The “Little Sister” in the Frat House

January 3, 2007

Here’s the diary I wrote at Daily Kos that sparked such frantic reactions from the Frat Boys, including the Mighty Kos himself, and their loyal female “support staff”.   It was so controversial that it was deemed a “troll diary” and I was eventually banned from the site. 

I post it here in the hopes that we can have a more reasonable, intelligent discussion of the issues.


When my husband was in surgical residency, I met many wives of doctors.  One who became a friend was a charming, talkative young woman who enjoyed throwing parties.  They were always great parties.  She was very intelligent and had a witty, wisecracky sense of humor.  She was also physically attractive – small, but athletic and at the same time curvaceous.  In a previous era, she might have been on a calendar.  Her husband was Dullsville.  The only subject he liked to talk about was the new toys he had just acquired, or was thinking of acquiring: stereo systems, cars, motorbikes, etc.  But his wife (I’ll call her Sally) had more interests.  She read a fair amount and had a degree in literature from a big Midwestern university.  She was interested in art, foreign films, and fashion photography, so she and I had a lot to talk about.

One night at one of her parties, after we had all had a few martinis, Sally told me that she had been a stripper.  She said she had done it for a lark after college.  She said it was fun having such power over men.  Many of them wanted to talk with her after she came off stage and tell her all their problems, and she would listen.  They’d tell her how beautiful she was, and then give her big tips.  So she looked at it as a kind of therapy for them, and nice for her.  I said, well, OK, that makes some sense.  It reminded me a bit of Carl Hiaasen’s novel Strip Tease, except that this woman’s family was quite well-off and she certainly wasn’t doing it for the money.

Later, at a different gathering, I heard her telling someone else this story.  And then, over time, I heard it recycled back to me by others – “Did you know that Sally was a stripper??”  So I came to realize that this was, to Sally, such an important part of her identity that she had to tell a lot of people about it.  Somehow the fact that she had had a job where men paid her for being beautiful and “sexy” validated her beauty, and hence her being.  I guess it wasn’t surprising that she ended up marrying a guy who was so obsessed with toys.

None of that bothered me much, in a feminist context, until she told me about her experiences being a “Little Sister” in a frat house at the big university.  I had never heard of such a thing – I went to a women’s college where we didn’t even have sororities.  She explained to me how the Little Sisters would help with the social agenda for the frat, setting up the parties and cleaning up after them, etc.  Then she told me about how one day she decided that the frat house bathrooms were too incredibly filthy, so she went out and got a bunch of cleaning products, put on her rubber gloves, and went in and started scrubbing away.  Nobody had cleaned them in years so there was quite an accumulation of, well, what accumulates in frathouse bathrooms.  She worked and worked and worked until she started feeling a little strange, and then she got up and staggered out of the bathroom and fainted and fell down the stairs.

Apparently she had been overcome by the fumes of all the different types of cleansers she had been using.

She told me how wonderful the frat boys were while reviving her and taking her to the infirmary, and how grateful they were that she had taken on the job of cleaning the bathrooms.

The British have a good word, “gobsmacked”, that describes my reaction to this story.  In American terms: I was completely stunned.  My jaw dropped.  I was speechless.

It was an epiphany for me.  I began to think about why women would choose that identity of being second-class citizens in a male power structure when they had an alternative.  I also thought of it in relation to the stripper story.  Is getting attention from, and catering to, men really the most important thing for some women?  If so, can they truly be feminists?

The “Little Sister in the Frat House” image has come to me often while reading DKos.  Since last year, when I suggested women’s issues to Gina as a topic for Yearly Kos and heard vague and conflicting responses from her – and then, after YKos, when there was a panel of some sort about feminism, but it hardly rated a mention afterwards, and none at all from the Front Pagers – I’ve been worried that feminists here are backing off and allowing their concerns to be subsumed into the “Bigger Picture”.  I’m worried that feminists are yet again – as many of them were in the ’60s – allowing themselves to be the watercarriers, the coffee-makers, the toilet-scrubbers, the “support staff”, the cheerleaders, the strippers and sex toys to the Big Boys who are really the movers and shakers and the ones getting their ideas across.  Time and again I hear responses to the effect of: “Yes, yes, we’re going to pay attention to your ideas and your issues when we get in power, but right now we have to focus on getting our people elected.”  Can you get me another coffee, and by the way – nice tits!

