Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities / Edition 1

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Overview

Alexandra Robbins wanted to find out if the stereotypes about sorority girls were actually true, so she spent a year with a group of girls in a typical sorority. The sordid behavior of sorority girls exceeded her worst expectations--drugs, psychological abuse, extreme promiscuity, racism, violence, and rampant eating disorders are just a few of the problems. But even more surprising was the fact that these abuses were inflicted and endured by intelligent, successful, and attractive women. Why is the desire to belong to a sorority so powerful that women are willing to engage in this type of behavior--especially when the women involved are supposed to be considered 'sisters'? What definition of sisterhood do many women embrace? Pledged combines a sharp-eyed narrative with extensive reporting and the fly-on-the-wall voyeurism of reality shows to provide the answer.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Curious about truth behind sorority rumors, former New Yorker staffer Alexandra Robbins decided to spend a year among a typical group of college "sisters." What she experienced exceeded her worst expectations. Women in her adopted sorority indulged in drugs, psychological abuse, extreme promiscuity, racism, violence, and rampant eating disorders. What Robbins found most disturbing, though, was that these cruel abuses were commonplace in a close-knit society dominated by intelligent, successful, and charismatic women.
Washington Monthly
Fascinating and eye-opening . . . Pledged is still a powerful warning and an astonishing slice of American life.
(People
Funny but alarming.
YM
A juicy exposé on one (unnamed) university's Greek system . . . You have to read these shocking true stories.
Booklist
Fascinating reading
Elle Girl
Better than reality TV -- it's riveting.
Publishers Weekly
Robbins, who previously researched Yale's Skull and Bones Society for Secrets of the Tomb and also coauthored Quarterlife Crisis, went undercover for the 2002-2003 academic year to investigate the inner workings of "Greek" (National Panhellenic Conference) sororities. Sororities are far from anachronisms; there are presently some 3.5 million women in almost 3,000 Greek chapters on campuses across America. After the national office forbade locals from cooperating with Robbins, she disguised herself as an undergrad and found four sorority women willing to risk expulsion to help her. While Robbins structures her narrative around the year's ritual cycle-the rush, the bid, pledging, initiation, Greek Week, etc.-the timeless soap opera of sorority life occupies center stage. And although battles between girls can be wrenching, there's nothing like a date gone wrong to bring out the tears-and the thermos of vodka. Beyond romance, Robbins's informants have their own issues, among them, being black and poor in a rich white sorority and recovering from date rape by a frat brother. These problems are worsened by an environment that encourages binge drinking, drug abuse, eating disorders and blind obedience to what their pledge masters or sorority elders tell them to do. Historically black sororities, which are not the focus of this book, do have a reputation for promoting community service and sisterhood; "historically white" sororities, Robbins concludes, are really just social groups for making friends and meeting guys, despite their claims to academic and service values. Robbins makes suggestions for reforming sororities-more adult supervision, ending pledging, etc.-although the demystification that comes from reading her front-line account may be the best prescription. Agent, Paula Balzer. (Apr. 14) Forecast: Robbins is mediagenic and has lots of connections (she's written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, USA Today, Self and other publications). A Today appearance will boost sales, although it's hard to pin down this book's audience. Those interested in joining a sorority probably won't pick it up, and it's not particularly addressed toward feminists. Do university policy makers watch the Today show? Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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 takenseriously. 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. Agent: Paula Balzer/Sarah Lazin Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401300463
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 4/15/2004
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.37 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexandra Robbins
Alexandra Robbins is a former staff member of The New Yorker and the author of two New York Times bestsellers. Her work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Chicago Tribune, Self, Washington Monthly, Time Digital, Salon, Details, Shape, PC, Tennis Week, and the Journal of Popular Culture. She graduated summa cum laude in 1998 from Yale.
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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

"Delta, Delta, Delta, Can We Help Ya, Help Ya, Help Ya?"
(or, So Do They Really Have Topless Pillow Fights?)

