“Nothing unites men like war”: Fraternity rumbles, masculinity, and the routes to leadership

Filomin C. Gutierrez

Abstract


This article argues that the interfraternity wars or “rumbles” that occur at the University of the Philippines Diliman must be understood as dynamic violent interactions between male-exclusive organizations equipped with the capability for group cohesion and defiance and is oriented to hegemonic masculinity. Analysis of 264 incidents reported from 1990 to 2013, indicates a shift in the pattern of rumbles: while there is an overall decrease of incidents, rumbles have concentrated in fewer fraternities over the years. The study further analyzes the narratives of 15 fraternity men (14 alumni and one student) about their own experiences of rumbles in the past, the emotions and sensations involved in being “at war” with rival fraternities, and their own criticisms about the culture of violence among fraternities. The study demonstrates how fraternities are at risk for hypermasculine behavioral paths that regard rumbles as a means to assert dominance over other fraternities and circumvent routes to hegemonic masculinity. The study also links micro-level factors of situational interactions and organizational features to larger cultural scripts regarding masculinity and future national leadership. Finally, the study provides insights in preventing fraternity-related violence in the campus and points to the challenges of gender socialization of UP students in relation to imaginaries of national service and future national leadership.

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