Are you a woman of color at UC Berkeley? Do you want to learn how to make the exclusionary spaces of frat parties include you? You’ve come to the right place. I used to be just like you, but now, having climbed up the social hierarchy, I’m passing down my tips. Here’s the ultimate guide on how I perform my race, conform to the Eurocentric male gaze and can’t reform the controversial institutions.
Please note, this guide is based on personal experience and conclusive studies remain pending. Side effects may include identity crises, low self-esteem and body dysmorphia. If you are susceptible to any of these, this guide is not for you. Consult your mental health professional before proceeding. Reader discretion is advised.
Step 1: Understand, we’re forBIDden here
Women of color often ask me why we never get bids (bro jargon; loosely translates to invitations that grant either insider or outsider status in dominant social realms).
See, fraternities, and their visibly white membership, appear to segregate campuses with their historically racist pasts. They’re a reminder of white men living and celebrating above us, socially and geographically, on Piedmont Avenue.
Frat parties today seem to be protected privileges of these origins. Bids are only distributed to sororities, which are similarly siloed in majority white, wealthy spheres of semesterly dues, generational familiarity with Greek life and leisure time for banquets.
We never were on the guest list.
Step 2: Create a body like Berkeley
Brothers prefer blondes, and since no woman of color has that natural hair color, I recommend investing in bleach (there are some great affordable options at Walgreens).
Don’t forget to wear blue contact lenses either. Not only do they appeal to the white beauty standard, but I’ve noticed that they also blind me to the systemic favor toward it, every time my “brain like Berkeley” comprehends it.
The realization bears heavy initially, but you have to cut the brothers some slack. They’re progressive all week, in lecture hall monologues and philanthropy events. They’re trying their best, so it’s okay that some of them are a little regressive every Thursday through Sunday.
Step 3: Outcompete others for the one seat at the (beer pong) table
When deciding which girls to go with, I know now to always choose the whitest combination. It significantly increases social capital through affiliation. You could be the chosen token person of color, allowed to duck under a brother’s sweaty armpit and into a sweatier basement. I’ve had the honor many times.
Step 4: Manipulate the microaggressions
Not unlike the world at large, the straight, white male at the gate decides our fate.
When my group designates me to flirt with the brother guarding the door, I pregame heavily before initiating contact. This way, my words come out slurred, and he isn’t able to detect the foreign accent.
When I used to take along a racially homogeneous group (misstep: refer to Step 3), I would give him just one name for all of us. Studies conclude that he is more likely to gaslight himself into thinking the pot he smoked earlier is making him see triple, rather than to be able to tell the difference between all of us.
And just like that, we’ve once again finessed our way into a social space that doesn’t want us.
Step 5: Fake it till you make it/out
I’ve pushed through many crowded bars to have my red Solo cup filled with jungle juice. If they’re out, I just down some complacency instead. It’s not conducive to your cognitive dissonance to advance onto this step sober.
I forget about my lower position in the gender hierarchy on the dance floor by hopping onto an elevated surface.
I’m patient; I know there are many brothers here who’d love to sexualize me. When one finally comes around and makes a low comment about having never been with someone of my race, I let him fetishize me. My nod of affirmation means he can hold my hand and guide me through the crowd, push me against the wall where his all-white lineage’s framed picture hangs.
Step 6: Don’t hang out in the emotional hangover
When my shoes unstick from the atmosphere of white catering and validation, I go home. I’m cold on the way back as a gust of disgust hits me, but I always stop at Sweetheart Cafe regardless. It’s preventative so that the nauseating humiliation doesn’t make me yak the next morning. Order ahead on Snackpass, it’s very convenient.
In the morning-after debriefing with the girls from the night before, I don’t mention my differing experience. It’s no use, the frats will do anything to make sure the party doesn’t get shut down.
Step 7: Do it again, and again, and again
That’s it! That’s UC Berkeley’s presiding social scene. You could, of course, opt out of it and choose an inclusive kickback or night in instead. In fact, I recommend it.
But please! The next time you’re at a frat party, do come over and say hi!