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'Lads' and their 'Banter'


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In today’s society many would argue that gender equality has come a long way. Women are no longer required to have one wrist handcuffed to the oven, the other arm cradling a baby whilst both feet mop the floor. Both men and women have come to learn this. In 1970 an equal pay act was introduced in order for women to be paid exactly the same as men for doing the same job. In 1994 laws were passed to make the act of marital rape illegal. Just last year, Kate Middleton announced that she would not have the line: ‘I promise to obey’ in the royal wedding ceremony. So we have come a long way, right?UniLad Apologises

How is it then, that the actions of a handful of misogynist male students can make the nation lose faith that we have made any progress since the ‘olden days’?

At the beginning of February website ‘UniLad’ was shut downafter it allegedly supported rape. UniLad, which describes itself as ‘the number one university student lad’s magazine and guide to getting laid’, was forced to close by the NUS after publishing an article entitled ‘Sexual Mathematics’.

The following quote caused the uproar which led to the site's closure:

‘And if the girl you’ve taken for a drink happens to belong to the ‘25%’ group and won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds... UniLad does not condone rape without saying ‘surprise’’

But this was not the only piece on the site causing offence. Another article entitled ‘The Zebra Abortion’ talks of sleeping with a girl, demanding she take the morning after pill and upon her refusal, looking ‘around the room for a chair or table I can smash onto her stomach’.

Furthermore the website’s online shop was deemed to have sold merchandise such as t-shirts that read: ‘Keep calm, it won’t take long’ allegedly referring to rape and sexual assault, sparking moral panic as to what kind of views are being circulated amongst ‘lad’ culture.

Only to add to the insult, an apology was made on their Facebook group (it is important to add here that the apologies where made under their real names) describing their views as ‘Just a bit of rape banter’ with another member adding: ‘9 out of 10 people enjoy gang-rape, who ever complained needs to check their statistics’.

Alarmingly this statement received 59 ‘likes’ on Facebook. Another comment included: ‘girls complaining about this are probably closeted lesbians’.

At the risk of sounding like a  ‘closeted lesbian’, radical feminist, ‘bra burner’ and whatever other insult such people may throw in my general direction I take major issue with the word ‘banter’ used in such a context. I would also go as far as to state that any sane, moral human being (man or woman) would not place the words ‘banter’ and ‘rape’ in the same sentence. Banter is ‘the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks’.

Most worryingly the site bragged of 8,000 visitors a day and 70,000 likes on Facebook. It would ease the panic if one was to reason that perhaps not all of those viewers and supporters actually understand what the site is about. Some may consider it ‘just a joke’ however wrong they may be, others could view the site in order to disagree with the radical views. Yet each Facebook fan comment in favour such as: ‘rape only happens because lasses can’t handle the banter’ dampens hopeful spirits that only a minority agree with such brainless and insensitive remarks.

Perhaps I have read too much into what is apparently ‘just a laugh’ but few will argue that the behaviour of UniLad writers is not shocking. Nevertheless what shocked me the most was the fact that they are students. Students that are paying thousands of pounds to further their education, broaden their minds, open up to different outlooks on life... and they came up with this. We must ask ourselves how this was ever allowed to go so far. Has the concept of ‘lad banter’ gone from trivial, witty and backhandedly charming to something we need to drastically reconsider?

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