Because I've never been a member of any girl-only group other than sports teams, I didn't know much about sororities when I started researching this book. Actually, I was slightly afraid of them. We outsiders, who can only envision what goes on behind sorority house walls and inside sorority girls' heads, merely have movies such as Revenge of the Nerds, Animal House, and Legally Blonde to inform our views about sororities. Those of us with the more salacious of imaginations -- or the more B-movie of tastes -- might associate with sororities the topless pillow fights that must inevitably occur when fifty estrogen-laden creatures gather for a sleepover (or so men everywhere fervently pray). Or perhaps a Heathers-inspired coldness might come to mind as we visualize the vicious hair-tearing, earring-twisting catfights between sororities clamoring for the most popular fraternity to escort them to Homecoming. Or our image of sororities (as was mine) is the tamer, more relatable version: the popular group of girls from high school -- cooler, prettier, wealthier, multiplied by ten, living under one roof, and recognized officially by their college as a clique.

I don't think I realized the extent to which I was an outsider, however, until I found myself smack in a bustling epicenter of sorority life -- a "Greek boutique" at a conference for sorority and fraternity representatives. The room was swathed in the hyperprecise sorority colors: not blue and yellow but "Old Blue" and "Café Au Lait" (Sigma Delta Tau); not green and white but "Olive Green" and "Pearl White" (Kappa Delta). I was surrounded by sorority letters, colors, and symbols stamped on, drawn on, embossed on, engraved in, carved into, or welded onto such a variety of objects that it felt as if I had arrived in a Disney gift shop for "Sororityland." As I watched sorority sisters in expensive-looking clothes try on kitschy jewelry they likely wouldn't deign to wear if it didn't bear their sorority letters, I wondered what possessed them to feel such passion for objects I obviously didn't understand. Here, on table upon table of items divided neatly by individual sororities and their corresponding colors (sororities also have certain mascots, symbols, jewels, and flowers, such as Delta Phi Epsilon's "Lovely Purple Iris"), the sisters had their pick of sorority emery boards, money pouches, picture frames, bottle openers, and refrigerator magnets. Lips feeling dry? Try the boutique's "Sorority Lip Balm!" Bathroom not smelling sparkly clean? Here's a sorority air freshener! Crave a more elegant hygienic experience? How about sorority bath crystals? Gesundheit! Have a sorority tissue.

In the long line at the cash register, sorority girls fussed and "fabulous!"ed over the souvenirs, twittering in italics about such foreign jargon as rush crushes, cold dorms, and prefs. I was officially entering Sorority World, a world of High Priestesses, Temples, and secret handshakes, a world so entirely different from my non-Greek experience that it had a name for people like me, people unaffiliated and unlettered. "Oh . . . ," one girl drawled in a honeyed southern accent "You're a GDI." A GDI? "A God-Damn Independent." Oh.

Clearly, this wasn't going to be your everyday reporting assignment. In order to understand this world so fully that I could portray it fairly and accurately, I realized I needed to have so engulfing an experience that I would be living, breathing, and shopping sorority. My first plan was to try to follow a sorority throughout the 2002–2003 academic year, to become such an ever-present fixture in the house that I would be treated as something like an honorary member. I canvassed several campuses in search of an appropriate group to shadow: a national group, affiliated with a "historically white" national sorority organization -- white and black sororities are still largely segregated. (The sororities illustrated in this book are "historically white" unless otherwise noted.) Finally, a sister invited me to observe her group, a popular sorority at a school whose Greek system had been under fire in recent years because of several hazing-related deaths.

The day I was to visit the house, I agonized over my outfit, blow-dried my hair straight, put on more makeup than usual, and dug my spikiest ankle boots out of the recesses of my closet. Admittedly, because not many of my friends were sorority sisters, I was nervous about entering an entire house full of them. The more I learned about sororities, the more bizarre their world seemed. As I tottered up to the porch, I suddenly didn't feel like a twenty-six-year-old investigative reporter preparing to dig into another project about secret group behavior. I felt like the kid I was in junior high school, wearing sweatpants and soccer sandals, hoping to please everyone but at the same time trying hard to pretend not to care.

