Fraternities, One of the Many Ways Young Men Search For Depth In Their Emotional Lives

My brother has never been one to speak his mind without being prompted. He has never talked to me about his feelings or how his day was. The way he works is simple, ask him a question and receive an answer. Don’t ask a question, don’t expect any words to come out of his mouth. Now this is a generalization because of course he and his friends talk, but to what depth? Young men do not know how to express their emotions, and if they do they are usually ridiculed.

In 2015, Sigma Alpha Epsilon was involved in a racism scandal at the University of Oklahoma. A video was released of white frat members singing a song involving very offensive words toward black people. Two members of the fraternity were expelled after the video was released, and the whole SAE chapter was suspended. This is just one of the many negative incidents that have occurred involving frats. Racism, sexism and many other hurtful acts stem from fraternities.

When my brother decided to hop on the fraternity bandwagon I was not too ecstatic. Generally frat boys are said to be assholes, rapists, perverts, idiots, etc. But, I know my friend is none of those things. He has always had good grades, he respects girls, and he is all around a good kid. So, what inclined him to join this group of “assholes”? Maybe I’m just reading everything wrong, maybe all of these boys have the same issue as my brother. They can’t express their emotions in the way girls do, and they can’t seem to find that strong friendship bond they so badly need.

Now, it is a fact that girls reach maturity earlier than boys do. That means both physically and emotionally. Men mature roughly 11 years after women do, so maybe that is why fraternities are so seemingly idiotic. Because the men that join these frats have not quite reached the mature age that many woman have. “Women were twice as likely to experience the feeling that they were the grownup in their current relationship.”(Medical Daily) This speaks volumes to the general fact that men mature slower than woman. Men in relationships do not understand that their partners may be feeling as though they are a grownup. This is because they are unaware of actual maturity differences. If men knew that they were less mature we would be seeing efforts for men to grow the hell up.

Generally we come across a barrier socially between men and woman. If you are a woman then you most likely have been asked “why do you care?” by a man when you express your feeling about a situation. Emotional expectations for men start young. All humans are born with the capability of emotion. But at some point boys start to lose this capability, or at least they start to suppress it. “This kind of mind-heart disconnect begins when boys are in the early years of elementary school. You’ll see kindergarten and first-grade boys bringing stuffed animals from home to comfort them amid their fear of the social demands of school. They’ll even hold hands and put their arms around other boys and girls to show affection and express joy. By second grade, male indoctrination begins. Boys are sissies if they show fear, pain or heaven forbid the most taboo expression of all: crying.” (Psych today)

Most men do not have those close bonds that women have with their peers. So, maybe that’s the real reason fraternities are so appealing. They’re a way to find that close bond, the brotherhood needed to become so emotionally close. You may be thinking, “Frat boys have no emotional depth, they’re just a bunch of idiots who want to party.” That is such a painful overgeneralization. Most young men, even if they don’t know it, joined their fraternity for more than just good parties. There is research proving intellectual and emotional improvement in men from fraternities “The 16% of college graduates who were members of Greek organizations are more likely to report being emotionally supported and having experiential and deep learning activities while in college” (Gallup) So who are we to say that fraternities are so bad after all?

Yes, some fraternities have made themselves look bad. Yes, some fraternities support racism and sexism. Yes, some fraternities have members who are assholes. But no, not all fraternities live off of people’s misery. Not all fraternities consist of idiots who want to party. Some fraternities are full of men who believe in brotherhood and respect. Before you generalize a fraternity into the category of “nasty cult” do your research.

My brother joined a fraternity because finding good friends in college is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Friendship isn’t easy, especially if you’re an introvert. Because of these things, I have decided that joining a fraternity was the best decision my brother made. Finding friends who can help you become your best self make all the difference. My brother, and most other young men will find that they can and should express their emotion, and when they do, their lives will be much better lived.

Works Cited:

The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/09/boys-have-deep-emotional-lives/279359/>.

@Best_Schools. “Joining a Fraternity or Sorority: The Real Pros and Cons of Greek Life | The Best Schools.” The Best Schools. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://www.thebestschools.org/features/joining-a-fraternity-or-sorority-real-pros-and-cons-of-greek-life/>.

Gallup, Inc. “Fraternity and Sorority Membership Linked to Higher Well-Being for College Grads.” Gallup.com.27 May 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://www.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/173630/fraternity-sorority-membership-linked-higher-college-grads.aspx>.

Medical Daily. “Men Mature After Women — 11 Years After, To Be Exact — A British Study Reveals.” 11 June 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://www.medicaldaily.com/men-mature-after-women-11-years-after-be-exact-british-study-reveals-246716>.

@PsychToday. “Why Don’t Many Men Show Their Emotions?” Psychology Today. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/he-speaks-she-speaks/201501/why-don-t-many-men-show-their-emotions>.

“Reasons Why Guys Join A Fraternity.” The Fraternity Advisor. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://thefraternityadvisor.com/reasons-why-guys-join-a-fraternity/>.

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