I’ve been to one frat party in my life, and it wasn’t necessarily what I’d call “fun.” I was groped several times, and someone even tried to lift my dress up. I suffered through all of it for the free alcohol, which at 19, was a determining factor in a lot of my decision-making.
So it’s not all that surprising to see today’s college students make similar compromises in the name of alcohol-fueled frat parties on TikTok. Namely, young, ostensibly cis men are dressing up as women in order to gain entry (and free alcohol) at frat parties that would otherwise restrict the number of men they allowed in.
“Dressing Isaiah as a girl to get him into frats,” one TikTok from December tagged #calpoly reads. It shows a young man stuffing a bra, putting on a crop top and a wig and later enjoying the inside of a frat party. Apparently, his technique worked.
Another video from last April shows a similar situation from the guy’s own perspective, following essentially the same technique of crop top and wig-wearing. “I’ve been here for an hour-and-a-half and have gotten four drinks,” a Snapchat he took while at the party says.
It’s not exactly a new practice. Back in 2017, college-centric publications like Unilad and Barstool Sports published stories of men successfully getting through the doors at frat parties by posing as women. One even claimed he was initially turned away when dressed as his usual male self, but got in after putting on a wig and looking more feminine. I have to assume that there’s some delight in it for them, too, even if it’s only the joy of experimenting with their image (and maybe even getting a safe-ish foray into drag).
I have absolutely no gauge of whether this dynamic is common at frats, so I asked men who’ve previously been frat bros. “To have parties at your house and not risk getting suspended or worse, you had to register the party with [the frat], and you had to have a guest list,” says Henry, a guy who was president of his frat at a Midwestern state school around seven years ago.
At the parties, he ran the doors, where there was a “pretty strict no-dudes policy, unless you had a younger brother or a kid from your town you were trying to show around,” he tells me. “I’d even not let girls in if they weren’t on the list.” As such, there were no dudes dressed as women that he knew of.
Other guys I spoke to, who went to Cornell, Wesleyan, USC and more, were similarly unfamiliar with the practice. Most actually didn’t recall there being strict gender ratios at their parties, either. “I don’t think there were gender rules about who got into parties,” says Louis Keene, who went to USC a decade ago. “The only rule I think we had was you couldn’t be too fucked up. There were probably ‘sausage fest’ jokes if it turned out to be a lot more guys than gals in the end, but we definitely didn’t have a bouncer at the door being like, ‘Sorry, women only.’”
That said, the dynamic of frat parties with a bouncer at the door is a huge theme on TikTok. There are numerous POV-style videos of guys acting like complete tools pretending to be working the doors of their fraternity house, only allowing women in. Surely in some places it’s a reality, but it seemingly exists mostly on TikTok. Particularly in the case of guys dressing up like women, it makes for good content. At the very least, it looks like they’re having fun!