How much are we women willing to give up in order to get attention from the Big Boys in power?  How much of our identity is connected to our sense of our attractiveness to men?  Do we even have a real identity separate from men and the way they perceive us?  Are we tools/toys for them, or do they think of us as equals and fight on our side for our acceptance as equals in society?  These are all questions that come up when I think about the Little Sister in the frat house.

* * *

Another story about my friend:

She and a few other wives of MDs had a “book group”.  She invited me to it once.  I can’t remember what book we were supposed to be discussing (I think it was something by Michael Chabon).  I said I couldn’t go because I hadn’t read the book.  She said, “Oh, that doesn’t matter!”  

When I showed up, the ladies were energetically cocktailing.  Eventually someone brought up the book.  Nobody had read more than 100 pages of it.  So they quickly segued into gossip.  This was boring because I didn’t know anyone they were discussing.  Then they went on to discuss things they would have done to themselves as soon as they had enough money to get cosmetic surgery.  They went around the circle getting everyone’s contributions in turn.  Instead of a book discussion club, it had become a “cosmetic surgery discussion club”.  When they got to me, I said I didn’t want to have anything done.  I received a barrage of glares.  My friend said, “What do you mean – do you think you’re perfect?”

That, too, was an eye-opener for me.

H.R.H. Supervixen



  1. i read your “little sister” diary with fascination. i grew up in the south, was a student at an all woman’s college (one of the best in the south – we were treated like people instead of “girls”) and i had a solid identity of who i was and what i wanted to do in my life.

    what i DIDN’T have was a “sexual identity”. having grown up with betty friedan’s amazing new book, the feminine mystique, having been amazed at how quickly many of my classmates sought the security of marriage and a supported home, i was “different”. i longed for the freedom of new york, the theatre, my own apartment and more. i wanted to LIVE life, not watch it on some moving screen of pretend.

    when i arrived in new york, i was startled to learn i had no idea of my sexual self – i feared that (due to my twigginess before she was popular), i would engender so much laughter that any followup would be impossible – so i set out to determine for myself if i had sexual appeal!

    i became a ‘go-go’ dancer in 1970 – it was before the age of topless, because i was, therefore i couldn’t – even if i would have, which i wouldn’t have… but, in my decorated bikini and white boots, off i went to gyrate in little neighborhood bars to see if i could out attract the activity at the pool table. sometimes i did, other times, the stakes on the table outweighed me.

    what i learned from that experience (about 30 times in all) other than the inherent discrimination and danger women in this type of industry face was that when we don’t have a clear cut idea of who and what we are and how we relate to others, we look toward outside validation.

    for me, it was fun, exciting (the days of laugh-in instead of laughed-at) and wildly alluring! the funny thing is that i was still the virgin who could attract men simply by desperately trying to find the rhythym of the spanish music as the guys tried to “teach” me how to dance to the wonderful latin beats.

    then, the “other” girl would hit the stage and they would slaver on cue. oh, i could generate the same response, but i chose to have fun and offer something different: a real person who was more woman than tits and ass.

    i learned much from the experience = about myself and about those who worked the same clubs. i learned that when a woman was attacked, the cops would turn a blind eye claiming that she provoked it. i learned the sadness of watching women who ONLY had this as a means of earning a sustaining living for themselves and their children (many had kids but no spouse to carry the support) as they went through the motions of playing the “object”.

    it was a depressing world for those who had no way out. it was a frightening world for those who had no alternatives. it was an educational world about one woman who found that “sexy” isn’t about the visual, but rather about the total person.

    no one laughed unless i wanted them to – no one walked away (except when the pool pot was very high) and no one learned as much as i did about myself and others in the physical definition of us all.

    feminism isn’t about the roles women play, it is about the ROLE of women in society – and the reasons women choose to live those roles. if it is a choice that is voluntary, then that is feminism. if the choice is not really a choice but the last alternative available, then that is sexism.

    choices that are made from fear are not choices at all… and that is what so many of the “little sisters” have slipped into – both at your college and mine – and in the greater circles where we live. ours is the role of teaching women that there is always MORE than an either/or choice – that there are multiple choices we can make and that we are free to change our minds as we grow.

    thank you for the trip through my memories – and the laughter at my “adventures” and the shared experiences! those experiences helped make me who i am today – they are part of the total whole that is!

  2. Interesting story.

    Oh, and I would have killed for go-go-boots at one time in my life.

  3. edrie, thank you so much for your story and your apt observations.

