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Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities

3.0 out of 5 stars 363 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1615596492
ISBN-10: 1615596496
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Editorial Reviews

From 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 tearsâ€"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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Despite the provocative subtitle, most of the information gathered by the author as she went undercover as a sorority girl is nothing especially new. After all, everyone knows sororities can be exclusive, conformist, and superficial organizations. But Robbins' account of life inside the sorority house still makes for fascinating reading. Following four sorority sisters through their first year in the house, a world of sex, drugs, eating disorders, and insecurity is revealed. One wonders, though, if these experiences are that different from the experiences of those students not affiliated with Greek societies. What is arguably different, though, is the extreme pressure brought to bear on these young women to repress their own natural instincts, desires, and inclinations in order to fit in with an amazingly shallow and often unworthy group of friends. Where the author really scores is in her analysis of why otherwise intelligent and sensitive women would sacrifice their independence, and often self-respect, for the sake of an artificially engineered secret society. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (July 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615596496
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615596492
  • ASIN: B000FDFWP0
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (363 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,697,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I began college as intensely opposed to sororities and the idea of "buying" my friends. Then, in my sophomore year of college, I met some girls in a sorority on campus, became friends with them, and eventually joined the sorority- an NPC group at a large state university.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made- I made great friends and developed so much as a person. I think many sorority girls would say the same thing. It was a great experience.
Had I read this book as a collegian, or recent graduate, I probably would have reacted the same as many of the sorority women's postings- "that is NOT true," "that never happens," etc. However, being removed from the situation by about five years gives you a different perspective.
I am not blind enough to sit here and say " I have NEVER seen any of these things Ms. Robbins talks about going on." That is simply not true. The alcohol, the parties, the date rape, the eating disorders- it's all there. Maybe it wasn't a part of my sorority, or yours, but it's been a part of someone's. Every chapter, on every campus, is different. One of my sorority's chapters at a major university was closed due to hazing. Yet, I was never once hazed in any way. It all depends where you are and the people who are there with you.
I didn't read this book thinking that Ms. Robbins was exposing "sororities everywhere." But I do think she provides a good depiction of how MANY sorority chapters operate. I think she also remained very objective in her writing. And, just think back to junior high or high school- the same catty girls, pressure to conform, etc. It's not all that different.
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Format: Hardcover
A sister of mine I hadn't spoken with in a while asked me to write a negative review for this book. So I read the book figuring, from all my sister's fussing, that it would be easy to pan. But there was a problem. The very sister who is angry about this book did many of the same things listed in the book -- hazing, drinking, partying a little too closely with a specific group of "hot" fraternity boys. I know, because I did it too. Look, not everything in this book jives with my college experience, but enough does. It's actually not a bad book, either.
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Format: Paperback
As a former greek who's still a student at a Big Ten school, I can say honestly that I've experienced life both in and out of the Greek system, and this book hits the nail on the head. It's a fabulous exploration of many of the things that simultaneously titillated and bothered me about Greek life.

I quit on good terms, for monetary reasons, rather than because I wanted to leave the house. However, now that I'm a "GDI," my perspective on being Greek has completely changed. Although I respect and like the girls in my former house, looking at the Greek system from the outside in makes it look pretty absurd. The people in Greek system will always vehemently deny that it is made up of anything but puppies and rainbows and philanthropic sunshine, but lots and lots of shady stuff goes on.

Hence, I'm glad such a good author/journalist had the balls to write an entire book about this interesting duality. It's well-researched and well-presented, and gives a pretty even look at things. Frankly, I think she was almost too nice and too eager to not offend at parts. A lot of the time, she lets the actions of the women in the book speak for themselves. Although I'd have loved to see some analysis, her journalistic writing style gives the book a lot of credibility. She justs chronicles things and lets the reader draw his or her own conclusions.

Whether you're Greek, a former Greek, or a GDI, definitely a fascinating read. Sorority girls: don't disregard it before you've read it. It's really not as bad as you think it is.
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Format: Paperback
As an alumna of one of the largest international sororities, I approached this book with mixed feelings, having read many of the reviews on this site. What I learned is that you cant judge a book by its Amazon reviews because reviewers often take topics too personally and cant detach themselves and their personal experiences from the book. Many of the events in this book happened to me or my sisters, but thats besides the point. I thought that as a nonfiction book about sorority life, this book hit the nail on the head, and as for its readbility, I found it funny and entertaining in addition to smart and thought-provoking. All of us Greeks need to be familiar with this book if we are to continue to cater to the changing college environment.
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Format: Paperback
I was in a sorority in the 80's in the south, but at a campus where greek life wasn't a huge deal. I bought this book to read as my daughter was not too far from leaving for college. Ironically, it was recommended to me by my college roommate, who was in the same sorority as I was.

Reading this book brought a lot of feelings to the surface that I think I had stuffed, ignored, wasn't willing to admit, etc. at the time I was involved in greek life. Even in the many years after college, my feelings about my time in a sorority were somewhat positive.

However, even after reading this book so long past my time in a sorority, it surprisingly brought to the surface many negative feelings regarding greek life that I just wasn't willing to recognize while in a sorority. The overwhelming feeling to be just like them in all you do....clothes, partying, dating/sleeping with frat guys, etc. may be even unspoken, but it is PROFOUND. A sorority might tell you they want unique individuals and they might, as long as you dress like, talk like, think like, and party like them. What my "sisters" and I did to fit in to an organization that we didn't even respect that much is mind boggling.

With that said, the partying and desire to fit in could be said about many college students/young women, greek or not. Regardless, I am grateful for the book as it solidified my opinion about greek life in general (of course, not everywhere the same as the author states) and helped influence the conversation I would have with my daughter before she left for college.

I told her I would consider paying for a sorority, but if that's what she wanted, had to wait for her sophomore year to pledge.
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