Amy Coney Barrett has been making headlines for the past several weeks, and a lot of it has to do with her faith, family, and lack of feminist activism.
The press attacks by feminist groups, radical activists, and the mainstream media were to be expected. But there’s one group she probably wasn’t expected to be attacked by — the members of her college sorority, Kappa Delta.
Barrett was a member of the Alpha Delta chapter of Kappa Delta during her undergraduate studies at Rhodes College. Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself was also a member of a sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, at Cornell. Sorority women make up 28% of female Senate members and 20% of female Representatives in the House. Barrett is in good company among her predecessors and her peers on Capitol Hill.
It All Started with a Tweet
On September 28, the national chapter of Kappa Delta tweeted a recognition of Barrett’s nomination.
The outcry was immediate. Sisters who don’t agree with Barrett immediately condemned the statement, and the national chapter deleted their tweet within 24 hours of its posting. They even released an official apology.
Sisters wrote articles about how the tweet undermined the values of their sisterhood. Others angrily responded to the apology, claiming the damage was already done. But for some, that simply wasn’t enough. Now, there is a Change.org petition for Kappa Delta to officially denounce Amy Coney Barrett as a sister. It now has almost 10,000 signatures.
Undermining the Principles of Sisterhood and Inclusion
Sororities spend a lot of time nowadays on how to be more “inclusive.” A lot of this pressure comes from an antiquated view of sororities as groups of rich, white women. It seems like this stereotype really solidified in the ‘80s with movies like Animal House, and thanks to more recent shows like The House Bunny or Scream Queens.
The reality of sorority doesn’t bear up to those tired portrayals of drunk party girls. The truth is that sororities are much more symbols of women’s empowerment and scholarship. The first sororities were founded by women who attended almost exclusively male colleges. They wanted a group of women who would support them and create a welcoming environment at school.
Sororities are symbols of women’s empowerment and scholarship.
Today, women outnumber men on campus. But the principles of sorority membership remain the same: women empowering each other through academics, public service, and personal growth. Sorority women spend a lot more time than average college students talking about values, integrity, and the importance of commitment. Part of the covenant of the sisterhood is support through all trials, and it’s here that Kappa Delta has failed Amy Coney Barrett.
Is Women’s Empowerment Only for Certain Women Now?
There’s nothing wrong with members of Kappa Delta disagreeing with Amy Coney Barrett politically. But we should be able to recognize the accomplishments of many different types of women, even ones we disagree with. Amy Coney Barrett is a trailblazer, no matter her political leanings. If Amy Coney Barrett were a progressive judge, her sorority would be hailing her as a trailblazer and a hero for women’s rights.
We should be able to recognize the accomplishments of different types of women, even ones we disagree with.
Apparently, having a large family and traditional values (including believing the Constitution should be interpreted as it was originally written) now disqualify women like Amy Coney Barrett from being held up as shining examples of what women can achieve. She deserves the respect and admiration of her sisters, not their condemnation. For organizations that once stood for empowering women in a man’s world, they’ve certainly fallen far from their original purpose.
Amy Coney Barrett isn’t even listed on Kappa Delta’s official list of “Notable Kappa Deltas.” If she’s confirmed to the Supreme Court, she will arguably be the most famous and influential member of their chapter. Yet her legacy will be ignored by them over matters of taste and political difference. We can’t uphold only radical progressive women as heroes. Conservative women deserve to be hailed as heroes too.