When ‘lad banter’ becomes encouragement to rape


by Guest    
10:50 am - February 1st 2012

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contribution by Jem Bloomfield

The online magazine Uni Lad received a lot of attention yesterday after they published an article on seduction that “jokingly” suggested a majority of rapes go unreported made for “pretty good odds” if your date refused you sex.

When challenged on Twitter, they initially asked the person complaining if they were “a dyke”, before taking down the piece from their site and issuing a partial apology. They now have a full apology and took down the site.

Their fans on Facebook repeatedly suggested whoever had called Uni Lad out should be raped and called the editors “fucking PC faggots”.

This aside, the website contained a wealth of misogyny: one piece advised slamming a woman’s head into the wall during sex “to knock some sense into her”, another describes non-consensual sex as “fun for one”.

I’m sure a lot of us have heard worse “jokes” at university, not whispered between close friends but offered to new acquaintances as an acceptable form of male bonding. The language of male banter – “bros before hos”, “fair game”, “wolf pack” – insists that young men can only connect with each other via a predatory attitude to women.

These assumption are expressed in a variety of ways. Moving into graduate accommodation at university a few years ago, I was unpacking when a rep from the student union arrived with my bag of welcome-to-uni goodies.

On seeing me, she apologised that the name on my door had confused her, and hastily swapped the ‘girls’ welcome pack she’d been about to give me for the ‘boys’ version. The difference was not gender-specific pizza vouchers, or an earnest leaflet about non-directive bloke counselling, but a lads’ mag.

To the international students arriving that day, the union was essentially saying “Welcome, this the ethos of our institution. Phwoaarrr, eh?

This is part of a spectrum of casual misogyny and a troubling tendency at university life to define authentic masculinity as leering, sexist and potentially violent.

No doubt the writers of Uni Lad would claim they were just saying out loud what every man secretly thinks, and frankly too much of what you hear on campus wouldn’t prove them wrong.

That’s why it is important to challenge these attitudes loudly and publicly: that most people don’t think female students are somehow the “prey” of their male peers, and that we don’t accept that “lads will be lads”.

If universities cannot provide a space for people to explore their personalities and their place in the world without being told at every turn that they are either a slut or a date rapist, then we need to make some serious changes.


Jem Bloomfield tweets from here and blogs at http://quiteirregular.wordpress.com/

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Reader comments


1. Chaise Guevara

“The language of male banter – “bros before hos”, “fair game”, “wolf pack” – insists that young men can only connect with each other via a predatory attitude to women.”

To be fair, many of us are capable of engaging in banter without sounding like moronic teenagers.

@1 But does ‘many’ translate into ‘the majority’?

Yep, that all seems fair enough. I’d only add that in my experience of British universities, most of the time, they mostly do a reasonably good job of providing “a space for people to explore their personalities and their place in the world”. Most of the male students I know do not resemble ‘unilads’. I admit that the lads mag welcome pack anecdote is concerning, however.

“bros before hos”, “fair game”, “wolf pack”

I have never, in 28 years, heard anyone talk like that. Im also quite puzzled as you say this is typical male banter, how can you, or anyone ever define male banter?

Get your head out of your arse and address these people as individuals, rather than bringing 3 billion odd other people into it.

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 2 Clyux

“But does ‘many’ translate into ‘the majority’?”

Of males? I’d imagine so. But even if most men talk this way, I don’t like the way the OP tars all of us with that brush. Dave @4 sums up my feelings about the statement pretty well.

Thanks for the comments. I should make clear that I’m talking about “male banter” in inverted commas – I don’t mean that all men at university talk like this (thankfully!), nor that all jokey exchanges between men are centred around misogyny. In my experience of universities, though, the term “banter” is regularly used to justify unpleasant and misogynistic comments, as in “lighten up, it’s just bants!”, “she knows I don’t mean it, she loves the banter”, etc. Whilst all men don’t think or talk like this, sexist “banter” on campus implicitly assumes that all (real) men think like this, if they’d only admit it.

Of course most of us don’t use this kind of language, but most people don’t like confrontation either and therefore let it pass if someone else does. We should take this language as seriously as we do racist or homophobic slurs rather than tacitly saying that it’s not that bad.

8. orangebooker

When my friends and myself use expressions like ‘bros before hoes’ and such like its usually with a significant degree of self irony. Also I’ve spent time in all-female company and the banter was just as crass as with my lad friends, ‘he’d get it over a car bonnet’ was my personal highlight

I thoroughly agree and it is very refreshing to hear a man writing about this long brushed under the carpet topic as it is usually left up to the women to try to defend against such casual and accepted misogyny which usually leads to shouts of ‘dyke’ as your article states.

It is this kind of acceptable predatory behaviour, quite often influenced from American College Teen flicks (Rules of Attraction 2002) that often condone and promote this behaviour as normal, that I feel has influenced a rise in male attacks on their partners, ex’s and other females in their lives. The last year there seemed to be so many of these attacks, one guy even buried hi ex alive!

