Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Soldiers and comics, the lot of us.


This is going to be really lame. And long.

As many of you know, and some of you don't, I was a proud yet reluctant member of Chi Omega Gamma. This sorority has been targeted by my college's administration for years now for breaking rules and being drunk and hazing, and this year they finally acted and took away the sorority's charter for a couple of years. Because of this, the current members of the sorority are not allowed to basically acknowledge that it even exists.

The Greek system at Augie is localized, so it's different than at bigger schools. No other schools on the planet have Cogs. It was just us. There are no houses, so you're not required to live with one another. You pay nearly nothing to be a member (I don't remember how much, because honestly? I never paid my dues) and they're much smaller groups. Basically, it's like being a member of a club with pride colors and a fuckload of hazing.

There are few things that I've been proud to be a part of. But I was fucking proud to be a Cog.

Granted, by my senior year I hated myself for it—you know, conforming to a stereotype and all that crap—and I began to understand that we weren't much different from any other group on campus. But I'm feeling nostalgic since the sorority doesn't exist as of right now, which is a bummer. Hence blog.

I feel like if anything, we should end with thunderous protest and riots. I basically want to be a part of driving our group into prophetic and shameful infamy. But that won't happen. They're going to follow the rules and try to start up again at the administration's appointed time, something I think is commendable but very un-Cog-ish.

Being a Cog was…surreal. Immediately after I was activated into the sorority, I started to swagger. I was formidable. I was also a moron. Still am a moron. But now I recognize it.

We were basically known for being the drunken asshole whores on campus. I mean, all Greeks are generally associated with that kind of behavior, but the Cogs took it to another level. They were a group of strong, brash, and mischievous emotional crackpots who weren't afraid of their public image as long as it stayed within the bounds of "strong, brash, and mischievous."

After that we could be divided into two types: those willing to loudly defend our ludicrous behavior until death, and those willing to laugh at anyone for thinking our behavior was ludicrous. Soldiers and comics, the lot of us.

Those were the girls with whom I chose to associate my college career. Most of our members didn't realize they were emotional crackpots, but if you ask me, we all fucking were. It's funny, really. I think we were hilarious, and should be celebrated for being so. And if you disagree with me, I will fight you.

There were other sororities that had their own stereotypes, and ours was...I don't know. I'd have to ask how other people viewed us.

We were not known for stability. We were not known for educational pursuits. We were not known for community service, or for creating a positive image on campus. The more I think about it, we were just known because we stomped around wearing big red coats, swearing and smoking and being really fucking drunk a lot.

Drinking games were our forte, and we organized elaborate tournaments with other organizations inside bars and basements. We usually won. We also completely dominated the Augustana intramural scene, since half of our members were good athletes who dropped school sports so they could drink more on the weekends. We were school intramural champions three of the four years I was there. I personally contributed to our intramural awesomeness by being the Augustana Intramural Trivial Pursuit Champion, because if you had seen me try to play on our football team you'd still be laughing right now.

We believed we were culturally accepting because we had like, what, three minorities involved in the sorority? Like wow, you let in Mexicans and Asians and lesbians? That's crazy talk. We even had a black girl. Man, we were facetiously tolerant.

I feel like we laughed a lot more than other groups, probably because some of the shit we did was so unreasonable that the only way of dealing with it was through mockery. Our discussions were like epic battles to see who could be cleverer, who had gotten into more trouble, who could make the others laugh harder and more openly.

The Cogs liked to brag about how they were the "guy's sorority" and about how they were like "more of a fraternity than a sorority" because they you know, drank heavily and played sports and video games and slept around with little regard for emotions. I hate to break it to you, but drinking and sports and sex aren't exclusively male, and they sure as hell aren't exclusively Cog. They are activities that PEOPLE engage in, not guys, and not girls who act like guys.

Wake the fuck up. They're "cool" activities because they're fun, not because dudes do them.

(Aside Rant: I always fucking hated being proud of "acting like guys." It insinuates that guys are preferable to girls, that they're better, more credible…

Why do some of us, as girls, draw superiority upon ourselves in relation to our involvement with behaviors associated with dudes? We should place value the conduct itself instead of placing value on its association with males.

It's like talking about white guys who "dress like they're black." They don't dress "like they're black," they dress in a way they think is intimidating. Some intimidating bad ass who happens to be black dresses a certain way, and that get up is imitated by emulaters. It doesn't matter if I think they look like cartoons, because they think they look bad ass. Or the fact that boys pee standing up, and girls don't. Usually. But a girl taking a standing piss doesn't mean that she's acting like a boy, it means that she didn't find a suitable toilet in time, or that she didn't care to, or she likes to feel a nice breeze.

It's hard to ignore historical stereotypes, and yes, they exist for a reason, whatever. In the end, though, labeling gender-specific behaviors shows extreme weakness. If anything, stereotypes can really only be applied to like, personality types. There is no way anyone should be. There are ways people just are.)

But back to my Ode de Cog.

Although we had extremely weak moments, we always tried to cover them up with lots of yelling and crying and laughter and beer.

Personally, I'm glad that we acted. If there was anything we were good at, it was sticking it to the man, or basically sticking it to whoever pissed us off, whether it was The Man or the Delta Chi's (who were a bunch of lousy cakebakers. Sorry, Nia.). Did we embarrass ourselves rather than esteem? Probably. But it was funny, and fuck them for not being able to take a joke.

We liked to think that groups on campus emulated us for being candid and obnoxious and winning things. We liked to think that we were tough and undeniably ideal human beings.

Whether others viewed us that way is irrelevant. We thought we were born of fire, so we were. Basically, we were idiots.

We were tight, tighter than other Greek groups, I think, because of the absolute Hell of pledging into the sorority. Of course, every Greek group at Augie would probably say the exact same thing.

We got the shit hazed out of us, morning, afternoon, and night, for five full weeks. Every single day we'd get up before classes and go through drills, then after school we'd sit in classrooms for study hours, and then the second those study hours were over we'd run somewhere and get ass-pounded again. We'd go home exhausted and beaten, and then study up on everything we'd have to learn to be in the fucking sorority until four in the morning, then wake up again at six and start everything all over again, and we hated everyone who wasn't going through the bullshit that we did. None of these activities were particularly difficult; they just psyched you out like a motherfucker. And we weren't forced to do any of them…as pledges, we chose to.

But it definitely gave us a completely unshakeable bond. I did not like everyone in the sorority. I hated some of them. The only arch nemesis I ever acquired was a fellow Cog. But there was this unspoken, sincere respect that we all had for each other.

Like I said, by my senior year I hated much about the sorority. But that was due, in part, to how the Cogs changed my self-perception. I basically allowed a side of myself to shine more brightly than before, I lost the ability to feel embarrassed for my actions (well, certain actions anyway), and I started standing up for what I believed.

The Cogs gave me a distinct sense of self, and once I'd grasped it I didn't need the sorority anymore. I still value the friends I made more than I value myself, and without that sorority I wouldn't have made those friends. That alone makes me love being a Cog. Like I said, I don't need it anymore, and I'm almost ashamed I was so weak that I need that social circle to begin with, but at one point in my life being a member was essential.

I guess the point of this whole thing is...well…now that the sorority is unofficially gone, I'm sorry for it. Every college needs its high and mighty assholes. The Cogs were what made Augustana amazing for me, and without that, with this new image the school is trying to create by shutting us down, one of wholesome studiousness…I no longer am proud to be an Augie alum, but I am proud of my bitchcrazy sorority for stickin' it where it counts.


Anonymous said...

But, do remember -- the "parent generation" knows better than we do, therefore, this is all fine.

Can I still be a pirate?

Rassles said...

aren't pirates comedic soldiers anyway?

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