Charlotte Cooper Beglin – YES!
Lad culture may seem harmless. For many it probably doesn’t seem like a prevalent issue in university life, just a crude and rowdy but benevolent phenomenon that comes out to play on the internet, at crewdates or on a night out. But I have one major problem with it that this week’s NUS report highlights; its attitudes to gender.
As the name suggests, it’s a culture built up around a ‘lad’ notion of masculinity, and a corresponding idea of femininity. The male or ‘lad’ is depicted as a heavy drinking, cheeky, raucous guy who’ll ‘bang’ as many women as possible. The female or ‘wench’ (charming) is nameless, annoying, whiny and sentimental, a constraint on the lad, who is good only for sex.
This sexism takes a variety of forms in lad culture; most shocking is the disgusting trivialisation of sexual abuse in ‘banter’, such as the infamous Uni Lad article Sexual Mathematics, which wrote, hilariously, that if a girl doesn’t consent to sex “think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported…that seems fairly good odds.”
Think about this mathematical statistic guys; 1 in 7 women experience a serious physical or sexual assault while they’re a student, and 68% suffer sexual harassment. Laughing yet? But what perhaps disturbs me more is the constant depiction of women as sexual objects, reduced down just to 3/10 or 8/10, a convenient measure of whether they’re sex-worthy, which is all that matters. LGBTQ identities don’t fare well in lad culture either, believe it or not; when a journalist complained to Uni Lad they simply responded ‘are you a dyke?’
I don’t know if lad culture makes men any more likely to commit sexual assault, and I don’t know if it’s an outlet for anger and contempt for women. But I do know this: equal pay and voting rights and reproductive freedom, the kind of thing that can be shown on a graph, are not the only things that matter. The way we represent gender, the language and images and symbols we use, are so important in the fight for gender liberation. Culture matters, and lad culture is selling us all short.
Jennifer Brown – NO!
This could really go two ways. I’ll either be the anti-feminist, the perpetrator of all that is wrong in society or – rather more aptly – the distinguished ‘LAD’. The latter certainly sounds more appealing. What’s better than a Lad being ‘Laddy’ than a girl championing the very behaviour which distinguishes the Lad in the first place? Or, if not championing, at least defending it against the defiling claims made by the NUS, that the ‘Lad’ and its ‘culture’ is “sexist, misogynistic and homophobic”. What a ridiculous assertion! These Lads are simply having a good time. They know that. We know that.
It’s evidently only the NUS who fails to comprehend student life and all its good humour. For it is generally acknowledged: when a Lad is with his Lads he must show affiliation to them. He must belong. And if this means a few throwaway comments about what he’d like to do, or not to do, to any given girl – then so be it. This is normal and acceptable. Indeed, when a Lad shouts “Get your tits out!” I do not feel subjected to any form of gender discrimination.
Quite the contrary, I find it to be a wonderful form of flattery. To think a young, educated man would take such an interest in my physique is really rather humbling.
Similarly, it is completely understandable why Lads should remind those who don’t go out, get ‘lashed’ and have some strong, serious chat that they are in fact – gay. Or boring. Or some mixture of the two. For no one in their right mind would ever choose – god forbid – to stay in and – worse still – not play sport. Of course, sport drinking bans are a completely legitimate reason for staying in. Committed to the cause and what not.
But any sign of unease when teasing the girl, or the lad-who-is not-a-Lad, is just nonsensical. It’s about time people realise Lads can no longer openly rate women in the workplace – typically out of ten, although expect nothing less than utter ingenuity when it comes to the rating system – and so it’s only fair that university remains a suitable outlet for such pastimes. How else is a man to become a Man? By first embracing the Lad, of course.