Death of Laddism Parade

// 23 November 2008

Firstly – well done to the 2,000 women who filled the streets of London to Reclaim the Night last night!!

Secondly, capitalising on its success, there has been talk amongst various feminists, including those from the London Feminist Network, Object and the London Pro-Feminist Men’s Group, of organizing a ‘Death of Laddism’ parade.

The purpose would be to challenge the notion that laddism defines men (indeed is offensive to them), and rally round the anger at high profile ‘laddish’ behaviour such as the recent Brand/Ross controversy. Planning has yet to get off the ground in a formal sense, but ideas being batted around have included a New Orleans-style ‘funeral for the lad’ parade, a positive, fun parade asking “what would your life be like without sexism”?

If you’d like to be involved, everyone is welcome and the more hands the better. A yahoo group has been set up for those who’d like to help.

Sarah, who set up the yahoo group, says:

The aim of the parade is to challenge heterosexual middle-class white male privilege, and anyone, however they identify themselves, as long as they are also against heterosexual middle-class white male privilege, is welcome to take part.

Have fun!

Comments From You

Ruth // Posted 23 November 2008 at 8:31 pm

Is “laddism” about *middle-class* male privilege? The use of the tem always seems to me to have a distinct edge of snobbery towards so-called ‘chavs’…

james // Posted 23 November 2008 at 9:55 pm

Why middle-class? Aren’t the middle-class oppressed by the upper-class? It’s not as it they’re right at the very top.

Giuseppe // Posted 24 November 2008 at 9:29 am

“against heterosexual middle-class white male privilege”

Always going for the easy target!

nick // Posted 24 November 2008 at 2:31 pm

so is this march anti-men ? pro-men ?

…….I’m white, I’m male….does this mean I am evil ??? …..I like football,

play golf, happily married, go out to the pub ……..I dont fight and I avoid trouble……..am I privileged doing these things ?????

Jess // Posted 24 November 2008 at 3:19 pm

@nick – the answer is yes, you are privileged doing those things. There’s nothing ‘evil’ about being privileged – we almost all of us benefit from privilege – I benefit from white privilege and class privilege, for example.

It’s not our individual faults that the world is set up the way it is, and systematic problems such as sexism, racism, etc, exist. But we do have a responsibility to know that we don’t all start from a level playing field and act accordingly.

You might want to take a look at the Male Privilege Checklist put together by Barry Deutsch to get an idea what we mean when we talk about male privilege.

Sabre // Posted 24 November 2008 at 3:59 pm

I’m very uncomfortable about this. I don’t think most aspects of ‘laddism’ are bad, watching footie, drinking beer etc are not bad things. And if some men want to play the field, that’s their choice. Likewise I would defend the right of any woman to behave ‘laddishly’.

The targetting of any particular class/demographic must be done VERY carefully if it has to be done at all. The definition of ‘lad’ must be crystal clear. Otherwise you risk just targetting a demographic unfairly.

The very term ‘Funeral for the lad’ is awful. It sounds extremely anti-man and doesn’t sound like a move towards gender equality to me.

The whole concept is confusing

Louise Livesey // Posted 24 November 2008 at 4:09 pm

Yep it’s such an easy target isn’t it, you know, attacking those on behalf of whom power is most often exercised. Yep so easy. Because heterosexual, middle-class, white men have to face homophobia, poverty, classism, racism and sexism on a daily basis and because they don’t, for a moment, benefit from heteronormativity, classism, white privilege or male privilege at all.

If you are serious about changing the world you have to accept your role in it and how you benefit from existing power structures first. Then you can work out how to make a difference.

So here’s the challenge this march sends out – are you ready to accept that changing the world will mean that as a white, heterosexual, middle class male you have to make changes, to stop assuming privilege and to share the power you have or challenge the way power is used? Are you ready for that?

Lynne Miles // Posted 24 November 2008 at 5:08 pm

Uh. Sorry if this wasn’t clear enough in what I posted, but the point is for men to stand alongside women and say that the ‘lad’ (as a stereotypical set of gendered, sexist behaviours in men) is not representative of men, and that we reject it both as a behaviour and as a lazy label for how men *are*.

