Why Lad Culture Is Ruining Our Generation

Lizzie Roberts February 12, 2014 14

If you ever wish to view real Lads in their natural habitat you need only to venture a few hours on a budget flight to European resorts such as Magaluf, Malia, and Zante. A Lad’s holiday has become a rite of passage for school leavers, who usually kick it off in true modern style at the airport: Official “Pussy Patrol” Team t-shirts and necking pints at the bar at 6am. However, these foreign bars harbour an ugly side of Lad culture and similar sights can be seen in University clubs, excessive binge drinking, female objectification and harassment.

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From University Student Unions, to the clubs of Malia and Zante, you will always encounter a rowdy group of guys shouting, jeering, necking pints and being obnoxious just to get in a few extra Lad points. However, the last few years has seen this male camaraderie develop out of a collection of 20-somethings drinking a bit too much on a night out, to something a lot more sinister and unnerving for our generation.

The latest annoying Lad trend to swamp the internet is the infamous “neck and nominate” videos. Filling up our Facebook timelines in the last few weeks thousands of young people have played host to this viral ritual. Downing a concoction of alcohol, kitchen condiments and in some cases faeces just because “your friends told you so” is the current way to impress your social media pals and gain Lad points. However, it was only a matter of time before this bravado boosting would turn sour: last week it was reported the social media craze has been linked to the deaths of two young men from Northern Ireland, Ross Cummins and Jonny Byrne.  This week it has been connected with the death of another man, 29 year old Stephen Brookes from Cardiff, which has subsequently launched a police investigation.

The closing line in the majority of “Neknominate” videos is usually: “don’t let me down Lads” or “turn up Lads” instigating a binding “Lad” contract between the nominee and nominator, and therefore those chosen must follow suit and upload their reply within 24 hours.

Attempts to “get one up” on friends, despite the deaths of three young men, have continued and this Facebook craze is being taken to idiotic levels. This “game” is reminiscent of the same stupidity that popularised “happy slapping” in 2005. “Happy Slapping” was a fad, often carried out by young people, where someone would film themselves approaching a stranger or school peer and punch, slap or beat them up for “kicks.” It was taken to extreme lengths and in March 2008 when a teenage girl was sentenced over the death of man as a consequence of a happy slapping video. Will the desire to gain “Lad” points through extreme Neknomination videos progress to similar dangerous lengths as Happy Slapping before it ceases to exist and becomes yet another social media whim?

Another more sinister aspect of Lad culture is how it has begun to entertain strong misogynistic and sexist tendencies.  Lad culture at University in particular has begun to blur the lines between the classic “make me a sandwich” joke and objectification, sexual harassment and the assault of women. An article published on the Guardian last month, for example, highlighted the growth of rape culture across University campuses, whilst the NUS recently released a report showing that female students are at a higher risk of sexual harassment and violence. At my own University during Fresher’s week a 1st year student was followed into the toilets at our own Student Union club and raped, as of yet her attacker has still not been found.

There have been numerous occasions on nights out where myself or friends have been grabbed by guys in clubs, who attempt to kiss you when it is clearly unwanted and expect a keen reaction to the idea of going home with them at the end of the night. This has turned into an expected reality on most nights out and the word “rapey” is often bandied around the next day to describe the weirdo from the night before. However, this is not something to be joked about and nor is it something female students should accept. Being rowdy “Lads” in a club and trying to force themselves on girls, coerce them into drink heavy amounts or pressure them into going home with them is a menacing side to Lad culture which needs to be stamped out.

Without curtailing this misogynist trend in our young generation that grows ever larger with every new “Lad” twitter account, “get back in the kitchen comment” and “Lad” holiday TV show, women and students in particular will continue to be the subject of distasteful objectifying humour. As Females we are constantly reminded to protect ourselves on nights from unwanted attention, spiked drinks, and bombarded with information on how to get home safely. But surely more needs to be done to educate men on how to behave towards women and remind them that we are not objects to fulfil their satisfaction, nor should we bear the brunt of their “banterous jokes.”

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  • Thom Wiseman

    Bit of a sexist post. You have missed out the female drinking side. I have seen more female neknominate videos. Women will regularly go out to get wasted, just as much as men and will go and grope men without a second thought. Go to the European teen destinations and you will find an equally brash set of women as the men. Go to a local ritzy anywhere in the UK and you will also find the same. They don’t just do it on holiday.

    The culture is both men and women.

    • Robert Neve

      You beat me to it. While it’s easy to just dismiss this is lads women are most definitely not better. Even in this article your reference to happy slapping showed it to be a woman who got prosecuted. Perhaps the writer notices it more in her life from males but it is there from both. It is most definitely a youth problem in general and should be tackled as one.

