Is This Sorority Recruitment Video Objectifying Its Members?

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Young college women have a variety of reasons to rush a sorority, and recruiting new members to carry on the sorority's legacy is how sororities thrive year after year. Now one sorority is coming under fire for how they recruit potential sisters - and whether it's bad for women as a whole.

The University of Alabama's Alpha Phi chapter has been criticized for creating a recruitment video that "sells themselves on looks alone," and the accusation is causing lots of controversy. Writer A.L. Bailey took to the internet to pen an op-ed on why Alpha Phi's sorority recruitment video was "as bad for women as Donald Trump." The writer's biggest complaint? That the women (most of whom are white and blonde) are showing off their looks - and that's it - in the video.

Here's what A.L. wrote:

[T]hese young women, with all their flouncing and hair-flipping, are making it so terribly difficult for anyone to take them seriously, now or in the future. The video lacks any mention of core ideals or service and philanthropy efforts. It lacks substance but boasts bodies. It's the kind of thing that subconsciously educates young men on how to perceive, and subsequently treat, women in their lives. It's the kind of thing I never want my young daughters to see or emulate.

I'd like to agree with A.L., because I do believe that sororities should strive to be seen as more than the stereotype. I definitely agree that the lack of diversity within the video is problematic - the University of Alabama's Greek life is no stranger to controversy on this front, and has a reputation of being racially segregated. Still, I can't fault the actual sorority recruitment video for those problems: those issues exist, but they would have been exemplified in any version of this video.

Perhaps the "flouncing" in this video is a symptom of a larger cultural issue within sorority life rather than one with Alpha Phi in particular. It's unfortunate, but many sororities do want the reputation of being the "coolest" or "most attractive" on campus - sadly, women are taught from an early age that it's their looks that are their greatest commodity. In some cases, playing up these traits takes precedent over some more noble titles, like "most ambitious" or "highest GPA on campus," even if the women within the sororities do pride themselves on being smart and hardworking.

The video may make it seem like Alpha Phi puts looks before brains, but it would do the sorority a disservice to write them off simply because they put out a video that showed off the former. We have no idea what the rest of the recruiting process looks like, so hopefully this sorority added a bit more substance to other aspects of recruitment. It's unfortunate that the average viewer can't speak to what else this sorority is about, but let's not judge the entire organization by one poor video.

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