This is an issue which needs to be brought in to mainstream debate.

here is a series of links to all the pro-rape, pro-underage sex, ablist, homophobic hideousness on Unilad – they have taken the site down for now, but I have screenshots etc –

https://www.facebook.com/notes/alana-tortuga/complain-about-unilad-and-get-the-pigs-shut-down/160320884079701?notif_t=note_comment

Which university was that Jem? Most university’s (even their union’s) would have the brains to realise, especially for graduate students, that lad’s mags would be more unwelcome than welcome. Indeed, I’d have thought that would have brought about complaints myself.

Have to say, I don’t recognise the culture you describe (after too many years hanging round universities) myself. There may be groups like that, but they are hardly dominant.

Paul,

Of course most of us don’t use this kind of language, but most people don’t like confrontation either and therefore let it pass if someone else does. We should take this language as seriously as we do racist or homophobic slurs rather than tacitly saying that it’s not that bad.

In all cases, the normal response is surely silence – which in most situations reinforces the message this is unacceptable. Confrontation is not the only choice, and the victory over unacceptable language comes when society is so uncomfortable that it will not even laugh at it in shock – which is happening slowly (the majority of the population would not laugh at a racist joke now). Taboos evolve – you cannot force them.

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 9 CameraLady

“It is this kind of acceptable predatory behaviour, quite often influenced from American College Teen flicks (Rules of Attraction 2002) that often condone and promote this behaviour as normal, that I feel has influenced a rise in male attacks on their partners, ex’s and other females in their lives.”

Do you have a source for this rise in attacks? I ask as I find it surprising: I would have thought domestic abuse would be falling as it becomes more and more unacceptable, and attitudes towards marriage change.

As an aside, I found Rules of Attraction to be a deliberately dark and negative film. None of the lead characters come out smelling of roses, least of all the guy with a predatory attitude towards women. It certainly doesn’t seem to endorse such behaviour. I wouldn’t call it a “teen flick” either; that seems to put it in the same category as rom coms and gross-out comedies.

@Chaise Guevara
“Do you have a source for this rise in attacks? I ask as I find it surprising: I would have thought domestic abuse would be falling as it becomes more and more unacceptable, and attitudes towards marriage change.”

This is an excerpt from a recent article:
“The chief constable of Wiltshire, Brian Moore, claims that there are some 25,000 serial domestic abusers at large in the UK. Two women are killed every week in this country by their partners and former partners. Between four and 10 a week commit suicide as a result of domestic abuse and one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime; this is not a small problem. Domestic abuse is often well hidden within the romantic relationship, but serial abusers should not be hidden.”

Whole article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/30/serial-domestic-abusers-register?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038

Last year there was the case of the 8 months pregnant woman raped and stabbed to death by her boyfriends cousin, 2 cases of family man killing his entire family and those are just what I remember off the top of my head. It is a problem. That article is not really about date rape and other predatory behaviour either. That is a whole topic in itself.

The point about Rules of Attraction is normalising behaviour. Many other films do it too even family comedies in a less brutal way. It is a film about teens so I called it a teen flick.

@6 – Ok Jen, but all your proving is that all apples are fruit and not all fruit are apples.

@Chaise Guevara

More info here for you too

http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/pages/news.html

17. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 CameraLady

I agree that domestic abuse is widespread, and obviously it’s an important issue – one attack is too many. I’m just not sure it’s rising. I’m sure an article fairly recently claimed the opposite.

As for Rules of Attraction… of the three lead characters, the one with the predatory attitude comes off worst, and the attitude is shown as one of a group of flaws that hurt everyone around him and eventually wreck his life. It’s also depicted in an unwholesome way throughout, like a perversion or a sickness. I’m honestly not sure where you’re getting the idea that the film condones this behaviour.

The reason I care about this is that if we condemn art for merely portraying bad things, even if they show them to be negative, we end up with an Approved Viewing List that counts the Care Bears as its highest achievement.

Chaise -

As for Rules of Attraction… of the three lead characters, the one with the predatory attitude comes off worst, and the attitude is shown as one of a group of flaws that hurt everyone around him and eventually wreck his life.

Indeed. I’m no big fan of Easton Ellis but I don’t think Rules of Attraction sympathised with its characters’ behaviour any more than American Psycho sympathised with its’. I mean, the lead character is called Shaun Bateman, for heaven’s sake. That’s hardly subtle.

19. Chaise Guevara

@ 18 BenSix

Apparently (my girlfriend tells me) it’s implied in the book of American Pyscho that Shawn is Patrick’s younger brother. A good rule for modern cinema would be “don’t be too quick to side with anyone called Bateman”.

@14. CameraLady

The claim that there are 25,000 serial domestic violence offenders came in a press release prepared by the Association of Chief Police Officers. See:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8362214.stm

I am not arguing whether the number of serial domestic violence offenders is fewer or greater than 25,000. I suggest however that you look for a credible first source.

@ Pops

here is a series of links to all the pro-rape, pro-underage sex, ablist, homophobic hideousness on Unilad – they have taken the site down for now, but I have screenshots etc –

https://www.facebook.com/notes/alana-tortuga/complain-about-unilad-and-get-the-pigs-shut-down/160320884079701?notif_t=note_comment

I was somewhat surprised to see that Alana’s Facebook image comprises a photo of four semi- nude girls.

