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Lad Culture in UK Universities: Being Ignored?

‘Lad culture’ has officially been coined as a ‘problem ignored’ by the President of the National Union of Students, Toni Pearce, in a report by the BBC.

According to Pearce, ‘a survey of 2,000 students commissioned by the NUS suggests a quarter of those polled had experienced unwelcome sexual advances’. Rape jokes and trivialising sexual assault has also become a widely noticed occurrence, with two thirds of students observing this objective sense of humour on campus.

It is shocking how numbed we as students have become to figures like these. As women, we’re used to comments being made in clubs, guys paying us unwanted attention; we have simply learnt to ignore, not address it. We’re desensitised because it is the ‘norm’. ‘Lad culture’ isn’t reserved for night time either, as Pearce’s study observed that ‘more than one-third (of students) had seen promotional materials around university that featured sexualised images of women.’ Even on campus we’re apparently being force fed images that encourage these attitudes.

Despite this, universities claim that there is ‘no fear, no intimidation, no problem’ felt by students on campus. Wrong. Sexualised images of women in promotional materials made half the women and a third of the men surveyed feel ‘uncomfortable’. The fact that features ‘entitled Top Student Totty’ exist ‘in a student publication, asking women to submit pictures of themselves’, just exaggerates the fact that lad culture is forced upon what we read, what we see, and what we experience as a student – either scrolling through Facebook or reading a university magazine.

Universities UK Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge is reported to have said that ‘universities take the welfare of their students very seriously’, before noting that ‘welfare officers, advice centres and university counselling services’ are on hand if anyone holds concerns. These are, of course, valuable sources for students, but should it really have to be treated as an issue that must be solved on an individual’s level? Pearce’s study clearly shows that sexism on campus is essentially intrinsic; a problem rooted in behaviours and attitudes, a problem that must be addressed on a larger scale than leaving it until a victim requires help. That is far too late.

The comments on Pearce’s survey article on the BBC more often than not fuel the reader’s despair over the issue. Users are arguing that women who dress too provocatively and drink too much deserve the treatment they get. One user argues women should ‘respect male nature’ by covering up. Oh you poor men, being lead on so insensitively. Men wear what they want, and drink as much as they please, with no repercussions. Exercise self-control. You are the root of this problem.

Of course, this is a social problem, not just a university problem. Universities do not have total control over how their students act. Yet with universities supposedly being the hub of education, encouraging responsibility and enabling campus to be an environment free from harassment and intolerance is the first step toward creating a better lifestyle for students. As individuals and students, we too should think twice about the way we react to everyday goings-on. You don’t have to attend the ‘Pimps and Hoes’ party, smile and say ‘don’t worry’ to the guy who ‘accidentally’ groped you at the bar, or sing along to the sexist chants on the freshers’ bus. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female – challenging ‘lad culture’ is the wisest move you can make.

What’s your opinion on lad culture at UoN? Comment below or email Her Campus (harrietdunlea@hercampus.com or samanthacarey@hercampus.com)

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29176844

Image sources:

http://newcastle.tab.co.uk/files/2014/03/f36-lad-culture.jpg

http://velociriot.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/enhanced-buzz-13188-132346…

 

Edited by Harriet Dunlea.

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Naomi Upton

Nottingham

Naomi is a third year English student at Nottingham University and Co-Editor in Chief of HC Nottingham. Naomi would love a career in journalism or marketing but for now she spends her time beauty blogging, attempting to master the delicate art of Pinterest, being an all-black-outfit aficionado, wasting time on Buzzfeed, going places, taking pictures and staying groovy. 
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