Sorority Girl Email: How We Laud & Coddle Bullies And Forget The Bullied
Last week, an email from a sorority girl in Maryland went viral, thanks to Gawker, and–to use the vocabulary of its author–it’s fucking horrible. I was going to write about this last week, but I didn’t; however, the issue has recently “concluded.” Let’s go over the letter itself, then focus on the reactions, which I find to be more important.
It is 882 words long. 41 of those words are the F-bomb. (According to one comment, that is. I’m not going to waste my time counting the figures myself.) It is full of ENTIRELY CAPITALIZED SENTENCES. It is a brazen, unmitigated attack at sorority members, an attack that has no decency and even threatens violence in the form of “cunt punts” against other members.
What shocks me more than this, though, are the comments from the Gawker article. Here are a few:
Really? If she is seriously going to become the CEO of a major corporation because of this email, then I don’t want to be on this planet anymore.
I do not–repeat, DO NOT–understand people who think that being an asshole to others is somehow worthy of praise, emulation, or promotion. To me, anyone who thinks that way is a psychopath or a politician–but I repeat myself. And maybe that’s where the problem is with our current culture: we have psychopaths running both our major corporations and the federal/state government.
But I digress. The thing is, if you would “laugh” at this, I think really think you need your head examined. Being downright mean to other people like this is acceptable in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence and no one can be coddled, but not otherwise. You can make your point without entirely relying upon vulgarity, attacks, and threats of violence. And I would like to think that such writing would be utterly unacceptable in a business situation, as it would be completely and totally unprofessional.
Not sure about that, though. Some places might do that. They might even find it fine. In which case, those places are hellholes.
I also wonder why this comment is buried so low. Maybe the truth stings?
Nice they are talking about my old shitty frat. Honestly after reading it I can’t blame those girls, in all seriousness they should want to hang out with other better frats. Sigma Nu sucks. I remember the social would always plan evens with the worst sororities because nobody else wanted to. DG, Zeta, and sig kap…. it was like a rotation. most people dropped out after they could get into the bars. It was mostly full of rapists, dealers, or social ackward vigins. I was neither just a frisbee playing hippie:) I dropped out after the exec bored wouldn’t investigate the rape of an unconcius girl in the house, even tho it was video taped. It makes that stubenville ohio rape case look not so bad. There is literally or atleast was a rape room set up in the basement of that frat house. I know of 3 or 4 rapes that were swept under the rug. I really can’t fault those girls for not wanted to talk to that frat definately safer to hang out with other frats. Anyhow man I love social media
And when you read the email, especially about the part about the other sorority girls being “FUCKING boring,” it seems to me the whole thing is a complaint about sorority girls not putting out for a bunch of guys. And to me, that is just gross and even barbaric.
Fortunately, the sorority took the right action and recently accepted the young woman’s resignation. That was the smart, professional thing to do. Already, though, some are wondering “I hope this woman’s life isn’t ruined because of this email.”
Oh, FFS, this woman got kicked out of a sorority. As @stressnstrain noted, “Have some perspective.” It is hardly the end of the world. Many productive people are not members of a fraternity or a sorority, and you know what? That’s a good thing. Everything I saw from my college career was that frats & sororities were nothing more than extended exercises in binge drinking, sex, and following utterly ridiculous rules meant to destroy your life and your individuality. In fact, leaving the sorority may be a good thing.
Another commenter on the FB page says:
I understand that this young lady made a mistake and did not uphold the ideals that we all expect as a Delta Gamma. But I also feel compassion for her and would have hoped that Delta Gamma could have reached out to her with some sort of guidance and counseling rather than just accepting her resignation. I’m sure she feels alone and humiliated at this moment. I hope that she has others to turn to because it appears Delta Gamma has abandoned her and I don’t believe that was the correct course of action.
PLEASE. She “feels alone and humiliated”? That’s the point. She should feel humiliated over this. Boohoo–this sort of whining is the same sort of thing as when adults start “feeling bad” for the bully on the playground when he’s told off for being a bully. It’s sick and makes me want to throw up all over my shoes. That commenter should be utterly ashamed of herself.
