Comment: ‘Lad Culture’ will never be harmless

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According to the results of the recent survey, 29% of respondents felt that ‘Lad Culture’ is prevalent at our university. This rises to 34% when only female respondents are taken into account.

The results of the survey show there is a clear gender disparity when it comes to who most feels the negative effects of ‘Lad Culture’, and it is overwhelmingly female students, especially in terms of experiencing sexual harassment. Nearly a third of female respondents had experienced sexual harassment and a shocking 73% had been groped, pinched or touched inappropriately whilst at University. Furthermore, over three quarters of female respondents had been the target of sexualized comments. These results are indicative of the misogyny that is just symptomatic of the ‘Lad Culture’ which permeates our university.

Infographic on sexual harassment at the University of Bath (click)

Infographic on sexual harassment at the University of Bath (click)

Dismissing such actions as ‘harmless banter’ normalises sexual harassment and objectification, and contributes to the rhetoric that women’s bodies are public property, open to comment, criticism or physical contact regardless of the woman’s wishes. Girls should be able to go on a night out in their own SU without being groped or having their bums pinched by complete strangers who then disappear into the crowd. When someone disregards your personal boundaries like that, it can kind of kill the mood of a good night out and leave you feeling pretty shitty, disrespected and violated. University should be a place where students can have a fun night out and feel safe and relaxed. Furthermore, that fact that only 8% of people who suffer this harassment are reporting it is worrying. I myself rarely see the point in reporting such incidences, seeing it as creating too much hassle, but it is only by reporting these incidences that we will begin to see change, and raise awareness of the available resources to those who do face sexual harassment and inappropriate touching at University.

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‘Lad Culture’ is linked not just to sexually harassment, but also discrimination and bullying

But issues of sexual harassment aren’t the only symptom of ‘Lad Culture’. Nearly a third of respondents agreed that it is acceptable to encourage others to drink. Though initially this may come from a desire to get everyone involved in a social or event, it seems to have mutated into something more sinister. The exertion of peer pressure to coerce fellow student to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol in a dangerous amount of time I’m sure has caused more than a few of us to end up in a very bad way. Students are encouraged at socials or on nights out to drink huge amounts, often competitively, or face ridicule and possibly exclusion. People may think that this is just the drinking culture that goes with university, and it always gives you a great story to tell your mates, but it often gets to the point that people are seriously hurting themselves because they have been encouraged to drink so much, and no one has thought that they had had enough. Pack-mentality and peer pressure coupled with heavy drinking can actually lead to a night that isn’t fun at all, but is, at best, incredibly embarrassing or, at worst, incredibly dangerous. Drinking can be fun for some people, but pressuring people to drink stupid amounts beyond their limits is cruel. Like I mentioned, a night out should be fun, safe and relaxed, not an exercise in masochism or a competition. It seems kind of pointless and infantile to get yourself and others into a state where you cant even enjoy your night. Whether you want to see it or not, the results of the survey show that, either thought harassment, discrimination, heavy-drinking or bullying, ‘Lad Culture’ is hurting students.

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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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