By Samuel Capper
A report by the National Union of Students describes this subculture as “founded upon a trinity of ‘drinking, football and fucking’” and it’s not hard to see why. The hypermasculinity of ‘lad culture’ is often seen on university nights out, in bars, clubs, and even on the city streets.
Male-dominated sporting societies (e.g. football or rugby) frequently encourage aggressive masculinity amongst students and provide a platform for demonstrating dominant masculine traits, which carries over into society socials. At these socials, drinking games and ‘hazing’ are frequently engaged in, with alcohol consumption levels signifying who is deemed a ‘lad’. Alcohol obviously has a significant role here, removing inhibitors and allowing inappropriate comments and actions to be made. The need to assert masculine dominance also leads many ‘lads’ to desire power over women, frequently through sexual conquest.
Perpetuated by online sites such as UNILAD and LADbible, ‘lad culture’ is fast becoming a dominant template for masculinity. Hedonistic and misogynistic behaviours are strongly encouraged by these sites, with sexist content and articles continuously propagated. UNILAD has published several such articles, one titled ‘How to Pull a Fresher’, noting them to be “especially vulnerable”.
The combination of university subcultures and online platforms work together to create an environment of peer pressure like nothing before. Many men, as well as women, engage in such drinking games and participate in drunken sexual behaviour, at least partly out of fear of rejection by their peers. In universities, especially during Freshers Week, the need to conform and fit in is huge, but this pressure fails to condone ‘laddish’ behaviour. Even those who do not directly engage in such behaviour are a part of it. Dismissing inappropriate comments as ‘just banter’ or turning the other cheek to sexual misconduct is just as poisonous as the culture itself.
‘Lad culture’ continues to expand rapidly, and as it does the pressure to conform grows exponentially. No longer ‘a bit of banter’, the poisonous subculture must be combatted now more than ever.