Is lad culture getting worse and must it be blamed for the new ‘culture of sexual harassment’ which, it is claimed, besets universities?
That’s what a recent BBC report would have us believe. If it’s not males’ raucous and drunken behaviour at fault, then it’s the media pushing those patriarchal Hollywood rom coms that teach girls they have to surrender to male heroes to score themselves. Umm.
Funnily, the Sheffield University louts who the BBC featured didn’t seem to me to have much in common with George Clooney.
“You go out, you pull, you bang, you walk away – that’s it, end of story”, a student reveller boasted to the BBC reporter investigating these claims.
It was shocking to hear on the BBC lunchtime news. What were guys like these doing at university in the first place? was my first thought.
My second was: was this any worse than the drunken antics and bragging in my 1970s university days? Bottles got broken then, buildings got defaced, men threw up then boasted the next day of who they’d ‘had’ in front of we credulous and naive girls.
Wasn’t this more of the same with northern accents 40 years later – lads bragging in an effort to impress or outdo one another? If so, what was the fuss about?
Well the fuss, my Google research tells me is pretty much down to a National University of Students (NUS ) research survey commissioned on the subject of the threat of lad culture, the threat, of course, being sexual harassment and its twin evil sexism.
It has had the desired effect. On top of the Government’s existing demands on universities – to set up task forces to investigate the ‘sexual and verbal assault’ against women on campus and to ‘develop codes of practice’ for dealing with said incidents – the Government, according to the BBC is stepping up the pressure – now demanding universities meet their legal obligations in this matter – whatever that means.
The mind boggles as to what more can come – male-free zones, female-safe havens, security cameras in every girl’s room, compulsory sex consent forms – all feeding moral panic and a hyped up culture of fear.
It is just the recipe for more drunken laddish and loutish behaviour.
This Spectator blog thinks the Government shouldn’t be pandering to claims about sexual violence on campus. Neither do I, now I have read what they are based on and that the author – one Alison Phipps, Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Sussex – turns out to be the very same gender expert the BBC News report invited on for her apparently independent comment.
No, the BBC did not explain that she was the very author of the alarm nor did they question, let alone challenge, the dramatic statistical claims of sex abuse and harassment her research was the source of – the ones the Government had fallen for and which basically added up to a character assassination of men.
The BBC did not reveal that her research constituted a tautologous literature review – of ‘gender’-oriented studies which conveniently reinforce each other. Rather than being statistically significant, the actual survey constituted only ‘qualitative’ interviews with forty female students ‘from across UK universities’. Its conclusion derived from the twenty of them whose meanderings backed her thesis.
This was how Professor Phipps arrived at her dramatic statistical claim that 50 per cent of the study participants had ‘identified’ prevailing sexism, ‘laddism’ and a ‘culture of harassment’ at their universities.
Hard evidence of the ‘social, personal and educational impacts of lad culture in higher education’ was conspicuous for its absence.
But why worry about that when you have the endorsement of the Everyday Sexism Project and the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) – an outfit which purports to represent UK universities and seeks to uncover ‘unconscious bias’ in recruitment whenever a woman is not appointed to a post.
What more do you need to incite panic about campus sexism when you can conveniently conflate it with ‘lad culture’, and point the finger of blame at who else but men when the BBC so helpfully grants an uncritical platform to your pet gender professor?
Laddish behaviour Professor Phipps declared: “Can be seen as a backlash against the challenge of women in a world where men have long have had a privileged position.”
No doubt it can.
“Young women”, she opined, “are starting to outperform men at university; some subjects are becoming female dominated so there is that kind of push for gender equality and the response to that – we have seen a backlash at that and against feminism – and that could be manifested through this laddish sexism”.
It could be – and who would blame men if they are lashing back at feminism – given the education discrimination they face and the likes Prof Phipps rubbing their noses in it. No, you might not blame them if they got a tad antsy.
But it isn’t. The ideologically-motivated Prof has neither evidence nor proof of her thesis that ‘lad culture’ equates to a ‘culture of harassment’.
Proof that society, male and female, is coarser and drunker than before, she would find abounds. So too does evidence of sex (for both sexes) becoming more publicly explicit and pornographic, while shame and modesty have been supplanted by feminist orthodoxies and fear mongering. She’d find too that there is statistical evidence showing that more women are single and childless and that more men are going their own way. She’d find evidence of ladette culture competing at every level with lad culture, if she looked for it.
But she and the NUS chose to examine none of this.
That’s what her NUS’s lad culture conjecture is – just this – a contrivance to advance their fascist feminist notions. It requires that men are forever demonised and girls forever portrayed as their victims.
It also requires the erosion of any vestige of common sense, as the women’s campus classes on how to deal with sexism, discussed in the same BBC report, illustrate.
When on earth, I ask, did ‘challenging’ or ‘distracting’ a drunken sex pest ever work as a strategy? Whatever happened to the golden rule of ignore and walk away? This is just what the Government should be doing with the NUS’s politicised fear mongering.
(Image Courtesy Jirka Matousek, Flickr)