Which one is she by the way?

Actually it doesn’t matter. Whichever one she is, she’s hot!!!

(Please not that the above is a pastiche intended to illustrate the unfortunately crass and random nature of the male sex drive and does not necessarily reflect the views of the writer)

@Charlieman

“I am not arguing whether the number of serial domestic violence offenders is fewer or greater than 25,000. I suggest however that you look for a credible first source.”

I quoted a guardian article so please take it up with them, we all know how statistics can be construed differently, the point is it’s widespread.

Another piece about acceptable sexist language and the response when challenged politely

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/01/dont-call-me-babe-on-the-bus

23. the a&e charge nurse

[22] the comments (from the article you link to) are almost universally negative, for example;
“Up here in Newcastle I am regularly called “lover”, “lovely” and “pet”. Quite frankly, being called “pet” is demeaning. Rather than a term of endearment and general geordie friendliness, it reduces you – the victim – to the level of a domesticated animal and should be banned immediately. Who can I write to? And can I have a column in the Guardian?”

And …… “Reading so much into what bus drivers call you says a lot more about your sense of self importance than it does about bus drivers”.

Or, “Funny, I just was called “Honey” by the female making a coffee in the local cafe this morning. Obviously, I shall ask to speak with the manager and demand she be retrained. Really, if you are noticing that “people I don’t know and have never met” keep telling you to get a life you can a) carry on regardless or b) re-evaluate your stance. Your choice but remember, most like polite informality and don’t want your sterile world”.

Even guardianistas seem to regard the letter to the bus company as something barely rising above the level of power-whine?

Well said, Jem.

The apologists are out in force, naturally: “It’s nothing we all haven’t said in jest with our mates down the pub”… “Girls do it too, you should hear some of the conversations they have about blokes in their university halls.”

As usual, there is a big difference between saying something casually in a pub and publishing it on the internet. Quite why people can’t grasp this, I really don’t know.

25. So Much For Subtlety

No doubt the writers of Uni Lad would claim they were just saying out loud what every man secretly thinks, and frankly too much of what you hear on campus wouldn’t prove them wrong.

….

If universities cannot provide a space for people to explore their personalities and their place in the world without being told at every turn that they are either a slut or a date rapist, then we need to make some serious changes.

I guess the author does not see the irony in claiming that all man are violent misogynists who think date rape is funny while at the same time decrying the tendency to treat all men as date rapists.

Besides, every turn? If Universities are to provide a space for people to explore their personalities and their place in the world, then that will involve some percentage of young men acting like total tools. How much is too much? Well if the Guardian gets upset about people of an older generation calling women “pet” then perhaps the problem is not with the young men.

This aside, the website contained a wealth of misogyny: one piece advised slamming a woman’s head into the wall during sex “to knock some sense into her”, another describes non-consensual sex as “fun for one”.

Young people will always find out what they are not allowed to say and then they will say it. That used to be rude words, but now even the Right Wing press is happy to print “cunt” without comment. Even the Telegraph does it. The power of that word has gone. You can see with South Park that young people have moved on to find what upsets po-faced lemon sucking old people – and they are mainly misogynistic and racist. It is no surprise that University publications will follow. I have no doubt the Mary Whitehouse tendency will always be with us. It is just a shame it is so self righteous these days and has such power to damage other people’s lives.

I’m sure a lot of us have heard worse “jokes” at university, not whispered between close friends but offered to new acquaintances as an acceptable form of male bonding. The language of male banter – “bros before hos”, “fair game”, “wolf pack” – insists that young men can only connect with each other via a predatory attitude to women.

I have no idea what “wolf pack” even refers to. German submarines? But a phrase like bros before hos does not, as far as I can see, have any predatory attitude at all. It is simply a re-phrasing of claims of sisterhood.

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 24

Um, there hasn’t been a single comment like you describe.

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 23 a&e

I think the whole “diminuative names on the bus” issue is a tricky one. I don’t see any problem with “love”, but I can understand people taking offence at “babe”, “pet” and so on.

On the other hand, these words can be part of people’s standard way of talking. If I was told I should stop calling people “mate”, I’d have to make a serious effort to stop it slipping out automatically. And if saying “mate” was a sacking offence (as it apparently now is for the bus drivers, though I suspect that’s exaggerated), I’d probably be unemployed within a fortnight.

(In case anyone’s reading this and thinking “yeah, and saying ‘coloured’ used to be a standard way of talking”, I mean “pet” and so on are often part of very basic syntax, regardless of the topic.)

28. So Much For Subtlety

14. CameraLady

“The chief constable of Wiltshire, Brian Moore, claims that there are some 25,000 serial domestic abusers at large in the UK.

The British population is some 50 million. So what you’re saying is that roughly 1 in 2,500 fit the description of Brian Moore’s idea of a serial domestic abuser. Or more accurately, he guesses that some 1 in 2,500 of us do.

Not a big problem. Even if there was any reason to think Moore was right.

Two women are killed every week in this country by their partners and former partners.

