’re consistently nice and respectful, you’re going to build a good reputation, and that’s going to help you a lot in life.”

As I learned in more than two years of reporting for my book, , about fraternities and masculinity on campus, Oliver’s attitude is much more common than the dominant narratives

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