So, Nick, if you don’t believe that the ‘lad’ is you, and that that type of behaviour is sexist, unpleasant or whatever, come stand alongside others and say it out loud.

This is (I thought, obviously) *not* a ‘death to men’ march!

And, what Louise and Jess said! The first step is recognizing your privilege, then you need to act to reduce it….

Amity // Posted 24 November 2008 at 6:53 pm

I think the problem is that not all behaviours that are typically ‘laddish’ are anti-feminist or harmful to women. As Sabre already pointed out, things like drinking beer and enjoying sports are not negative in and of themselves. Certainly some of those who drink beer and watch sports behave badly and treat women poorly but we’d be getting into dangerous ‘blind stereotyping’ issues if we just grouped all ‘laddish’ behaviours into one negative entity and then used a term as strong as “death to laddism” to vilify those who participate in things that are generally considered laddish.

Besides that, it makes it appear that women would be frowned upon if they were to participate in ‘laddish’ activities, whatever those are.

Would you care to clarify what laddism is and entails, exactly?

Ellie // Posted 24 November 2008 at 7:10 pm

I do have to ask, why middle class? Lads can be working class too, you don’t have to tiptoe around that fact just cus you’re middle class and don’t want to be accused of looking down on the working classes or whatever.

Colin // Posted 24 November 2008 at 7:23 pm

As someone who did their undergraduate dissertation on lad culture (albeit 10 years ago now), I’ve always taken it to be a middle-class take on the stereotypes of ‘traditional’ working-class masculinity. This kind of behaviour was somehow seen as more ‘authentic’, yet at the same time was alledgedly wreathed in post-modern ‘irony’ (which basically seems to boil down to “It’s just a joke, darlin’…”etc).

The highwater mark of it all seemed to come to in about 1996 (which was a crap year to be a pro-feminist man, with seemingly all the nation’s media telling us exactly how much less attractive we were to the opposite sex than the lovely Liam Gallagher…). Mind you, it’s still with us today, of course. And there’s a certain type of thinking in women’s mags (More! is one of the biggest culprits), that basically says laddish behaviour is the ‘norm’ for men, and that girls should really just accept it.

The most intriguing thing about the whole Brand/Ross unpleasantness is how Brand has pretty much got away with some appallingly sexist (and typically laddish) behaviour by dressing himself up in a camp, foppish, pseudo-intellectual manner. I’m truly amazed (and, if I’m honest, rather depressed) by the number of women who seem to think he’s done nothing wrong. Let’s face it, though – a male chauvinist in eyeliner is still a male chauvinist.

Anne Onne // Posted 24 November 2008 at 7:59 pm

James: Thing is, there are a lot more middle class people than there are upper class people, and the upper echelons of power are shared amongst the two. Middle class people aren’t as fortunate as upper class people, but I think it would be a bit of a stretch to call them oppressed in any meaningful way, since to be middle class is to have many elementary rights or privileges that lower class people don’t have. Middle class people may not have yachts or go on holiday three times a year to their exclusive summer houses, and may not be able to send their kids to Eton, but that does not make them oppressed, but less privileged, being somewhere in the upper middle of the scale rather than right at the top.

I do think ‘lad’ brings up lower-class connotations, and that we should be careful how we use the term, but I’m suspecting that they are referring to the negative aspects of ‘laddish behaviour’ as in the macho ‘manly’ behaviour that has increased amongs all classes of men. This behaviour is often dismissed as ‘boys being boys’ or just ‘being a lad’, and I can see what image they were going for (catcalling, harassment, pressuring women, macho posturing, playing unfunny and offensive pranks, and generally having little empathy or respect for fellow humans).

I don’t think that it’s particularly ambiguous, because it’s called ‘Death of LaddISM’, which is clearly focused on a behaviour, not an individual.

Nick, actually, you are privileged: You get to watch football without people assuming you don’t know the offside rule and are just watching to stare at hunks. You’re happily married, but you have the right to a divorce, and are statistically unlikely to be raped or abused, and unlikely to be forced into marriage or kept married against your will. You have the privilege of going to the pub without being groped, harassed, followed or raped. You have the privilege of being able to avoid fights or trouble, because you can get out of a bad area, or have faith that the police would help you. And Golf is a rich person’s game, so…

These things aren’t specifically relevant to ‘lad’ culture, or the negative behaviours associated with certain men, but since you were unclear how you are privileged, I thought I’d explain.

