Research on ‘lad culture’ and gender-based violence (GBV) in student communities has examined ‘hypermasculine’ gender performances, with little attention paid to hierarchies of masculinity. We explore ‘lad culture’ by analysing qualitative, in-depth interviews with students. Our findings challenge simplistic constructions of ‘good guys’ as allies/protectors in opposition to hypermasculinised, deviant ‘bad guys’. We demonstrate how such binary constructions are premised upon gendered norms of men-as-protectors/women-as-weak, and bolster problematic hierarchies of masculinity. We also highlight the crucial role of complicit masculinity in maintaining GBV-tolerant cultures. Our research suggests academic understandings of lad culture could benefit from a more comprehensive picture of the relationship between masculinity/ies and campus GBV. By theorising complex negotiations of hegemonic masculinity in this context, the paper also advances conceptual debates around the promise/limitations of changing, ‘softer’ masculinities. Practice implications include rethinking how/whether prevention education can deploy ‘softer’ masculinities whilst avoiding reinstating gender hierarchies that ultimately scaffold GBV.
University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research
Ana Jordan, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences
Sundari Anitha, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences
Jill Jameson, Independent Researcher
Zowie Davy, De Montfort University, School of Applied Social Sciences