How does the pervasive lad culture in our universities affect the lives of students?
This week I have been looking at a report published in March by the National Union of Students and the University of Sussex based on research as to how “lad culture” affects the experience of students, especially women, at British universities. Some of the quotes from the report include:
“You go to a club and you are judged by your looks, you’re marked on your looks... it is a very slippery slope until people are just valued on looks alone.”
“The boys in my halls used to sing a drinking song about rape, which obviously was just disgusting. I think there are a lot of jokes about women and a lot of ‘innocent’ groping that goes on, which actually serves to make you feel very embarrassed, nervous and uncomfortable.”
“[It’s a] culture in which misogyny and sexism is seen as cool or masculine. A lot of it revolving around sexist jokes and banter so that the sexism is trivialised so that people who challenge it are made to seem like kill-joys or people with no sense of humour.”
“I’ve been silenced in a classroom environment by someone who is one of the lads if you like, because I didn’t agree with something he said. He essentially did a repeat of what David Cameron did, the whole ‘calm down dear’ thing. Even the teacher who was female didn’t challenge it.”
Some of the most interesting quotes are about how people change their behaviour given the context and the group they are with:
“There are a lot of people that are kind of lad by night, but then are decent guys by day.”
“I’ve seen lots of groups of lads doing horrible things that I don’t think any of them would do by themselves. Or if they were by themselves and you said ‘actually that’s not okay’ they would probably say ‘oh sorry’.”
You can find a link to the report and some details of what the University of Sussex is doing in response, including a zero tolerance campaign and a sexual violence initiative, here.
Pressures on young guys to conform can be particularly tough. Restored would like to provide more support to young men through our First Man Standing campaign. Does anyone out here have any good advice as to how to navigate stag parties, sexist group culture etc? For those of you in pastoral or mentoring roles, what more can be done to help young men and women affected by this culture?