    One reader thought I was trying to put down “sex workers”. Absolutely not. I have no problem with the idea of sex workers, strippers, porn, cheesecake pix, etc. These will always be with us (and I heartily disagree with those puritanical feminists who want to try to squelch such expressions). What I object to is the concept that woman’s primary role in society is to play “sex object” and cater to males. This is an outdated paradigm, and an extremely harmful one.

    Related to that is the concept that a woman’s worth is based on how MEN perceive her. This is a more subtle and insidious problem.

    For me, it’s not acceptable to say “Women should be free to choose to think this way.” One might as well say that women should be free to “choose” to stay with an abusive mate. I think it’s a crucial tenet of feminism to help a woman establish her worth in herself, to make her strong enough so that she doesn’t “choose” to play by the outdated rules, so that she doesn’t “choose” to maintain the old paradigm (even if she’s only doing it for fun).

    In short: it’s fine to dress nicely, look “sexy”, be physically attractive, etc. but when this becomes a major part of your identity, it’s a problem. Narcissism and obsession with physical appearance have historically been encouraged in women and frowned upon in men. I’d like to see it ratcheted down somewhat, for both sexes, but particularly for women, because it plays into the old paradigm.

  4. ah, sv… you say “Related to that is the concept that a woman’s worth is based on how MEN perceive her. This is a more subtle and insidious problem.”

    that is a sad truth today as was in my youth.

    my experiences were about finding my own sexual identity – even as a sexually inexperienced young woman. we had no guidelines other than the emily post or amy vanderbilt guides (let the MAN open the door!) – so we had no real mirror to our own sexuality!

    my foray into the wonderful freedom of my generation was to try to determine HOW women were viewed and why. as (even then) a writer, i didn’t want to read opinions of others – i wanted to see and decide for myself.

    the “myth” of what makes a woman sexually attractive (how others perceive her) as opposed to the “reality” of sexuality (how we perceive ourselved) is illustrated immediately in the sex “trade” industry. while go-go dancing was skirting the perimeters in 1970 – the “topless” dancers had only just begun to make certain “men’s” clubs, the bars and small neighborhood clubs were looking for ways to draw in new customers. the days of “laugh-in” and the “cage dancers” of the sixties and seventies helped draw younger people into the new world of open sexualality and expression, even though many had not yet dared to participate!

    books such as “our bodies, our selves”, “the lonely crowd (reisman), “i’m ok, you’re ok”, “the cinderella complex” and more opened the dialogue to allow women who had been repressed to explore and find their own identities – and their own respect of their own sexuality!

    i’m glad to have lived during this time – to have had the opportunity to find my OWN sexuality and freedom (an opportunity that slammed to a close to young people now with the advent of aids) and to have had the relationships in my life that were based on EQUAL respect, EQUAL needs, EQUAL identities!

    one day, we may return to that state of partnership – but, sadly, the generation today is regressing to the horrid fifties (a.k.a. pleasantville) and will only learn what they have missed when their daughters and grandchildren break free.

    hello, miss devore! delighted to see you here – sorry that you never got your go-go boots – but, you know, it’s NEVER to late! freedom’s just another word of another life to live! (thanks for the paraphrase, janis!)

    see yall round the foxy planet! off to work now…

  5. oh, more to come later on watching the “trade” in new york – and the mafia control of the women who were sucked into the vortex. i watched – and learned – and waited… pen (keyboard) in hand for the day to put words to paper (screen).

    more another day!

  6. yes edrie, please tell us more! I love your writing and your stories, and I’m so glad you’re with us here on the Supervixen Planet. Thanks for contributing.

    About the sexual liberation of the 1960s: I recently read a quote of Paul McCartney’s (either in his own autobio or in the Beatles Anthology book, I can’t remember which) where he said that The Pill was a huge change between his generation and his father’s. His father remarked upon Paul’s profligate sex life as a young Beatle, saying that in his day, the girls were too worried about getting pregnant.

    Of course, I don’t think his father had screaming girls chasing him down the street, either….

  7. For this you were banned???! Those idiots must have the thinnest skin on the internet. It’s preposterous, ludicrous. I’m gobsmacked!

  8. Not simply for that diary, but for my comments in it, and for my next diary, Am I a Troll? in which I asked the community to vote on whether or not I’m a troll. Evidently most members of the community either don’t care, or believe I’m not a troll, which is true. But because of the trollrating of my comments in that diary, I was autobanned.