100 a year out of 50 million. Murder rates are hard to work out in the UK because meddling in the figures. The government admits somewhere around 800 a year. We have an intentional homicide rate of 1.23 per 100,000 which is about that. Of course people tend to kill the people they are around most of the time. Even so, it is clear that British wives are overwhelmingly safe from their husbands.

Between four and 10 a week commit suicide as a result of domestic abuse

A worthless, made up figure.

and one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime;

For various definitions of domestic abuse.

this is not a small problem.

Yes it is. What your figures show is that domestic violence against women is not a big problem in the UK. Not compared to, say, Palestinian women. A quarter of whom report being beaten every year. Not compared to anyone really.

Last year there was the case of the 8 months pregnant woman raped and stabbed to death by her boyfriends cousin, 2 cases of family man killing his entire family and those are just what I remember off the top of my head. It is a problem.

A problem compared to what? Especially as there is no reason to think that misogyny was a factor in the last two cases.

29. So Much For Subtlety

24. Francesca Da Rimini

The apologists are out in force, naturally: “It’s nothing we all haven’t said in jest with our mates down the pub”… “Girls do it too, you should hear some of the conversations they have about blokes in their university halls.”

As usual, there is a big difference between saying something casually in a pub and publishing it on the internet. Quite why people can’t grasp this, I really don’t know.

Sorry to interrupt your one-sided conversation you seem to be having with some other people in a different thread, but perhaps you could take a moment to explain to me why, precisely, it is different on the internet?

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 6

Sorry Jem, meant to reply earlier as there’s a good chance I was one of the people you were responding to:

“Thanks for the comments. I should make clear that I’m talking about “male banter” in inverted commas – I don’t mean that all men at university talk like this (thankfully!), nor that all jokey exchanges between men are centred around misogyny.”

Thanks for the clarification. I certainly agree that some guys do talk like this.

“In my experience of universities, though, the term “banter” is regularly used to justify unpleasant and misogynistic comments, as in “lighten up, it’s just bants!”, “she knows I don’t mean it, she loves the banter”, etc. ”

It’s the timeless bully thing, isn’t it – say something unpleasant or threatening, then say “only joking, only joking!” On the other hand, I’ve seen people (been on the receiving end, in fact) get offended at overhearing something that sounds abusive but is honestly just banter between two friends who know the score.

I think that’s the point, actually: don’t make comments like that to someone who you don’t know very well, then act like the injured party when they take offence.

The irony is, whilst it’s all ‘banter’ to these lads now, when they’re 19 or 20, as they get a bit older and actually get into a proper relationship and actually start to care for someone (other than themselves), they’ll be the first in line demanding to have rapists swinging from a lamp-posts or threatening to shove a pint glass down someone’s throat for saying something that ‘disrespected’ ‘their bird’ or some woman they were drinking with. I doubt it will be just ‘banter’ then.

cf. people making paedophile jokes then slamming on the brakes the moment they have a kid of their own: “if a nonce so much as looks at my kid, I’ll have ‘im”, yet, only the year before, they couldn’t get enough of Gary Glitter jokes.

@22. CameraLady: “I quoted a guardian article so please take it up with them, we all know how statistics can be construed differently, the point is it’s widespread.”

I am not attempting to interpret the statistic of 25,000 alleged serial domestic abusers. I pointed out that you quoted a Guardian article which lifts a quote from a BBC article, which quotes Brian Moore speaking as an ACPO representative. Nowhere can I find out how the figure of 25,000 alleged serial domestic abusers was derived. It just appears to be Brian Moore’s estimate.

Please do not be so casual about evidence or statistics. Domestic violence is a serious problem, but what to do about it (ie how to address the crime) depends on “how many”.

@31

The irony is, whilst it’s all ‘banter’ to these lads now, when they’re 19 or 20, as they get a bit older and actually get into a proper relationship and actually start to care for someone (other than themselves), they’ll be the first in line demanding to have rapists swinging from a lamp-posts or threatening to shove a pint glass down someone’s throat for saying something that ‘disrespected’ ‘their bird’ or some woman they were drinking with. I doubt it will be just ‘banter’ then.

Presumably that’s because the only reference they have for judging what other guys might do/think in any given situation is to look at what they themselves would do/think, and thus see nasty pieces of work crawling about everywhere.

34. Kismet Hardy

Keep uni fees high and let more toffs in, this sort of shite will be the norm all over again mefears. Unis should be about smoking top gear not watching the fucking thing

35. the a&e charge nurse

[27] in the context of the OP presumably the use of such terms (babe, luv, queen, darlin’, princess, etc) is tantamount to a slightly more diluted form of sexual harassment – so that ultimately only gender neutral language will be acceptable?

36. the a&e charge nurse

Don’t forget a climate now exists where toyshop signage is fair game until it is sufficiently compliant with certain cultural expectations – ‘gender apartheid’ must be fought in the shops as well as on the buses and in the Yooneez?
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/12/13/success-hamleys-change-gendered-signs-after-campaign/

It’s very clear from this thread that testosterone should be put on the list of banned substances because of all the trouble it causes.

@33. Cylux: “Presumably that’s because the only reference they have for judging what other guys might do/think in any given situation is to look at what they themselves would do/think, and thus see nasty pieces of work crawling about everywhere.”

