The problem with lad culture on campus

May 26, 2017
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Lad culture, originating in Britpop as a British subculture, has made its way into Australian universities as a group of young men associating themselves in favour of heavy drinking, violence, malicious banter and sexism.

You know the phrase “Tits out for the boys”? That’s lad culture. And there are some real problems with having that kind of culture on campus…

It’s accepted as the norm

I was a naïve 18-year-old walking into uni in first year, ready and eagerly awaiting my years to come. Little did I know I was in for a sea of sexual innuendos and rape jokes.

I hated it. I was disgusted and outraged, I just didn’t know how to navigate it or deal it with it. I was surrounded by this absurd behaviour, it just seemed to be the norm. It was just dismissed as boys being boys. Everyday sexist remarks and abuse were not only pardoned on campus, but were received with approval from peers, disguised as ‘friendly’ banter.

The advocacy group End Rape on Campus (EROC) Australia believes that “Sexual assault and harassment are more likely to occur in contexts or institutions where misogynistic, sexist and coercive behaviour is normalised, minimised, overlooked or excused”. Evident, is the normalisation of laddish behaviour on campus, especially when degrading women is the subject.

It dictates social events

Lad culture dictates how social events are themed, run and carried out. Laddish behaviour is especially prevalent in the nightlife scene, dominating clubs and going out culture.

This is especially true in uni life. Monash University’s student representative association MONSU runs a ‘Fetish Party’ and yes, it’s exactly what its sounds like. Posters are displayed around the buildings on campus and on social platforms of girls in their undies. It’s the most published event of the student-run campus and it has a mandatory dress code. That’s right. If you don’t dress as a naughty nurse or something along those sexist lines, you’re not even allowed through the door.

It’s the most hyped event of the year so it’s no surprise first-years are busting to attend, even if it puts themselves in risky and uncomfortable situations.

Sexual assault and harassment are more likely to occur in contexts or institutions where misogynistic, sexist and coercive behaviour is normalised, minimised, overlooked or excused.

It has serious consequences

Being the subject of laddish behaviour can have serious ripple effects on a person’s life. Being pressured into sexual situations or actions, being the subject of sexism or ridiculing jokes, or being forced to drink excessively and beyond your self-accepted amount can all have the power to weigh heavily on a person and impact them in the short and long-term.

I have many friends who have relayed stories or experiences of being the subject of sexual abuse or acts stemming from lad-like behaviour, or drinking excessively from group pressure and participating in behaviour they regret.

Lad culture feeds lad culture

Lad culture involves pack mentality, where peers are encouraged to adopt this bad behaviour.  It’s not hard to imagine how an easily-influenced guy who usually wouldn’t engage in that behaviour could join in when surrounded by a group of chanting young men. Lad culture has a melting pot quality where it’s not uncommon for people to fall into the group and if they oppose, they risk being considered a ‘sissy’ or ‘pussy’.

Lad culture is a serious problem for Australian universities. Prevalent on and off campus, students are constantly being subjected to laddish pack mentality behaviour that is sexist, misogynist and homophobic. It is not the norm, and it’s not OK.

Marnie Vinall

Marnie is a Marketing and Media Communications student at Monash University. She loves reading, writing and her huge collection of plant friends.

Image: Neighbors official Facebook page

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