The Pledge Mistress Ch. 14bycaligula97236©
Chapter 14 - A day of hard lessons
Monday started just like any other weekday between classes. Tracy entered the room with her usual:
"OK, sleeping beauties: UP...UP...UP! Let's go...let's go...let's go!"
As usual, each pledge got a sharp slap on her bottom as she passed Tracy to go upstairs for the morning PT.
The pledges began their day with stretching and the normal upper body workout with the sophomores. There was the usual cooling off in the pool, a shower, and the usual healthy breakfast. They cleaned up from the meal while the sophomores left for the university. Heather left as well, after reminding her charges that the routine would change somewhat starting the next day because the new Tri-Alpha pledges would start coming to the house and take over some of the chores.
At 9:30 a.m. Lisa and her companions knelt in the sitting room for a day-long class to be given by President Alexandra. Pledge Mistress Tracy was present as well, but only to assist the president with props and the projector.
The first presentation was about the history of the Four-Beta pledging experience. Alexandra emphasized that the pledges were part of a long tradition that went clear back to 1926, when the sorority decided to distinguish itself from other sororities and use a harsh hazing philosophy to make sure the pledges really wanted to join.
Alexandra's slide show contained numerous photos of sorority members and pledges taken between 1926 and the present, with an emphasis on the first decades of the sorority. Styles had come and gone, but the four new pledges saw a lot of themselves in the faces of the young women who had gone before them. Seeing the photos gave them a strange sense of personal mortality. Decades before, those women in the black and white pictures had been little different from the current generation, with the same hopes and fears for the future. However, they had long since lived out their lives and passed away. Lisa and her companions realized that decades in the future they also would become little more than memories in some future slide show presentation for a new generation of pledges. Nothing more than a photo. That thought was rather scary.
The pledge program had developed since the 1920's, but its basic purpose had not changed much in the ensuing eight decades. From the very beginning Four-Beta pledges had to undergo a rigorous personal transformation to be eligible to join the sorority. During the 1920's and early 1930's pledges had to bob their hair and be struck with the riding crop on the shoulder on the very first day of pledging. One detail that made the Lisa and her companions giggle was the original Four-Beta pledge uniform. Before World War II, the pledge uniform consisted of white drop-seat bloomers. The seat of the bloomers was cut out, which meant the pledges always ran around the sorority house with their bottoms and the backs of their upper thighs completely exposed, but the rest of their bodies covered.
During the first two decades any junior or senior could discipline a pledge. A metal washtub full of willow switches was kept by the back door. If a pledge faced discipline she had to go to that tub, retrieve a switch, dry it off, and return to her disciplinarian. She had to kneel and hand over the switch, then stand up and put her hands on her ankles until the punishment was finished. There were several pictures of early pledges dressed in the drop-seat bloomers, and even through the grainy black and white images switch marks were clearly visible on the bare bottoms of some of the freshmen.
The Four-Beta pledging program underwent several important changes in 1946. That was the year that the sorority created the positions of Pledge Mistress and Sergeant-at-Arms. From that point forward pledges answered only to those two officers, instead of having to answer to any senior member of the sorority. That also was the year when housing developers filled in the pond from where the seniors were getting their supply of willow switches. With its supply of willow switches cut off, the sorority turned to using razor straps to discipline pledges, provided by a member whose father was a barber. Tracy held up an old razor strap and passed it to the pledges for a closer look. Finally, 1946 was the year the sorority replaced the pledge uniform of drop-seat bloomers with open-back hospital gowns. The gowns exposed much more of the pledges' bodies than the bloomers, because all of the drawstrings except for the one at the very top were cut off. From the front pledges were adequately covered, but from the back they were completely exposed, especially if they had to lean forward or bend over.
