You might not have heard of it because most people don’t talk about it. But rape in universities is a very real, very scary problem. Born from the loathsome intermix of lad culture, a deflation of feminist values and the shame of having been raped, rape culture represents university community at its worst. Every university student has at one time or another, heard a male friend joke about rape or comment that a ‘drunk bird is easy’. As students, we may laugh it off or judge these people silently, but this is really part of a bigger problem – rape and its roots in lad culture.

Lad culture is defined as a group or ‘pack’ mentality residing in activities such as sport, heavy alcohol consumption, and ‘banter’ which is often sexist, misogynist and homophobic, according to the National Union of Students. Sexual harassment and violence are also very much related to ‘lad culture’. This includes verbal harassment and ‘catcalling’, as well as physical harassment and sexual molestation. Groping in nightclubs is viewed as part of a ‘normal’ lad’s night out.

It is honestly sad and very regrettable to see that even with the powerful aura of feminism and the progress that women have made over the past few decades, we are still being treated like objects. Not just by anyone, but by elements of the future male graduate workforce of Britain. So many women are standing up to voice their dissatisfaction with lad culture in university but very little has been done by university authorities to curb the situation. Earlier this year, The Guardian posted an article about how rape culture was the norm in many UK universities. The article was shocking. It contained viewpoints of many different women who had been raped by men they had refused and how ‘normal’ it was in their social circle. The article also spoke about universities having themed social events which are attended by men only to take advantage of drunk women. It was a disgusting reflection of reality and the saddest plea for better treatment.

The Guardian spoke on behalf of young women in university last January – it is now almost April and nothing has been done to protect these women.

To these women, I say, exercise the right to say no. Don’t let your lad friends get away with negating your right to say no. If you’re offended by a joke, let it be known. Don’t let the lads joke their way into making rape a casual thing. The feminist cause has been dulled over time but it is occasions like these that call for a strong resurgence. Your university might not be dealing with this problem, but you can. Simply say no to the lad culture.

And to the lads who are a part this – stop it. You’re regressing.

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