Believe it or not: a sorority horror story

The text messages could have come out of a modernized adaptation of “The Stepford Wives.” The main difference between the 1972 novel and the events that occured on campus is that instead of Connecticut, our thriller occurs in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In a series of texts released on Monday, members of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority displayed their loyalty to the Machine-picked candidate for homecoming queen, Katelyn Katsafanas, over their own sorority sister, Halle Lindsay. “We are supporting [Katsafanas], we have to support what the Machine says to support…” reads one message in an Alpha Gamma Delta freshman GroupMe thread.

Amanda Bennett, a senior at The University of Alabama addressed the issue in an article published on AL.com. In it, she names racism as being one of the main motivators fueling the support of Katsafanas over Lindsay for homecoming queen, citing that “The Machine has never sponsored an African American candidate for homecoming queen.”

While race certainly may be an element, it is not the only one. Nor is it the main reason. In reality it comes down to a matter of power, control, obedience and conformity. I do not believe that these women would publically support anyone, whether she be black or snow-white, without the Machine’s blessing. Unable to move without further instruction, one text reads that they are waiting to hear from the Machine. It is shocking to realize that near the end of 2015, several women here at The University of Alabama still lack the agency to vote on a matter as small as homecoming queen.

Although it is a shame that she does not have the backing of her own sorority sisters, the real victim in this tale is not Halle Lindsay. The people suffering most are the sorority women who are afraid to do anything other than what they are told. In 2015, they remain controlled by an all-powerful, all-knowing, overwhelmingly male force. The Machine seems to have a death grip on these women, and they are terrified to leave because of very valid fears of social ostracization and physical violence. Both of which the Machine has perpetrated in recent years and both of which the University has turned a blind eye to time and time again. By bullying those who they deem weaker, the Machine forces its way and bends the will of its victims to their own whether their subjects are in favor of it or not. Like an elephant with a single thread tied around its leg, they have the option to leave but stay instead, shackled not by chains but by a piece of string.

What is the ultimate consequence for going against the Machine? Is it death? No, it is something much worse: social shunning.

“It’s not anything against her, we love her but by social media y’all have to support the Machine’s choice cause if not every fraternity in the machine will black ball us, so say goodbye to swaps…” states another text. Socrates, when given the option between death and losing the Greek identity which defined him (through exile from his community), chose to die. But that was 2500 years ago. Why, in this day, do we continue to disempower women and allow them to be victimized? Why does the Machine continue to go unchecked? Why do we still even have a “Machine”? These are the same questions that continue to circulate year after year and class after class. But I hope that if not this year, sometime very soon, the elephant will break the string, Socrates will choose life, and the Stepford Wife will escape.

Happy Homecoming Week everyone!

Erin Mosley is a junior majoring in studio art. Her column runs biweekly.

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