The march is pro-men. It’s pro- men who don’t define themselves by how ‘manly’ they are, how much they can disrespect women or how little empathy they have.

The fact that the Pro-Feminist Men’s network is organising it is a clue. Pro-feminist men aren’t pro-feminists because they hate men or hate themselves, but because they think that the way culture defines men is an insult to their intelligence, their integrity, their empathy, and the respect they have for women.

Sabre: but then, are they unique to ‘lads’? Many people who watch football or drink beer, or even have casual sex wouldn’t define themselves as lads (or ladettes), and I would have thought the implication would be the negative behavior that is often dismissed as simply being what lads do that is being addressed, because often people who define as ‘lads’ do these things. I guess it all comes down to what we define as ‘laddism’, but I got the impression it was the ‘guys get to play around and disrespect everybody’ behaviour that was being targeted.

Though it is important to make it clear because most people would be immediately defensive (isn’t privilege wonderful?) and think it’s all about curtailing men’s god-given rights to do whatever they want.

James // Posted 25 November 2008 at 9:12 am

“You get to watch football without people assuming you don’t know the offside rule and are just watching to stare at hunks.”

Oh the pain of apparently being a woman. I watch women’s beach volleyball. Why on Earth would I be offended if someone assumed I watched it for the half naked women, which I do but that’s not the point.

“You have the privilege of going to the pub without being groped, harassed, followed or raped. ”

No but are way more likely to be murdered which is worse then all those things combined.

Sabre // Posted 25 November 2008 at 11:16 am

To clarify my ealier comment a bit:

I understand that the ‘lad culture’ is not good in that it can encourage sexism, chauvinism, arrogance etc. It also is a crap standard that is imposed on men. I’m pleased thet the Pro-Feminists Mens network want to do something to redress this culture as many aspects of it are deplorable. I’m no fan of laddish behaviour (in men or women) when it results in lack of respect for women, other classes, races, or just anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the laddish ideal. Jonathon Ross is a twit, always has been (he regularly harasses or makes lewd comments to beautiful women guests on the show, even when they are clearly uncomfortable).

It is good for people (all of us, not just men) to look hard at our privileges instead of denying them. Men certainly have the most privilege.

The problem I had was that the concept of the parade/march/activity was muddled. I can understand what’s trying to be achieved, but most people will just see it as an anti-man rant if it’s not worded more carefully. It’s not clear whether it’s against laddish BEHAVIOUR or just lads. And what laddish behaviour is, and which aspects are being opposed.

I think that if the organisers want to have maximum impact they need to be clearer about the aim of the parade. My boyfriend (white, middle class, likes football, drinks beer) would be immediately alienated by this, despite being a feminist supporter and totally disgusted by lad mags.

Perhaps a parade isn’t the most appropriate way to tackle laddish culture, and the phrase ‘death to’ implies a religious fervour that makes me uncomfortable.

Rachel // Posted 25 November 2008 at 12:28 pm

@ Anne,

I’d have thought it was important to clarify what laddism is so that people actually know what the protest is against, rather than anything to do with privilege. As these comments have shown, a lot of people seem unsure what it is that people are objecting to which, if it wasn’t made clear by the time the march took place, would render the whole thing somewhat pointless. As you said, the implication does seem to be nuts/zoo style masculinity, but I’d have assumed that one of the main points of a march like this would be to raise awareness of ‘laddism’ as a problem. One of the problems here, I think, is the meaning of the word ‘lad’ in different parts of the country – if London based feminists use the word, it means someone who has a certain negative attitute towards women, if people in the North, particularly if they don’t really take a particular interest in gender issues, use it, it means any man under the age of about 30. I’m not claiming no-one in the north knows this connotation of the word, I’m saying the fact that not everyone has the same understanding of the word as you means that it has to be properly defined.

