The meeting, organized largely by radical feminists, is also being supported by two Delta Phi Epsilons, Rachel Glass and Hallie Fleisch. Hallie and Rachel enter wearing khaki Gap sorority uniforms. Rachel, with her short dark hair in a bob, smiles warmly and sits near Mary. Hallie looks around the room with muted horror, as if she is about to undergo a weird hazing ritual. She peeps a barely audible “hi” and drops into a corner. The other women wear an eclectic mix of combat fatigues, Guatemalan peasant dresses and biker leather gear, such as spiked wrist cuffs and dog collars. As they sprawl out on the floor, vast swaths of armpit and leg hair are exposed.
The lesbians are chatting about the Live Homosexual Acts event they are planning to stage on the Oval. “We’ll have a lesbian and gay volleyball game.”
“We should have people bring coat hangers and wire cutters to, like, symbolize putting an end to illegal abortions.”
Mary brings the meeting to order. A blonde in combat boots suggests that everyone should go around, introduce herself and describe her “first crime.” It’s intended as a humorous icebreaker.
Everyone except Hallie laughs.
“My first crime,” begins the first person up. “When I was little, I used to go under the porch and pee.”
“I don’t know if porn is a crime in Ohio,” says a girl in glasses that resemble welding goggles, “but when I was in elementary school, I used to write porno stories for my girlfriends and write dirty things about the guys they had crushes on.”
Rachel relates a story about getting a speeding ticket when she was seventeen.
It is now Hallie’s turn. She looks up with a pained expression. She struggles to say something, then blurts out, “I can’t think of anything I’ve done wrong.”
Sensing Hallie’s discomfort, the others rush to put her at ease. There is a murmur of “That’s OK, Hallie.”
The first order of business is raised by a woman who would like to exclude men from marching. She argues that men shouldn’t participate because they are the principal perpetrators of violence against women.
Across the room, a young woman begins to cry. “You all know how I feel,” she says. “There’s a lot of pain.”
Somebody else begins to cry, and soon everyone is either sniffling or rubbing somebody’s back in a comforting, supportive way – except for Hallie, who looks up with a somewhat annoyed expression and asks, “Shouldn’t we have a vote or something?”
Rachel raises her hand. “I have something to say. Didn’t we already put out a press release saying men were invited? Wouldn’t we look dumb if we changed our minds now?”
“I guess we have to let them march,” someone says.
“How about if we have them march, like, forty feet behind us?” suggests somebody else.
“It’s OK if they march,” says the leader who originally wanted to ban men altogether, “but they have to make the posters.”
When the meeting ends, Rachel Glass discusses the balance between being a sorority girl and a feminist. “I’m probably one of the only self-defined, outspoken feminists in my sorority,” Rachel says. A senior who is graduating at the end of the summer with a degree in women’s studies, Rachel describes herself as coming from an affluent background, “a completely shallow, materialistic culture which pushed me into sorority life.”
She takes issue with fraternity men, whom she feels view sorority sisters merely as “bodies,” but cherishes the sorority’s sisterhood and opportunities for leadership, which she feels have made her a strong woman. Her sorority experience was complemented by her exposure to feminism. Both influences have made her stronger and more capable of dealing with a sometimes confusing and hostile male-dominated world. Rachel cites an experience in which she drew on her strength as a feminist. “
A [sorority] friend and I were walking home from a party junior year and we got sexually assaulted,” she says. “We were walking down the street and this guy totally grabbed my friend’s ass. She stopped in her tracks, and she was like, ‘Oh, my God! That guy just touched me.’ We were like, ‘Oh, my God; oh, my God.’ We started walking away really fast. He just, like, unzipped his pants, whipped it out and started jerking off. We both felt violated.
“But I coped with it a lot better than she did, and I think that was due to being a feminist and being a woman’s-studies major and understanding, like, the system of patriarchy and how women are oppressed. I just got angry.
“My friend very much internalized it. She blamed herself and was like, ‘I shouldn’t have worn these tight black pants tonight.'”