That was harsh to Oliver @31. The “growing up and establishing a relationship” phase is assumed to be why some men stop committing stupid offences once they reach the age range 25 to 30 years. Men change, though not perhaps as much as partners and parents wish. I am not arguing that 30+ years men do not commit stupid offences, but the numbers fall and the types of crime changes.

My opinions about laddishness and tolerance in young people are conflicted. Personal experience and opinion survey evidence suggest that young people accept alternative lifestyles (eg unworried by gay and transgendered people), but young people still make crass jokes. (I think that some of us have pursued this on another thread recently about rape jokes.)

Laddishness, oafishness, will normally become tiresome before you are 25 years old. “Was that joke supposed to be funny?” One thing that we can do is to present a world that is funnier; delivering a crack against yourself is emotionally difficult, but it will always get laughs.

Bottom line: the worse taste a joke, the funnier it needs to be to get away with.

That’s the difference. South Park is reliably hilarious, Frankie Boyle is sometimes funny sometimes not, but UniLad (from what I’ve read) was utterly devoid of all humour. So it just looked like what it is: a bunch of wankers fantasising about raping women.

If “Broes before Hoes” then perhaps you may wish to regulate religeons first, which on the whole indoctrinate children from a very young age that women are inferior to man and must obey them….

No?…..

@38 Harsh? I was agreeing with his observation!

@27. Chaise Guevara: “I think the whole “diminuative names on the bus” issue is a tricky one. I don’t see any problem with “love”, but I can understand people taking offence at “babe”, “pet” and so on.”

Chaise, you live in Manchester so if people did not call you “love” the implication would be that there was something weird about you.

Pet, sweetheart, my lovely, mate, chap are used elsewhere in England (no comment about the other nations). I never wish to be called “sir” and feel uncomfortable when so addressed. Babe, as casual address, is a neologism and consequently it as likely to be used between a young female bar maid and an old male codger (to him), as between a bus driver and granny (to her). I have no problems.

Use of language changes, Chaise, Babe. That does not excuse abuse of the reflexive pronoun, “myself”. (I am not accusing Chaise of that particular abuse, by the way.)

If we may not use pet, sweetheart and duck, and feel uncomfortable with “sir” and “madam” (not knowing when to say what), “love” might be perfect in a perfect world; “love” is a very open word. Thankfully, we do not live in a perfect world; we live in the imperfect world of barm cakes, cobs, buns and rolls. Regional difference is what makes us English, and “duck” as an endearment is akin to “barm cake”.

@41. Cylux: “@38 Harsh? I was agreeing with his observation!”

We could debate this point. But, not trying to dodging any argument, I would prefer that Oliver, was in here to post his/her position.

44. Chaise Guevara

@ 42 Charlieman

I agree. I said I can see WHY people take offence, not that I think the terms are actually offensive. I side with the bus drivers on this one, I’m just admitting that I can understand the other view.

I wonder if the negative reaction to words like “love” is connected to people’s memories of workplaces in the 80s and previously (not saying it never happens now), with men being taken seriously by bosses, while women get a patronising putdown followed by “love”. Obviously “love” isn’t the problem in that scenario, but you can see how the assocation would set in.

When it comes to localism, wasn’t there that wonderful event where a cricket player complained that a member of the Austrialian team had called him a “bugger”, resulting in the Aussie manager turning to his team and saying: “OK, which of you buggers called this bugger a bugger?”

@ So Much for Subtlety
@ Chaise Guevara

Sorry guys… just re-read and yeah, it did kind of look like that comment came out of nowehere. That’ll teach me to dash off a quick thought while in the middle of working on other things.

Firstly, you’re right, no one on this thread has made comments like that. I was referring to the larger sphere of debate including twitter and other blogs, not just Liberal Conspiracy. Apologies for not clarifying. And for not reading every single comment before adding my own. Didn’t realise this was a carefully orchestrated conversation – was just adding my thoughts.

Secondly, the differences between saying something casually to friends and publishing it on the internet are various. I think the main one is that when you say something to your friends – as a joke or otherwise – only your friends hear it. They understand the context, the tone, they ‘get it’. That doesn’t necessarily make it ok but it does mean the chances of being taken to task on it are lessened. When you publish something on the internet, anyone and everyone can read it. This includes not only the people who are the subject of the ‘banter’ but many, many others who strongly disagree that making disresepectful, ignorant, discriminatory comments can ever be funny. Which is why it is so absurd when the perpetrators try and use the ‘it’s only what mates say down the pub’ defence.

Then there are the legal implications. In the same way that the free speech on this commets thread is limited that which is no mysogynistic, racist, homophobic, or otherwise abusive, so too is our right to freedom of expression. And never is freedrom of expression more easily monitered than when it is the published word. There are statutes covering alarm, harrassment and distress and there are numerous precedents for hate speech convictions. I’m not saying that these guys are necessarily liable but if someone were to seek legal redress, the evidence would be much easier to compile than if it had been said in a pub, don’t you think?

