UCD200’s ‘lad culture’ incites questions about society and technology

Last week, UCD’s newspaper, The College Tribune, reported about the UCD200, which has sparked a national conversation among the public on what we refer to as ‘lad culture’.

This issue is ongoing and ever present in our society, and most certainly not confined to universities. Felicia Garcia, a PhD student from the Department of Anthropology, NUI Maynooth, wrote her thesis on ‘Coping and Suicide Amongst ‘the Lads’: Expectations of masculinity in post-traditional Ireland.’ Here she writes being a ‘lad’ is ‘a status that by traditional standards ended after adolescence, when boys became men. However, as adolescence extends into adulthood, the status of ladhood becomes a more permanent position.’

The National Union of Students in Great Britain define lad culture as a masculine group or pack mentality residing in sport and heavy alcohol consumption and banter, which is often sexist, misogynist and homophobic.

Apps such as Snapchat, Whatsapp, and Facebook are increasingly utilised as platforms for sharing and posting videos and images. As a result, it has become a regular activity among young Irish people to send and receive ‘nudes’.

Whatsapp,  a free message app that lets us form ‘whatsapp group chats’ with our friends, allows multiple individuals to be involved in constant conversation, complete with photos and videos.  The Tab.com recently wrote an article ‘Which guy in the Whatsapp chat are you?’ One of the possibilities here is ‘The Sket’. The description for this person? — ‘Boys look at the tits on this one. Dean’s deeply misogynistic views generally float under the radar. If anything you would think he loves women. But after you’ve heard him vividly, and emotively, describe the perforations of the anus of the 2 out of 10 he ‘slewed’ last night. There’s no doubt.’

Although the article means to be  humorous, its expression is undoubtedly misogyny. It further denigrates feminism and reiterates this ‘lad culture’ that is so damageable to our society.

The 200 students at UCD, shared the photos not on Whatsapp, but through a Facebook group.  The College Tribune reported that a first year student outlined her understanding of the group: ‘with around 200 Ag science lads involved, all from different years, where they shared stories about girls they had sex with, shared the girls’ nudes, and then posted the girls’ Facebook pages where they’d all rate them out of ten.’

Rachel O’Neill is a 21-year-old student in UCD whose Facebook post about ‘toxic lad culture’ has gone viral.

She spoke to the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1 about the common activity of sending nudes and also about the equally common activity of boys sending them onto their friends. The most shocking part of the interview came from the response of the listeners.

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Rachel O’Neill’s Facebook post. 

The first three texts into the show came from women, all of whom condemned the action of the women who took nudes in the first place without even mentioning the wrongdoing of the male students.

One of the texts read: ‘Are the women in UCD so naïve by sending out nude pictures of themselves? This is plain daft. Don’t believe that the guys won’t share.’

Another said: ‘We are judging these girls, it’s only their own fault. When will girls get back to respecting themselves? If you don’t respect yourself no one else will. Grow up.’

O’Neill compared this ‘victim blaming’ to saying it’s a granny’s fault if she gets mugged because she shouldn’t be going out in the first place.

For O’Neill, all of this comes back to the issue of consent, something that should be taught to everybody from a young age in primary school.

The UCD Student’s Union has now announced plans to follow in Trinity’s footsteps and to introduce mandatory sexual consent workshops for students.

Watchyourspace.ie shared six things you need to know about sexting, here it states that sharing someone’s nude selfies without consent or permission is illegal.

The investigation of the UCD200 is currently ongoing, however, the investigation is promulgating differing opinions on women’s bodily autonomy and sexuality. It has incited opinions within society where women do not have to apologise for either of these elements. However, the opposing argument also exists, arguing that nude pictures and the freedom of individuals to share these, should be contained.


(Photo credit: Shumpei Sano)

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