The UniLad hurricane

by Beth Jinks

I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone of my age, but the majority of the boys in my friendship group could definitely be described as being a bit ‘laddy’. However let me make this clear early on; they would never be so disrespectful and misogynistic as to summon the twitter shit storm that came to be on Tuesday.

If you’re new to this story then take a look at this. The context is not immediately obvious, but that extract was past of a longer ‘article’ entitled “Sexual Mathematics” with a stunning end paragraph of: “If the girl you’ve taken for a drink… won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds,” and a hilarious little * which lead to the N.B: “Uni Lad does not condone rape without saying ‘surprise’.”

If you’ve read the above paragraph with anything but detest and malice then you may as well stop reading. Because what’s to follow is my deconstruction of the pathetic lad mentality that seems to be spreading like wildfire around some men.

Let’s start with a story. When I was in year 9 (so, 14 years old) one of my best friends confessed to me that they’d be abused by someone that they’d trusted. It didn’t feel it at the time, but in hindsight I can appreciate what a horrific situation it was for them, and for me as a young child trying to compute the information. You can try your very best to support someone, try to encourage them to report the situation but ultimately there’s nothing that you can say. I know it’s cryptic; but some terrible events and situations that have happened since for this person almost certainly would not have happened if they hadn’t been abused.

This experience makes me feel even more appalled for the deplorable words of UniLad. But even if you have no prior ‘experience’ of the situation then I imagine that you are just as sickened. I can imagine how some boys read that ‘article’, laughed and thought nothing more of it because sex has been so trivialised in the lad culture, and that seems somehow acceptable. But the truth is these some of these lads are the kind of boys that do rape, or if not rape, they do abuse and scare slightly-worse-for-wear women (and men) into doing what they want.

I don’t know whether it’s a lack of confidence issue that makes that small demographic of men abuse because they don’t feel like they can talk to a woman and get anywhere. Or where there is a chemical prerequisite in the brains of the men that makes them do it, and frankly I don’t care. But did the author of the article not understand that the idea of rape being dismissed in such a casual mannor kind of “gives permission” to those people who were maybe already thinking about it?

On her blog, @Blonde_M makes a good point: ” I don’t know any men, at university or otherwise, who’d identify with the vulgarity, crassness and downright abhorrence displayed. No one I know would dream of demeaning themselves – and women in general – by saying, believing, or thinking such vile sentiments.” But the problem is that I actually have encountered these ‘lads’, there’s a whole bunch of them in my small home town and from my school. And I’m not talking about the general laddy drunken messes that are my friends, I’m talking about the existence of boys who objectify girls in exactly this way.  Never has it directly been a problem to me, I don’t think any boy would dare say something so chauvinistic to me or any of the amazing females that I know from there.

Purely because if Twitter (I’m convinced) the Unilad website has been taken down, an apology has been issued and the website owner may be facing disciplinary action from Plymouth University (where the site was based). But the damage has probably already been done, not by Unilad, but by a sad culture that has been building in this country for years.

I would run a mile from any man that fit in the ‘severally disconnected lad’ category, and I really hope that all women my age feel the same.