Similarly, I can see why Nick wouldn’t be aware he was ‘privileged’ – I have a real problem with the word being used in this context. The list of privileges you assume he has are things which everyone should be able to take for granted. I know this is the point, and that many people don’t, which is why they could be described as a privilege, but a privilege, by definition, is something which you have that makes you luckier than the norm, meaning that in this context, you think that e.g. being raped on the way home from the pub, if you’re a woman, is the norm. This kind of normalisation of violence against women helps no-one, and has implications for the fight against privilege of this kind. As with the word lad, unless you’re particularly interested in feminism, anti-racism, gay rights, etc, you’ll have a different understanding of the word. According to this definition, the abolition of privilege doesn’t mean that everyone gets agency and respect, it means that people have their privileges taken away from them, and you can see how people would be unwilling to get on board with a campaign which they (albeit wrongly) think is going to try and oppress them.

Leigh // Posted 25 November 2008 at 4:41 pm

More of this please, men of the world

Lynne Miles // Posted 25 November 2008 at 7:21 pm

Can I just say on behalf of the people who are talking about planning this parade (of which I’m not one) that this is in the VERY early stages. I feel like I’ve exposed them to unfair criticism of their concept when there has been no formal meeting on this and no more than a quick toss round of ideas on a mailing list . There was a conscious decision not to think much more about it until after RTN because people were busy. The ONLY concreted decisions that have been made so far is that some people are going to form a group to oragnise some kind of action in opposition sexist ‘lad culture’.

So these are valid concerns and issues, but I’m sure that those who eventually get involved will be addressing them.

The point of my posting wasn’t to say “there’s going to be a parade and this is what it’s about” it was to say “some people are thinking about organizing this, if you’d like to be involved they’d like your input”. So sorry if I’ve muddled things and presented this group of people unfairly.

Sabre // Posted 26 November 2008 at 9:59 am

@ Lynne Miles

Hopefully the organisers can use the constructively-intended comments on this post when planning their activity. From your post it does seem like the idea is a bit further along the planning stage if there’s a Yahoo group and they’re asking for volunteers.

:-)

Qubit // Posted 26 November 2008 at 11:02 am

On the football thing, I remember watching some stand up comedy on Paramount which involved the comedian announcing he was a gay person of Pakistani heritage and liked football and to imagine how hellish that would be at games. (Sadly I can’t remember the guys name because he was very good.) The audience laughed and seemed to agree.

Now what I associate with laddism is the culture that would make race, sexual orientation or gender difficult for being a football fan. It seems to be a culture a large proportion of people acknowledge/believe exists. The comedian in question was trying to break out into main stream comedy and was being shown on what is a main stream channel.

If you agree that it would be tough being non-white or gay at a football game (and I don’t like football so can only speculate) then you have to think that there is some privilege that you can go without these difficulties because others can’t. It shouldn’t be a privilege because everyone should be able to feel comfortable but this is the case for many things which are a privilege. For example walking home alone at night and not being blamed if you are attacked shouldn’t be a privilege but a lot of people can’t so it is. Similarly going out and drinking and not being to blame if someone spikes your drink or rapes you shouldn’t be a privilege but again it is in a lot of cases.

I don’t think laddism is about drinking, watching football etc. Lots of people do that. I feel laddism is the culture which makes you feel uncomfortable to participate in these activities unless you are white, straight and male and occasionally feel uncomfortable for existing unless you are white, straight and male. I think this behaviour happens in all classes although is more frowned upon in working class, then middle class with it being considered acceptable in the upper classes (possibly because they can pay people off).

Cara // Posted 26 November 2008 at 12:20 pm

‘You get to watch football without people assuming you don’t know the offside rule and are just watching to stare at hunks.’

I have a friend who is into football and never gets that; in fact, most men like that she is one of ‘the lads’. I for one wish that kind of man bothered to have other subjects of conversation than football…don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with football but I have no interest in it personally and don’t wish to feel I should. On the other hand this friend hates how she is often seen as mate and not girlfriend material, or even assumed to be a lesbian (she is not) *sighs* come on, less Mars and Venus crap, we are all PEOPLE after all!

