Lad Culture: Why are we STILL debating this?

Slutwalk Trafalgar Square, June 2011 – Flickr/Garry Knight

I am sure you’re sick of reading the words “lad culture”. So am I and so are the other women who have experienced it at university. But despite the numerous articles, campaigns and research carried out into tackling lad culture on UK campuses, it is still rife. Until this culture is eradicated, we must keep talking about it, highlighting it and challenging it and its culprits.

During my Fresher’s week it seemed  anything went; drinking copious amounts of alcohol, making new friends, wearing ridiculous costumes and singing at the top of your voice on a double-decker bus. One of the songs we sang went: “Now she’s dead but not forgotten, dig her up and fuck her rotten.”

At the time, in my drunken haze, I didn’t even contemplate what I was singing. Looking back, this chant is downright disgusting and extremely disturbing. What makes it worse is that we were taught this chant by older, sober representatives who were supposed to be there to look after us. Why did we all think this was normal?

This is not banter.

I know what many of you will be thinking: “it’s just a song it doesn’t matter”, “lighten up it’s just banter”, “stupid girl, get over it”. And maybe you’re right, after all it is just a song. But I don’t really consider necrophilia to be banter. This was the first time I witnessed lad culture at play, and it definitely would not be the last.

To be one of the “lads” you’re expected to drink heavily, sleep around and then discuss your “conquests” with the rest of the “lads” over a cheeky Nandos and a pint. One of the most famous examples of lad culture in action comes from the rugby boys at LSE.

At the LSE’s freshers’ fair, the male rugby team handed out leaflets in which they described women as “trollops”, “mingers” and “slags”. It went on to describe women who play sport as “beast-like women who only play so they can come out with us on Wednesdays”. The leaflet also detailed part of their initiation, which included “pulling a sloppy bird”.

The disgusting laddish behaviour of university sports teams struck again, but this time a bit further North at a Durham University college. Members of the college rugby team played a game called “It’s not rape if…” at their social, where each of the players had to find a way to finish off the sentence. These are just two examples, but I am sure you are all recounting similar instances from your own universities or colleges.

Of course all of this was just “banter”, just part of the culture of university. But within the university environment lad culture is flourishing and becoming more and more dangerous. If we keep defining these offensive, sexist and misogynistic acts as just “banter” and “laddish” antics, we are heading down a slippery slope.

A survey by the NUS in 2014 revealed that 1 in every 4 students at UK universities have been subject to unwanted sexual advances. Hidden Marks reported that 1 in 7 women had experienced serious sexual or physical violence at university, and 68% had been sexually assaulted.

From incidents such as groping and forceful kissing, to games such as “pull the pig” (where the task is to get with the least attractive girl in the club) and “harpooning” (the largest girl), to un-consensual drunken sex and un-consensual sober sex. The dangerous lengths lad culture stretches too are clearly far beyond  boyish behaviour.

Lad culture is clearly synonymous with sexism, sexual harassment and sexual assault on our university campuses.

Calling it what it is.

It’s time we stopped calling this behaviour “lad culture” and start calling it what it is: misogyny. How can sexism and harassment at university be something that we continue to ignore? How can we live in a supposedly equal gender society and still be okay with lad culture? How can so many people come forward to oppose this culture, and campaign for its end, yet its still so rife?

Universities across the UK have been too slow to get involved with this issue, consistently sweeping the problem under the rug until something serious occurs. But by that point it is too late? UK universities need to increase their resources and focus their time more wisely, in order to tackle a problem that affects 37% of the female student population and 12% of males.

Distributing “consent quizzes” at the Freshers fair (instead of the free pens and drinks vouchers) is a good place to start, and holding consent workshops is even better. However, we still have a long way to go before grabbing a girl in a nightclub and these vile chants and games are seen as sexual harassment and not just “laddish behaviour”.

For more articles related to feminism and lad culture, check out Evie’s blog here



Western Culture is Harbouring Female Hatred

Connie Basnett looks at the latest celebrity nude photos leak.

Emma Watson delivered an incredible speech at the UN yesterday launching the #HeForShe campaign, but a day later a 4Chan hacker has threatened to leak nude pictures of her next.

This comes just days after the latest scandal of nude celebrity photos, which was leaked onto the internet on Saturday. This time with photos of Vanessa Hudgens, Kim Kardashian and Olympic soccer star Hope Solo. The photos were uploaded to the website 4Chan, however they have been removed due to copyright infringement policies.

These photos are yet more examples of a much larger problem, the lack of respect for women in our culture. They are used to humiliate women with a complete disregard for the individual’s privacy.

These photos come only weeks after another collection of photos, which consisted of around 200 high-profile people including Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Kate Upton, were posted on the 4Chan image sharing site on 31st August.