      • Lizzie Roberts

        I agree with both of you that there are girls who also drink to an excess go on similar holidays and do stupid things. but my point of the article was to focus on the culture that “lads” are creating and their behaviour towards women and how its not appropriate and needs to be addressed.

        • Robert Neve

          I’m not sure it’s the best way to approach it though. I think part of the reason so many initiatives are failing to curb this behaviour is because they try to tackle one aspect rather than the culture at large. Rather than teach the youth about responsibility, respecting the rights of others etc. we prefer to just focus on 1 message at a time. Apart from the fact that allows the underlying issue to just manifest as something else it doesn’t even acknowledge the interplay between genders. Girls will often taut boys if they are seen as nerdy, weak, uncool etc. So they try to sleep around or put down women etc. as a means to counter those ideas. Real or just perceived as they maybe. And then you have issues where the message is lost because it becomes a gender issue which only feeds into the problem. Ie You’re a pussy whipped girl if you agree with them or a traitor to your gender.

          In short don’t try and treat 1 symptom. Try and fix the illness which is a lack of respect and responsibility amongst the youth.

  • Tom

    This sort of opinion should remain in the Socialistic overly bureaucratic realms of Orwellian fiction.

    People should be allowed to enjoy themselves free from judgement, as is their right. So long as no one else is harmed then the pursuit of happiness and enjoyment, which is the most human of pursuits, should be allowed to thrive.

    If one or two misguided people decide to take things too far and they do harm others or themselves then they should take responsibility for their own actions.
    Why should one or two people who take a light hearted and humorous craze too far by necking a pint of vodka and jumping in a river ruin things for normal people who are just up for a harmless laugh?

    It is this incessant desire by stateists, socialists and the press to control, and lecture and judge which is leading the state to get larger and reach beyond our front doors and into our private lives.

    Leave people alone, allow people to take responsibility for their own lives, and only intervene if actions adversely affect others.

    • Lizzie Roberts

      but surely the point im making here is that people are being hurt by these actions? be it the families of those boys who have died from neck and nominate or the girls in student clubs who are being unwillingly grabbed by rowdy lads. also no where in the article did i call for “state intervention” but im asking for people to have self control and common sense in stopping the spread of neknominate and reigning in lad culture as its going beyond “banter”

      • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

        Surely the death of anyone from neck and nominate is simply Darwinism in action. Cynicism that this is a classic slippery slope argument aside I do wonder how facebook gets away with promoting material a live promoter who cant let people in the venue if they’re under 18 would get shot for. Similarly if your venue chucks out loads of drunk and disorderly the Council can shut you down. If Facebook had to risk the £5000 fines we do for socially encouraging under age drinking and drunkeness I imagine they’d invent the cyber bouncer. If you do the maths their ratio of staff members to users is something like 1 to 100000. Still you get what you pay for. There’s a reason it’s free.

      • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

        I mean seriously if a live venue regularly killed the punters the council would shut them down overnight. One late night fight nearby and you’ve had it. The licencing committee just rip up your licence and no good pleading logic you’re left with a venue that’s empty and rent to pay till you go broke.

    • Robert Neve

      But at what point does the freedom of person A overlap the freedom of person B and who gets overall allowance? I would argue that if person A is inflicting something onto person B then the state should intervene. In the case of the necnominations I agree the state should butt out. If people want to kill themselves like that then fine. But in the cases of happy slapping or their behaviour in clubs towards others well then it’s something that needs addressing. 10 women shouldn’t have their night out ruined by 2 guys who won’t respect them and their boundaries.

      • Lizzie Roberts

        “if people want to kill themselves like that then fine” not technically considering suicide is illegal so surely something should be done to prevent it?

        • Robert Neve

          Last I checked the UK passed the Suicide act 1961 that decriminalized suicide so that pretty much makes it legal. But I mean if you want to press charges against their corpse you’re free to try. It is not the state’s job to keep idiots from doing something stupid and life threatening.

  • this is my england

    Ghastly behaviour, whether practised by young men or young women. It all smacks of terrible insecurity and very poor mental health. A society of satisfied, rounded people with authentically human personalities would produce very few idiots interested in behaving like this. A sick, inauthentic, selfish, status-obsessed, fearful and shallow society, on the other hand, is bound to produce people who need to do things like this to imagine themselves, briefly, to be the superiors of their peers. Frat house college movies featuring stunts of this kind have been a staple of American cinema for many years, reflecting a moronic college campus culture across the Atlantic. As the UK catches up with the world-leading USA in terms of creating soulless, meaningless, barbaric lifestyles, all this bollocks happening in universities and elsewhere is symptomatic of the dickheadisation of everything on these shores. I’m glad I’m too old to be involved. But I fear for my son.

  • Al Jahom

    How incredibly poe-faced, ignorant and judgemental. You’ll fit right in at The Guardian.

    • Lizzie Roberts

      haha. can’t say i’d mind working for the guardian…

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