Lad culture, or ‘laddism’ refers to groups of men that typically shy away to the issues surrounding sexism, violence and heavy drinking. Amongst peers a ‘lad’ would be someone, usually a student, who goes out a lot, drinks a lot, sleeps around and perhaps most importantly objectifies women overtly.
I’m not sure how I feel about making such a generalisation, that is, assuming most young men that go out drinking are all the same because of course they aren’t. I do however know that there has not been one night out where a man hasn’t touched me without me asking him to. My friends and I are consistently being touched in places we don’t want to be and being looked at in ways that make us feel like an animal in the zoo. Time and time again I am met with the same answers – “you’re over-reacting”, “that’s just the way it is”, “it isn’t sexual assault unless sex is involved”.
What has surprised me in the last year is the amount of it I experience within the indie/rock/metal scene and unfortunately I was naive in thinking that more respect would be shown within these communities. During freshers I was queuing outside the popular indie club Soup Kitchen where a guy came up to me and my group of friends asking for some filters. I barely glanced at him before he told me I was aggressive – what strikes me is that he thought I was aggressive because I didn’t feel the need to smile at him or make conversation. If you know me, you’ll know I am not aggressive, granted, sometimes hot-headed, but if anything I’m quite the opposite. He got the filters, whilst repeatedly trying to get my attention by touching my hair and back, and left after giving me one last pat on the shoulder. As he walked away I very calmly and politely said ‘please stop touching me’, to which he stormed back and shouted something along the lines of “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? DO YOU REALISE HOW RUDE YOU ARE? FUCKING WOMEN ALL THE SAME.” Now excuse me for thinking its’s entirely acceptable to ask a stranger not to touch you, I didn’t realise how gross my behaviour was.
I’m tee-total, so I understand that this makes me so much more attuned to these experiences than it would if I were drinking, but this scares me. Women become vulnerable and unaware, or unable to stand up to behaviour they don’t agree with, which saddens me. If the same things happened in work or uni it wouldn’t be accepted, so why has it become so normal as soon as the sun goes down?
I go out to listen to music, dance, have fun with friends, and yes maybe meet someone I find attractive to have drinks with another time. I do not go out to find someone to immediately have sex with, and if I did I would make that consent clear. A stranger should not be able to touch me purposefully without me making it clear I want them to, and here the problem lies.