Issue 217, Summer 2016
When one of Pete’s fraternity brothers posted the video to a closed Greek Facebook group, people said that what happened in the video was rape. At first, Pete thought the commenters meant that he had raped the girl. But then he scrolled down and realized they considered him the victim.
It hadn’t occurred to him to think of himself as having been raped any more than it had occurred to him to think of himself as a rapist. He rose from his swivel chair and looked in the mirror. His polo shirt still hugged his gut tighter than it hugged his pecs. His curls still looked like something gagged up by a cat. He still had abundant ear hair, was still soft where his chin subsided into neck. He took off his clothes, held his shoulders, ass, thighs, and package. In this way he confirmed that he was still Petey, whom everybody enjoyed.
By the time the event captured in the video took place, he was used to being the object of disrespectful acts. In Gamma, having disrespectful things done to you was a road to prestige. When you were a pledge, you did the Whale, where the actives bailed brown water from Boston Harbor, poured it in the sink, and made you blow bubbles in it. When you surfaced, you recited the names of ten actives. If you did it without complaint, you got to become an active yourself.
It was a similar deal when he had a girlfriend sophomore year. Once word got out, they made him sit in the crab apple tree wearing an apricot taffeta gown they kept in the basement. After a few hours they let him come down, and everyone shook his hand. People were for the most part uninterested in giving him shit after that, because sitting in a tree in a dress like a poetess was punishment enough. Everyone in Gamma who had a steady girlfriend had to do the same thing; it was a way to prove that even though you had a girlfriend you still had self-esteem, because an insecure douche would have refused to put on a dress. An insecure douche would have refused to get in the tree.
When Pete was elected treasurer at the beginning of his senior year, having crushed a junior who’d spoken of “planting seeds” and making Gamma a “lean start-up, not a government,” he knew he would have to pass another test of character before his inauguration. Every Gamma voted into leadership had to weather a ceremony designed to test his confidence. For some it was a gauntlet of slaps, for others butt chugging, in which vodka was funneled through a broken bottle into the anus, for others eight hours on all fours.