I dunno – yeah middle-class sounded wrong to me too…don’t disagree with what Anne said, obviously relative to working class people, middle class people are priveleged – but relative to upper class people we are not. I work in the civil service and am not fast stream but know people who are, who hate mixing with other fast streamers as they are so ‘rah’ and saying toilet not loo is a heinous offence *rolls eyes*.

Colin, well said. Liam Gallagher is a moron. And that type of man is definitely not attractive to me for one :-)

Oh and this sounds like a good idea. I don’t think it sounds anti-men at all…why? *Individual men* are different to *masculinity* after all.

nick // Posted 26 November 2008 at 2:12 pm

Ok…..more thoughts about this…

does laddish behaviour = loutish behaviour ??

I will support any action that stops people being violent towards eath other,

who have no regard for peoples property,that vandalise, destroy, steal,

who are racist, sexist , drug dealing,

pimps …and so on …….does Death to Laddism = Respect for All ???

thats whats so important ….people have no respect for each other …..

I dont know why …but we have as a society lost our way ……

nick // Posted 26 November 2008 at 2:22 pm

Response to Anne O ….

I’m privileged in doing all those things listed …..so is my wife ….she plays golf with me ….I have never been to a club that has discriminated her, she goes to football and rugby with me …

she goes to the pub with me ….

she can go to the pub without me …

I am privileged that I live in a house …

as opposed to being homeless ……

but thats a choice I/we have made …

as for me not being groped or harrassed ….well…yes I have ….have you not seen groups of women in pubs and clubs together ??? they can be as

sexist and drunk as groups of ‘lads’ …….is there not a national problem….certainley in Wales …that women are drinking more than men ? ….Lads and Ladettes …

bad as each other ???? ……..

Ellie // Posted 26 November 2008 at 3:53 pm

@ Cara

I don’t think the you can equalte laddishness with masculinity. One of the things that annoys and alienates me most from other feminists is their insistance that masculinity is a negative thing and I’m pretty ‘radical’, politically speaking. If one was to approach this with the attitude that laddism=masculinity then it would alienate a hell of a lot of people.

Sabre // Posted 26 November 2008 at 4:45 pm

@ nick

‘I am privileged that I live in a house …

as opposed to being homeless ……

but thats a choice I/we have made’

Does that mean homeless people are homeless by choice? Oh how silly of them. You contradicted yourself there, by recognising your privilege to live in a house.. and then indicating that you actually think homelessness is down to poor decision-making (so not recognising your privilege at all) Yes if someone’s homeless it’s all their own fault isn’t it?

‘as for me not being groped or harrassed ….well…yes I have ….have you not seen groups of women in pubs and clubs together ??? they can be as

sexist and drunk as groups of ‘lads’

Yes, but those lads are very unlikely to feel a fear of being followed home, raped, mugged or even killed by a ‘sexist drunk woman’. On the surface it may look like the same behaviour but the underlying threat/fear and power-structure is very different.

Anne Onne // Posted 27 November 2008 at 12:26 pm

@James: Yes, but you choose to have no interest in the sport. You don’t have to be offended for something to be offensive for everyone else. And if you’re otherwise favoured by society, I can see why one small assumption wouldn’t offend you, though I believe the patriarchy framing men as tits-obsessed buffoons is insulting to them.

It is insulting if you DO have an interest in a sport, to have everyone assume you are ignorant of everything just because you lack the required chromosome is insulting. why should anybody assume because of your gender that you lack the ability to understand a sport?

And that’s without the context that men watching for tits is seen as laudable, something that makes them a man, whereas women are shallow frivolous bitches for doing the same thing.

Also, murder is worse, therefore all the much more frequent abuses women suffer are meaningless? 1 in 3 women globally will be abused or raped, and the number in the UK is not estimated to be much lower. Groping is something nearly EVERY woman faces. We face street harassment on a nearly daily basis, stalking by abusive ex partners or random weirdos much more often than men do, and the main cause of death for pregnant women is murder.

Sure, men are more likely to be killed by other men. Because of the macho stereotypes that also lead men to kill women. Gang-related crimes tend to feature men, since men/boys make up the majority of gang members. And most criminals are men, too. The point is that although murder IS the most serious crime, that does not mean that the others, occuring far more fequently, and affecting more of the population, are less important or less of a problem.