Later that afternoon, I was curled up on a bunk bed and chatting with two of the sorority girls. Sometime during the emotional story one sister shared about how a sorority rivalry destroyed her relationship with her longtime best friend, I flashed back to my camp counselor days and had visions of serving as a kind of resident big sister to these girls. It hit me then that when I attended overnight camp, my teenaged bunk acted in ways that were somewhat similar to sororities. We traveled in packs, had rivalries with other bunks, pressured each other to break rules, and even fought over the same guy (who, coincidentally, eventually became the president of his fraternity at the school where I now sat). Here at the sorority house was a group that similarly provided selected college girls an automatic sense of belonging, no talent or niche required -- a built-in social network to accompany a girl to bars, parties, sporting events, and study sessions. This comparison caused me not only to wonder if sorority girls were so different from the rest of us, but also to think that had I attended a larger college, maybe I would have been a sorority girl, too. But when the girls gave me a tour of the house, they told me about their sisters' diet pill addiction, their pride in the fact that they hazed new girls, and their "drug room," which displayed a bong, several bottles of pills, and some suspicious-looking white powder (some of the girls regularly did cocaine). If I had joined a sorority, I asked myself, would I, like the girls I met, inevitably have fallen into the kind of herd mentality among sororities that can encourage conformity, cliquishness, and compromising morals? At that initial point in my research, I didn't know.

After several days of observing this major national sorority, I was approached by the adviser of the house. A stern, heavyset sorority alumna who looked much older than her twentysomething years, she led me into the "scholarship room" -- a small room with computers and a large file cabinet full of notes, tests, and papers from various classes offered at the school. She told me to sit down, and locked the glass door. Girls peered in quizzically as they walked by, but a quick glare from the adviser sent them scurrying on.

"You shouldn't have been given permission to be here," she said gruffly. She interrupted herself by cursing under her breath and yelling in her deep voice at the girls she could see through a window who were smoking cigarettes on the front porch. "You're not allowed to smoke in front of the house! It doesn't look good!" The girls reluctantly slinked away.

The adviser turned back to me. "You need to get permission from the national office, which is probably not going to give it to you." She paused again. "And if for some reason they do, I simply cannot allow you to write about the drugs."

When I got home, I called the sorority's national office and explained what I was doing, figuring this process of obtaining official permission was just a formality. The executive director, however, said otherwise. MTV had just aired a show called Sorority Life, which followed the six-week pledge process of a California sorority (a "local" sorority, which meant it was independent and unaffiliated with any national organization). The show had infuriated sororities nationwide, who believed that MTV had overly sensationalized life in a sorority house and concentrated only on the girls' drinking and catty fights. "Because of the MTV show," the executive director told me, "all of the national sororities have decided on a blanket policy not to cooperate with any members of the media. It's just not appropriate at this time." With that, I was suddenly completely closed off from a group of several dozen sorority girls I had already started to like.

Realizing that I wouldn't be able to openly observe a sorority house unless I received permission from its national office, I called other national sorority headquarters to state my case. One by one, every national office I talked to shut me out of their houses, even as I told them I was presenting a truthful -- not necessarily negative -- account of what sorority life is really like. "We're gun-shy," said one. "We've gotten several media calls even this week and we're turning them all down," said another. The twenty-six member groups of the National Panhellenic Conference, which was established in 1902 to oversee the historically white national sororities, had laid down the law.

I didn't understand the panicked responses of the national offices, which claim to instill within their sororities "individuality, . . . togetherness, . . . [and] friendships," according to the web site for Alpha Epsilon Phi, whose motto is "Many Hearts, One Purpose." They promote goals such as Delta Delta Delta's, to "develop a stronger and more womanly character, to broaden the moral and intellectual life, and to assist its members in every possible way." They foster, like Kappa Kappa Gamma, "friendship rooted in a tradition of high standards." These aspirations seemed laudable, these institutions beneficial. One would assume the real-life sororities, therefore, have so much to offer that their positives would far outweigh their negatives. But when one school's Panhellenic adviser attempted to blacklist me on her campus for writing this book, she insisted she must "protect our women." The question was, protect them from what?

Because no sorority would knowingly let me tail its sisters for the year, it became necessary for me to fly under the radar of both the national offices and the sorority girls themselves. I sought out individual sisters who were willing to risk their sorority membership by letting me into their lives for an entire academic year, knowing that they could not tell anyone -- their sorority sisters, their friends, their families -- who I really was. I can't divulge how the four girls I chose, who knew they would be the main characters in a book I was writing about sororities, introduced me to their sisters, who did not know; and I can't disclose the disguise I wore or role I played when spending time with these groups (suffice it to say, I can pass for nineteen). To further protect the four girls, who could be ostracized and even thrown out of the Greek system if their identities were revealed, I have given pseudonyms to them, their school, and their school's Greek groups, and have changed identifying details. But their dilemmas, emotions, interactions, and dialogues are real. (The girls didn't know I also monitored their Instant Messenger away messages, which they changed sometimes as frequently as once an hour. Away messages are bulletins that IM users post online so that friends can see what they are up to. Like many college students, the girls used their away messages to convey their state of mind or broadcast their whereabouts.)

