Laddism is a sociological phenomenon which started being theorised during the late 60s surrounding young working-class boys and how they differed compared to the proletariats of society. Lads commonly would use slang language and would find enjoyment out of being boisterous. This kind of behaviour derived from a lot of trying to be manly and wanting to prove that they were strong men who were not afraid of anything. Now, as much as society has come a long way since then, and Feminism has led to female progress so that it is no longer just men that go for high-end jobs. However, I must admit that I still feel there to be a big expectation among young boys that they must be strong and do wild things to make them appealing to not only girls but to other guys who are their friends to stay “cool.”
It seems like old news that to seem “cool” at school you should puff on cigarettes or try a little weed, but things are different now, it’s more than just having a puff on one cigarette, there is so much more pressure than that. I see boys as young as 10 on my street corner shouting abuse at other kids and smoking all the time, it’s nothing new, but what is new, is the new job that young lads have of distributing drugs on the street, especially when it comes to using social media apps to aid them such as Instagram and Snapchat. Stacey Dooley investigated the subject in a BBC documentary and found that young people all over the UK are in fact being used and indoctrinated by elder drug dealers to distribute drugs online using social media platforms in exchange for free drugs or money. These drugs are not small amounts either, often they are worth a lot of money and the people selling them are no older than say 15 on average.
Laddism in the modern age is seen as something not necessarily aspirational anymore, but certainly, something to fear and something that can make you very street smart. Taking drugs and doing so online where many can see you now gains you respect, levels as a lad, and I think as old-school as it sounds, it is so easy to get hurt taking drugs and with the ease of access, it is easier than ever to get hooked like many young lads do. I’ve seen people even in and around my own life get sent down for drugs just because it made them feel cool or gained them some extra pounds.
The reason I want to discuss how lad culture has its dangers is because the culture of being boisterous and strong will never go away, but we can certainly make it known to the young boys in our society that to be respected and cared about, you do not need to go selling yourself up the river where danger lurks just to earn a few bobs. In the same way, however, sexual taunts and the idea of sex in today’s society has been so distorted that it seems it’s a game for young guys to play, and this needs to be changed too.
Sex education is not taught in schools the way it needs to be, and as a young person at 18 I can tell you that with straight honesty. Young boys are no longer expecting girls to be like they are in p o r n movies, and of course this is good and I would expect nothing less, however, girls are still seen as being ugly if they aren’t as up for sex or doing drugs/cigarettes as others may be. Sex is an illusion to a lot of young people nowadays that they think is love, and because many of them aren’t taught the correct content in their classes are only knowing it as an accessory to a relationship as opposed to something special. In turn, girls have begun playing along with the games of lad culture too and at universities (and similar settings) are more than happy to be passed around young groups of guys as a girlfriend since it is the new “ladette culture”. This culture has its own dangers, such as increasing the chances of trafficking, rape or even just mental scarring. Later in life disorders such as anxiety and depression may arise, an increasingly worrying issue among young people, especially when you hear that the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide.
Laddism makes men emotionally constipated and therefore they cannot express themselves and this is where the drug abuse and sexual outlet comes in to help them even though we know it often doesn’t. “Lads on Tour” is still very much a common occurrence and one which I must admit I laugh about when I see young lads on holiday, however here is where a lot of drugs occur and lads end up sleeping with girls who are not someone they’ll ever see again and this becomes a normal day for them. And it shouldn’t be.
Laddism turns our young men and young people into disrespectful beings who aren’t caring for themselves who are essentially going back in time in terms of being ridiculous and forgetting everything they were ever brought up to be, all in all diminishing their dreams as they grow up. The dangers of Laddism are not that lads are dangerous, but that young men lose their identities and just become a product of a broken society. It’s sad to see, and I want our young boys to grow to be strong and impress those around them, not scare them.
By Emma Reynolds