The American sorority system has long been a bastion of female independent living. Away from the oppressive male gaze, growing young ladies can explore and develop without fear of judgement. The most recent crop of women to join those esteemed ranks share their thoughts this week as they lift for the first time the mantels of their respective new families. Jessica Garcia, after pinning one of her fellow pledges in a tub full of mud while drunken spectators cheered enthusiastically–a time-honored tradition in the prestigious sisterhood–admitted feeling a rush or self-confidence that is, by her own admission, completely uncharacteristic. “I’m already feeling more self-assured,” she beamed, still dripping with mud. “I feel like I can handle anything.”

Another pledge, Stacie Silverson, expressed excitement over participating in one of her sisters’ most cherished traditions- the literal crawl from house to house along the row. “I’ve never felt more empowered, more womanly, than as I crawled from one fraternity to another. After bonding with my sisters, we can all hold our heads high. I mean, not too high, because we were on our hands and knees, but still pretty high.”

Sororities hold all sorts of events to foster and promote female empowerment and sisterhood, often in conjunction with their fraternal counterparts. In this uncertain world, it is heartwarming to see that these groups can come together to celebrate womanhood with events like “GI Joes and Army Hoes.”

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