In order to provide a balanced view of sororities, I selected good-hearted girls who were members of "normal" sororities not known on campus as extreme stereotypes. I also chose these girls on the basis of their diverse attitudes toward and roles in their sororities. These sisters, one of whom was a sorority officer, are largely the kind of girls whom the national offices would be proud to have represent them, had the national offices been willing to allow themselves to be represented. The two juniors and two sophomores all attend a school I'll call State University, a campus on which Greek life is considered important but not essential.

It turned out that "going undercover" gave me more candid access to the sororities than I would have had openly as a reporter. Because I played the role I did, the sisters didn't know to censor their behavior in front of me, and my four main subjects tended to view me more as a friend than a journalist. With that said, however, I would not presume that the experiences of these four sisters alone could accurately represent a sorority system of millions. Many of the posts on Greek system message boards constantly remind readers that it's not right to let a few renegade sisters, or even chapters, represent the image of the entire sorority system. I took this message to heart. My four girls aren't renegades; nevertheless, I have supplemented my observations of them with visits and interviews with scores of other sorority girls. By the time I finished writing Pledged, I had spoken with or met with several hundred girls. Essentially, I got to return to college and experience the path I had not taken the first time around (and had a far better time than I did when I was actually enrolled in college). When a sorority girl needed a date to a Date Party, I went; when sisters went shopping together, I joined them; when new members danced exuberantly on Bid Day, so did I. Though I couldn't incorporate all of the hundreds of interviews in this book, the sisters' frank assessments of sorority life shaped my observations.

In writing this book, the surprise for me -- and this may delight many readers -- was that the notions of those topless pillow fights may not have been so far off base after all. In the back of my mind, I don't think I ever really believed that sororities were quite as campy as their conventional image. But at about the time I heard about traditions like "Naked Party" and "Boob Ranking," I had to reconsider. I learned that many of the rumors (as well as the fantasies) about sororities are indeed staggeringly true, including those concerning loyalty, sex, conformity, drugs, violence, verbal abuse, mind games, prostitution, racism, forced binge drinking, nudity, cheating, eating disorders, rituals, "mean girls," and secrecy. But not all sororities encompass these experiences; and of the sororities that do, not all consist of girls one would necessarily consider "bad."

Much of sorority life espouses noble purpose, and the friendships and philanthropy encouraged by these organizations can enhance a girl's college experience, boost her self-esteem, and better her character. But the prevalence of the aforementioned litany, which still occurs on several campuses nationwide in the name of tradition, speaks volumes about larger issues concerning women, higher education, and female group dynamics. Even halfway into the year, I was plagued by questions. Why are twenty-first-century women still so eager to participate in such seemingly outdated, ritualistic groups and activities? What is the purpose of sororities and what does membership truly require of the sisters? How does a sisterhood change the way a girl thinks about herself? Do sororities cause women to fall further behind in the gender wars or are they instead women's secret weapon? My challenge, then, in writing Pledged, was how to reconcile the unexpected discovery of a dark side to sorority life with the observation that many of the girls who participate in it and continue to join it in droves are "normal" girls, girls who are sweet, smart, successful, and kind both before and after they join. Girls -- and this puzzled me -- who by year's end no longer intimidated me. Girls who would be surprised to read how their sororities appear from an outsider's point of view.

Copyright © 2004 Alexandra Robbins

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 140 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 140 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2008

    An unbiased view?

