Lad culture has done nothing more than perpetuate petty hatred between the sexes. Enough is enough, says Laura Baldwin.
Lad Culture. What does it make you think of? Pints of lager, football, drunken men, corny chat up lines, curries and kebabs, men behaving badly and porn magazines. Anything I missed?
It’s been around 10 years since ‘Lad Culture’ arrived proudly asking us to ‘get our tits out for the lads’. Back then, magazines like FHM and Loaded dictated to young men ‘what it is to be a man’ and provided ‘lads’ with a bible like reference guide on how to deal with the life’s most complex and important issues; beer, football and women.
So what happened to Mr 90s Lad? Did he grow up into a man? Does the stereotypical beer swilling, sex obsessed man epitomised by Men Behaving Badly still really exist? Looking around me in the pub during Euro 2004 at the drunken men (and women) shouting, swearing and chucking bottles at the TV screens, I think it’s safe to say that the ‘lads’ mentality is still with us.
It seems that 90s lad culture has grown and developed, spawned ‘ladette’ culture and turned sexual relations between men and women into a veritable battle ground of us vs. them. Heavily linked to post feminist backlash theory, it is often said that lad culture emerged in response to the second wave of feminism which made men feel threatened and belittled by women’s increasing dominance in society.
Many argue that ‘laddism’ aims to provide young men with a security blanket. After all, if women are getting more assertive and are gaining positions of power than surely they’ll want to take over the world so us boys best stick together? So it seems that Lad Culture is all about being ‘one of the lads’, of fitting in to this ideal of masculinity, drinking beer and ogling women as if they were a piece of meat. Women are there for purely for sex; they are whiny, unintelligent, and always banging on about equal rights (that’s how laddism appears to me anyway).
It’s quite disturbing how such regressive views of women can exist at a time when feminism still hasn’t achieved all it needs to. In 2004 there is still a huge pay divide between what men and women earn, yet many women are afraid to stand up for themselves for fear of being labelled a feminist (which has sadly, become a dirty word in the new millennium). This is isn’t helped by the fact that lad culture deems feminists as mad, butch man haters with hairy armpits! [The F-Word loves butch and hairy feminists just as much as the hairless ones – Ed.]
Probably the most worrying aspect of lad culture however is the emergence of ‘ladette’ culture in which women appear to imitate the men that ridicule them! Sadly, these women believe that getting drunk, being sick in the street, starting fights and having casual sex makes them more like men and therefore, more empowered. They fail to see that the men they are emulating are laughing at how ridiculous they look. We still live in a society where double standards mean both men and women laugh at their behaviour.
I personally think Britain’s alcohol culture has a lot to answer for in terms of how men and women interact today. In nightclubs, drunken women dance provocatively with their female friends in order to attract men’s attention (how tacky) and men have to get completely rat arsed in order to have the confidence to approach a woman and say ‘get yer coat love, you’ve pulled’. Stick this situation in a nightclub in Faliraki or Kavos and you get men singing the lad’s anthem, ‘get yer tits out for the lads’. The only trouble here is the women actually bloody do it!
I’m not saying that all men are, or want to be ‘one of the lads’ and that women are either ladettes or ‘girly girls’ because this is not true. You can’t categorise people and I don’t assume that just because a man likes football and drinks beer he is an unintelligent lout who buys into all this macho lad crap. I’m talking more about the whole male bravado that comes with lad culture and the fact that if you aren’t interested in drinking beer and leering at women then you can’t be considered one of the lads. You must be gay instead.
It is unfortunate that a large majority of men and women actually seem to enjoy the fact that we are acting as though we are two very opposite and distinct groups who want to play games against each other. And I think it’s bloody ridiculous.
We are told men are from mars, women are from venus. Women snigger at men for having a small dick, Men snigger at women for having no boobs. Women snigger at men for being unable to work a washing machine, men snigger at women for being bad drivers. The list of stereotypes go on and on until you can almost see both genders at either side of the field ready to charge into each other with swords! The mass media fuels this further by bringing out programmes such as the originally titled ‘Battle of the Sexes’ in which groups of male and female friends play against each other for a free holiday. The growing number of ‘dating’ shows like ‘Joe Millionaire’ and ‘Love on a Saturday night’ show how pathetic the relations between men and women are, that we have to go on national TV and have Davina McCall mediate between us!
I think it’s time the age old ‘battle of the sexes’ was ended once and for all. It was fun at first but I think the current climate is fostering a lot of unnecessary tension between the sexes. In an age where rape and domestic violence are rising, I think it’s naive to assume that all this banter is just harmless sarcasm. Men and Women may have a few biological differences but the notion that they are both an entirely different species is just silly. We should stop all this childish ‘we’re better than you’ behaviour and instead grow up and enjoy the best things about men and women being different. Make love not war!