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PLEDGED by Alexandra Robbins

PLEDGED

The Secret Life of Sororities

By Alexandra Robbins

Pub Date: April 14th, 2004
ISBN: 1-4013-0046-4
Publisher: Hyperion

Cosmo contributor, Oprah guest, and Skull and Bones investigator Robbins (Secrets of the Tomb, 2002) offers a titillating take on sisterhood gone mad.

The author spent a year undercover consorting with sorority girls and describes several disguised sisters, from their unvarying ironed hair to their standardized strappy sandals. Readers will surely learn to beware these Greeks bearing Prada bags from Robbins’s reports on rush week, Greek week, date rush, the Formal, pledging, roommate conflicts, adolescent cruelty, hazing, crushes, grudges, drinking, eating disorders, grotesque body piercing, and much sex (both deliberate and unintended) with the cute fraternity guys, not to mention the candle-passing singing. Her text takes us inside a bizarre place from which those unaccustomed to complex TV soaps or simple pulp romances will seek the nearest exit. A hundred princesses, overcharged with estrogen, are certainly daunting, especially for those to whom the merriment is all Greek. Though the author covers campus pan-Hellenic nuttiness with the thin veneer of a serious study, passages like “Caitlin emerged, wearing a midriff-baring halter top that matched her azure eyes, tight white pants and one of Amy’s gold butterfly clips” are too frequent to support her allegedly sober intent. Secret passwords may be revealed and coed fraternities noted as the next big thing, but all is overwhelmed by the monotonous snobbery, inane preoccupations, puerile antics, and jejune rituals. Charming though they may be, it’s ultimately dispiriting to make the acquaintance of Vicky, Bitsy, Fiona, Laura-Ann, and the sisters of Beta Pi and Alpha Rho. Robbins’s final prescriptions for reform are not likely to be taken seriously. Maybe they aren’t meant to be.

This lubricious inquiry may infuriate those who value their sorority pins, but for outsiders it’s merely a tedious guide to the goings-on in chapter houses.