Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

From sister to sister to woman : the role of sororities in the social transmission of gender

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  • Sororities play an important role in the process by which sorority women become gendered by influencing members' ideas about what it means to be a woman. Women and men become gendered through regular social interaction with other women and men, and sororities have a particularly strong impact on their members because sorority women spend nearly all of their time with other Greeks. Gender is one of the major ways that we organize our lives and gender is the texture and foundation of our social, political, and economic worlds. This is why we must consider the consequences of gender negotiation in all arenas, including sororities. For the most part, the sorority women who participated in this study negotiated traditional gender arrangements and constructed conservative identities. Sororities on this Pacific Northwestern university created and perpetuated conformity, dependence and political apathy in their members. These organizations developed an environment in which gender stereotyping and victimization was learned and then legitimized. Within these organizations, however, are pockets of resistance, non-compliance, empowerment, and what could be called "potentially feminist" gender negotiation.
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