The hospital gowns lasted until 1965. That year the Pledge Mistress punished a pledge by strapping her, but then took her punishment a step further by ordering her to remove her gown and burn it in the barbecue pit. In an act of solidarity the other pledges stripped off their gowns and burnt them as well. The entire group then bent over and insisted on taking the same strapping their fellow pledge had taken. The Pledge Mistress wore herself out disciplining the entire group and refused to replace any of their gowns. As a result of their rebellion, the pledges spent the rest of their time in the house that semester in the nude. After a while the young women took a strange pride in their exposure, since they were in their situation together and confronting the Pledge Mistress as a team. The idea caught on and the incoming class of 1966 was the first group to spend the entire semester pledging completely in the nude.
Alexandra expressed her clear admiration for the 1965 pledge group, holding them up as an example of how pledges should behave. They refused to let a member of their group be singled out for special punishment, but rather than argue with the Pledge Mistress, they chose to stand with their classmate and strip off their own gowns. What they did was in one way an act of defiance, but on the other hand they had rebelled within the rules laid out for them as pledges. Their group mate had to suffer, and they insisted on suffering with her.
The chapter president ended her observation with a picture of the infamous 1965 group, a black and white photo of 14 determined-looking young women, all standing completely naked as they waited to be sworn-in as full members of the sorority.
Alexandra moved on to the final change in the pledge program, one brought about by the sexual revolution of the late 1960's. Medical education traditionally had been part of the sorority's training program, and sexual education eventually became an extension of medical education. Sexual health always had received priority as an orientation topic, but in 1970 the Four-Beta Sorority decided to expand the medical lessons into an aggressive and comprehensive program of sexual instruction.
The first goal of the program was to completely separate the concept of sex from substance use and popular culture. Rather than encourage its members to either abstain or plunge blindly into the culture of "sex, drugs, and rock & roll", the sorority insisted they "get all the facts" before starting any sexual relationship. "Getting all the facts" meant having an accurate idea of what sex really was, how to safely practice it, how to maximize orgasms, and how to avoid pregnancy and venereal disease. Above everything else was the goal of keeping sex in proper perspective in a woman's life. By 1975 the Four-Beta sexual education program had gone way beyond just memorizing facts out of books, by encouraging the pledges to experience real orgasms under the supervision of their instructors. Over time variants such as oral sex and erotic discipline were added. The Tri-Alpha Fraternity developed their sexual education program at the same time as the Four-Betas, and in 1982 the sorority and fraternity formally merged their two programs into one.
"Everyone keeps calling us 'the sex bitches', but that's only because we want you to know what's really going on with sex. Knowledge is power, and to be honest I think that's what scares the other sororities. It scares the fraternities even more, because the only guys who can handle us are the Tri-Alphas."
From the development of the pledge program Alexandra moved to discussing significant events in the history of the Four-Betas. She discussed the participation of the sorority's first members in the suffragette movement, the official founding of the Chicago chapter in 1925, and the early members' service at soup kitchens during the Great Depression. She continued with the biography of a member who became a nurse during World War II and was killed during the London blitzkrieg, and finished off with a list of women who had graduated and gone on to hold political office or lead universities. Lisa recognized some of the names and was quite impressed.
Alexandra backed up in time to display a picture of the 1947 pledge group. It was a group photo of 18 young women in hospital gowns, but there was something very significant about the picture. There was a Japanese freshman standing with the others. Just two years after the end of World War II, the sorority accepted a Japanese student as a member. Five years later, in 1952, two sisters, Pearl and Violet Baker, joined the sorority as its first black members.
"The Baker girls joined us more than 10 years before any of the other sororities even thought about integrating. What was really great, however, was the way it happened. At the end of the summer they simply showed up at the front door and asked if they could join. The sorority wasn't trying to make any social statement; they simply took in the Baker girls like they'd take in anyone else. Now you gotta remember, this was 1952 that we're talking about. Having the Baker sisters pledge with us caused a real stink among the other sororities. We got boycotted by everyone except the Tri-Alphas, and I think that whole experience tested us and really helped set us apart. We're different from the others. We've always been different."