I suppose that’s more or less what I was getting at, really. My grandma used to say, “don’t write on paper what you don’t want anyone to read,” the point being that if it’s not something you want everyone to see, don’t put it out there. Switch ‘paper’ for ‘digital media’ (or similar) and you’ve got a lesson for life, I think.

@ 43. Charlieman

You’ve confused me now! I thought I had posted my position!

@44. Chaise Guevara: “I wonder if the negative reaction to words like “love” is connected to people’s memories of workplaces in the 80s…”

There is no “formal” English way to address a fellow citizen that is not subservient (not “sir”) . Pet, love, duck are terms that we use to establish ourselves as equals. When we are subservient and wish to maintain boundaries we address “Ms Smith” or “Mr Smith”.

@46. Oliver: “You’ve confused me now! I thought I had posted my position!”

Apologies for confusion. I was following the argument presented @33 by Cylux: “Presumably that’s because the only reference they have for judging what other guys might do/think in any given situation is to look at what they themselves would do/think, and thus see nasty pieces of work crawling about everywhere.”

My take on Cylux’s comment was that young men do not grow up, a position with which I disagree.

@48 Charlieman: I think you ought to re-read Oliver’s original comment, then reflect on what it is you have just described as ‘growing up’. I’m not entirely sure that being quicker to glass someone cos they looked at ‘your bird’ is a sign of maturity.

Talk of sex is drole and filthy.

Lets go back to discussing the invasion of Homosexual antics in our Public domain.

@ 48. Charlieman
@ 49. Cylux

My reply at 46. was initially a lot longer but didn’t think it was necessary and I thought a lot of it was going on a tangent. I suppose I should expand a little bit more, not. Some of these people will ‘grow-up’ in a sense that we all understand, and they’ll probably look back on all this, red-faced, and see their behaviour as we see it: unfunny, crass and less than understanding when it comes to the issue of rape and women generally. They’ll maybe put it down to the idiocy of youth. Others won’t. There always has, and probably always will be a subsection of men who see women as not much more than ‘meat’ which to an extent, over which they have a strange kind of ownership.

However, maybe there is more to this. Perhaps phenomena such as ‘the kidult’ and being unable to leave the familial nest fully (due to socio-economic reasons) have ramifications. As well as the more general notion that, in modern society, people’s roles and place in society are changing, as are how we relate to each other – something that is, allegedly, meant to be more of an issue for males.

Without wishing to sound like a Mary Whitehouse, we also live in a world where, especially for younger people, the envelope appears to be pushed more in every way: humour, films, music, internet content. This has to have an effect, at least on some people, surely?

52. Chaise Guevara

@ 47 Charlieman

“There is no “formal” English way to address a fellow citizen that is not subservient (not “sir”) . ”

Agreed, and if I’m in a shop or whatever I’d much rather be called “love” or “mate” than “sir”. That last one always makes me wince.

@45 – What an arrogant person you appear to be. Its not a “carefully orchestrated conversation”, but I doubt commentaters appreciate words being put in their mouth.

Secondly you were not referring to a larger sphere of debate, you were refering to your own sterotypes, which is amusing considering the nature of the subject.

Show me some data showing the average response to this subject on the internet as a whole, and I’ll of course apologise to you.

Surely you realise why umbridge was taken?

Thirdly, why isnt “Girls do it too, you should hear some of the conversations they have about blokes in their university halls.” a valid point?

Knowing the university discussed in this post, I think all of Jem’s concerns are legitimate. This is the same place that has a ‘Safer Sex Ball’, which promotes promiscuity under the guise of calling attention to STIs and unwanted pregnancies. This may seem unrelated, but when promotional material relating to this year’s ball includes a rape “joke” (presumably approved by RAG committee members before publication), the ethos of this university must be called into question.

“The booklet, dubbed “Shag Mag”, has been withdrawn over the offensive gag, which estimated the number of calories which could be burned tearing off a girl’s clothes without her consent.”

(http://www.thisisexeter.co.uk/Fury-rape-joke-student-ball-magazine/story-13977806-detail/story.html)

55. Chaise Guevara

@ 54 Kate

“This is the same place that has a ‘Safer Sex Ball’, which promotes promiscuity under the guise of calling attention to STIs and unwanted pregnancies. This may seem unrelated”

It does seem unrelated. Keeping the rape jokes as a separate issue, I have no idea why the university (or the SU, or whoever organises this event) should be condemned because it doesn’t agree with your apparent belief that promiscuity is bad. I don’t see why universities should be bastions of puritanism. If students – consenting adults – want to sleep around, that’s frankly none of your business.

56. Chaise Guevara

@ Kate again

Oh, and I’d like to know your basis for claiming that the Safer Sex Ball is promoting “promiscuity under the guise of calling attention to STIs and unwanted pregnancies”. You haven’t provided much information, and it’s very possible that the event has a wink-wink, nudge-nudge attitude towards one-night stands: “Safe sex – and lots of it!” But on the face of it, your comment reminds me of those people who say the exact same thing about sex ed.

I don’t suppose anyone else noticed what Rasputin’s handbag @50 managed to sneak past the mods? Click the link on his name to find out.

