Looking Closer: Column One (lad culture)

As my title suggests, I want to look closer at issues in the news and the media at large today – I want to do what all the idioms say: scratch below the surface, delve to the depths, peel back the layers. I not only want to get to the ‘heart of the issue’ but also sift through the rest of the flesh too. As a third year Journalism student I’m constantly thinking about these things, so I’m excited to be given the chance to share my thoughts, and maybe get you thinking too.

To start with I want to zone in on something I think is relevant to us coming back to university: the subject of ‘lad-culture.’ For a while, the best example of this subculture seemed to lie within the slimy walls of ‘Uni Lad’, a website described as the ‘number one university student lad’s magazine and guide to getting laid’ (aye, right). The temporary closure of the website in February was reassuring and gave me hope that, just maybe, the promotion of this banter-filled fad would start to decrease somewhat. But alas! It has been re-launched, and during a recent visit to the site I was disturbed to find legendary articles such as ‘a medley of minge’ – an article detailing the pros and cons about different ‘types’ of girls found at university. Some of the pros include ‘scrumptious boobs’ and the ability to give guys their ‘own porn star experience in the bedroom’. As for the cons – I really feel for the gentlemen having to put up with ‘massive whores’ and ‘chubsters’.

I thought that this ‘lad culture’ phenomenon was exclusive to the younger, student generation, most prevalent in those groups of lads waiting outside Kushion on a Tuesday, looking at the rows of girls and wondering which one they could woo with a shot of sambuca. Unfortunately, however, I was wrong.

It seems that remnants of this ‘lad’ mindset can be traced in the older generation too, as is clear in the sexist interview journalist Matt Bendoris conducted with violinist Nicola Benedetti for The Scottish Sun last month. Articles that make me want to take a cheese grater to my face occur frequently in The Sun, but I was still surprised to read such cringe-worthy misogyny in a national newspaper. When interviewing someone who was leader of the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britian at just eight years old, you’d think he’d focus on the music. However, Matt preferred to focus on how ‘she looks fit as a fiddle’ (check out the pun), and how it was a pity she wouldn’t be posing for any lads’ mags. In his article, he refers to her as a ‘sexy Scot’ and his use of italics to highlight how lucky he thinks her husband is made my skin crawl the way it would if I were to be covered in sticky sweeties and thrown in to an anthill. When faced with a backlash on Twitter over the interview, Matt handled it in the fashion of a true lad (i.e. by mocking anybody who dared offer a negative opinion). It’s all a big joke, after all, and therein lies the problem.

Some may think I’m lacking a sense of humour, or need to ‘have a bit of banter’. But I can’t help thinking that I’d find a number of things funnier than I find any of this. A few of those things include being stuck in the Livingstone Tower lifts for several days with only a Komodo dragon for company, or maybe sticking some bamboo under my finger nails.

The main problem with lad culture is that it’s damaging to both sexes. To be a boy disagreeing with the lad ethos, you’re automatically categorized as ‘a pansy’ or as ‘weak’. The damage it causes to women is endless. To boil it down, it reduces us to objects, expected to sit tight and smile as our existence is used as a platform for countless jokes, all in the name of banter.

by Zoe Storrie, columnist
(Published: Issue One, October 2012)