    Let me begin by stating that, yes, I am a member of a sorority. I heard about 'Pledged' through a sister and decided that I would give it a chance. I assumed that the writer would be giving readers an unbiased view of the Greek system, but quite frankly, after having been both independent and Greek, I found this book to be very disappointing. The author picked four 'non typical' sorority girls, perhaps, but didn't bother to look at more than two sororities closely. I found the material in the book to be shocking and found myself saying, time and again, 'I've never heard of these things happening!' I found it to be very disrespectful that the author exposed secrets of Greek organizations. Many of these secrets are truly considered sacred to their Greek organizations. They are part of what makes the organization unique and by exposing the secrets, the author takes that individuality away. The author states that she is trying to look at the sororities with an unbiased eye, but I disagree completely. Throughout the book are implications that all sororities are full of alcoholics and drug users that sororities are loose and full of casual sex and that all of the sisters are constantly at each other's throats. None of those things are exclusive to sororities, and in fact, many Greek organizations have stringent rules against such things. Overall I was very disappointed in the book and would not recommend it to anyone who is looking for a look on the inside of Greek organizations. Honestly, in order for one to get a look inside, it is best for one to join. Greek life isn't something that someone should want to watch from the outside. Don't drag down the image of sororities, because many have been trying to move away from the stereotype! If you want to watch drama and catty fights, drug users and alcoholics, turn on the television.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Like a michael moore film: completley biased and based on opinion

    she is so full of it. i wanted to join a sorority before i started reading this book, and at the end i was disgusted and didnt want to join anymore. i got to near the end before i was so turned off that i finished the book. she made me not want to join a sorority.
    but then, in my sophmore year of college, i actually did join a sorority. and its NOTHIGN like what she said. and i go to a big school! using alchohol in the pancake batter? that would NEVER happen. first, any panhellenic event must by dry (no alcohol) and each sorority has strict rules against drinking at a social-- let alone a philanthropy. even outside of events, drinking isnt allowed in the house!! so that never happened. i could go on and on but whats the point? the women who are in sororities know the truth.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    Yep

    As expected and witnessed. Why do girls need sororities to feel good about themselves?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Real Life Sorority Life

    I had heard about this book before I joined a sorority, but didnt read it until after i was initiated. I liked the thought of this book because i thought it would show that sorority girls arent all rich and snobby and blond and slutty, because i am certainly not any of those things. this book did not do that. it took a look at the lives of girls who dont fit into their sorority. she should have also portrayed girls who enjoy taking part in their sororities. i understand that hazing still happens...although i can honestly say i was not hazed and neither were any of my sisters...pledged went into more detail about the drama that the girls she followed had...but what you have to understand is that anytime you get that many girls together there is going to be drama...and even from reading this book or trying to research greek life, you can;t understand what it is all about unless you are a part of it.

    i also think that it is incredibly disrespectful to share a sororities rituals with people. i understand people may be interested in what happens, i cannot believe that someone could expose a sacred event in a secret society.

    And you would think robbins would have done her research a little more accuratly: on page 281 she states that in 1870 kappa alpha theta became the first sorority ever...im a little confudsed because the chapter before that she talks about alpha delta pi, which was founded in 1851. if you do the math properly i think adpi is the first sorority ever. if it wasnt i dont think they would be saying first finest forever.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2009

    As a completely innocent, third party bystander

    As someone who hasn't gone to college yet, I don't really think that it would be completely fair of me to judge this book on how it portrays the Greek system. However, I am planning to pledge to a sorority when I do go to college in the fall and this book did give me more information on the mysterious lifestyle than the countless movies have portrayed as somewhat caddy and cliquish. I am personally glad that I read this book before I went to college; it gave me more insight on the Greek life than I didn't have previously and made me even more sure that I do want to rush in the fall. While the picture painted by Robbins isn't always the most glamorous, and has not been accepted as even remotely true by many of those who are part of the Greek system, it did not detour my previous wishes to become a part of the life that she judges. In the book, Robbins follows four sorority girls at a school she nicknames State U as to protect their identities. It follows their IM away messages, rush week, trials and tribulations, as well as the many events that they attended as part of being in a sorority. The life is not always glamorous, but then again what life can claim to be prefect? A theme that runs throughout the entire book is the stereotypes that have been attached to the Greek system and how, through the help of the four girls, Robbins searches to find our which ones are true and which ones are false and even which ones have been over/under exaggerated . One thing I did like about the book is while it may be a tad bit bias, leaning more towards those who are not a part of Greek life and only judge them by stereotypes that have been kept alive for numerous decades, it does let people know some of what does go on in college Greek life. While some of it did scare me to read (like the 'spectrums' or the 'little sister program' just to name a few), it was well worth it. Overall this book was one of the best books I have read in a long time. While, like I said earlier, it may be a bit bias, I still think that the overall views and questions it brings up are real. Other books that Robbins wrote are called Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and Hidden Path of Power, Quarterlife Crisis: the Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties, and The Overachievers: the Secret Lives of Driven Kids.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2008

    written well with some truth

    I found her book to to focus on the negative sides of the greek system and took extremely negative examples. On my campus some of these issues do occur within the greek system but not to the extent in which she is implying bc if it were the case in all cases the greek system would be outlawed. Also most of the negative topics go on outside of the greek system just as often or more often than within. Why else would of the nation's 50 largest corporations, 43 be headed by Greeks.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2004

    DISRESPECTUFL

    I am a current member of a Greek Organization and I think it is completely disrespectful to print the secrets of the sororities. As someone who has a had a positive experience with a sorority, I am utterly disgusted.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2013

    Someone didn't get a bid...

    Someone didn't get a bid...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    A proud Non-Greek

    I am not associated with the greek lifestyle but have friends who are. Everyone says how disrespectful it is but I found the book to be a good representation of how sorority girls behave and act as a whole. I know that they dont all behave in this way but the ones I know, do. This is a good read, although alarming, shocking and infuriating that this kind of behavior is tolerated by "sisters."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2010

    Pledged: Ripping into the Secrets of Sororities

    Pledged tells the story of four college girls learning to survive in the tough world of sororities. The author, Alexandra Robbins, goes undercover and follows them through one year of their college life, in which they go through many extreme situations. Three of the four girls are raped, many girls go out binge drinking, and many drugs are used throughout the year. This book gives a real perspective on sororities. It doesn't sugar coat them and make them seem like a fairy tail. It shows the good, bad, and the ugly of today's sororities. The crux in this novel is part where one of the girls gets raped by a popular fraternity brother. The fraternity that the brother belonged too was one of the most popular fraternities at the college. When the young sorority girl was raped, she bravely told on the guy and turned him into the police. When word got out about what she did, the fraternity and sorority of which they belonged to were mad at the girl, not the guy. The fraternity was mad because it put a dent in their reputation. The sorority was mad because they no longer were invited to hang out with that particular fraternity. The sorority member that was raped was too embarrassed to show her face around the college anymore. She eventually dropped out of the sorority and the school. This part of the book really showed what sororities are all about in today's society.
    I really enjoyed the journal entries in Pledged. Alexandra Robbins really made her stories come to life and it was very easy to feel the pain or even happiness of the four sorority members at any time. Pledged consists of random journal entries about each girl, normally followed by facts about sororities in general. What I didn't like about the book was the facts. Yes, they gave great insight, but they were often long and hard to read. My attention often went elsewhere as I tried to read those parts of the book. There was no excitement in these sections of Pledged and I think that readers may put the book down during these parts and may not pick it up again. If the book consisted of more journal entries and less fact, then I think it would be a great read.
    The author, Alexandra Robbins decided to report and write this book to give the outsiders incite into what goes on in sororities. If you have never been a part of a sorority then you may think of movies such as Legally Blonde, Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. Pledged, gives readers a real, viscous look inside the life of sorority members. Alexandra Robbins has written for a variety of newspapers, including Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan. She has appeared on shows such as, The Smart Woman Survival Guide, The O'Reilly Factor, 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Today Show. She has also written books on secret societies at Yale and wrote a revealing book about President Bush. Robbins is defiantly not afraid to go undercover and give the world insight on topics that are normally very secretive.
    If you are very interested in sororities or may be thinking about joining one, then I would recommend reading this book. If you are someone who is just looking for a good read, then I would not recommend it. It can be challenging at times to keep your full attention on reading and enjoying it at the same time. If you liked Pledged, then you may also like, "Secrets of the Tomb". Another book written by Alexandra Robbins in which she writes abo

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2013

    This was a very easy read but in my opinion for the most part th

    This was a very easy read but in my opinion for the most part this book talked a lot about the negatives of sororities and not the positives. It talked about the psychological abuse, racism, stereotypes, and the typical drinking and partying all the time. I was surprised about the abuse some girls put themselves through, getting into drugs, and becoming anorexic or bulemic just so that they looked good enough or acted as expected. The book had a lot to do with stereotypes and was very typical.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Well-written and captivating

    Good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    True

    I had a friend who is in a sorority..... a part of the rushing the sisters made her induce vomiting and forbade her from washing herself for almost a week......she talked about it like it was nothing. In fact, she offhandedly described the night she as arrested by campus police for an outrageously high blood alcohol level.....with four pledges in her car that she hadn't let shower for a week and a half. Kudos to the author for exposing the disgraceful and unnacceptable behavior of sororities.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Horrible

    Why would you write such a book! This is awful, and say secrets from organizations that are held dear and near to our hearts. I have had a great experience and nothing of these alcoholic scandals have happen. What kind of research did this lady even do. This is terrible.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    LAME!!!!