I’m basing this on my experience of my time at Exeter University. I love that because I disagree with the actuality of that event (not the public face of it, which is probably as you say ‘wink wink etc’), hundreds of students off their face drunk, (possibly, not always) making bad choices about their sexual partners as a result, you accuse me of puritanism (I would go into the many reasons this is untrue if I felt I needed to defend myself).

I was merely pointing out an instance of another ‘rape joke’ related to Jem’s experience of that university. I find it difficult to understand why people defend and dismiss these instances repeatedly. I also find it difficult to understand why my contribution made you quite so irate.

59. Chaise Guevara

@ 58

“I’m basing this on my experience of my time at Exeter University. I love that because I disagree with the actuality of that event (not the public face of it, which is probably as you say ‘wink wink etc’), hundreds of students off their face drunk, (possibly, not always) making bad choices about their sexual partners as a result, you accuse me of puritanism (I would go into the many reasons this is untrue if I felt I needed to defend myself). ”

Mmm. Except I didn’t say that, did I? I accused you of puritanism because you said that promiscuity was bad. Disapproving of people’s personal choice to enjoy sex in a different way to you is pretty much the definition of puritanism.

“I was merely pointing out an instance of another ‘rape joke’ related to Jem’s experience of that university.”

Again, no. Your post didn’t “merely” give another example of a rape joke, it also attacked people for throwing a party where people might hook up and have sex. A party *that actively promotes safe sex* for that matter, so you appear to be attacking something that is actively a GOOD thing because you have a problem with the choices other people make about their own lives.

“I find it difficult to understand why people defend and dismiss these instances repeatedly. I also find it difficult to understand why my contribution made you quite so irate.”

You’ve been equivocating, so I don’t know whether you’re talking about rape jokes or student parties at this point. You made me irate because I don’t like it when people pass judgement on other people’s choices that don’t affect anyone but the participants.

Other people go out on the pull; you decide that’s somehow offensive, or indecent, or whatever reason you have for labelling it a “bad choice”; you then act as if the uni, SU or whoever should apologise for not encouraging everyone else to act follow your person sexual ethic.

Oh, and you still haven’t said how this event promotes promiscuity.

a. I was talking about rape jokes, not student parties.

I’m sorry, the problem I have isn’t with the choices other people make (further proof that online exchanges don’t convey as well as real conversations), but with the name of the ‘Safer Sex Ball’. Promiscuity in and of itself is not a bad thing (I didn’t actually say that it was), but if it’s going to be a night of kinkiness and fancy dress, that creates an environment, a dialogue, and atmosphere that makes sex more likely, then why not call it what it is. From my experience it’s more like a fetish club, but people shy away from that, thinking sex clubs are somehow taboo- I want more openness if anything.

My comments were related to the hypocrisy of Exeter University, and this is just one instance of it. As is their publicly banning the sports socials that promote and encourage excessive drinking (while letting them carry on).

I should have just posted the link to the article regarding their rape quip in the promotional material, forgive me. I didn’t expect this to be (though I should have) a forum where people were spoiling for an argument.

I have an opinion, based on my experience as an individual at Exeter University and I’m not asking you to share it.

Perhaps it’s best for me not to respond further as you have already decided that I’m a judgemental, teatotal, anti-sex ed, puritan who tries to force my beliefs on everyone I meet!

:)

62. Chaise Guevara

@ 60 Kate

“My comments were related to the hypocrisy of Exeter University, and this is just one instance of it. As is their publicly banning the sports socials that promote and encourage excessive drinking (while letting them carry on). ”

I’m still not seeing the hypocrisy here, even if the event is as kinky as you say. Encouraging safe sex is not the same thing as being anti-sex, so I don’t see the hypocrisy of promoting safe sex while encouraging people to have sex.

As for the sport socials… I don’t know, I’m a long way from Exeter, but could the Uni actually enforce a bad on non-official events?

“Perhaps it’s best for me not to respond further as you have already decided that I’m a judgemental, teatotal, anti-sex ed, puritan who tries to force my beliefs on everyone I meet!”

Only the puritan bit (for the record, when I raised sed ed I was drawing comparisons with your position, not saying you must be anti-sex-ed. To be honest, I kinda assumed you were pro-sex-ed).

If you’re not a puritan, fair enough and I retract it. But I’m not sure what people were supposed to think based on your earlier posts – the first came off as anti-sex, and when I asked for clarification by inquiring about the nature of the party, you ignored the request. I was getting “sex is bad” messages off you and nothing to contradict it. It’s a liberal thread (and yes, quite an argumentative one), so if people say seemingly illiberal things it tends to get a reaction.

How on earth is comment number 4 even appropriate?

Jezebel covered this item and it turned into a sausage whine fest about how the true tragedy of rape culture is that apparently women are mean to men about rape. And they won’t make it all about how hard it is for men! Imagine!

The article also contained the charming phrase, “spread for your head,” or whatever British slang is.

They were basically telling their readers that they should take advantage of rape’s incredibly low conviction rates. This piece doesn’t state that strongly enough, really.

