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Jordyn Stump
Dr. Parker
Feminist Visions of Justice
Martin and Hummer Critical Summary
In “Fraternities and Rape on Campus,” Patricia Yancey Martin and Robert Hummer
analyzed college fraternities and their tendency to promote rape culture. The authors were
interested in uncovering what factors cause fraternity members to perpetuate over 90% of gang
rapes on college campuses. Although fraternities can often be stereotyped, “excessive alcohol
use, isolation from external monitoring, treatment of women as prey, use of pornography,
approval of violence, and excessive concern with competition” were all recurring conditions
found throughout the study that maintain a narrow definition of masculinity (405). In addition,
the “brotherhood” that comes along with being in a fraternity often leads to intense loyalty and
secrecy. Therefore, if one member does commit a crime, sexual assault, or rape, his brothers
often go to great lengths to defend him or to cover up his offense. Fraternities often emphasize
competition, dominance, and winning, which easily transcends into their treatment of women.
Women are often used as objectified pawns in a game for fraternity men to feel superior to not
only their brothers, but members of rival fraternities as well.
An interesting point that the article brought up is that fraternities are essentially free from
any college or community monitoring. With so much research indicating that fraternities are
violent, patriarchal, and a generally unsafe environment for women, I’m confused as to why they
are continually allowed to operate under their own governance. Fraternities are often run based
on tradition and privacy, so I understand that most members would still find a way to utilize
problematic tactics. However, there is power in university officials reprimanding organizations
that are not only breaking laws, but are also violating human rights. Hope College has many
issues, but I do commend Hope for its involvement in our Greek life on campus. It recognizes
that Greek organizations can be used for good, but Hope personnel are the first to intervene if
issues arise. While some grumble about Hope’s “helicopter parenting,” I’m glad that our school
realizes alcohol issues, sexual assault, and rape are not to be taken lightly.
The article also discussed the various roles that women can play in fraternities: bait,
servers, or sexual prey. During rush, fraternities often use attractive women to convince males to
join. It’s ironic that women are a selling point to join an entirely male population. In my opinion,
if that’s all fraternities can think of to promote their fraternity, their organization probably has
nothing else to offer. Women are also used as servers, meaning that they support the male
members in whatever they do. If the men play in intramural games, the women have to cheer
them on or if the fraternity is throwing a party, the women have to clean up. It bothers me that
there are still people who think that a woman’s greatest purpose is to serve a man. If the
fraternity brothers were expected to serve the sororities in the same way, I’d appreciate the
reciprocity. Unfortunately, that’s rarely how it works.
Works Cited
Martin, Patricia Y. & Hummer, Robert A. “Fraternities and Rape on Campus.” Feminist
Frontiers. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2009. 405-413. Print.