Lads: the struggle is real

‘Lads’ are rightly derided, but they are not an oppressed group.

In the Telegraph’s ‘Thinking Man’ section on Sunday, there was an article by Pete Cashmore (note: not the Pete Cashmore of Mashable fame) titled: Why I’m proud to call myself a lad. Mr Cashmore admits the piece was written “with the hope that others might follow [his] lead”. Well Peter, I will not be following your lead. Your faux-brave attempt to stand up for the supposed little guy is an absolute joke.

Painfully, the article is positioned as a ‘coming out’ piece and suggests, without a shred of irony, that “the most widely hated sub-section of British society aren’t jihadists or even politicians, but young heterosexual men who drink too much”.

Really? Our society is comprised of economic, political and social systems that privilege white, heterosexual, cis men at every turn. There is no structural nor systematic oppression of lads; being widely derided in the mainstream is not the same as being oppressed and they certainly need no defence from a Telegraph columnist like Pete Cashmore.

Puzzlingly, Mr Cashmore cites the popularity of (his former employer) Nuts Magazine’s work with anti-male-suicide charity CALM as evidence (albeit anecdotal, as he identifies) of the supportive culture amongst the readership of Nuts. I can only conclude that Mr Cashmore has not spent any real time understanding the phenomenon of male suicide. Lad culture promulgates a view of masculinity which contributes to the pressures on men in our society, leading to suicide. CALM’s own article on masculinity and suicide is a good starting point. If you’ve got a bit more time, read bell hooks’ The Will to Change for more detail on how traditional notions of masculinity prevent some men from living healthy, fulfilling, authentic lives.

Weird quote from the article: “[lad culture is] really not a culture, ie something to be observed and understood, at all”. I’m not sure this is how culture is defined, but many have both observed it and at least attempted to understand it…it’s just a shame Mr Cashmore didn’t give it more of a crack before he wrote this article.

A braver subject for his Thinking Man (*shudders*) article would’ve been something more challenging for the readers of such a column to digest. Perhaps a discussion around the pressures of modern society on men and boys, how this often results in violence against women, how lad culture contributes to this, and what the readership of the Telegraph’s Thinking Man section can do to help.

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