Thursday, September 17, 2009

A friendly reminder of why it's not nice to label people

Just over 20 years ago, (<--I know) I pledged a sorority.

Over the years, I have periodically found myself having to defend that decision to people who think sororities are outdated, or elitist, or petty, or conformist. I have heard all the labels associated with “sorority girls:” Stupid. Slutty. Snobby. Superficial.

I even once had someone snidely ask me if I could not make "my own" friends and thus had to buy them.

The stereotypes are astounding and, quite frankly, an outrage. What’s more, they often come from the same people who are horrified by the use of racial or ethnic slurs. Why they feel these types of prejudices are acceptable, when others clearly aren’t, is beyond me. As we all know, stereotypes are dangerous - and based on ignorance.

So for all of those ready to level any of the above stereotypes at me, or my sisters, consider this your education.

“Diverse” is the only generalization I can truly direct at my sisters. Some of us were brainy, others struggled in school. Some of us had steady boyfriends all through college, others played the field, others barely dated at all. Some of us played sports, others couldn’t catch a ball to save our lives. Some of us partied, others hardly ever went out past midnight. We were white, black, Indian and Hispanic.

This past weekend, some recent alumni and the current sisters planned a huge reunion during our college’s annual Homecoming.

Dozens of alumni sisters attended, spanning more than 20 years of graduating classes. The college said we were the largest group to pre-register for any event at any Homecoming weekend ever. Wow.

Catching up with my sisters – many of whom I have not seen in 10, even 15 years, was a thrill. We laughed, we reminisced, we ate, we drank, we stayed up late and we reveled in each other’s company.

What’s more, the shared experience of the sorority resulted in instant bonding with the current sisters and younger alumni. I not only caught up with old friends, I made a host of new ones as well.

One of Saturday’s receptions featured a 25-minute slide show of photos through the years. I didn’t even know some of the women in the pictures, but I could not take my eyes off it. They remain the incredible group I became a part of so many years ago. Steeped in tradition, fiercely close, I have no doubt they’ll be back in 20 years – rejoicing in each other.

Sunday came too fast and I drove away from them all with a heavy heart.

Through the years, we have been there for each other through weddings and divorces. Babies and struggles with infertility. Birthday celebrations and serious illnesses.

To boil this amazing experience that I have had down to one nasty little phrase is beyond rude. So stop it, please.

Doing so insults my friends. My confidants. My partners-in-crime. My shoulders to lean on.

My sisters.


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Anonymous beckie said...


Wiping the tears away so I can type =(

6:29 PM  
Blogger Not Hannah said...

Oh, Kimberly. I'm so sorry if my post upset you. I have many friends who were in sororities in college (and some in college who were in them)and it somehow never occurred to me that being flippant about the term "sorority girl" might be offensive. Shame on me. I'm one of those people who get het up about stereotypes and, thus, I should know better.

I'm sorry, my friend. I'm going right now to get rid of that nasty little phrase.


7:02 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

I pledges a sorority too - my engineering major introduced me to plenty of nice guy friends, but I missed having girlfriends! It was a great way to meet great women.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Bought them? **SNORT** at the price of $40 dues per year? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I never had sisters until I went to college and I could never have asked for better ones - no matter what "they" say!

9:29 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Oh, and is there any way the rest of us who couldn't make it could see that slide show? :)

9:30 PM  

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