November 3, 2010
Yesterday, I discovered totalfratmove.com. Today, I am an addict.
Reading Total Frat Move (TFM) is somewhat akin to (forgive the cliché) watching a train wreck. Only here, the train conductors are the hundreds of men and women who write posts and comment on TFM every day, and the train wrecked is our nation, signaling an all-but-impending tailspin towards doom.
Before I go any further, let me explain the concept behind TFM. Frat brothers and sorority sisters (“Sorostitutes,” a moniker used not just by the brothers, but also by the women themselves) write anonymous posts about things they do, say or think that are total frat or total sorority moves. The forum resembles fmylife.com, but instead of ridiculing themselves in a self-deprecating, though often tragic, way, the authors of each TFM (or TSM, for sorostitutes) post instead ridicule and mock everyone who is not them: GDIs (God Damn Independents, aka people not in a fraternity or sorority), women, poor people, African-Americans, Latinos, intellectuals, northerners, guidos, environmentalists, feminists, non-alcoholics, liberals and people who have had to work to get a job or get into college. In this world, if you are not a white male in a fraternity who owns a gun, a “fratdaddy” who receives BJs and sandwiches on a daily basis from one of many sorostitutes, you might as well go kill yourself.
The men (that feels like an overly respectful term for them) who author the posts are at their core deeply anti-intellectual. While there has always been a strain of this attitude in American public, political and private lives, as noted by Richard Hofstadter in his appropriately titled book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, we Yalies live in an environment where it is cool to be smart, to do well on your own merit, to have a sense of history, to help poor people. While this might not be the attitude of every individual on this campus, this is the overwhelming ethos of Yale. In instances where this ethos is violated (the DKE incident comes to mind), it can become an outrage among students, if not the administration. From the looks of TFM, it is more than likely that something similar to what we experienced a month ago at Yale could happen daily at a large state university in the South (I don’t mean to generalize, but literally every post on TFM comes from below the Mason-Dixon line, which is “[a]n imaginary line that separates F[rat] from N[ot]F[rat]. TFM”), and no one would cry out. Or if some did, they’d hear in response, “Told my slampiece her nike shorts looked kind of tight on her. She slapped me. Then she gave me dome. TFM”, “Got tired of the same sorostitutes on campus, so I ordered a Ukrainian chick online for my winter formal. TFM” or “The only difference between a sorostitute and a can of dip is that I keep my cans when I’m done with them TFM.”
This is not to say that the DKE incident here means nothing because sexism, misogyny, casual treatment and derogation of women are more prevalent elsewhere. Rather that this seems to be an American pandemic. It is a belated reaction to the feminist movement and its subsequent backlash by people who weren’t alive at the time, but have been taught to feel that women need to be put in their proper place.
More astonishing is its reinforcement among women: “When I refused to take any early morning classes my advisor asked me what I was going to do when I had to wake up early for work after college. I told her all I plan on waking up early to do is morning bj’s and cooking breakfast for my rich husband. TSM” While there is nothing wrong with the aspiration to be a stay-at-home wife or mother, there is something perverse about aspiring to achieve nothing from a college education besides a rich husband and the perfection of the subtle art of the blowj.
These men and women wish to return to a world where merit means nothing. They are proud of being stupid and academically unsuccessful, because they think the world will reward them for being in a frat and having wealthy parents: “Made a 1.75 this semester. TFM” A 1.75? I’m surprised this fratdaddy can read and write. For them, being stupid is completely irrelevant to their future wealth and success, and being poor is a subhuman quality that they will never have to face: “We play poop dollar and watch the GDI’s pick up a dollar with poop on it, how poor are you that you even bother to pick up a dollar? TFM”; “Just drove through the poor section of town. It was out of my way, but worth laughing at the unfortunates. TFM”.
Despite my absolute repulsion at the values espoused on this website, I see a deep-seated terror in the hearts of all these fratdaddies and sorostitutes. The world has moved away from a time when white southern men held dominion over the rest of the country. In any other context than their frats, these men would not succeed. They rely on their connections because they have to. They spew racism and other forms of hate speech because that is the only way they know how to cling to a world that doesn’t exist anymore. The civil war ended 150 years ago, Jefferson Davis was a hideous racist, and having a family plantation that housed slaves should be a source of shame, and yet, these are bragging rights for these men: “Family Bloodline to Jefferson Davis. TFM”; “I live on a plantation that has been in the family since before the civil war… TFM. You can keep the ranch”; “My great great grandfather’s name is John Wilks Booth Greer. Just to represent. TFM”. This is a world in which violence and discrimination are rewarded because these men have nothing else: “Arizona cops legally allowed to racially profile. TFM”; “Fucked an Asian slampiece (yes they exist) and refused to pull out unless she screamed “Me so horny”. TFM”.
While the existence and popularity of a site like this is horrifying and seems to reaffirm the “Tea Party” values that the media tells us are “sweeping the nation,” I’m not scared. I have faith not only in our political system, but also in the progressive and tolerant values that exist throughout this country. A site like totalfratmove.com makes this problem seem magnified (with over 13,000 fans on Facebook and over 24,000 followers on Twitter, it certainly has an audience), but I refuse to believe that this backwards way of thinking—a value system that excludes victims of racial, gender and financial prejudice—is really poised to take over this country. At many of the difficult times in our nation’s history, the public has taken the side of progress over the side that favors our tradition of prejudice and intolerance. Although this strain will always be present, it is not omnipresent. I don’t think TFM signals a return to the endemic racism, sexism and intolerance of an age before our own, but maybe I have been made in the mold of the traditional American optimist. This doesn’t mean that the problem has been solved, but that America won’t let it take over our national discourse, politics or consciousness. USA! (TFM?)
Tatiana Schlossberg is a junior in Yale College and a Managing Editor of the Yale Herald.
This article does not necessarily reflect the views of Broad Recognition.