Any female over the age of eighteen will know what I mean when I say the words ‘Lad Culture’. The image of a large, loud and often lewd herd of males, usually making some sort of incoherent sound that can only be described in letters as ‘waaahayyyoooo’. The term ‘Lad’ has moved somewhat far away from its brit-pop roots, and has instead become synonymous with the kind of person no woman wants to face on a night out with the girls. And while these groups of ‘Lads’ are mostly harmless, if not occasionally a little obnoxious, when alcohol is involved their harmless group ‘banter’ can become disrespectful. Especially to women.
I hate to admit to it, but boys it’s becoming commonplace for us girls to bond over the horror stories in the club that involve you and the mate you’re trying desperately to hook us up with; the toilets of Mosh on a Saturday night resemble a conference hall rather than a pace to re-apply your lipstick. And while in actuality that’s not a bad thing, the humble ‘wing-man’ has been around since the dawn of time, the way some ‘lads’ aggressively approach the situation is what leaves us uncomfortable. I know from my own experience of a rather busy club night in Leicester’s O2 that being pinned between the bar and two footy lads, while the ‘wing-man’ tells me his friend is looking for a good night, is not how I like to be courted. No woman wants to feel physically trapped in such an uncomfortable situation. Shout out the bar staff that caught my eye, and served me first despite the protests of everyone that had been waiting longer than me. You are my saviour.
The club can be a scary place for a woman if not handled correctly and it’s why we all flock together like the students of J.K. Rowling’s Beauxbatons. I know from my own personal experience not to go to the bar or even the bathroom alone because for some reason a girl on her own in the club appears like easy prey and I mean that in the nicest way possible. If you really want to impress us lads, offer us a drink graciously and don’t tell us our tits look nice in that top. We already know, and we don’t want to hear it from you.
It’s the relentlessness that’s starting to stigmatise lad culture, and make it synonymous with harassment. While alcohol is a hugely influencing factor here, it is by no means an excuse. With sexual harassment in university at, as the guardian headlined it in March 2017, “epidemic levels”, it is easy to see why women are made so uncomfortable when guys try a little too hard. A nationwide investigation into the female student experience titled ‘Hidden Marks’ completed by NUS in 2010 found some horrifying figures concerning sexual harassment of students. The study found that more than one in ten women had experienced “serious physical violence” and 16% had experienced “unwanted kissing or touching…in a public place”. More staggering still, one in seven respondents reported having been victim of a serious physical or sexual assault during their time at university. And while you might ask what that has to do with the free VK you want to buy me, let me gently highlight the fact that one in ten of the victims was given alcohol or drugs by the perpetrator before they were attacked. For all we know, that VK’s not so much a gesture of good faith, but rather the first step towards rebuilding yourself as a survivor.
It’s every guys job to move what was once the humble ‘lad’s night out’ from the gutter and back into higher standing. While the majority of men would never dream of seriously harming any woman, let alone one they fancy, what needs to be understood is why some actions need a second thought. Simply think twice before you follow the girl you just bought a drink onto the dance floor. Chances are, you’re scaring her. The real question is; how do we change this mentality? Should universities be introducing more workshops on harassment? Helping people to understand what many women face on a typical night out, and why its simply not okay? The university of Leicester students union is currently, like many other universities across the country, working towards a “zero tolerance” policy against sexual harassment. You may have recently seen on the backs of bathroom doors the SU’s new reporting campaign. Then again, should it just be a guys personal duty to know how not to make a woman uncomfortable? To know that offering me that same shot of Sambuca for the seventeenth time in the space of an hour is boarding on harassment not gentility. Maybe the answer is that we just aren’t highlighting what exactly it is that guys are doing wrong, most ‘lads’ probably think that offer of a free Sambuca is a truly gentlemanly act. On behalf of all women, I’d like to tell you it’s not.