Comment: ‘Lad Culture’ article “spectacularly misses the point”

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Once again an article from the highly revered Bath Tab has spectacularly missed the point. I know we’re all familiar with the Tab’s somewhat lacking journalistic ability and inability to correct spelling mistakes, and there are hundreds if not thousands of below-par articles to rip apart, but I’ve chosen the recent sarcastically titled “The SU’s cringe lad culture survey will change the world”, mainly as I sit on the Lad Culture Strategy Group and wish to stop the spread of misinformation.

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The Students’ Union is attempting to survey the extent of ‘Lad Culture’ at the University

If you haven’t heard, the NUS is launching a campaign to tackle ‘Lad Culture’ in universities, and the sexism, homophobia, ‘laddism’ and culture of harassment that goes with it. Our own SU at Bath University had chosen to follow suit, and is conducting a speculative survey to investigate the negative effects of ‘Lad Culture’ on the student experience. What the article seem to miss entirely is that ‘Lad Culture’ and ‘banter’ aren’t just harmless fun which the PC Police want to ruin, but are rather manifestations of bullying and harassment, that are brushed off, and victims are told they just ‘can’t take a joke’. Personally I don’t think being groped by groups of drunk ‘lads’ pretty much any time I go on a night out is particularly funny, but different strokes for different folks I guess.

The article does smack of Daily-Mail-esque “oh no, political correctness gone mad” and even jests that their “fun” now has to carry a trigger warning. Despite this being pretty insensitive to survivors of rape/violence or those with PTSD who actually need trigger warnings, it also is pretty telling that they have really no idea what fun is. “ Oh no, fun police banning fun! I’m not allowed to bully and harass people – I am laid low by the puritanical lad-bashers, woe is me”. If the only way you can have fun is by bullying and harassing others then you must be really fucking boring.

As well as addressing the impacts of sexual harassment, the SU’s survey features questions asking about the pressures surrounding the consumption of alcohol. The author of the article in question seems to be so self-involved that they haven’t even considered that maybe not everyone likes to drink or needs to drink to have fun, and an atmosphere in which students are coerced into drinking may not be a nice atmosphere for everyone. There is undoubtedly a drinking culture at Bath University, as there is at almost every university in the country. I myself am partial to night of heavy drinking and terrible dancing.

But ‘lad culture’, and the heavy alcohol consumption and ‘pack mentality’ that go with it, means that student’s on a night out either have to surrender to the chants of “DOWN IT! DOWN IT!” when faced with a ‘dirty pint’, or face exclusion and taunting from their peers. This is why these questions are in the survey. Bullying, pack-mentality and exclusion are all intertwined with the heavy drinking that happens on ‘laddish’ nights out. And being bullied is not a fun experience. The fun you experience from bullying peers and coercing them to do things they don’t want to do does not get to override their fun. Your fun is not the most important. People’s bodily autonomy and freedom from harassment transcends your desire that chant embarrassingly loudly in the middle of Molloy’s. If your fun is being ruined by the SU’s campaign to stop ‘Lad Culture’, I suggest you find a new hobby.

The University of Bath Students’ Union survey has now closed, but the findings from the survey will be available soon.

If you have been a victim of harassment and would like to seek support, contact your Students’ Union Community and Welfare Officer at SUCommunity@bath.ac.uk or the Gender Equality Support Group at gender-equality@bath.ac.uk

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Izzy Green is University of Bath Gender Equality Campaigns Officer (2014/15) and a member of the Lad Culture Strategy Group. She writes about equality issues and 'Lad Culture'

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