Sure it’s only banter: Has LAD culture gone too far?

Mention the word LAD to me and the only thing I can hear is the drunken shouts of “Yeoooooo” you are likely to hear on any given Saturday in Shaftesbury Square after midnight. The beer fuelled LADs on a conquest for sexual gratification and ‘banter’ has become a commonplace university culture across the UK. Fuelled by social media and thriving through the imperative to fit in, LAD culture is only recently beginning to be questioned. Facebook and Twitter pages such as UniLAD and HolylandLAD Stories regularly post stories of often humiliating and fleeting sexual experiences that typically treat females simply as objects of sexual conquest. These pages endeavour to create a sense of community that evolves around a damaging, sexist mentality. Presented on these social media pages simply as the source of easy, accessible sexual gratification it is no wonder that sexist attitudes towards females are being normalised in society. With this culture ever-growing, the eyes of the media are turning toward these worrying and disturbing trends of sexism. Why exactly is LAD culture being allowed to thrive like this?

Like wolves, LADs typically move in packs within nightclubs, on ‘the pull.’ It is often rare to find a LAD away from his peers unless of course he has managed to pull with the help of his fellow LADs. No doubt this analogy to wolves is one that LADs would take extreme pride in. As much as I agree that it is essential to stay within a group on nights out for mere safety, there have been countless occasions where I have passed a large group of males, perhaps heading on a night out, who feel it is perfectly okay to shout and jeer, be it seedy, humiliating, sexist or simply insulting things at me. Completely bereft of any sense of common decency and manners, this kind of careless and extremely disrespectful activity is common in nightclubs and being a part of a pack, the absolute sense of intimidation they induce ensures whoever has been heckled at remains silent. Moving in packs in this way provides LADs with an over inflated ego and damaging sense of confidence that moves them to shout out obscenities. This is often for ‘banter’ or to gain the respect from the group. However, if you passed a LAD walking the streets alone I can almost guarantee no heckling would occur. So, is this LAD behaviour all simply a big show off to gain respect from peers? If so, why exactly is undermining females perceived as a way to gain respect?

LADs may defend and rationalise their behaviour of undermining females as simply being a ‘joke’ however it is plain to see how these sexist ‘jokes’ are seeped into every day life and conversation especially with social media playing such a monumental part in people’s lives. When these sexist and undermining ‘jokes’ become a staple of every day conversation and discussion, a quality of someone’s mentality evident through their speech, these ‘jokes’ are likely to become ideals. I perceive the use of sexist ‘jokes’ in merely a simple discussion as a way in which they feel triumph can be sealed if a point is challenged. As much as I despise it when this happens, I still have yet to find a way to counteract it because of a reluctance to show that I have taken it seriously. Similarly, undermining females within a group, when a LAD can be absolutely certain he will not be challenged due to sheer intimidation from the group, it creates a false sense of pathetic triumph that therefore is worthy of respect within the LAD complex. These kinds of acts are completely petty and if we are accepting of it, then it makes it alright, we can be absolutely certain that it will not change, it may even grow worse.

As much as I berate people passively accepting sexist attitudes, I am as much an offender as anyone else simply because of the pressure of not only intimidation but also how people will perceive me for what would simply be standing up for myself. Even as I write this article I worry if I am once again taking the ‘joke’ too seriously. However, if these males who are subject to LAD culture are disrespectful enough to let sexist jokes slowly be phased into their own mentality and consequently society itself then I think I have every right to do what I can to actually stop it. I find it completely wrong and I know many other people that do too, ergo, why should we feel reluctant to challenge it? Stop stoically accepting overt sexism that is unashamedly and pathetically being normalised through the definition of a ‘joke’ or in the name of ‘banter.’

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