Many thanks for the continuing comments. Ginmar, I agree that the particular article which brought Uni Lad to everyone’s attention was appalling, and clearly advocating (if only as a “joke”) rape. I wanted to throw the focus of this article a bit more widely, though, since media outlets like Jezebel and the BBC have comprehensively covered that specific article, and in this sort of case there’s always a tendency to shrug it off as the work of a few bad people whom everyone disagrees with. Instead of analysing what was definitely an offensive piece, which has already been taken down and apologised for, I think it’s important to draw connections with other aspects of campus culture and misogynistic attitudes in general, to ask what sort of environment led to university students feeling it was acceptable to write this material about their peers. I don’t think this article, or Uni Lad magazine, arrived as a shocking and alien aberration in British university culture, and certainly the whine-fest you identified over at Jezebel’s comment section suggests that there is a significant number of people who would not have written that article but don’t see what the big deal is, and really men are the victims, etc etc


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Tbrcd1jl

  2. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : When ‘lad banter ’ becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/HSmfKI1x

  3. Charli Humm

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Tbrcd1jl

  4. Kirsty Murray

    It sickens me that any1 finds 'jokes' like these acceptable "@libcon: When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/RPua35Xf"

  5. Jem Bloomfield

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Tbrcd1jl

  6. Nicola Chan

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Tbrcd1jl

  7. Yakoub Islam

    When ‘lad banter’ becomes encouragement to rape | Liberal Conspiracy: http://t.co/jxU71hEL via @libcon

  8. sandra baker

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Tbrcd1jl

  9. JC

    Fascinating & troubling piece by @jembloomfield in @libcon: When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/aiFphGKp

  10. Sarah McAlpine

    @libcon pick up on #UniLad. Passing mention of yours truly. http://t.co/T489YLcj

  11. Lanie Ingram

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Tbrcd1jl

  12. Donna Palmer

    RT @libcon: When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/dDY6BV2D applies to all locations, not just unis! @amandamarcott

  13. Jonathan Davis

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Tbrcd1jl

  14. Siobhan Irving

    When ‘lad banter’ becomes encouragement to rape | Liberal Conspiracy: http://t.co/jxU71hEL via @libcon

  15. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – When ‘lad banter’ becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/ZA1F35gu

  16. Sonia

    Liberal Conspiracy – When ‘lad banter’ becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/ZA1F35gu

  17. L

    Fascinating & troubling piece by @jembloomfield in @libcon: When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/aiFphGKp

  18. Jem Bloomfield

    My piece in @libcon about Uni Lad, banter and rape "jokes": http://t.co/fKGr3fY2

  19. LL

    My piece in @libcon about Uni Lad, banter and rape "jokes": http://t.co/fKGr3fY2

  20. Samantha Johnston

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Tbrcd1jl

  21. Janet Graham

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Tbrcd1jl

  22. Donna Palmer

    RT @libcon: When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/dDY6BV2D applies to all locations, not just unis! @AmandaMarcotte

  23. Samira Shackle

    Great blog @libcon: When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/XiOPNgM7

  24. Luke

    RT @sunny_hundal: How ‘lad banter’ by a university mag became encouragement to rape http://t.co/nhIWSmKO @jembloomfield

  25. Maura Pavalow

    #UK : When ‘lad banter ’ becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/HSmfKI1x

  26. Maura Pavalow

    “@PatronPress: #UK : When ‘lad banter ’ becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/2EchmjTZ” @barneysmyth

  27. Mairwynne Watson

    Some food for thought, courtesy of @criminology4u ; http://t.co/gcDAmayi"

  28. kpcronin

    RT @libcon When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/2hnMqDbb < I actually pity those behind #uniladmag

  29. Jem Bloomfield

    Repost: My piece in @libcon on Uni Lad, banter and rape "jokes": http://t.co/fKGr3fY2

  30. Sarah B

    RT @libcon When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/2hnMqDbb < I actually pity those behind #uniladmag

  31. Glenn Stanza

    When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape | Liberal … http://t.co/Y6dXiYfW

  32. Jason Brickley

    When ‘lad banter’ becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/Q8CsnniZ

  33. Jem Bloomfield

    Now with BTL wrangling: my piece at Liberal Conspiracy "When lad banter becomes encouragement to rape": http://t.co/fKGr3fY2

  34. Mark Carrigan

    Only "fucking PC faggots” and "dykes" complain about rape jokes http://t.co/qmfD101M

  35. Scarleteen

    When ‘lad banter’ becomes encouragement to rape | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/DpW9UCel

  36. Sex Ed Australia

    When ‘lad banter’ becomes encouragement to rape | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/DpW9UCel

  37. Genders of the world unite! | The Tasneem Project

    [...] were convicted of rape during the same period. According to the political right, there is no link between porn/laddism and these alarming [...]

  38. Anubis

    RT @libcon When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/2hnMqDbb < I actually pity those behind #uniladmag

  39. Gender Agenda

    RT @libcon When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/2hnMqDbb < I actually pity those behind #uniladmag

  40. Dr Dusty

    RT @libcon When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/2hnMqDbb < I actually pity those behind #uniladmag

  41. Copy Starling

    RT @libcon When 'lad banter' becomes encouragement to rape http://t.co/2hnMqDbb < I actually pity those behind #uniladmag





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