A Brief Article for Epigram
Lad culture is not what you most likely assume it is. On the front page it appears to be the loud, disdainful machination of boys drinking absurdly, using and abusing women and rampaging to the tune of their own egos in the pursuit of pleasing each other with physical indulgence and the brashness of their behaviour. Of course it is this as well, and this is what appears before us when we see the rugby team howling like desperate wolves outside Bunker on a Wednesday night. We might, however, prematurely conclude that it is totally the result of these boys and their overactive sex drives, but it is really so much more than this.
I think we can cut down an awful lot of speculation about ‘lad culture’ if we actually just describe it as ‘culture’. It ought to be obvious that what we tend to describe as lad culture is really just the climax of a patriarchal society, because every behaviour that modern patriarchy encourages in people is laid in evidence in it. And do not think for a second that it is only restrained to boys because girls are just as much a part of it, and in fact ensure its existence as much as their male counterparts.
So what lad culture really is is a borderless, detestable thing that we all submit to. Every boy knows the impulse to submit to its demands of glorifying women, competing with men and making the ego bigger than the self, but what is so often forgotten is that every girl knows the impulse to do exactly the same thing. Girls are not just a small constituent part of what makes lad culture what it is: they actually define it, because one cannot be without the other.
And what really needs to be understood from this is that it is harmful to both sides. Lad culture enslaves people to cultural ‘ideals’, in that it creates a very defined and very severe picture of how boys and girls should be. In the case of boys, they should be loud, by nature misogynistic, always present in groups, always looking as if they are having fun, always attempting to sleep with as many girls as possible (the more carelessly the better) and always with a very specific, muscular body shape and with a tendency to drink themselves into the floor. In the case of girls, they should be ‘beautiful’ in a very stringent, almost mathematical way, dress neither too openly nor too cautiously, be in awe of boys, be always in groups, always look as if they are having fun, always look as if they have made an effort to look good, be willing to sleep with boys but not too many nor too often, and drink to get hopelessly drunk but not so drunk that they end up on the floor, because this is direly unattractive.
We can see that these social expectations are stringent and therefore harmful. Rules of this kind make it inevitable for both genders to feel inadequate, and although we can see that the line is far harder to tread for girls, the real problem lies in how the two deal with the pressure. Girls can admit to feelings of inadequacy and resultant depression more easily than boys, and while we know that mental illness is rife amongst young people right now, it is far more often reported in girls.
The suffering of one gender is guaranteed by the suffering of the other. If boys did not expect these things of themselves then they would not expect these things of girls, and vice versa. Our culture is oppressive and harmful, and what we call lad culture is just the most obvious display of this oppression.
The only reason people carry on with this behaviour is because they do not know what else to do together and, more to the point, they have mistaken real happiness for indulgence in physical pleasures. Lad culture is pervasive throughout society, and we would do well to stop the scorn, the disrespect and the insecurity on which it is founded.