Lad culture is a concept that is all too familiar for the student population. The weekend rolls around, the sports team socials are lined up, and the night meanders through rounds of shots and alcohol-fuelled ‘banter’. The aforementioned is seemingly harmless, but the dark side of the night has yet to be described. Rampant sexualisation and objectification of women infiltrates into what was once an unobjectionable night out, and misogyny becomes the game that male sports teams seem to substitute for a match. The consequent trivialisation of sexual harassment, sexual abuse and even rape render women vulnerable in light of laddism. With just over a third of women experiencing some form of unwelcome sexual advance during her time in higher education, the question is whether or not women are entitled to a safe night out just as much as everybody else is.
The implication of the term ‘lad culture’ is that this type of behaviour corresponds to a certain lifestyle and set of ideologies held by an individual. However, there is undoubtedly an element of performance that feeds into this culture of laddism, fuelled both by peer pressure and the unsaid requirement to adhere to the social norms of masculinity. There is a pack mentality of sorts within which these individuals are trapped; thus lad cultures concern not only the women who are victimised by them, but also the young men who perhaps are compelled to repeatedly question their identities and respective positions within this group.
The incidents that have sprung from lad cultures in British universities have been numerous, varied and all equally terrifying, particularly for women in education. The LSE Rugby Team’s publication of misogynistic flyers, which referred to ‘netball slags’ and ‘beast-like women’, and the chants about the Bowland Lady published here in Lancaster are just two examples that demonstrate how lad culture permeates multiple aspects of student life. There is a consistent sense of undermining women students and thus rendering their achievements inferior to those of their laddish counterparts.
But we are shouting back, reclaiming our right to an education that is free of anxiety and inequality. Lancaster University’s Feminist Society (LUFems) is organising two events in the ongoing bid to tackle the lad cultures that persist in educational contexts. The first is Consent Week, taking place in Week 6, with the simple aim of answering one question: what is consent? The week will be brimming with workshops, freebies, educational insights and an invigorating opportunity to express your opinion. Secondly, on 11th March 2015, LUFems and the Women’s Liberation Officer, Caitlin Shentall, are inviting self-defining women and non-binary people to participate in Lancaster’s first ever Reclaim the Night march. Something as easy as walking through the streets of Lancaster carries with it a hugely powerful message: that we, as a university and a community of students, have to stand up against the pressures of lad culture.