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The UK's Epidemic of 'Lad Culture' Is Not Only Damaging For Women, But Also For Men

05/02/2014 14:13 GMT | Updated 06/04/2014 10:59 BST

In the last few years, lad culture has forced itself into the public eye for all the wrong reasons. Young men have asserted an exaggerated masculinity in lieu of their own identity, creating a suspect subculture in the process. The National Union of Students investigated lad culture within the academic setting of universities. In their exploration of misogynistic and harassing tendencies of 'laddism', they uncovered the humiliation that many women felt in accordance with how they were treated by these 'lads'. Their findings focus entirely on women, for they are the ones who are primarily sought after, but there is no mention of the way lad culture affects other men. The detrimental and confusing response to lads from other men is not often realised, for lad culture holds no barriers; it affects everyone.

The wave of lad culture has no longer become a recent development. It has integrated itself into society at a pace that has made it acutely acceptable. It has manifested itself into mainstream culture, as well as an academic culture. It transcends class in a manner that most subcultures do not. In recent years, this subculture has been based on a concoction of 'beer and banter', a faction focused entirely on male bonding through the means of excessive drinking and flaunting dominance through arrogance and aggression, often lampooning and mocking women for nothing more than 'banter'. 'Banter', in a modern context, hides behind the façade of joking around. Instead of light-hearted fun, somewhere along the line it became a much more damaging prospect than a few laughs. The humiliation furthers the gap between the lad and the rest of us. The jesting doesn't apply only to women; it applies to men as well.

My time in college as a young man was often spent skirting around the edges of the common room, making myself scarce from the group of replica alpha males that were sat at the middle table throughout the day, seeming to never move away from their territory. In this neat rectangle of faux masculinity, they would take it in turns to jest and joke at people who didn't physically conform to mainstream conventions. The type of person who would divert away from the projected image of conformity, consciously or not, would become the automatic target. Self-identity was an aspect that I struggled with during this time (hark at the clichéd lost and delicate teenager), especially in light of the aggressive male roles that they tried to project. The stereotypical male figure is magnified until it becomes unrecognisable, and the lads become ravenous in their humour, and benevolent in their attitudes towards difference, regardless of gender. The marginalisation that occurs due to this amplified culture plays on the mind of men. Even if they're usually confident individuals, this subculture will cause them to deliberate over their own identity, to question their own masculinity. The fact that these lads parade as a group and promote themselves as 'real men' gives a reason for young men to think they aren't men at all. At a time when identity is being discovered, the pressure of unconformity is one that plays a significant role. Psychologically, lad culture infiltrates the minds of men, creating questioning and doubt, affecting self-esteem greatly.

Lad culture may manifest itself through sexually, physically and psychologically degrading women, though the modern lad culture that's here today psychologically affects men in a way that is both blatant and escalating. They cast other men out who fail to subscribe to the norm of lad culture. If they don't drink as much, they are automatically inferior. If they are not heterosexual, they are automatically inferior. If they don't ostracise others based on their unconformity to hyper-masculinity, they are automatically inferior.

The underlying issue here is the way that young males have substituted casual, topical humour and turned it into blatant hate filled objectification to absolutely everybody outside of their social group. This has produced a subculture of young men that struggle with asserting their own identity. The collective identity that lad culture has the given the individual is strong enough to bulldoze anyone around them, deconstructing any sense of individuality in the process and declaring victory over perceived inferiority.