    My comments in the “Little Sister” diary included telling off Kos:

    That was not her question (6+ / 0-)

    Anyway, I thought this site was about Democratic politics, not about “elections”. If feminism isn’t at the forefront of Democratic politics, as far as I’m concerned, the Democrats can shove everything else up their ass.

    And, besides my vote, I have a LOT of money to donate to candidates of my choice. If you want to piss me off by telling me that feminism isn’t important to Democrats, go right ahead.

    by hrh on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 09:29:19 PM PST

    Feminism isn’t an “individual pet cause” (7+ / 0-)

    That’s where you need to unscrew your head and get it screwed on properly. Feminism is a linchpin of progressivism and liberalism. It has been for centuries now. For people like you who grew up as Republicans and weren’t sufficiently educated, it might seem as though feminism was invented by radical Communist lesbians in the ’70s, maybe as a hobby or something. It wasn’t. Get with the program.

    I grew up as a Republican and was sufficiently educated. My parents were feminists. Republican feminists. There are a lot of them out there. They’ve been silenced and marginalized by the religious whackjobs who have taken over their party. They have nowhere to go. Why not reach out to them? Or are you so obsessed with the Repubs vs. the Dems that you can’t see beyond party lines?

    PS: I don’t care if you don’t care about me pissing you off. I have no interest in you as a person. But considering you’re often asking for contributions from us, the readers of your site, and flogging the idea of the “netroots”, “people powered politics” etc., I thought you might possibly be interested in the fact that I have money to spare and can contribute some to your pet candidates. If feminist money doesn’t interest you, well, I have other causes to which to contribute.

    by hrh on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 09:59:28 PM PST

    …which incensed many people. Never talk back to the Great and Powerful Kos!

    And here you can see some of the major members of the Thug Patrol in action:

    Nothing I have said here (1+ / 3-)
    Recommended by:TeresaInPa
    Trollrated by:Sharoney, MissLaura, SusanG

    has been any more trollish and nasty than comments I’ve read elsewhere from the very people who are doing the trollrating.

    This is a case study in hypocrisy, bullying, and “groupthink”.

    by hrh on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 05:51:46 AM PST

    Saying it don’t make it so. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:Sharoney, tryptamine, PaintyKat, Rick Oliver, Elise


    by Nightprowlkitty on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 07:55:48 AM PST

  9. Oh, and Armando was so infuriated by the “Little Sisters” diary that he accused me of lying:

    There is no Sally. Hell, she probably has no husband or life for that matter.

    To which I responded:

    A damning comment from Armando (2+ / 5-)
    Recommended by:Thistime, Annalize5
    Trollrated by:clonecone, MissLaura, Del C, shayera

    He showed his hand there. He and his pack want people to think that I’m some kind of crazy loser. It’s significant that the attack is “she probably has no husband or life”. It’s very much the same tone as that old criticism of feminists: they’re ugly and they can’t get a man, so they hate all men.

    As a matter of fact, I do have a husband. We’ve been married almost 20 years. He’s a successful surgeon with a PhD and a degree in music from an Ivy League college. He’s lightyears beyond Armando in terms of character and intellectual firepower.

    Armando and his pack are living in a fantastical dreamworld in which they’re the only sane ones and everyone who dares to criticize them is insane.

    by hrh on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 05:27:29 AM PST

    They didn’t like that comment, either, as you can see.

  10. Grassroots democracy would seem to mean raising money and doing volunteer shitwork for candidates not of your choosing,who support your intrests not at all,but who promise to protect you from the other pimps be better than the other team. Maybe.:(

  11. Yes, StarDragon, that looks like the situation. And if you don’t agree with what Big Daddy tells you, then you’re disloyal and suspect.

    Fun and games.

  12. I’m so pleased with my respose here that I am ganking it for reuse.
    You inspire,Supervixen,you inspire.

  13. I view dkos sometimes as a parable for the way left politics have progressed for a long time — the values are the first things to go, and the party becomes an end rather than the means.

    It’s been an interesting trajectory to watch over the years I’ve posted over there. Very educational about how to turn a movement away from the grassroots and toward the same old power structures, without explicitly doing so — and another sign to me that if you don’t really understand and consciously fight against those structures, they’re going to twist you more than you twist them.

  14. […] of the Feminist SuperVixens… and a link to the diary, migrated to PofSVs,…. Yes, the story of the Little Sister in the Frat House.. it cut so close to home that iirc, […]

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