The basic thing to take away from this is that all these people are horribly, horribly sick. They’re messed up. And while I previously laid the blame for most of our problems on the baby boomer generation, I think it might just be all these folks who somehow want to coddle bullies and jerks. Maybe they’re the problem. I don’t know. But what they’re saying goes against all norms of behavior and is completely unnatural.
I will say one thing, though, and that is I kind of agree with this PolicyMic article posted by Laura Donovan. Donovan writes:
I’m the first to admit the email was horrendous, not to mention further confirmation that I made the right move to opt out of Greek life in college despite the fact that practically everyone in my immediate family was in a frat or sorority, but it’s my hope that Martinson’s whole life isn’t destroyed by this single email.
For those of you who are out of college, think about this: did you ever do anything stupid during your undergrad days? Something shameful that you’re not proud of? At the beginning of my junior year, I found myself in a grouchy mood and wrote an article for my college publication that offended so many people, some called for my resignation. I received email threats and was harassed and publicly shamed even by fellow staff members. It was tough, worst of all because I didn’t feel everything I said I felt in my column. I remember thinking I was going to be punished forever for an article I wasn’t particularly proud of, and that no one wanted to see me other than the girl who’d upset some folks with my 600-word article. None of the good work or highly lauded columns I’d produced mattered to anyone. A single article made them want to demonize me forever and be their punching bag anytime they needed someone to direct their anger at.
That was almost five years ago, but earlier this month, a colleague brought up the article I spent my final years of college trying to forget, as he’d heard about it from a mutual friend who’d been joking that I’ve been a huge firebrand since college. My demeanor immediately changed. I reacted with hostility and began to cry. Why did this single thing I did as a 20-year-old continue to follow me? I’d worked so hard to put it behind me, and others were still mocking me for it.
Part of that is, unfortunately, the price for writing stupid stuff in the Internet age. To deal with it, you grow a thick skin and get over it. You may also say, “Yes, what I wrote back then was wrong, and I know it.” Admitting it is the first step to fixing your problem, and I think once you do that, it should be like a reputational bankruptcy case–you lose a lot of credibility for the original stupidity, but you wipe your slate clean and start over again. It should not be allowed to dog her life forever. A year or two, maybe, but people do need to recognize that people change and must drop the subject sooner or later–preferably sooner. If I was hiring her 10-15 years from now, we might joke about it, but I wouldn’t let it guide my actions. Nobody is defined by a single moment, no matter how hard authors and politicians try to make it so. That isn’t fair or just.
However, Donovan also writes (emphasis added):
What I wrote was nothing like Martinson’s email, which is most certainly unacceptable to send to anyone, let alone sorority sisters you supposedly love like family. Martinson should have known better than to talk like that and use slurs, but I don’t think it was right of the internet to shame her in the way that it did, and I don’t want her to think the rest of her life has to be defined by this single email. If anything, she knows to be more careful with the way she presents herself on social media and online, and hopefully she realizes there’s more to life than a poorly executed Greek event.
She left the sorority, and she’s doing the right thing by going dark. Once the dust settles, she should release a statement of apology, and hopefully she will be able to rebuild from there. You may not like her (she doesn’t sound like someone I’d want to hang out with, and I’m certain I’m too “f-cking AWKWARD and boring” for her), but I don’t think she should be punished forever for this, at least if she shows some remorse once the interwebs is finished chucking stones at her.
It is absolutely right for the Internet to mock her and shame her for what she did. And contra commenter Michelle Adams, we should condemn her for her actions. Again, how else does one learn what is right and what is wrong? It’s a corrective mechanism, and it works pretty damn well. Sure, not all mocking and shaming and condemnation is right–I mean, if a Nazi guy tried to “mock” me for being friends with Jews, for example–but for the most part, when someone goes really out of line, it is absolutely correct for other individuals to mock them for it. Would you not punish your children if they did something wrong? (If you genuinely say “I wouldn’t” to that question, then tell me how are they going to become good, upstanding adults instead of degenerate assholes who use everyone else as tools to meet their own inner desires?)
This lauding and coddling of bullies makes me want to vomit, as I’ve said before. And as I’ve said before, this is unnatural. This is not how things are supposed to work. Or at least, not in the past. I guess the new standard now is for people who are mean assholes who use others will be praised and supported, while those who are nice, hard-working people will be denigrated and left in the cold.
If that’s the vision of the world these people want, then I want no part of it.