An NUS investigation into “lad culture” has highlighted concerns about the roles of both media and social media in sexism at university.
Social media pages like ‘Spotted’, ‘Confessions’ and ‘Rate Your Shag’ (now removed by Facebook) have all been accused of playing a crucial role in lad culture. These pages allow an administrator to post students’ anonymous comments about each other.
One SU described how female students felt that ‘Spotted’ pages put pressure on them. It said: “Women are afraid to go into the library in casual dress at exam time when the library is at its busiest, because of comments made”.
The research also cited the marketing of club nights as a contributory factor, referencing both union and non-union venues. One student studying in Leeds singled out a controversial "Freshers Violation" video used by events promoter Tequila UK as being particularly offensive. Tequila UK subsequently apologised for any offense caused.
The NUS’ findings suggest that many students consider sexual harassment and assault on nights out to be “normal”. Respondents said that a number of perpetrators did not consider their actions to be sexual harassment.
Suggestions put forward for how universities can combat lad culture on campus included implementing a “zero tolerance to sexual assault” policy and boycotting media which students consider contributory to lad culture, such as The Sun newspaper, the song “Blurred Lines” and various lads' mags.
The consultation was prompted by the NUS’s "That’s What She Said" report, published in March 2013, which found that many female students in higher education had been affected by lad culture. The term was defined as “a group or ‘pack’ mentality residing in activities such as sport and heavy alcohol consumption and ‘banter’ which was often sexist, misogynistic, or homophobic”.