Alexandra put up a group portrait of the 1952 pledges standing in their hospital gowns. Standing among the group were Pearl and Violet with very nervous but determined expressions. Another picture, taken in 1956, showed Pearl and Violet standing in formal gowns among the graduating seniors.
The pledges took a break to stretch and eat lunch before re-joining Alexandra and Tracy in the sitting room. The next presentation was titled:
In case you are wondering: why are you naked and why are we being so rough on you?
Alexandra answered that question with her next words:
"The reason you are naked right now is the same reason we dressed pledges in bottomless bloomers in 1926. The outfit may be different, but its purpose is the same. We believe you need to give us a gesture of humility as pledges. The right to wear clothing again, just like membership, is something you have to earn. We won't be giving you anything, you have to earn it. Just like me, Pledge Mistress Tracy, and every other member of this house, you'll have to earn everything you get. You will suffer, you will be scared and pissed-off, you will be tired, and your body will be subjected to both real pain and real pleasure. You have to be tested in order to make you a person worthy of respect. When we push you, challenge you, or punish you, that's what we're after, making you someone worthy to join us. We expect you to obey us, but we also want to transform you. If you make that transformation, four years from now one of you will be standing where I am right now."
So, why pledge in the nude? The president explained that the practice of naked pledging was a crash-course in killing any modesty or personal inhibitions. The Four-Beta pledge program considered eliminating modesty from prospective members top priority, because modesty was a holdover from a time during which religion suppressed women's aspirations.
The pledge program of the sorority and its associated fraternity openly confronted religious reasoning concerning modesty. Most religions argue that the body and its needs and desires are evil and impediments to spiritual development. The Tri-Alphas and the Four-Betas argued exactly the opposite; that unless a person first satisfied the needs of "the temple of the body", there was no point in seeking spiritual development. Every person's soul was given a body, and it was the duty of the soul to take care of that body before taking care of itself. The argument was that if the body was denied the care and sexual pleasure it needed and deserved, the soul became damaged. The damaged soul sought to satiate itself with material wealth and possessions, but acquiring those possessions never resulted in happiness because the basic needs of the body were still being denied.
Therefore, in order to free herself from the repressive past, a member of the sorority had to openly reject modesty. If a woman could be open and comfortable with her body, it would be much easier to reject all other efforts by society to suppress her intellect. The sorority considered constantly being naked a necessary first step in radical re-education away from a sexually repressed culture that drowned a person's true needs with materialism.
Pledges completing the program always finished very different than when they started. They returned to wearing normal clothes in public simply because that was what society demanded of them, but in private and among each other there was very little distinction between being dressed and being naked. Lisa noticed that total lack of inhibitions the first day she was in the sorority, a complete casualness about what each person in the house chose to wear or not wear. There were several sorority members who were a lot like her, who never bothered to put anything on unless they had to go out. If there were guests in the house, that made no difference to them. They could calmly sit down in the nude and have a conversation just as easily as they could have a conversation if they were dressed.
That detail of sorority life very much appealed to Lisa. She knew that once she became a full member she would be one of those residents who casually went about her daily routine without ever bothering to get dressed. If Kathleen remained her lover she would expect the same from her. Whenever in the house she would expect Kathleen to set aside any remaining modesty and remain undressed out of principle.
The pledges ate dinner with the sophomores. Following dinner Tracy took them back to the sitting room and ordered them to set up for a formal presentation to be given in the evening. The setup included President Alexandra's speaking podium and 40 folding chairs set up in rows. Another row of six chairs was set up behind the speaker's podium, where the officers of the Tri-Alpha fraternity would be sitting. Finally Tracy ordered the pledges to clean up and brush their teeth, then return upstairs for a formal presentation.
The sorority members filed in and took their seats in the chairs. The seniors sat in the front, followed by juniors and the sophomores in the back. The pledges knelt on the floor in front of the seniors. Sitting in a chair during a formal event, just like wearing clothing, was a privilege they would enjoy only after being sworn in as full members.
