Kappa Alpha Theta alumna challenges sorority stereotypes

Sasha Weilbaker, Staff Writer

Alumna Jocelyne B. Scott ’11 returned to the University Oct. 13, to give a talk called “Sororities, Femininity, and Popular Culture.” Scott was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta while she was a student at the University. Scott graduated as a double major in French and international relations, with a minor in women’s and gender studies. She then moved on to receive her M.A. in gender studies from Indiana University Bloomington, where she is currently a P.h.D. candidate.

Scott discussed how being in a sorority has had implications that have followed her after graduation, and impacted her professional career. She said, “people started to take me less seriously once I said I had been in a sorority.” Because of this, Scott started a project where she interviewed current and former sorority women about stereotypes they have faced. An overwhelming majority of these women compared their experience with the stereotypes perpetuated in the 2001 film Legally Blonde.”

In her talk, Scott defined anti-femininity as “rhetoric that associates femininity with incompetence.” She used examples from the plot of “Legally Blonde” both to highlight the sorority stereotypes featured in the film and then to re-read those stereotypes to demonstrate that “Legally Blonde” can actually be read as a feminist film.

“It was interesting to hear a Bucknell Theta graduate relate her experience with Greek life to such a well-loved film. There are a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes about Greek life that we don’t often discuss on campus because Bucknell’s social atmosphere can be Greek-centric sometimes,” Maxine Charles ’19 said.

I felt that her analysis did a good job of reshaping and critiquing those stereotypes and making us see a more personal side of this ongoing argument in our culture,” she said.

Scott described the main character of “Legally Blonde,” Elle Woods, as a “typical sorority body” because in the first three minutes of the film, only her feminine and overly material lifestyle is shown, not her face. Scott then goes on to say that Woods distances herself from her ultra-feminine self as she becomes “smarter” and “more serious.”

Assistant Professor of women’s and gender studies Nikki Young commented on another relevant aspect of the sorority stereotypes: race. 

“I think we need to recognize and respond to the process of subjective erasure that comes from when the term ‘sorority’ actually means ‘white sorority.’ The masking that occurs is bi-directional, and we need a more complex way of thinking about and critically engaging affinity groups that shape campus life,” Young said. 

Suzie Zubkoff ’18, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said, “I liked that she brought in context [from] the media to further her argument and make it more relatable to us. I wish that more women in sororities were aware about this talk because I think it would have been eye-opening for many people.”

Scott ended her talk by encouraging the audience to “challenge anti-femininity discourses when confronted with them” in order begin to counteract widely-believed stereotypes.

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