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.
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.”