A report branding ‘lad culture’ “a renewed form of sexism” amid “a crisis of masculinity” has been published by the National Union of Students.
Relying on interviews with forty women students from universities across the UK, the report, entitled That’s what she said: Women students’ experiences of lad culture in higher education, found that ‘lad culture’ operates particularly in extra-curricular activities, sports and nights out.
The participants of the investigation defined ‘lad culture’ as “a group or ‘pack’ mentality residing in activities such as sport and heavy alcohol consumption, and ‘banter’ which was often sexist, misogynist and homophobic.”
It was also claimed that “lad-culture” encourages “rape-supportive attitudes [that] occasionally spilled over into sexual harassment and violence.”
One participant said, “I’ve been silenced in a classroom environment by someone who is one of the lads, if you like, because I didn’t agree with something he said. He essentially did a repeat of what David Cameron did, the whole ‘calm down dear’ thing. Even the teacher who was female didn’t challenge it. She just looked at her papers, shuffled them, [and] looked really awkward. I knew she had heard, everyone had heard.”
Another participant said, “I think that’s the misconception, that they’re these rough lads from rough backgrounds who have no respect for women, well they’re not, they’re everywhere, they’re in all parts of the country.”
A female undergraduate commented to Cherwell, “I feel more than capable of dealing with [lad culture] academically and most of the time in a club. But I think it is probably most often found on nights out when people have had a few drinks and think that it is more acceptable there because they (wrongly) think that everyone has gone out to find someone to go home with. Alcohol is their greatest scapegoat.”
Speaking of her experiences in Oxford another woman student said,“ ‘Lad culture’ can be seen in various social situations; however, it never crosses the line of being genuinely hurtful, racist or sexist.”
She continued, “There are many other issues which could be addressed by the NUS which are of more pressing concern to university students. I feel that this half-hearted attempt to research ‘lad culture’ is not necessarily useful to anyone.”
A male undergraduate at Corpus told Cherwell, “I do not think ‘lad culture’ is widespread. At Corpus the experience has been one in which equal opportunities are reinforced and this means that lad culture – that is, the vilification of women, the fetishisation of ‘the slut’, the encouragement of primal masculinity, encouraging rape-supportive attitudes, sexual harassment et al. – are simply not tolerated.”
Meanwhile in Warwick, the SU president Nick Swain was recently criticised for appearing in a video of a party in which he unhooked a woman’s bra, while half-naked male students wearing Hitler moustaches shout “Get your tits out” to their topless female companions.
The video surfaced days before Swain sought re-election to the SU presidency, which he had previously won with the highest majority in the SU’s history. Provisional election results suggest he lost.
Swain commented to Warwick student newspaper The Boar, “I unreservedly apologise for my actions and for any offence this video has caused.
“The woman involved is a good friend of mine and has reassured me that I caused her no harm or offence as a result, but I nevertheless offer my apologies.”
Do you agree with the NUS report’s evaluation of ‘lad culture’? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title *NUS Lad Culture Report* and we’ll consider your thoughts for publication.