Slut Dropping (not the dance), CEOs and Corporate Hoes. All manifestations of what the NUS, Vagenda, Vice Chancellors and Vice Magazine are currently animatedly discussing: Lad Culture. As a man who is proud to say he likes fine art, fine ale and Feminism, I must admit I don’t see the attraction.
However, this article is an attempt to explore it. To try and understand why so many young men, capable of going to university, cling to the worst of ‘90s revivals in search of an identity. The last few years have not been kind to traditional conceptions of “masculinity”. First it was the USA; since 2008, more women than men have been in work; Not necessarily earning more, but holding down jobs and supporting families, increasingly without a male presence.
Since 1997, more women than men have qualified as doctors in the UK every year. For the first time in 2009, the ratio exceeded 60:40, reversing statistics in the news from 25 years ago. Similar trends were observed in Law and Accounting.
Essentially the high profile, professional jobs of today involve the ability to network, multi-task and, crucially, sit still. Sheer strength now counts for relatively little. So why then do so many young men try and act in a way which panders to a certain view of stereotypical male behaviour?
I would say that it is because they are lost. They have absorbed an utterly unrealistic male stereotype; that of the aggressive, tribal, domineering alpha male. Even a quick scan of history shows that most men have never acted like this. So it needs to be asked why, when we are seeing a world being forged where feminine characteristics are increasingly valued, do we continue to drip-feed our nation this utterly warped and now unattainable view of what it is to be a man, be it through video games or pornography?
It may be that the lads themselves realise this. Seeing university, rather than as a place of learning and self-discovery, as being one last hurrah of boyishness (a lad, by definition, is not a man) before a life of either mediocre drudgery or a perpetual, escapist adolescence, lodged in their childhood bedroom, where Michael Bay films and X-Box games dominate.
This is awful, and really sad. However, they must not spoil the university experience for the rest of us. To this end, it can only be concluded that a society which continues to expound, for profit, out of habit, or for both reasons, very rigid ideas about gender roles should cease and desist. That, a society which consciously or unconsciously cause harm by perpetuating unrealistic images, should back off. That it should let all of us find our own places in life, in the world as it is, not as it was, or how some might still be being misled to believe it is.