The doorbell rang and one of the juniors let in the six officers from the Tri-Alpha Fraternity. The men handed a list to the Four-Beta president and took their seats. Lisa noticed Vice-President Jacob and Pledge Cherine flirting with each other as they exchanged looks.
Alexandra began by briefly reciting the tradition of the sorority and fraternity participating in each other's pledging responsibilities and in hazing new members. As of the next day the Tri-Alphas would be swearing in six prospective new members. Tracy dimmed the lights and turned on a projector while Alexandra named the six new male pledges and showed their pictures to the audience. She gave brief biographies of the six young men, their interests, and finally some information about their sexual orientation and sexual fantasies.
Lisa felt a pang of emotion when Ken's picture was displayed. It was very strange to hear her boyfriend's biography given in Alexandra's matter-of-fact tone along with the others. She held her breath when Alexandra approached the topic of his sexual orientation, grateful that Tracy had warned her about what was coming. Sure enough, Alexandra stated that Ken had described himself as bi-sexual. He had indicated that he wanted to experiment having sexual contact with other men, given that he already had experimented with women. Among his expectations for joining the Tri-Alphas was to finally determine his orientation. He needed to settle in his own mind once and for all whether he should focus on gay relationships or straight relationships.
Alexandra added: "Due to Pledge Ken's sexual situation, his medical examination will be conducted by male examiners. If he needs to be masturbated, my guess is that will be by males as well. I ask, however, that you respect Pledge Ken in the same way you would respect any other pledge. Ken has a journey in life to fulfill just like the rest of us, and given the struggle in his own mind, that journey will be more difficult than what most of us have to deal with."
Alexandra did not mention anything about Ken being Lisa's ex-boyfriend, for which she was grateful. Lisa wondered how she should deal with him once she saw him in the sorority house. Her thoughts ranged from tormenting him as much as possible, to ignoring him completely, to making him watch her flirt with Kathleen. As tempting as the idea of making him watch her flirt with Kathleen, Lisa realized that would be a very bad idea. Tracy had told her that under no circumstances should she make any type of public spectacle out of the relationship, but also Lisa realized that to use Kathleen to make Ken jealous would be a betrayal of her trust. So, that left her with the options of constantly beating the crap out of Ken or ignoring him entirely.
Finally she decided to ignore Ken as long as he didn't say anything to her. The moment he did try to talk to her, Lisa would teach him the real meaning of the word "hazing", and do what she could to totally humiliate him.
When the meeting ended and the Tri-Alpha officers left, Tracy ordered the pledges to fold up the chairs and put the sitting room back in order. Lisa noticed that Cherine seemed to be in a particularly bad mood, probably from having Jacob so close to her without being able to talk to him or interact with him. Cherine's bad mood became more evident when Lisa told her to move some of the folding chairs and she let out a disgusted sigh. Tracy came back into the room just as Cherine banged several of the chairs together as she tried to pick them up. Instead of taking two chairs at a time and making several trips, Cherine tried to pick up all eight of the chairs in the row at once. Of course she was not capable of carrying that many, so the chairs fell back to the floor with a loud crash. Tracy became clearly irritated.
"Pledge, what hell are you doing?"
Cherine, instead of answering Tracy's question, rolled her eyes and reached down to pick up the chairs.
The pledge mistress was on her in an instant, directing the full force of her wrath on the unfortunate freshman. She stuck her face in Cherine's face and snarled:
"Look here, PLEDGE! You do NOT roll your eyes around me!"
She jabbed her finger hard into Cherine's chest.
"You do NOT roll your eyes around any officer! That is nothing but total disrespect, and I resent it!"
Again Cherine suffered another sharp poke to the chest.
"And you do NOT talk out of turn, Pledge! You know what you just did? You just pissed me off!"