Boys to Men: A Conversation on Fraternity Culture and Toxic Masculinity with Bill Gaskins and Andrew Moisey

Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.

The Musician’s Brawl, ca. 1625–1630, Georges de La Tour. The image is in the public domain.
Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.
Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.

BG: How did you maintain the line between witness and participant in making this work? What made you invisible while making each exposure?

AM: I didn’t, I crossed back and forth. I didn’t sing songs or take vows but I made close friends. There are negatives of me vomiting into trash cans. But longevity was the secret. You spend years there and people will go about their business without worrying about you.

(both images) Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.
Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.
Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.
Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.
Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.

America is so much about promising to be perfect and then doing whatever we want, about capitalizing on our privilege. That’s partly what fraternity culture is about — capitalizing on the privileges of belonging to a special, exceptional society — and for too many Americans that’s what America is about.

(all images above) Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.
Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.

You don’t need a secret society in a nation that already gives you the right to speech and assembly; in fact it’s counterproductive for an open democracy to have them. Besides, if fraternities were all about charity and openness they’d just be like every other college group on campus, and hundreds of thousands of college students are not lining up to rush Amnesty International.

Untitled, © Andrew Moisey, from: The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, published by Daylight Books, 2018. All images courtesy of the photographer and Daylight Books.
“Skull & Keys initiation, 1899?” University of California at Berkeley. [negative] Identifier: BANC PIC 1960.010 ser. 1 :0193 — NEG (4x5) Format: 1 negative : glass; 4 x 5 in.

College fraternities are officially sanctioned male gangs. They don’t do drive-bys, they mostly drink and have parties and play video games, and the damage they do is usually more collateral than direct. But they’re still a gang.





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society for photographic education | understanding how photography matters in the world