Lad culture isn’t really a bad thing, by Joe Etheridge
It’s easy to dismiss ‘lad culture’ entirely – certain aspects of it are truly repulsive. The encouragement of misogyny or the often disturbing acts performed in the name of ‘banter’ are two things that draw attention.
Rightly so – they’re disgusting trends that are associated with a lads’-night-out. I am never going to argue that either are justifiable, but I can argue that perhaps lad culture is too harshly examined, even misrepresented. It is all too easy to criticise something you don’t fully understand, and I believe that ‘lads’ fall prey to sometimes unfair judgement.
Many men find a need to form a close group of male friends. It’s something that is often familiar, comfortable, reassuring. While they may not admit it openly, these relationships form an important part of their emotional support network, if constructed successfully. There are countless examples of positive influences that meaningful male friendships can provide. They are a constant reassertion of a man’s sense of his own masculinity, more important to some than others, while creating a safe outlet that is external to any problems in one’s emotional life.
It is this camaraderie that I believe ‘lads’ are looking for. Where the culture goes wrong is that many men see lads’ nights as chances to blow off steam in an environment where they feel they don’t have to control their testosterone levels. It becomes a form of escapism; somewhere to release pent up frustration where side-effects are apparently minimal.
While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does lead to actions that don’t help their cause. Boisterous enthusiasm is often misread as arrogance or over-dominance by onlookers, and it’s this translation into the outer world where ‘lads’ find their downfall. In isolation there is nothing harmful about a group of lads getting together and blowing off steam. It is in fact healthy to express an excess of masculinity in this way, as long as it is contained to that environment.
Instead of being relentlessly attacked for the expression of many men’s needs, lad culture should be encouraged and nurtured so that men can understand what they are looking for.
If they are better educated emotionally so that they understand why they feel a need to blow off steam then I believe it will enable them to isolate their actions more successfully, and decrease their destructive image.
Lad culture is really a bad thing, by Ben Kendall
Lad culture is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days, mainly at universities and colleges.
It usually carries a substantial weight of negative publicity, and a disappointing story about a group of lads from somewhere is never far from being labelled as such in the news.
Whereas lad culture is not wholly a bad thing, some aspects of it gain negative press for good reasons. Lad culture was born from anti-feminism back in the 90s and although this is largely not the attitude for most groups of lads today, there are still some that insist on hurling sexist and misogynistic abuse at girls after they’ve had a few beers.
A quick Google search will give you pages and pages of examples of sexism at universities up and down the country from groups of men and boys alike. These examples range from sexist comments all the way to sexual-harassment, and have even put pressure on the National Union of Students (NUS) to investigate the issue.
They conducted a poll in October 2015 and found that as many as two thirds of the 2,000 students that took part have experienced unwanted sexual comments at some point. Another topic often mentioned is homophobia. Frequent stories claim that LGBT students are becoming the victims of hurtful outbursts and taunts.
I’ve seen this myself a few weeks ago on a bus where some drunk lads gave a series of chants: first about paedophilia, then necrophilia and then homosexuality, as though the three were as bad as one another.
This kind of attitude alienates people from groups of young men and can often lead to violence once somebody becomes offended or upset. It is not uncommon for a small altercation to lead to something more serious on such a night and a punch-up at 4am is becoming a much too regular sight. Whereas for most men fighting is usually a last resort, the influence of an ultra-masculine attitude within the group can make the venting of testosterone all too easy and all too common.
It’s this kind of insensitive and offensive behaviour that gives lad culture a bad name.
Most of the lads I know are very nice guys; they get a bit loud after some drinking but it’s never with the intention of bothering other people. If having a homophobic and sexist attitude is an integral part of lad culture then I’m pretty happy not being involved.