I recently interviewed the anonymous blogger of The Anti-Lad and Watered Down Wardrobe on his thoughts regarding ‘lad culture’. He has some experiences of within and outside of the culture, so I thought this would be interesting. Here were his responses.
TTE: How would you describe the characteristics of a lad?
A: Gender is a bit of an issue. The lad-ish behaviour is often attributed to men, but women have started showing some “symptoms” of lad behaviour as well.
TTE: What does that entail?
A: Well to work with a stereotype, a 15 to 25-year-old male who behaves in an unruly way, whether it be drinking excessive amounts, being aggressive and causing serious injury on a night out in the town, or a bunch of mates who have gone down the pub to watch the football on a Saturday afternoon with a pint and who shout a bit at the TV. As with most things, there are extremes of the behaviour; I find myself stuck in the middle. Doing things that I enjoy may often be seen as lad behaviour, such as the previous example of watching the football at the pub with friends, or playing football in a Sunday league.
What I dislike is the feeling that can come with not being one of the lads, the sense of exclusion. I have just recently decided to comment on my feelings on this culture; I enjoy certain things, being seen as a lad but not wanting to be one. That’s where my blog comes in; I just confess my feelings and everyday experiences of lad behaviour. It’s quite strange, I’m stuck half and half between being a lad and not being a lad.
TTE: To what extent do you identify with that culture?
A: I would say I would identify with the everyday average lad activities, and possibly the mindset. I enjoy sport, I have quite a chauvinistic sense of humour, but strictly sarcastic.
TTE: Which bits don’t you identify with?
A: Well that’s probably an easier question to answer. I identify with the things that all young men enjoy, and that can often be labelled as lad behaviour, it’s just boys being boys. I don’t identify however with the stupidity of some behaviour, the clan-like behaviour, that can lead to members of a friend group being ridiculed, partly because this happened to me when I attended secondary school. The violence, drugs and alcohol that are related with the extremes of the culture, I don’t think I will ever identify with them.
We are all aggressive at heart; some of us choose to go to the gym, hit a punch bag, play a controlled sport, some go out on a Saturday night, and look for a fight fuelled on Carlsberg and lad-ish bravado with a need to show their mates they are the biggest man, and that never ends well. I have interests in fashion music and culture, and I have a blog about them. When my “lad” mates find out about this they often ridicule me. Some of my friends who aren’t ‘lads’ do this as well so it cannot be completely attributed to lad culture 100%, but the ridicule is more serious from the “lads”.
I would say I’m 60% lad, but that 60% is the portion you will find in a majority of young men my age. The other 40% is something that you will find in a minority of my demographic, and I guess that’s the portion that sets all people apart. The people who are engrossed in music, clothes, fashion, academia or anything, that part is what makes up the rest of our identity.
The strange part for me is that my constitution is so contrasting that they clash. I often feel I have a personality clash, and it makes me question who I really am. However since leaving my “oppressive” secondary school, finding supportive friends at college, I have become my own person at University.
TTE: Do you think lad culture is predominantly positive or negative?
A: I’d say predominately positive. It must be understood that the extremes of the culture create the stereotype that most identify with when they think lad, and so it is perceived as negative. The origins, just being a young man, or “lad”, are a normal trend across the population between 15 and 25, its nothing bad about that.
TTE: How does lad culture portray women?
A: Now we move onto your area. There is a lot of objectification of women, though I often get the feelings it’s out of affection. Page 3 is the worst example of this. You can still move down through the levels of extremes of lad culture, from where at the top, women are treated the same as they were 50 years ago, it isn’t as bad. I saw a young woman on the bus the other day with her boyfriend and his mate. She has two black eyes, but was still chatting along with them. It’s wrong to assume that it was her boyfriend or the mate that did it, but from initial impressions I was quite sure.
This then boils down to my level, where me and “the lads” may pass comment on girls in and around our lives who we find attractive, often out of affection rather than to be derogatory. We place certain women on pedestals, not a bad thing I would argue, but it can easily become perverted in the simplest sense of the word, where often friends will joke about how they would “fuck her proper”, or “split her in half”. I’m not going to say I haven’t passed this sort of comment, because I have, and I still do.
TTE: Are you tempted to focus on physical appearance more because it’s more acceptable to “the lads”?
A: Of course, a girl’s physical appearance is where the initial impression is drawn from. This may seem a simplistic fact, but because of this, guys focus on it, because often they are too scared to talk to girls to find out about the rest of them, their personality etc. You could argue that cowardice is the cause of that objectification, but I think it’s simpler than that. If you find something attractive, you feel an urge to share. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when it’s derogatory then it should stop. When you wouldn’t want the girl to hear what you are saying it’s too far, and again I will admit to saying things that this rule does not apply to.
TTE: How do you want the vision of lads to change, for them to move away from that extreme end perhaps?
A: I think that as with all things, the minority ruin it for majority, and a negative image is projected onto millions of young men by those who don’t fight the stereotype. It’s not a major problem, but I wouldn’t like it if my parents or their friends thought of me as a young man who is rowdy and looks for trouble on a night out. When I go out, I’m there to see friends, not to make enemies.
There will always be an extreme. Nothing that can be changed, as humans have free will and the right to become inebriated, and even though it’s a crime, you cannot stop one man hitting another. I think the negative image can be adjusted. It’s already moving I think, possibly as I grow up I realise it’s not such a big issue. Our culture is becoming more diversified, the lads aren’t alone, there are the indie kids, hipsters et al who all are gaining more recognition and strength with the increasing improvements of social networking mediums.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the lad culture decrease in power and shrink back into only the lower income, less educated in society. This is a stereotype again though; not every inner city 19-year-old born in a low income household is a violent, aggressive and rude lad. The lad culture has been glorified, often by TV and film, Danny Dyer being a prime example, and prime idiot as well. The lad is dying breed, it’s less acceptable. People want to be debonair and suave, not have a bloody nose and a spilt pint.