Harriet Walker: A joke that blows the cover of lad culture


Related Topics

Where did people make their hideous gaffes and idiotic faux pas before social media? Were there fewer, or did they just happen in the privacy of one's own home and no one ever found out? No wonder some tabloids had to resort to hacking phones. Thankfully, these days you can monitor online every single meandering thought from any boob who signs up (I include myself in that), from those who will bore you to sobs, to others who will make you grit your teeth in fury.

My favourite "I'm-so-slow-my-thoughts-couldn't-catch-up-with-my-typing-fingers" tweet this week comes from US Esquire: "How to get a better blowjob than #DSK", whanged up on the world's biggest noticeboard the same day that Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, was breaking her silence. Cute.

The link supplied by the magazine alongside this twaddle took us to an article debating the etiquette of receiving the said sexual act – not something I would naturally have read, but equally not something I'm going to be priggish about or offended by. Some men need to read things like that; many women will be glad those men did.

No, what I'm going to get priggish about and offended by is the follow-up, after many people had registered their distaste: "Sometimes our sense of humour doesn't come out the way we intend. Sorry if we offended anyone." The classically absent apology, like someone with a clothes peg on their nose handing you a stinkbomb, and normally uttered by sulky teenagers or bitey shop assistants. It means this: "I'm sorry that you have found some silly little issue with this thing that I think matters not a jot. How boring you are." As a wise man once said, sorry seems to be the hardest word.

But the easiest way to deal with this, thought Esquire, is to blame it on our loveably cheeky persona. "Oops! We offended some people because we're such sparkly-eyed little mischief-makers." Oh please. Are we supposed to be charmed? It was like tagging an article about an all-new gas chamber with: "How Hitler could have been more efficient." And the curt little retort is a cross between belligerence and bravura, the same heady combination you get for ignoring the advances of some horny little genome-void in the pub.

The lads' mag era is over. Gone are the days of lairy bombast and charmless slickers; most normal men now treat women with respect. And if they joke about rape, they sure as hell don't do it in front of 60,000 people or under the aegis of an international publication known to be fond of scantily-clad women. We've been hit over the head with the men's mag moral dichotomy for so long – yes, they're full of boobs but yes, they also promote gender equality – that we almost believed it.

This episode is proof enough of the sort of attitudes rampant at these magazines. So let's lampoon the myth of cheeky chappies and winking rascals, rather than playing up to them with gutter culture designed to titillate morons. I'm all for gags that blur the boundaries between humour and harsh humanity. There's something warm and soothing about serious matters being treated in a light-hearted way: it reduces them to things we can grapple with. But people have started giving up meat to try and clear the atmosphere of excess methane – if only half the men who thought they were funny stopped making crass jokes, there'd be far less guff around and we could celebrate with a burger.

And before you say it: yes, I can take a joke – just look at my byline picture.

Waking the grateful dead

I'm horrified and intrigued by the story of a South African man who woke up in a morgue this week. His family hadn't been able to rouse him, so they handed him over to the mortuary without further ado. What they didn't do was consult a doctor about this plan of action. The living-dead man awoke and shouted for help, promptly scaring away the attendants, and when he was eventually rescued after 24 hours in the mausoleum, he was treated for dehydration.

There is so much wrong with this story. How hard did they try to wake the guy, for starters? And when they couldn't, did they not wonder what was wrong? And, finally, call me a cynic, but isn't a crucial question during the job interview for any new morgue attendant, "Are you scared of ghosts?"

In the Victorian age, when people were beset with anxieties over being buried alive, it was possible to buy a safety coffin equipped with flares, whistles and a little shovel to dig oneself out. Bavarians were so worried about it that they hooked corpses up to the church organ for a few days before burial, so that if they woke up, a string would sound a note on the venerated instrument. Pity those poor watchmen, who regularly jumped at the faint hoots and peeps made by stiffening, bloating bodies on slabs.

And pity also, of course, the man who was put in the morgue in the first place; all he did was have a good lie-in. You can guarantee he'll be sleeping with one eye open from now on.

A reminder of why rock stars like Camden

Camden lost a luminary with the death of native singer Amy Winehouse, and broadcasters were quick to report the Princess Di-esque grief circus occurring outside her house and around some of her favourite local haunts. But, beyond the square she lived in, the only traces are a brief monochrome graffiti tag by the lock and a row of flickering tea lights at her favourite pub, The Hawley Arms. Camden doesn't howl for its lost sons and daughters for the cameras or by light of day; it serenades them at night, with grungy basslines and beer cans, with fag ash and falafel. Life just goes on in Camden, which is why all the rock stars like it in the first place.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Ideal candidates for the role m...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Communications Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 6-month part-time contract (24 hours a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Daily catch-up: the Labour leadership election hasn’t yet got to grips with why the party lost

John Rentoul
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific