The week before spring break, the Indiana Daily Student ran a story interviewing participants in a growing trend as they drew greek fraternity letters on their breasts, took topless photos and shared the shots — nicknamed “Rush Boobs” — with brothers to promote their organization during ?recruitment.
The tradition, evidenced by ?TotalFratMove.com’s prolific collection, is both prevalent and ?time-honored. Despite the condemnation of various administrators and campus leaders, Rush Boobs are certainly being shared on IU’s campus and ?beyond.
Obviously, the practice is hugely problematic. Not only does it encourage the objectification and sexual commodification of women for the sake of a men’s organization, it precariously toes the line of privacy exploitation, revenge porn and ?celebrated misogyny.
While the original coverage exposed the multi-faceted grossness that is the Rush Boobs tradition, it also touched on the fact that the women who participated in taking photos of themselves did so ?willingly.
Since no names or faces were attached to the photos, the participants said they felt detached from their photos, according to the article. They did not, however, know what happened to the photo afterword.
As frustrating and disturbing as the nude promotion of fraternities may be, it is beyond the realm of any institution to limit those women’s right to do whatever they choose with their bodies.
If they decide to write on themselves and take photos, no matter the nature of said photos, they certainly may.
To deny them that right would simply be endorsing ?another brand of objectification. At stake here is far more than the misuse of topless photos.
The issue at hand being woefully overlooked is the origin of this tradition’s popularity: the fraternities ?themselves.
“Rush Boobs,” as the article delineates, are frequently part of a pledgeship process that includes a multitude of challenges and demands.
In order to become members, men must complete a series of tasks or face consequences. In reality, it is their agency that’s being denied here, not the women who participate.
Potential brothers are pressured by their peers into asking this of a woman in order to achieve brotherhood status, and it is this kind of hazing practice we should be focusing our energy on ?eliminating.
According to the men interviewed, they felt uncomfortable and guilty when approaching women about providing Rush Boobs photos — the pressure to conform to fraternity tradition pushes them to ask things of their peers that compromise, as one interviewee put it, their “gentlemanliness.”
As derogatory as the practice is for women, the ones being denied their selfhood here are the men.
“Rush Boobs” are merely a symptom of the disease that is pledgeship hazing; that is the practice at the root of so many issues within the greek system on IU’s campus and across the nation.
As evidenced by the participation of both greek and unaffiliated women, the consequences have clearly spilled over into the lives of those beyond the organizations that abuse potential ?members.
To adequately address the issue of Rush Boobs and all things similar, the conversation must be centered around stricter consequences for ?fraternities who haze.
Women volunteering topless photos of themselves with greek letters on their breasts is objectionable. Threatening pledges with dire consequences should they fail to obtain said photos is despicable.
Objectification runs high on our campus due to fraternity hazing, and only when the practice’s punishment is dramatic enough to eradicate it will these students’ personhood be ?restored.