Besides, I’d like to see a more detailed breakdown of crimes. The Government did report that ‘Young men, aged 16 to 24, were most at risk of being a victim of violent crime in 2005/06; 12.6 per cent experienced a violent crime of some sort in the year prior to their

BCS interview.’ (Crime in England And Wales 2005/6 report found here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/hosb1206.pdf) but they admit defining violent crime as ‘from murder to pushing and shoving that result in no physical harm, as well as sexual offences and robbery. In addition, the degree of violence varies considerably between incidents even within the same crime classification. A large proportion of violence results in

no injury.’ Which does not necessarily mean men are worse off than women, considering someone is much more likely to report a robbery than a rape, even if it would be unlikely to catch the killer of either.

@ Rachel: Yes, it is important. I’m not saying that I believe this would be the best way to go about it (and it only seems to be an idea at this point, so there’s no guarantee that the eind result would be anything like our fears),and it’s very interesting that the way the word ‘lad’ is interpreted varies a lot.

The problem with the idea of privilege is that men also have lots of negative privilege in subtle ways, too, but I just didn’t bring them up. Men are taught to take the initiative and pressure women in many ways, from interrupting, to being considered the default, to the expectation that women will do the housework/look after the kids. I understand why people might not initially be aware they have privilege, which I why I point out what is privileged about their viewpoint. In the end, being a successful ally means recognising your privilege and countering it. Yes, it feels offensive and hurtful when you first have someone tell you to ‘check your privilege’, but it’s like teething or being a teenager. There’s nothing unusual about being defensive when met with an accusation of being privileged, it’s human nature. But it’s necessary, if someone wants to be a decent person, to try and confront what privileges we have, and recognise which are positive privileges we all deserve (freedom from rape, equal work rights, equal parenting), and which we need to give up (ability to rape with impunity, social approval, advantage at work,etc). I’m not saying it’s easy to make this journey, and I salute all would-be allies who do want to understand. I just also understand why experienced feminists don’t feel the need to chew up and deliver all this on a plate, because trying to do the right thing should be the default, not something the privileged get praised for. I admit it’s not always easy for me on LGBTQI subjects or issues of race, especially at the begining, because I had no idea how much privilege I have. But I respect the people who called me out on my ignorance and put issues bluntly on the table.

Unfortunately, more often than not, privileged parties miss the unfair advantage they have, because it’s what they’re used to. Because learning to let go of privilege means more responsibility, less easy ways out. Because it means not being favoured or special. Because it means more competition, less people you know are going to do worse than you.

@Cara: It’s hard to say. I agree that the upper class are definitely very privilege over the middle class, especially when we’re talking about the super-rich. As an immigrant, I can’t say I’ve ever had much to do with the upper class, but I get that they’re irritating. I’ve had friends who are infuriated by rich spoiled brats who can’t apply themselves to anything because they’ve grown up having (usually) daddy’s money solve everything.

It’s just that, when there are so many really basic rights that middle class people do (I’m one of them, I admit) and working class people and refugees etc don’t, it feels much bigger a divide than that between the middle classes and upper classes, much more essential. Whether I have a yacht or not, or join the best clubs or have the most overpaid job isn’t as big an issue as whether my working class friend can afford to rent a house let alone buy one, whether she gets paid more than minimum wage for a job, whether there is any help out there if she needs to leave her partner. It’s not that I don’t think the upper class are very, very privileged (they are) it’s that as a whole, they and the middle class have both got so many basic privileges that the working class deserve. Nobody ‘deserves’ a yacht, but everybody deserves a chance at decent education, somewhere to live, a job that pays more than peanuts etc. I agree with you, but I think the reason why activists focus on middle classes (in addition to upper classes) is because together they make up much bigger proportion of the population than purely the working class, and that both have lots of basic rights that working class people deserve.

@ nick: Women do grope and harass, but men are less likely to be followed home and raped by these women. Men have the physical advantage, as well as the advantage of society being built to accomodate them the most, that puts this in perspective.

@Ellie: but for many people masculinity IS being loud, sexist and violent. I agree that masculinity should be something else, that my definition is different and not based on sexism or violence, but for many people, it boils down to just that, though they don’t realise it.

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds