A RESEARCH STUDY: RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HYPERMASCULINITY AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS HAZING AMONG FRATERNITY MEMBERS
By Louie Blake S. Sarmiento
Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Juris Doctor – III
This study explored the relationship between hypermasculinity and attitude towards hazing among fraternity members in Silliman University. The 60-item Auburn Differential Masculinity Inventory and the self-constructed Hazing Inventory was administered to 162 male college students enrolled and identified members of registered fraternities in
during the school year 2009-2010. Results showed a computed value of r=+0.66 and is considered statistically significant at 0.05 level of significance with a table value of .195 leading to the conclusion that there is a significant and positive relationship between hypermasculinity and attitude towards hazing. Findings also indicated that hypermasculine men tend to agree with physical hazing but tend to disagree with psychological hazing. Results are congruent with Social Learning Theory and Gender Schema Theory which suggests that cultural expectations and stereotypes are learned and can influence violent and aggressive behaviors. Silliman University
Fraternities have been a part of Colleges for decades. They provide students with social outlets and the opportunity to interact with peers. Research by Hughes and Winston (1987) indicate involvements in fraternities facilitate development of autonomy, individual identity, and mature interpersonal relationships. Members are more likely than non-members to become involved in the university community and organizations on campus, to exert greater academic effort, and to interact more with other students (Pike & Askew, 1990). However, beneath the positive outcomes are some dark practices committed by a number of fraternity members such as the alcohol culture, sexual assaults, discrimination, and the controversial hazing.
Hazing has been widespread throughout history as a form of initiation into fraternities, service clubs, schools, and sport teams (Van Raalte, J. & et al., 2007). According to Elizabeth J. Allan (2005), a Professor at the
, hazing practices in the past years were typically considered harmless pranks or comical antics associated with young men in college fraternities. Nowadays, hazing is often cited as one of the most harmful aspects of fraternities that pose a major threat to their existence, drawing great criticism from educators and administrators (Whipple & Sullivan, 1998). Documented problems related to student hazing include physical and psychological harm and even death. According to the research presented by Hank Nuwer (1990), journalist and author of several books related to fraternities, hazing has been associated with more than 50 deaths in college fraternities and countless more physical injuries including paralysis, not to mention the devastating emotional effects that can result for so many young men and women. University of Maine
Although there is already an anti-hazing law in the
, a number of critics claim that such legislation did not really eliminate hazing in fraternities and sororities but has simply driven hazing underground. In fact, a 21 year-old engineering student in Sapian town, Municipality of Pilar, Philippines, died in a fraternity hazing last March 10, 2009 (Inquirer, March 2009). In a Fraternity and Sorority in Laguna, a female member died after undergoing additional hazing to be promoted in a rank (TV Patrol, January 2009). Just recently, sixteen fraternity members were arrested by the Philippine National Police in Philippines Luzon last July 28, 2009 because of hazing (TV Patrol, July 2009). Admittedly, it is difficult to give the exact statistics of how many fraternities in the Philippines still practice hazing because of their secretive nature and the very few researches conducted, however, there is no doubt that the issue of hazing as a harmful practice is underreported and underrated.
Hazing within fraternities is complex and multifaceted because they have very diverse structures, regulations, governing entities, and memberships, and as hazing can take on many forms. Some contend that hazing continues for a number of social reasons that serve important team functions such as enhancing team solidarity (Van Raalte, J. & et al., 2007). Some take pride of hazing as something that can never be detached from fraternities. The exclusion of hazing in the initiation process may be considered an insult or degradation to the reputation and status of the fraternity because it is through this process that they bring the pride of being “solid”, “tough”, “strong”, “supreme”, “grand”, etc. Some fraternity members are against eliminating hazing for the fear that other groups may label their fraternity as “weak”. This shows that hazing can be fraternity members’ way of trying to meet societies’ traditional gender stereotypes of what masculine is. This can be their way of showing their being “strong” or “macho”, a trait characterized by machismo. The psychological term for such exaggerated sense of masculinity is referred to as hypermasculinity. This study attempted to answer the following research questions: Is there a relationship between hypermasculinity and attitude towards hazing? What are the fraternity members’ attitudes towards hazing? What are the fraternity members’ level of hypermasculinity?
Review of Related Literature
Fraternity and Hazing
People always have this desire to associate with others. Social scientists offered a number of reasons why people desire affiliation with others. Basically, people seek out others to gain knowledge about themselves and the world through social comparison, and the desire to secure psychological and material rewards through social exchange (Franzoi, 1996). In general terms, it is because of peoples desire to associate with others why fraternities were formed. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defined a fraternity as a chiefly social organization of male college students, usually designated by Greek letters. The only true distinction between a fraternity and any other form of social organization is the implication that the members freely associate as equals for a mutually beneficial purpose, rather than because of a religious, governmental, commercial, or familial bond, although there are fraternities dedicated to each of these topics (Stevens, 1907).
For a person to be a member of a fraternity, one must undergo a process known as initiation. Webster’s dictionary defined an initiation as a ceremony, ritual, test, or period of instruction with which a new member is admitted to an organization or office or to knowledge. Historically, “Rites de passage," puberty rites, and other forms of initiation into tribal membership or adult status have existed throughout human history (Van Gennep, 1977 in Van Raalte & et al., 2007). Although these behaviors may reflect abuse cycles in which victims become perpetrators (Nuwer, 1990; 2001; Ramzy & Bryant, 1962 in Van Raalte & et al., 2007), it has been suggested that these practices were functional in the adaptations of human groups to a mostly hostile physical and social environment (Jones, 2000; Weisfeld, 1979 in Van Raalte & et al., 2007).
Traditionally, the initiation process in fraternities, clubs, or groups includes hazing practices. The Anti-Hazing Law of the Republic of the Philippines (Republic Act 8049 of 1995) defines hazing as an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him or her to do menial, silly, foolish and similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him or her to physical or psychological suffering or injury. The definition can refer to either physical (sometimes violent such as forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption, beating, paddling, or other forms of assault, branding, forced or coerced ingestion of vile substances or concoctions, burning, exposure to cold weather or extreme heat without appropriate protection) or psychological (possibly degrading practices such as verbal insults, threats or implied threats, asking new members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire, stunt or skit nights with degrading, crude, or humiliating acts, perform personal service to other members, etc). It may also include nudity or sexually oriented activities (Stophazing.org, 2005).
Historically, the root of hazing is actually masculine in nature. The term originated from the initiation jokes played on newcomers to ranks of the military during the civil war in the
. After the Civil War, the term “hazing” was used to describe practices of initiating new students to the university and maintaining order within the established hierarchy between classes of students (i.e. upperclassmen vs. freshmen). Such activities typically included expectations of personal servitude and other displays of subordination to students in the upper ranks (Kimmel & Aronson, 2004). Today, hazing practices continue to reflect the masculine historical roots of military units and universities. National news accounts of hazing and anecdotal evidence point toward gender differences in hazing activities. It is notable that of the more than 60 documented hazing deaths in the United States ; only three have been women (Nuwer, 1999). In the United States , there is only one female victim among the reported hazing incidents in the 2009 to 2010 news. In general, a common conclusion drawn is that hazing among men is more likely to be violent in nature and hazing among women is more likely to be psychological or emotional in nature. Adolescent boys are much more likely than adolescent girls to use direct confrontation and physical violence, whereas girls are more likely to use social ostracism and group exclusion to express their anger toward other girls (Brannon, 1996). In his Book The Hazing Reader, Nuwer (2004) presented: Philippines
Boys become men, not through a natural process of maturation, but through a cultural process of creation: growth and physical strength, bravery and manliness are achieved through sequences of isolation and ordeal…. Unless boys undergo the rigors of initiation they will remain soft and weak. (p. 159)
According to research by Beverly Kopper and Dougles Epperson (1991), gender role, not gender, showed a consistent relationship to anger and expression of anger. Social scientists argue that these differences are largely the result of learning to perform gender roles differently. In other words, how men and women are taught to live in the world affects patterns of violence, abuse and other factors involved in hazing (Nuwer, 2004). Traditionally, society has placed men and women in “boxes” known as gender stereotypes and roles. The term gender encompasses multiple social and cultural interpretations of the physical fact of sexual difference. It refers to the ways in which roles, attitudes, values, and relationships regarding women and men are constructed by societies all over the world (Kanyoro, 1998). This implies that gender roles are the public expression of gender; the image projected by a person that identifies their maleness or femaleness, which need not correspond to their gender identity. For example, boys are raised to be “manly” by repressing so-called feminine characteristics in themselves. Being called “fag” or “sissy” is one of the sanctions that forces conformity into expected gender roles (Andersen & Taylor, 2008).
In most societies in the past and even today, men were dictated to act like “real men” such as being strong and aggressive. Among men, some non-standard behaviors may be considered a sign of homosexuality. Within sociology such labeling and conditioning is known as gender assumptions, and is a part of socialization to better match a culture's mores. The corresponding social condemnation of excessive masculinity may be expressed in terms such as "machismo". Merriam-Websters dictionary defined machismo as an exaggerated sense of masculinity stressing such attributes as physical courage, virility, domination of women, and aggressiveness or violence. In essence, when referring to the term machismo, which has macho, Spanish for “male gender”, as its root, it connotes strength, bravery, power, and importance. In many cultures, machismo is acceptable and even expected. Although the term originated in a Latin American society, it is not exclusive to this culture, as the concept extended into studies focusing on male power structures as well as on relationships that exert an inordinate amount of control over women’s behavior. These qualities are viewed as those the ideal man possesses within a patriarchal society (Sirias, 2001).
The psychological term for this exaggerated masculinity is called hypermasculinity which includes callous attitudes toward women and sex and the perception of violence as manly and danger as exciting is called (D.L. Mosher & S.S. Tomkins, 1988 in L.R. Burk, B.R. Burkhart & J.F. Sikorski, 2004). The term was first hypothesized by Mosher and Sirkin in 1981 as an aspect of male personality. This construct has been operationally defined as consisting of the following three variables: “the belief that violence is manly”, “the experience of danger as exciting”, and having “callous sexual attitudes toward women”. When these variables are combined they make up the construct of hypermasculinity (Dimke, 2006). Continuing research related the construct of hypermasculinity to the qualities of emotional constriction, sexual violence, and more conservative or traditional male attitudes (Burk, L.R., Burkhart, B.R. & Sikorski, J.F, 2004).
Hazing and Hypermasculinity
To connect, hazing among men is often framed as a test of strength, courage, and determination. Accounts of hazing incidents among high school boys and college men frequently include tests of physical endurance, forced alcohol consumption, paddling and other forms of physical assaults or beatings (Nuwer, 1990; 1999; 2000 in Allan, 2005). According to a study by Martin and Hummer (1989), fraternity emphasizes “…toughness, withstanding pain and humiliation, obedience to superiors, and using physical force to obtain compliance”. In support of hazing, men will often say that such “traditions” are necessary to “weed out” those unworthy of membership. Some men who have been hazed are firm believers in the process of hazing and insist that they “enjoyed the challenge.” Such arguments are firmly embedded in cultural expectations around masculinity and what we are taught to expect of “real men.” The elimination of hazing traditions is probably hard because hazing practices serve as an opportunity for men to prove their masculinity and heterosexuality.
According to Allan (2005), boys and young men who identify with predominant cultural constructions of masculinity are likely to fear their manhood will be called into question if they resist an opportunity to prove their masculinity via hazing practices. This also explains, at least in part, why some pledges or applicants will ask to be hazed even if the fraternity chapter is working to eliminate such traditions. They know they will likely be subject to scrutiny by other members of the group who were hazed and hence proved their masculinity. Such scrutiny is not entirely external, but also self-imposed, as many boys or men have been taught to think of manhood in terms of physical ability or strength, toughness and conquest (Nuwer in Allan, 2005). Social anxieties around masculinity are central to sustaining hazing practices. The more that men are fearful of being labelled as weak, the more likely they are to participate in hazing practices that are often dangerous and even life-threatening (Nuwer in Allan , 2005).
Culturally constructed notions of what it means to be a "real man" place an emphasis on physical and mental toughness, obedience to superiors, and the value of force as a means of accountability. Such beliefs, combined with desires by heterosexual men to demonstrate that they do not possess qualities associated with gay men (e.g., vulnerability, emotionality, nurturance), contribute to the perpetuation of hazing in some cases even requests to undergo hazing. In other words, how men and women are taught to live in the world affects patterns of violence, abuse and other factors involved in hazing (Allan, 2004). It is also very clear that aggression is either mitigated or amplified by cognitive factors (Geen, 1998 in Puyat, 2002).
The social learning theory and the gender schema theory states that people learn about what it means to be male and female from the culture in which they live. According to these theories, children adjust their behavior to fit in with the gender norms and expectations of their culture (Van Wagner, 2005). This supports the statement that “machos are not born; they are made”. For the same reason, the term machismo refers to a concept that has been invented and not to a primordial cultural trait of any particular group of people (Gonzales-Lopez & Gutmann, n.d.).
Social learning theory explains how people learn new behavior through overt reinforcement or punishment, or via observational learning of the social actors in their environment. If people observe positive, desired outcomes in the observed behavior, they are more likely to model, imitate, and adopt the behavior themselves (Bandura, 1977).
In their book Sexual Assault on the College Campus, Schwartz and DeKeseredy (1997) used the male peer support model to explain the relationship between male peers, stress, and the probability to engage in woman abuse. He contends that many men experience various types in intimate heterosexual relationships, ranging from sexual problems to threats to the kind of authority that a patriarchal culture has led them to expect to be their rights by virtue of being a male. Knowing this, the model may explain how social interactions with male peers are associated with various forms of aggression and violence such as fraternity hazing. Boys and men are pressured to fulfill a standard of masculinity and men are encouraged to seek social support from their male peers (Pleck, Sonnenstein, & Ku, 1993)
Based on the records of the Silliman University Council of Student Organizations, there are 23 registered fraternities in
as of the first semester of school year 2009-2010. The average population per fraternity is 20 members. This implies that there are about 460 fraternity members in Silliman University . With this, the researcher formulated that the number of samples needed for the study is 214 fraternity members and get at least 10 participants per registered fraternity through random sampling. Silliman University
The Differential Hypermasculinity Inventory (ADMI-60) was used to measure hypermasculinity and the Hazing Inventory to measure attitude towards hazing. Both instruments were pre-tested to a group of fraternity members via an online forum.
Auburn Differential Masculinity Inventory. The ADMI is a 60-item inventory with five provisional factors developed to address concerns regarding existing measures of hypermasculinity. The five factors reflect hypermasculinity, sexual identity, dominance and aggression, conservative masculinity and devaluation of emotion. At this point, the ADMI-60 appears to have met the initial goal of providing a scale with high internal reliability, less objectionable and more contemporary item content, as well as good content and construct validity (L.R. Burk, B.R. Burkhart & J.F. Sikorski, 2004). Additionally, the ADMI-60 consists of randomly arranged items with a likert-style rating system, thus reducing response bias inherent in the forced-choice/paired opposite’s format. An example of these questions is:
19. I think it is okay for men to be a little rough during sex.
Hazing Inventory. Hazing Inventory is a self-constructed survey questionnaire that is used to measure a person’s attitude towards hazing. It consists of 15 items that assess three different components. These components include attitude towards hazing in general, physical hazing and psychological hazing. The respondent is asked to select degree of agreement or disagreement with all 15 items.
An example of physical hazing is:
4. Paddling or beating is a test of strength and willingness to be in the fraternity.
An example of psychological hazing is:
8. Requiring new members to wear ridiculous costumes or perform ridiculous activities is just one way of making the initiation fun.
Of the desired 214, the researcher gathered only 175 respondents. Of these, 13 were dropped from the sample because of incomplete responses leaving a total of 162 samples. Among the 23 desired fraternities, about 11 are represented. All respondents are male college students enrolled in
for the school year 2009-2010. Age and year level of respondents are not available because this information was excluded from the questionnaire. Silliman University
Descriptive statistics was used to highlight fraternity members’ attitude towards hazing and hypermasculinity. The results of the hazing inventory show that 11.1% strongly disagree with hazing, 29.6% disagree with hazing, 37.7% neither agree or disagree with hazing and 21.6% agree with hazing. The results of ADMI-60 connotes that 5.6% identify themselves as not at all hypermasculine, 35.8% not much hypermasculine, 44.4% as a little hypermasculine and 14.2% as hypermasculine. Therefore, majority of the respondents are neutral about hazing and tend to be somewhat hypermasculine.
Specifically, 5.6% strongly disagree with physical hazing, 19.7% disagree with physical hazing, 33.9% neither disagree nor agree with physical hazing, 30.25% agree with physical hazing and 10.4% strongly agree with physical hazing. 11.7% strongly disagree with psychological hazing, 32.7% disagree with psychological hazing, 37.0% neither agree nor disagree with psychological hazing, 17.3% agree with psychological hazing and 1.2% strongly agree with psychological hazing. Of the 33.9% who neither disagree or agree with physical hazing, 0.6% identify themselves as not at all hypermasculine, 12.3% not much hypermasculine, 18.5% a little hypermasculine and 2.5% as hypermasculine. Of the 37.0% who neither agree nor disagree with psychological hazing, 11.1% identify themselves as not much hypermasculine, 22.2% a little hypermasculine and 3.7% as hypermasculine. Moreover, majority of the respondents who are identified to be hypermasculine tend to agree with both physical and psychological hazing. The overall results showed a computed value of r =+0.66 and is considered statistically significant at 0.05 level of significance with a table value of .195. This means that the alternative hypothesis, there is a significant relationship between hypermasculinity and attitude towards hazing, is accepted.
In addition, 36 participants responded to an open-ended question at the end of the Hazing Inventory. The question was ‘justify or comment about hazing’ and some of the verbatim responses were:
“Hazing is a test of being a man and power.”
“Some fraternities do require hazing to tell people that their fraternity is one of the strongest.”
“Hazing is normal because it is part of the traditions of a fraternity or sorority.”
“It is the way of brotherhood and trusting yourself.”
“Hazing is good so that there will be loyalty.”
“It is a good feeling if you are the one beating the applicant. But it is very risky if you are the applicant.”
“Hazing is challenging. It hurts the first try but becomes addictive the following. Hazing for me is normal as long as it is done in a formal and justifying manner.”
Recognition of Harm
“Hazing should be in a control manner.”
“There should be a norm in performing hazing into a certain pledge.
If possible, there must be a medical personnel at near while the hazing
procedure is happening.”
No to Hazing
“Hazing is not needed because in the future he would be your brother and you would be the one responsible for hurting or humiliating him.”
“There are more activities to strengthen the unity and bond.”
“I think hazing should not be practiced. There are other ways to prove the loyalty of the applicant.”
Men who are identified to be hypermasculine are more likely to conform to aggressive and violent acts. Although majority of the respondents neither agree nor disagree with hazing, majority of those who are identified to be hypermasculine tend to agree with hazing practices while those identified as not or less hypermasculine tend to disagree. Almost all men who are identified to be hypermasculine agree with physical hazing. Howevver, there are those identified as hypermasculine men who disagree with psychological hazing. This coincide with the common conclusion which states that hazing among men is more likely to be violent in nature while hazing among women is more likely to be psychological in nature. This is because society has accepted men to prefer direct physical confrontation or aggression when dealing with situations. Men who deviate from this masculine construct and use verbal confrontation would likely be stereotyped as “like a girl who keeps on talking” because society consider verbal aggression as not much “manlike” same as physical aggression is not “lady-like”.
Moreover, the study did not show a perfect correlation because there are other variables or reasons why groups or fraternities practice hazing. Many fraternity members reason out that hazing continues because it serves many instrumental purposes such as testing one’s loyalty and willingness to join the fraternity, developing group cohesion, respect and discipline. Some contend that hazing is a tradition that they are obliged to follow and maintain as members of their fraternity. It is also noted that many fraternity members already know the harmful implications of hazing. Moreover, many fraternity members do not fully understand the concept of hazing. A number think hazing only involves physical violence like beating or paddling and are unaware that it can also be psychological in nature such as verbal insults and other degrading activities.
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