    I usually enjoy non-fiction but this was pathetic.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2008

    sadly, just what I expected

    I enjoyed a pretty diverse college experience in that I was an independent for 2 years before going Greek. I transferred my junior year and knew that I would want to involve myself in the Greek community on campus. If you ask my opinion, anytime you put 30 girls together in a house regardless of what organization they do or do not belong to, similar things will happen. I have met some incredible women through my sorority, and I have met some women who engage in the activities Ms. Robbins describes who do not belong to any organization whatsoever. It's obvious she only investigated chapters that she knew would back up age old stereotypes, and that is not journalism. Yes, some of this does occur -- but not ONLY in sororities. The revealing of secrets was an obvious ploy to get more readers. It was incredibly disrespectful and did not add to the points the author was trying to make whatsoever. Had Ms. Robbins done some fact-checking, she would have found the secret revealed about Pi Beta Phi was in fact, reported incorrectly.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2008

    Typical College Experience

    The best part of the book is the end when the author outlines some steps to take to help reform practices. This behavior is not limited to Greeks, look at team/club sports and you'll find similar behavior on most campuses. As with any experience, you get out of it what you put in, it's important to remember that while reading. I wish the girls highlighted had been from four different sororities with different focuses.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2008

    not very good

    This is a completely one sided look at Greek life. It seems to me that the author probably rushed in college and didn't get a bid to a sorority so she decided to write a book about Greeks as revenge. Yes, a lot goes on within sororities. However, these things are NOT just unique to Greek Life. She makes it seem as though drug use, drinking, and eating disorders are things that only go on if you are Greek. WAKE UP! This is what ALL of college is like. It just so happens to be that because there are a lot of girls, sororities are easy to target. These things will happen reguardless of someone being a member of a sorority. She fails to look at any positive aspects of Greek life, and trust me, there are many. I go to a college where the overall GPA of Greeks is almost .5 higher upon graduation. Greeks are historically known to be more involved on campus, making up the largest majority of things like Student Government and Service Clubs. And the fact that she went to only one chapter at one university, does not show much for her research. Sororities are very different, depending on where you are. In short, she really should stop being bitter that she wasn't good enough to be in a sorority and get on with her life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2007

    A reviewer

    When I finally found the time to read 'Pledged' I was very excited. I thought that maybe someone had decided to finally write something about Greek life that was unbiased. In the case of 'Pledged' I found that hope crushed. Robbins chooses to take a very negative point of view. Many of the things she talks about in the book I find hard to believe. Like drinking in a sorority house or allowing boys to spend the night in the house. I can hardly believe that things of that nature are even possible. I have a feeling that she dramatized many of the events. I was also very offended when she claimed that 'white' sororities do not focus on community service. Last year my sorority donated over $25,000 to our philanthropies. She claims that maybe once a year sororities participate in their own philanthropic activities. In my case it is usually once a month. She fails to mention that every girl in a sorority is required to meet a certain number of philanthropy hours. I feel like many of the girls that Robbins chose to interview did not belong in a sorority and had a negative attitude from the beginning. Robbins also highlights the girls' sexual lives. She basically insinuates that all sorority girls act in this way. She also claims that 'white' sororities do not have as strong of a sisterhood bond as 'minority' sororities. I don't feel like either 'group' could ever claim to have a stronger sisterhood than the other. Overall the book is a page turner but Robbins is extremely biased. It is the typical 'outsider' view of Greek life. She is what many consider 'the girl who could never fit in.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2007

    Amazing until the end

    I was very impressed with most of this book. I think that it was interesting, but not something that I, as a sorority sister have experienced. I found the book very intriguing until I got towards the end. I was very upset with the fact that the author so easily gave away some secrets of certain sororities, such as XO hand shake. I am personally in AOTT, but I felt uncomfortable reading about other sororities sacred things. Anyway, if someone wasn't greek, they would have the completly wrong steroetype........

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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