The Feminist Society’s lad culture conference

Dr Marian Duggan and Dr Phil Hubbard. Photo by: Josh Hards

Dr Marian Duggan and Dr Phil Hubbard. Photo by: Josh Hards

As part of International Women’s Day, the Feminist Society at the University of Kent (UKC) presented a conference on the topic of “lad culture”. The conference included two guest speakers, Dr Hubbard and Dr Duggan, both researchers of gender and “lad culture”. The event was successful, with a full room of a near 50/50 gender split.

Dr Hubbard introduced the topic and focused predominantly upon lad culture on campus and the marketisation of laddish behaviour. A “lad”, according to Dr Hubbard, can be described as someone who places a heavy focus upon “drinking, heterosexuality, ‘scoring’ with women and a cavalier attitude to academic studies”. It is a form of “aggressive masculinity” and as such can lead to a casual acceptance of sexual harassment and sexism.

Dr Hubbard further believes that Carnage: a marketised bar crawl, greatly encourages gender stereotypes and “laddish behaviour” with a “be there or you’re going to miss out” approach. In these instances binge drinking is normalised and “showing you can handle your drink” is attributed to being manly. Women find themselves in a lose-lose situation as choosing not to participate brings forth judgement, however, participating means conforming to sexualised behaviour and clothing which also leads to judgement. Dr Hubbard argued that lad culture is so ingrained within university life that simply removing Carnage won’t cure the whole problem.

Dr Duggan’s belief is that we should work not to eradicate lad culture altogether, as this simply isn’t possible, instead we should learn how to “mediate it into something better”. Dr Duggan focused upon the abuse and rape caused by laddish behaviour’s encouragement of such actions and referenced to this analogy about consent.

Dr Duggan believes that through educating the young, “debunking harmful stereotypes… creating active bystanders… [and] teaching what consent means”, we have the power to bring in a “New Lad”. A lad who is righteous, caring and responsible for their own actions.

Overall, the conference was a great success and covered a large range of topics regarding lad culture. During the final Q & A, students were encouraged to speak out and engage with Dr Hubbard’s and Dr Duggan’s beliefs, whether in agreement or disagreement.


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