Sexual violence in HE – papers

Lad culture, rape culture and everyday sexism (with Jessica Ringrose, Emma Renold and Carolyn Jackson)

This paper was co-authored as the introduction to a Special Issue of Journal of Gender Studies we co-edited on the same topic. The Special Issue contains papers by Lida Ahmad and Priscyll Anctil Avoine, Lesley McMillan, Shweta Majumdar and Shreyasi Jha, Ruth Lewis, Susan Marine and Kathryn Kenney, Alyssa Nicollini, Kaitlynn Mendes, Jessalyn Keller and Jessica Ringrose, and Emma Renold.

The published version of this paper is available here.

(Re)theorising laddish masculinities in higher education

Abstract: In the context of renewed debates and interest in this area, this paper reframes the theoretical agenda around laddish masculinities in UK higher education, and similar masculinities overseas. These can be contextualised within consumerist neoliberal rationalities, the neoconservative backlash against feminism and other social justice movements, and the postfeminist belief that women are winning the ‘battle of the sexes’. Contemporary discussions of ‘lad culture’ have rightly centred sexism and men’s violence against women: however, we need a more intersectional analysis. In the UK a key intersecting category is social class, and there is evidence that while working-class articulations of laddism proceed from being dominated within alienating education systems, middle-class and elite versions are a reaction to feeling dominated due to a loss of gender, class and race privilege. These are important differences, and we need to know more about the conditions which shape and produce particular performances of laddism, in interaction with masculinities articulated by other social groups. It is perhaps unhelpful, therefore, to collapse these social positions and identities under the banner of ‘lad culture’, as has been done in the past.

The published version of this paper is available here.

‘Lad culture’ in higher education: agency in the ‘sexualisation’ debates (with Isabel Young)

Abstract: This paper reports on research funded by the National Union of Students, which explored women students’ experiences of ‘lad culture’ through focus groups and interviews. We found that although laddism is only one of various potential masculinities, for our participants it dominated social and sexual spheres of university life in problematic ways. However, their objections to laddish behaviours did not support contemporary models of ‘sexual panic’, even while oppugning the more simplistic celebrations of young women’s empowerment which have been observed in debates about sexualisation. We argue that in their ability to reject ‘lad culture’, our respondents expressed a form of agency which is often invisibilised in sexualisation discussions and which could be harnessed to tackle some of the issues we uncovered.

The published version of this paper is available here.

Neoliberalisation and ‘lad cultures’ in higher education (with Isabel Young)

Abstract: This paper links HE neoliberalisation and ‘lad cultures’, drawing on interviews and focus groups with women students. We argue that retro-sexist ‘laddish’ forms of masculine competitiveness and misogyny have been reshaped by neoliberal rationalities to become modes of consumerist sexualised audit. We also suggest that neoliberal frameworks scaffold an individualistic and adversarial culture among young people that interacts with perceived threats to men’s privilege and intensifies attempts to put women in their place through misogyny and sexual harassment. Furthermore, ‘lad cultures’, sexism and sexual harassment in higher education may be invisibilised by institutions to preserve marketability in a neoliberal context. In response, we ask if we might foster dialogue and partnership between feminist and anti-marketisation politics.

The published version of this paper is available here.