What's the best way to challenge campus patriarchy and critique male fantasies of sorority initiations? By getting nekkid with the sisters and making out in the stacks, baby.
A coven of Ivy and Seven Sisters alumnae got together in Columbia University's Butler Library late one Saturday night last November with a mission: to explore "the rituals of American Ivy League secret societies, to the point of hysteria, highlighting our culture's perception of female desire."
The result was the NSFW video above, "Initiatiøn," a wild three-minute romp involving a riding crop, milk, ground twerking, a blue chicken carcass, broken eggs, and lots of boobies, set to creepy choral music that gives the film a feel reminiscent of "the season finale of American Horror Story," according to one Gawker colleague.
The film is the work of Slutever blogger and Vogue contributor Karley Sciortino and Coco Young, a Columbia undergrad who lists Roman Polanski among her inspirations. Young told IvyGate Blog that the film was an intense meditation:
While Young has "never experienced a sorority or fraternity," she is intrigued by them, and this video is a projection of that fascination. Moreover, of course, it is a feminist statement, meant to "showcase the ultimate hysteria state," and speak to the stigmatization and fetishization of women.
This fetishization is particularly prevalent at Columbia, Young explained. "You know—as a girl—there's definitely a weird gender tension," she told me.
A weird gender tension, okay; but "Initiatiøn" is a weirdly conventional reaction to that tension. It's not the first attempt to play with sex rites in an Ivy League school's stacks. And its imagery is familiar to anyone who's ever seen Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, or the photographs of Francesca Woodman, or Carolee Schneeman's 1964 art film "Meat Joy":
Is it possible to critique a fetish while indulging in it? Sure. But in the execution, "Initiatiøn" seems a little too... too. It's no vaginal knitting, that's for sure.