NME Columnist Katherine Ryan: Think Pig-gate Was Weird? American Initiation Rites Are Next Level

Last week, the media caught swine flu. Pig-gate was inescapable. A squealing nation, up at midnight, bellies full of pork ribs, phones in hand, glued their honey-glazed eyes to Twitter and unrelentingly exchanged every pig pun in the pen as news spread.

It is alleged that, while attending university, someone in Parliament – as a dare – might’ve possibly rested his (or her) penis and/or bollocks in the mouth of a dead pig. This probably didn’t happen, but let’s assume that it happened. Perhaps it was, at the time, the most logical place to rest a tired cock. The room might have suddenly been engulfed with bees, and the resourceful would-be MP bravely shielded his (or her) baby-maker inside the only protection available at the time. This act could even have been the pig’s dying wish. The two might’ve been close enough friends for the pig to say, “Mate, when it’s all over, I need you to clear my browser history, look after my auntie, and lastly, whatever it takes, please somehow position yourself as the alpha male (or female) in our group.” And the would-be politician said, “What if whatever it takes means putting my dick in you?” and the pig died but seemed to be nodding, “Yes, that’s fine” on the way out. They teach Latin and also Pig Latin at Oxford.

Growing up in Canada, I dated a few ice hockey players. Several of them went on to play for big respected American universities where initiation rituals are intense. While personally I think the sexual desecration of a deceased animal is very wrong, I don’t actually find it that surprising compared to things I saw in fraternities. Mostly a senior member might instruct a ‘pledge’ (the person wishing to join the fraternity) to cheat on his girlfriend with her own sorority mentor. A fun thing for the boys was to hide in closets before that bedroom was used for sex, then leap out all at once and cheer, much to the unsuspecting girl’s horror.


I once saw a pledge hanging naked off a rooftop. I’m not sure how long he was there for, but he seemed to be enjoying himself. My personal favourite hazing ritual, in large part because it didn’t victimise women, was when a freshman was placed on all fours and beer was poured down his back so that it formed a stream and made a vertical drop, cascading from his bum-crack like a majestic waterfall. Another pledge would lie down and drink the waterfall of beer from below, so that they looked a bit like those artsy fountains you see in Rome.

The most depraved initiation games have entered into urban legend. Whispered about until they’re accepted as truths, but only performed behind closed doors. The worst-kept secret in ice hockey is ‘cookie in the middle’. Does it exist? I hope not. If you don’t know what it is, Google it, but basically it’s a game where the loser eats a biscuit covered in a duious glaze. That’s it. A game where everyone loses.

As a champion of environmental sustainability, I’m just glad someone eats the biscuit. Even if Pig-gate is a myth, the world deserves to know what became of the pig.