Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood, and Privilege on Campus

By Peggy Reeves Sanday | Go to book overview

Two
The XYZ Express

The XYZ Express occurred in February 1983 after one of the fraternity's weekly parties. Parties at XYZ were similar to those at some other fraternities. A very strong grain punch was served, made with the flavor of Kool-Aid. One student reported that she had seen brothers “do coke” before or during XYZ parties. According to her, drinking and dancing took place on the first floor, and taking drugs was relegated to the second floor. Occasionally there were threats of fights when people from other frats tried to crash a party.

Alice and Anna, women students at U., describe the sexual culture that made the XYZ Express a logical part of party activities. The stories they tell are important because they are told from the point of view of young women who were attracted to life at the house. Their stories illuminate not only the sexual culture of the house but also the motivation of women who participate in this culture.

I begin with Alice's story. Alice lived at the XYZ house one summer. She describes the importance of drinking and “hitting on” women to the brothers' lifestyle. She introduces the concept of “riffing,” the practice of getting sex from a woman in exchange for a good time and alcohol. She also describes the ritual of the “circle dance,” a ritual that illustrates the emphasis on male bonding in the life of the house. Alice is sympathetic to the brothers, many of whom were her friends, and yet she realizes that the sexual mores at the house could easily lead to gang rape.


ALICE'S STORY

Alice lived at the XYZ house during one summer. Finding a job at home that summer didn't interest her, even though she didn't have a job at school. She was very low on money, and the cheapest place to live on campus during the summer was in a fraternity house. She looked at a

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