I am sure you will have seen the Twitter and Facebook posts regarding people trying desperately to take a cheeky look at Jennifer Lawrence in the nude and thinking it’s harmless now they are out there. Many have even criticised the celebrities, asking why they have nude photos of themselves anyway? No one knows why these individuals had these photos of themselves, but that is irrelevant. Lawrence and others could have had these photos shared between themselves and their partner in a committed relationship, nobody knows. But regardless, the images belonged to them, were stolen from their private files and were illegally distributed.


Here are just a few of the victim blaming tweets I came across:

connie article

If these photos were of men (which they never are), would there really be such a debate and controversy?  These tactics are used to attack, embarrass and even ruin the woman’s career. In a piece for The Guardian Professor John Naughton explains how he believes this crime reveals an uneasy truth, that large numbers of males appear to harbour a deep hatred of women. Many examples of this deep hatred can be seen with many prominent women being abused over the internet. Take a look at this previous Despatch Box post to read more about how prominent female figures have received rape and death threats over social networking sites such as Twitter. Yet the sites have failed to intervene effectively.

This disrespect for women extends past leaked photographs of celebrities, but includes all women. These types of invasive photo leaks by men is not a new phenomenon. We all know it already as revenge porn. It differs to the latest events as these types of photos are often taken and given with consent between two people, usually in a relationship. The photos of the girlfriend are later leaked by the former boyfriend on the internet for revenge after she has “wronged him” in some form.

Revenge porn and the celebrity photos are both used for the same agenda, both leaked by men and both as equally invasive. These photos are both used to humiliate women in the most intimate and personal way. A recent example can be seen by UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s former assistant, who found herself a victim of revenge porn after her boyfriend linked graphic photos of her to The Sun, who thankfully refused to publish them.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling told MPs in July that the uploading of sexually explicit material without the consent of the subject was becoming a bigger problem in the UK. But revenge porn still is not a criminal offence in the UK.

These photos have contributed to a debate revealing hostility and disrespect for women and the need to tackle this problem in the UK and the US. This problem is not only shown through revenge porn and the recent celebrity nude photos, but this lack of respect for women can be shown on a day to day basis with women in work, on social media sites, girls at school and even in relationships.

Has this become even more that just disrespect, are we dealing with a cultural problem of male hatred to women?

By Connie Basnett


[Image Credit: UN Women]

Are politics, music and motorcycles really just “Men’s Interests?”

According to Morrisons yes. A few weeks ago I visited my local Morrisons looking for the latest copy of Private Eye, but when I reached the magazine aisle I was left feeling more than a little disgruntled. I was greeted with a sign telling me that perhaps I shouldn’t be buying such magazines; apparently they are not in my interest – why? Because I am female. A giant header labelled “Men’s Interests” loomed over the magazine racks filled with motorsport, politics, history, science, technology and music. Meanwhile celeb gossip magazines, crafts and home décor were all on the other side of the aisle. Maybe Morrisons is trying to hint that I should be limited to purchasing from that side of the aisle instead.

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I took to twitter to tell Morrisons about my distaste for their segregationist attitude towards their labelling and this was their response.


I continued…


With assurances that they are “reviewing it as we speak” I was interested to see whether other major supermarkets and magazine retailers had similar gender explicit categorising systems. I visited the big four supermarkets as well as my local One Stop store in the hope that Morrisons was just an anomaly. Here is what I found. My local One Stop Store:

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Unfortunately, very similar to Morrisons, apparently cars, music and sport are “Men’s Lifestyle” magazines only. Asda:

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Hurray! Clearly and accurately labelled such as “motoring,” “sport” and leisure” no female exclusion here, thanks Asda. Tesco:

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Again, thumbs up for Tesco. History, Science and Technology magazines were labelled as “Leisure,” “News” and “Science.” This all seemed great until I looked on the other side of the aisle. photo (14)

“Women’s lifestyle,” featured magazines on knitting, cooking and babies, because apparently parenting isn’t also a male interest. Also note the conveniently placed chocolate bars, because we’re all aware of the universal fact that women look to buy knitting magazines and a chocolate bar in one hit. Sainsbury’s:

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Sainsbury’s was by far the best out of the big four. Not only did they have clear gender neutral labelling for the “motoring and motorcycling” section, but the rest of the aisle was also a happy sight. photo 2

Along the row the other sections were categorised as “craft” and “tea break” not just “women’s lifestyle.” Thanks Sainsbury’s! Overall, Morrisons and One Stop are still clearly lagging behind their counterparts, with Tesco still needing some improvements.

While efforts are continually being made to get young women interested in STEM subjects, especially encouraging them to pursue it as a degree choice, it seems that their local supermarket is telling them “sorry but this isn’t for you girls.” And despite Cameron’s latest cabinet reshuffle, the British parliament is still falling behind countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in terms of female representation in Westminster; it seems politics isn’t in the female interest either.

I tweeted Morrisons again a few weeks after my original inquiry to find out if they have improved their signage. They’re yet to respond.

By Lizzie Roberts

[Image Credit: Jim Parkinson]