So you think you’re a lad?

Lucas Oakley dissects Lad Culture™ and the search for the nearest “peng-ting”.

First things first: I’m the realest. But besides from being one of the world’s few remaining Iggy Azalea fans I’m also a heterosexual, white male. Which means that my opinion doesn’t really account for a great deal considering I’m an unfortunate member of that elite majority made up of bankers, wankers, and Donald Trump supporters.

It’s often difficult to wake up in the morning and not immediately hate myself as a result of the immense stupidity of my gender and race, but I often counteract that feeling of self-loathing by repeated listenings of Iggy Azalea’s ‘Go Hard or Go Home’ – her magnificently empowering contribution to the Fast & Furious 7 soundtrack. Speaking of Fast & Furious: CARS. Speaking of cars: GIRLS. Speaking of girls: BEER.

Now that I’ve got that seamless segue out the way: Cars, girls, and beer (otherwise known as the holy trinity of #LadCulture) are said to make up the mind, body, and spirit of every “proper” male in the universe. You know the kind: The type of bloke who takes his Tetley’s with two sugars and looks at you funny when you order an Oolong Tea. The type of bloke who only bought Yorkies back when they were “Not for girls” as part of some misogynistic crusade that he still can’t really explain to his mum. The type of bloke who only buys shampoo “For Men” because his hair is far too masculine and butch to ever be breached by scented coconut.

For whatever reason, University appears to be a place where Lad Culture simply thrives, where it drains its life-force from innocent and unsuspecting Surrey Tom’s and Harry’s only to transform them into Jaegerbomb-loving twats of the highest order. I’m not saying Jaegerbombs are bad, nor am I even suggesting that “Lads” are inherently bad people. Some of my closest friends would be considered “Lads”, and I myself am guilty of having exhibited what is otherwise known as “laddish behaviour”.

My point is that the melting-pot of University is often a place where one finds themselves trying to fit in as quickly as possible. For some, friendships may be fostered through shared political views or an interest in similar hobbies. For others, it may simply be the fact that they’ve both got willies. And this may sound rather silly, but when you get a group of males together who share little in common apart from what dangles between their legs, this is typically when the most Laddish of behaviour begins to erupt. As a male myself it’s rather difficult to explain what this laddish eruption often feels like. So to aid the reader I will provide them with a 100% scientifically accurate case-study:

It’s fresher’s week. Tom and Harry (whom we can forget are both from Surrey for this scientific study’s sake) live on the same floor and are trying to find some common ground at an absolutely mad pre-drinks being hosted by Grace from your course. Tom listens to Taylor Swift and reads Faust. Harry listens to Bach and reads as little as possible. What do Tom and Harry have to talk about? Once the obligatory “Oh, you study ____? That’s interesting!”s are out of the way, the two must find some sort of mutual interest. As is often the case in these sort of taxing social situations, the male brain tends to regress to the most basic of desires. The topic of conversation will therefore doubtlessly revolve around one or another of the following:

Football? Probably. But Harry is more of a Tennis fan and he’s afraid this will make him seem like less of a man. Cars? Likely. But Tom’s license only permits him to drive an Automatic so he shies from the subject matter because he’s afraid it will make him seem like less of a man. Girls? Possibly. But Harry’s bisexual and is afraid of bringing this up too early in the friendship in case it make him seem like less of a man. Beer? Bingo. There’s no way that beer can possibly make one feel emasculated (unless of course you drink the unmanly kind) So the two do what every like-minded Fresher does to alleviate social anxiety: they get absolutely shit-faced.

What happens next is a little like watching a lycanthrope at full-moon, as both Tom and Harry’s conversation slowly starts to devolve into a series of guttural grunts and brutal gestures, their mannerisms reverting to the most primitive possible as their eyes roam the around the room for the nearest “peng-ting” they can prey upon. Testosterone fills the air and Hugo and Spencer (this is Bristol, after all) are soon drawn to the same pack. No longer do Tom, Harry, Hugo, and Spencer sit round a settee that Grace will definitely not be getting her deposit back from, but rather a homologous group of likeminded lad-iness perches there instead.

Indecipherable except from the severity of the fade of their short-back-and-sides, these once bright, young men have found themselves turned into the most abhorrent of creatures known to the human race: Lads. They share Facebook posts made by Sports Bible, Lad Bible, and any other heretic text they can get their hands on as they simultaneously praise their new messiah: Dapper Laughs. Life has become about “the sesh” and scraping a 2:1. Sun-rise, sun-set, their lives are dominated by thoughts of Sports night, despite the fact only one of them actually plays a legitimate sport. And no, Quidditch doesn’t count. Sorry.

This is how the phenomena of Lad Culture often arises, with a mixture of alcohol, fear, and the pack-like mentality of young men looking for a place in this world. Lad culture has almost become an unfortunate necessity of fitting-in at University because the majority of males are simply too afraid to speak their minds and go against the grain of societal norms. It’s obviously going to take more than one well-intentioned lad to speak out against the abhorrence of cat-calling and the multiple other forms of sexual harassment that women are made to endure on a daily basis, but the more we encourage lads to not simply accept the behaviour their mates exhibit, the greater hope we have that more males will be educated on just what is acceptable lad behaviour and what is simply taking it too far. Stealing cones? A-okay. Getting a girl purposely drunk because you want to sleep with her? No-go.  

Now, despite this article being full of massive over-generalizations, I’d like to offer the disclaimer that there’s nothing actually wrong with loving cars, girls, and beer. I, for one, am a fan of all three. (I would add that there’s nothing wrong with liking Dapper Laughs but that’s simply not true. He’s shite. Stop sharing his videos.)  My issue with Lad culture is the problems that often arise when all other moral conduct is forgotten in wake of this trinity. So my final message to everyone is this: Being a lad is fine. Being a lad can be massive fun. But just make sure you’re a good lad and not a bad lad. Because a bad lad’s not a real lad, lad.

Collage by Jess Baxter. This article was originally printed in Issue 12.

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