Jack the Lad – a phrase which arose in the 1800s to describe a brash, cocky young man, a ‘chancer,’ who was too big for his boots.
Jack the Lad – a phrase which arose in the 1800s to describe a brash, cocky young man, a ‘chancer,’ who was too big for his boots. There was even a song written about it: ‘If ever fellow took delight in swigging, gigging, kissing, drinking, fighting; Damme, I’ll be bold to say that Jack’s the lad.’
Lads are not a new phenomenon, but over the last few years, a new breed has risen to turn swigging into downing, drinking into a lifestyle and kissing into god knows what. The past times of a modern day lad might include girls (as many as possible), drinking (as much as possible), getting naked (wherever possible) and striking the perfect paradoxical balance between a muscly, manly physique and impressively tight, extremely feminine T-shirts.
In light of the recent preventions to tackle sexual harassment in nightclubs and the shocking incident in Leeds where older students were encouraged to rape a fresher, the spotlight now shines on “lad culture”as the culprit and we ask the question, can we put a lid on lads?
In February, the National Union of Students held a lad culture summit, a year after their report That’s What She Said, which highlighted how female students have been affected. The summit brought together members of the student body, academics from higher education institutes and professionals from gender equality sectors.
The summit discussed potential solutions and a ‘national strategy’to tackle lad culture. But the irony here is that lads don’t even enjoy taking part in all of their tomfoolery, for example, the recent craze of neknominations. No one would drink blended muscle shells and red wine on a Sunday afternoon and no one would have a cocktail of Stella, horseradish and dog food after a long day at work.
If it is hard to stop people doing things they really enjoy like smoking and eating fatty foods, shouldn’t it be easy to stop people doing things they don’t enjoy?
The issue here lies in the inherent nature of lad culture—the bigger the challenge, the better, the more extreme and dangerous, the funnier. It’s the 30 second acknowledgement from other lads, before everyone forgets all about it—that makes it worthwhile.
Consequently, it will be hard to find a solution or strategy that doesn’t present the wannabe lads with more boundaries to cross and more rules to break. If people dying from their neknominations isn’t enough for lads to curb their behaviour, it seems unlikely that a rigid strategy will change their values and actions.
Unsurprisingly, the summit took a bit of a battering on Twitter with the lads complaining that they were unfairly represented and accusing the summit of being hypocritical. One tweet read:
‘Typical of liberals to have no actual #lads represented on the panels at #ladculturesummit’
This angry lad does have a point in the fact that, in a democratic society, both parties should be able to put forward their own arguments and it would be very interesting to see how a panel of lads would defend their behaviour. How would they justify pressuring each other to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol? How would they defend their right to treat girls like points on a leader board? The answer, “it’s just good banter” would only go so far.
For example, further down the #lad timeline, was this beauty…
‘I made a cake but I’m still a #lad because it’s an apology cake to my gf for ******** her too hard last night’
I wonder how they would try and defend that one?
Lad culture will never truly disappear unless all the relevant bodies agree to stop. Like theladbible.com, which claims to be the UKs largest online entertainment website with over 148 million views a month and truelad.com, where only the supreme lads share their laddy stories and are voted a ‘good lad’or a ‘shit lad’. As long as enterprises like these still exist, lad culture will continue to be fuelled.
One last comment, obviously not all lads are malicious and harmful towards others but, as with every sub culture, the extremists will always exist and in this case they are taking their lad status way too far. At the end of the day there is nothing wrong with harmless banter, but promoting rape, alcohol abuse and sexual harassment don’t even hint at humour.
For some, there may be nothing funnier than urinating all over your best friend’s toothbrush and filming him brush his teeth with it. But lads must learn where to draw the line and the difference between banter and banned!
What do you think? What is the best way to get rid of the lad culture? Have your say in the comments section below.