Hazing and Harming: How Vashti Can Inspire Women to Leave Unhealthy Friendships, Relationships

No healthy friendship or relationship should make you feel intimidated, uncomfortable, or forced to do anything you don’t want to do.

by Courtney Pories

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I’ll preface this by saying that I loved my sorority in college and was never hazed in the slightest. The amazing group of women and their values is what drew me to this particular chapter, and what made me stay.

Being at a Big Ten, out-of-state university with tens of thousands of students, it’s hard to find your place. Joining a sorority seems like an easy way to narrow down the large population and find a group of friends to call your own.

Each sorority has different traditions and initiation processes, and I’m sure you’ve read enough horror stories about how these processes go. I’m grateful that my sorority didn’t make us do anything that made us feel uncomfortable or unsafe. But not all chapters are like that.

In the story of Purim, Vashti was a cool, confident chick who threw great parties and knew her worth. She was intimidating in her looks and her attitude, and of course, her queendom. These qualities would make her breeze through recruitment.

Once you accept your bid to a sorority and begin initiation, the excitement can turn into nervousness. It’s intimidating as a vulnerable young woman to be required to do crazy and sometimes uncomfortable things in order to win these girls’ friendship. When you admire these women and want them to accept you, it’s hard to stand up to them and say no. Similarly, when King Achashverosh asked Vashti to dance for him and his partygoers in nothing but a crown, it was an intimidating and uncomfortable situation to be in.

But Vashti was better than that. She was cool, beautiful, and worthy of being queen. She didn’t deserve to be treated this way, and she didn’t need to prove herself to him. No healthy friendship or relationship should make you feel intimidated, uncomfortable, or forced to do anything you don’t want to do.

There’s different theories as to why Vashti refused. Maybe she was insecure about her body, maybe she was trying to be modest. But regardless of why she felt that way, she didn’t deserve to feel that way around people she cared about, and she had to say no even though she’d be dethroned.

Sororities, like relationships, are about finding people who will love and support you always. When you’ve just been given a bid and begin the initiation process, it doesn’t matter that you don’t know the girls well enough yet. You shouldn’t want to be friends with people who think it’s fun to make you uncomfortable and demand you to do things. Whether it’s sexual harassment, physical abuse, or emotional abuse, I hope Vashti can empower girls to not feel pressured by their friends or partners to do anything they don’t want to do. Purim and all Jewish holidays should be spent with friends, family, and partners that love and support you. May we all continue to surround ourselves with these kinds of people and have a healthy, happy holiday.