Why is Pike’s ‘Dream Girl’ still an event at NYU?

‘As a foreigner to the Greek life tradition, this was not an entertaining contest but an ordeal’

This past Sunday marked the 50th annual Dream Girl contest as hosted by NYU’s chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha, the fraternity better known as Pike.

Greeks filled the Eisner & Lubin Auditorium of The Kimmel Center for an event I couldn’t help but associate with a High School talent show.

The “Dream Girl” has been traditionally defined as “any woman who best represents and unselfishly supports [Pike]”. When first hearing this event was presented at NYU (a university known for its more socially liberal student body), I couldn’t help but feel a bit perturbed.

As a foreigner to the Greek life tradition, this was not an entertaining contest but an ordeal. Six lucky sisters were paraded down the center aisle, each lead by a Pike member.

They then took their turn answering the usual questions one would hear at a beauty pageant. In response to being asked what motivates her, one contestant advocated for feminism. Citing Beyoncé as one of the leading feminist forces, she proudly said now it’s about “what we can do as women, and that it’s okay to be sexy and smart”.

While I agree, I felt confused as to why a proponent of feminism would participate in a beauty pageant, a competition that predates the rise of equality for women by decades.

I hardly think competing to be the “Dream Girl” for a fraternity (a title which brings a whole slew of issues) is a contribution to society, and allowing males to judge a female’s value seems to take away from her own autonomy. Although the voting was measured in “likes” for each girl on Facebook, which would include male and female voters, the position in which this places each contestant could hardly be comfortable or empowering.

The second portion of the event allowed each girl a performance. They showcased their talents: singing a cover of Hotline Bling, dancing to Hotline Bling… as well as some Broadway and Opera vocals, save one girl who took the opportunity to show off some math skills. She solved several equations that would have taken the average non-Math major student hours in just seconds, all the while she and her helpers were dressed in schoolgirl outfits. She practiced what her competitor preached, showing off her smarts in a short skirt. I suppose a competition in which appearance is judged requires that added detail.

After mingling and jokes that seemed far too abundant, the 2015 Pi Kappa Alpha Dream Girl was announced as the sister from Delta Phi Epsilon.

Reconsidering the application of feminism to a fraternity-run pageant can bring up many questions.

Like the one contestant, feminism is a driving force in my life. But its place in my life compels me to oppose this type of event, while its place in hers inclined her to participate in it. Empowerment can take many forms in a female’s life, and it’s up to each one what she does with it. If you want to be on stage in a tight dress asking to be named the ideal girl for a group of fraternity brothers, more power to you.

Institutionally, the Dream Girl contest is not specifically conducive to female equality, and I’m not confident it could stand up to NYU’s growing feminist voice if a portion of the $7 cover didn’t benefit the B+ Foundation.

For the kids.

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