Saturday, January 18, 2014

#SororitySaturday: The Problem with "TSM" Culture

I've never been a big fan of TSM, but after seeing them post a piece entitled "Stop Crying Rape," I knew what I wanted to talk about for this week's Sorority Saturday post.

For the uninitiated, TSM stands for Total Sorority Move, and the site is a sister to the original Total Frat Move. A few years back, what started out as a douchey saying has evolved into a full-fledged brand, with #TSM being emblazoned on shirts and coozies. Total Frat Move even released a book last year.

At first, I thought the trend was harmless. The things on TSM aren't reflective of my sorority experience, so I wasn't worried about it. But lately I've been seeing a lot of sorority women I like and respect retweeting things from the site, and every time I do it makes me worry for the state of Greek life. Yes, some of the things TSM and TFM tweet are harmless:
"Big Hair. Big Smile. Big Personality. #TSM."
"All the doodles in your notebook being sorority-related. #TSM"
But the tweets range from harmless to downright awful, depending on the day, and the "articles" tend to be worse. At best, the site perpetuates out-of-date, negative stereotypes about sorority women, like we spend all our time shopping and hooking up with guys. At worst, the content encourages viewpoints that take women's progress back about fifty years.

Specifically, one of TSM's columnists recently wrote a piece called "Stop Crying Rape." You can read it yourself, but the point being made is that girls get drunk, have sex, regret it, and then claim they were raped. While I'm not saying this never happens (it does, and false rape accusations are serious, which is why those who make them face jail time), there's a much larger issue at stake. This TSM "article" (not sure we can call it that anyway, considering it cites no actual facts or numbers) is merely making the issue of underreporting sexual assault worse. For an in-depth analysis of the article's issues, read this.

Even more disturbing is the support TSM received for the post. That's what I find most terrifying about TSM culture: there's a contingent of college women who seem to cling to anything they think makes them seem "sratty," which usually means specific clothing or accessories. In this case, it's clinging to oppressive ideologies, which is much more harmful to Greek women, and women in general.

This kind of post is exactly why the Greek community should break ties with sites like TSM. If we're asking people to take us seriously, we need to stop adding to the problem by retweeting things that make us seem vapid, unintelligent, and snobby. We need to move our focus to accounts like Actual Sorority Move, who pride themselves on showing Greek life in a positive light. I'm not saying sorority women don't craft, or shop, or go to parties. But it definitely isn't all we do, and that's the only part being seen through websites like TSM.
My beautiful sisters with their fabric to make quilts for hospitalized kids 
So think about it next time you go to retweet a cute TSM post. By associating yourself with that brand, even if it's a seemingly harmless tweet about glitter, you are associating yourself with people who think it's okay to write off rape as just another drunken mistake. You're associating yourself, and all sorority women, with a site that perpetuates the stereotype that we're all drunks and gold diggers. And I know we're so much more than that- let the rest of the world know, too.

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