Believe the liberal press, the NUS and even some politicians, and you’d be mistaken for thinking men who drink beer and watch sport are the root of all evil.
This week, “lads” have been front page news in the UK thanks to a new Department for Education report that claims sexual assaults on girls in schools are “rife” and the root cause of this is “lad culture”.
Along with every decent human, and especially as a father (I have a young boy and a girl) this concerns me deeply. But it also annoys me, because I enjoy sport and drink beer. So is something I deplore somehow my fault?
This prompts the question: what is this malignant “lad culture?”
The NUS define it as: “A pack mentality residing in activities such as sport and heavy alcohol consumption, and ‘banter’ which is often sexist, racist, misogynist and homophobic. It has rape-supportive attitudes, and occasionally spills over into sexual harassment and violence”.
Translation: do you play, or even watch, a team sport, or like Jeremy Clarkson? Ever swigged too much lager or told a crass joke? Congratulations, you’re in the same Venn Diagram as rapists. Oh, and you unconsciously “support” child abuse in schools.
Charming, isn’t it?
Make no mistake, on British university campuses – where there are now 60,000 more women than men, a gender bias on which equalities campaigners are strangely silent – lads are the new jihadis.
If you think that’s an exaggeration, note that the NUS President, Malia Bouattia, has eagerly declared campus war on “lad culture,” yet famously could not bring herself to condemn ISIS for fear of looking like an Islamophobe.
Here, a dark confession: before I finally grew up and became a dad, I used to be a lad, as was my jack-the-lad dad.
The first ever Daubney to set foot on these shores in 1066 was a flag-bearer at the Battle Of Hastings – what a lad!
When I edited lad’s mag loaded for eight years, I was somewhat embarrassingly labelled “King Of The Lads” by the UK Press.
I’ve been exposed to so much “lad culture” that, by the NUS’s reckoning, I should be on Death Row.
Instead, I use my background to talk to lads (and young ladies) in schools on the perils of porn addiction. This week, I got to point this out to the MP who drove this report, Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities select committee, while I was reviewing the newspapers on Sky News.
I put it to her that sex education might be the key to tackling sexism – and not blaming the ephemera of “lad culture,” which needlessly plays the blame game and creates an instant, and unnecessary, gender divide.
I know how lads work. Tell them they’re passively responsible for somehow condoning the sexual abuse of children when all they do is chant while watching the football, and they’re going to hate you for it.
Who can blame them?
At a time when suicide is the biggest killer of men, “lad culture” unhelpfully propagates the toxic lie that men are problems, yet cannot possibly have problems.
That is why I want “lad culture” to die. Not lads themselves – unlike the NUS, I don’t believe in cultural genocide – but the reductive phrase “lad culture”.
The cousin of “rape culture” and “toxic masculinity” it’s the latest in a long line of patriarchal cod-concepts cooked-up by our liberal/feminist-dominated and increasingly misandric academia. Now it’s made it into government totally unchallenged.
Let’s be clear: some men are sexist. Some are violent criminals. Some hurt women. They shame all men, and I deplore them. But “lad culture” isn’t the same thing as misogyny, and to lump them together does a disservice to both terms.
I don’t call rapists “lads”. I call them rapists. I call them scum. They deserve to rot in hell, as do men who are violent to women.
Men who grope or barrage women with sexist obscenities in the street aren’t lads. They’re idiots. And they need to be challenged. But all my experience tells me a lad would probably be the first person to step in and condemn – or chin – a sexist bigot haranguing women.
Lumping all lads together with the very worst of men is spiteful identity politics and, worst of all, it can actually make men more sexist, not less.
Why would lads try to clean up their act if you’ve already written them off as rape supporters? Why not engage with lads to help tackle inequality, rather than shaming them onto the naughty step?
The phrase “lad culture” helps fuel a political narrative that is increasingly anti-male at a time when boys are bottom in education and too many men take their own lives.
We need to build a bonfire – kindled by NUS research papers – and throw not Guy Fawkes onto it, but “Lad Culture”.