Forbes’ Frat Douche Bill Frezza Says “The Gravest Threat To Fraternities” Are “Drunk Female Guests”
Fresh off the heels of a fraternity at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee fielding accusations that they drugged female guests with roofies, someone at Forbes.com actually decided to publish a blog post arguing “Drunk Female Guests Are The Gravest Threat To Fraternities” (cached here). It’s the kind of journalism moment that the Seth and Amy “REALLY?!” GIF was made for.
The author is Bill Frezza, a Forbes contributor and the president of The Beta Foundation, the house corporation for the Chi Phi fraternity at MIT. With no exaggeration, Frezza more concerned with frats over people. The whole thing reads like a game of Sexist Victim Blaming No Accountability Bingo: his focus on “irresponsible women,” frets about “false accusations of rape,” and repeated jabs at feminists show he doesn’t care a whit about mens’ role in sexual violence against women — a subject he glosses over entirely except to accuse women of lying about it, even though we all understand that’s really what this whole thing is about.
Frezza starts with what seemed a reasonable enough call to address drinking culture at colleges:
Unless and until we address how student drinking culture has evolved in response to the very regulations designed to control it, incidents like [like where a drunk young woman fell out a window at an MIT frat] are not going to go away.
But instead of the young men whom he has the power to influence, Frezza squarely blames their female party guests:
As recriminations against fraternities mount and panicked college administrators search for an easy out, one factor doesn’t seem to be getting sufficient analysis: drunk female guests. … [W]e have very little control over women who walk in the door carrying enough pre-gaming booze in their bellies to render them unconscious before the night is through. … In our age of sexual equality, why drunk female students are almost never characterized as irresponsible jerks is a question I leave to the feminists. But it is precisely those irresponsible women that the brothers must be trained to identify and protect against, because all it takes is one to bring an entire fraternity system down.
As Frezza portrays the situation, frat parties would be calm and civilized affairs if it weren’t for boozy broads showing up and ruining everything. And it’s not just paranoia: he’s literally advising frats to control the behavior of their female guests, rather than control themselves. (Of course, drunk male guests show up at parties, Frezza writes, but “it remains socially acceptable” for bouncers to kick them out. Doesn’t that seem like like a concern to take up with bouncers, not the readers of Forbes.com?)
Not only is Frezza focusing on the wrong threat, but such an argument is utterly disingenuous. The fact remains that no matter how much you control a woman’s behavior, some rapists will attend some frat parties and commit rape. The problem is rapists, not women. And some frats as a whole — like the one at UW Milwaukee, allegedly — target women for sexual predation. No bouncer in the world eject the deeply entrenched belief that drunk women are fair game for sexual violation. There is nothing about anyone’s behavior that makes makes rape, abuse or injury inevitable or justified, There’s no amount of cocktails you can drink, or joints you can smoke, or pills you can swallow, that make you “deserve what you get.”
Secondly, ejecting drunk and blacked out women out into the street at night, as Frezza suggests, sounds callous at best and potentially deadly at worst. I mean, is this really something that needs to be spelled out? Not even cab ride or a well-lit walk home is a guarantee an incapacitated woman won’t be attacked by other predators. The proper way to behave in this situation rocket science: the kind, compassionate thing to do when anyone is passed out is to let them sleep it off (and barf if necessary). These are human beings that Frezza is writing about, not “liabilities.”
Thirdly, focusing on punishing individual women obscures the larger systemic problems. Binge drinking culture and our America’s absurdly high drinking age (21) are two problems that need to be addressed in the service of eradicating sexual assault. If Frezza was trying to make either of these points, he failed miserably. No wonder Forbes.com yanked his piece down almost immediately.
Rather than focus on the behavior of the young men he is in a position to influence Bill Frezza pivoted his focus on the behavior of young women being victimized. It’s sexist and as sure sign as any that when it comes to improving the treatment of women by some fraternity members that it may be a case of the blind leading the blind.
[Image of a crushed beer can via Shutterstock]