The response to the call for submissions (below) has been awesome. Here’s a summary of the ideas that have been sent in so far.
(And if you want to be included in this, drop me an email at LCdismantlers@gmail.com)
First off, poetry! The poems I’ve received so far range from angry to sad to beautiful, and have been contributed by Sophie Hadlum, AJ McKenna, Josie Throup and Lucy Aphramor.
Songs! Although only song has been sent in, many more are promised, from: Not Right, Chain and The Gang, Ethical Debating Society, Beyond the Dawn, Demitaves, The Webb, and ________(your band name here).
The ideas sent in for written pieces have been wide ranging:
Frankie, Jo and Hannah from the 400-strong feminist campaign group at the University of Nottingham (@UoNFeminists) are currently spearheading a campaign to tackle lad culture in their university. The idea is a ‘Lad Culture Pledge’ to be signed by all elected representatives of the Student’s Union, denouncing lad culture and promising to adhere to inclusive, non-discriminatory behaviour. Their contribution to the Dismantling Lad Culture project will be a ‘Feminist Toolkit’ – a ‘How to’ guide for setting up a similar scheme in your own uni/school/ place of work.
Hayley Scott is a Leeds-based journalist who’ll be writing about the origins of lad culture, where it’s at now and what we can do to dismantle it. She’ll be tying it in with misogyny in media and the music industry, and discussing why it’s so prevalent at the moment. She’ll also be looking at the role of social media, and will be interviewing female musicians in order to include their perspectives.
Guy Mankowski and Jon Coburn will be writing about misogyny and lad-culture within the 90s British music scene.
Esther is going to write about the twisted logic of young men shouting abuse at women in public In order to improve their relationships with each other.
Charlie Bramley is planning to write about his experience as a heterosexual male growing up deeply embedded within lad culture and the journey he’s taken from first realising he didn’t fit into it, to being able to recognise it clearly and reject it, and ultimately discovering feminism and writing about feminism in his academic work.
Josh Berlyn is working on a piece that is based partly on anecdotal stories, and partly analysis, focusing mostly on the abhorrent jokes that were regularly told at his all-boys’ school, where an insidious culture of ‘ironic’ sexism, racism and homophobia reigned. He will lay bare some of the jokes that were told, and demonstrate clearly that they are neither funny nor okay even when said ‘ironically’.
Els Merryprice is a postgrad anthropologist who is looking at writing something an experience based piece about Slutwalk, as well as a piece of social anthropology on the subject. This is her blog – http://cookievonstir.blogspot.co.uk
Lucy Bradshaw is a PhD student at the University of Hull, and she will be contributing a summary of her thesis. Entitled ‘New Lad or Like Dad? Young Masculinities and Career Choices’, her research is focused predominantly on young men aged 15-25, exploring relationships between gender identities and educational or employment trajectories. As her study progressed, ‘laddism’ increasingly became interwoven throughout the research findings, and a powerful emerging theme was the level of misogyny displayed by the young men when engaging in laddish interactions. Many of the participants were recruited from various construction trades where these exchanges were particularly rife via ‘banter’, an aggressive and cruel form of work-based humorous discourse. A powerful synergy between an old style macho masculinity (circa 1975) and a new lad identity was in evidence. Key to this was the success with which the ‘tutors’ acculturated the younger men into the perceived ‘acceptable’ usage of banter. By extension, this encouraged the continued proliferation of ‘sexism with a smile’.
Christiane has offered to create drawings and/or a short text playing with a gender reversal of the lad concept, for example, reversing ‘Get your tits out for the lads’ in a drawing or a piece of writing with the aim to shock people into realising how deeply offensive this ‘normalised’ phrase actually is. Here’s her blog – http://www.alittlefeministblogonlanguage.blogspot.co.uk
Nicole Kypker is a London-based feminist teacher and PhD researcher who will be working on a piece entitled The Nineties: The Age Of Innocence?, about the origins of lad culture and the trajectory it has taken through the ubiquity of internet porn and into rape culture. She will be focussing on the 1990s and arguing that that decade was one of, perhaps, unique possibility for women, yet subsequently the objectification of women reached a new level with Sex And the City’s dominant, impeccably groomed femininity, the ‘pink princess’ barrage in toy shops, and the normalisation of plastic surgery. She’ll also be exploring what was going on with loaded magazine, examining an ex-editor’s claim that it was ‘good harmless fun’ that got out of hand.
Matthew Cheeseman works between English Literature, Folklore, Creative Writing, Music and Education, and he organised the SRHE’s recent symposium on lad culture and Higher Education. Matthew is planning to contribute a short essay based around a found dartboard that had been ‘doctored’ by a group of self-defined lads. It’s covered with sayings and quotes about another student, whom they bullied, and he will discuss it almost like a piece of material culture, a fetish of lad culture.
Zach Roddis is a poet from Manchester who will write a stream of consciousness piece about an incident on a bus journey.
I (Karren Ablaze!) am going to be writing about lad culture’s origins in the misogyny of the music press, and of course in the development of loaded magazine. On the dismantling side, I’ll be writing about ways in which we change our own lives for the better and enhance the lives of others, looking at the creation of awesome cultural spaces like Wharf chambers in Leeds, and at meditation and spirituality.
A few visual artists have contacted me to offer to collaborate with others working on the project – see below. Tugba Kop is an illustrator who is planning to produce a collection of images around lad culture, and Jan Martin is a Bristol-based artist, illustrator, graphic designer and writer who has done a lot of work with collage. She is going to do a series of collages along these lines to deconstruct the lad mags ethos.
And several people have got in touch to let me know that they intend to participate but haven’t yet fully formulated their ideas, including Fiona Elvines, Jo Aldridge, Rebecca Mann, Amelia from Feministwebs, and Sarah Godfrey and Tori Cann from Day of the Girl Norwich.
Dismantling, fighting and winning
I’m hoping to receive lots more ideas and creations on all aspects listed in the call for submissions below, and am particularly keen to receive submissions about the practical matter of dismantling lad culture. This could include success stories, about when you’ve fought laddism and won.
How do we change culture?
I am planning to set up meetings with people in the UK over the summer, and working sessions in Spain. Email for more information.
Collaboration and support
Here are some people who can support you with any work that you might like to contribute to the project:
Geraldine Montgomerie Greenwood is an amazing Leeds-based artist – see examples of her work here. She is happy to illustrate your work if you require it.
James Sharkk is a photographer based In Bristol. Fresh from organising a super-zine with Riot Grrrl UK, he also works as a videographer and illustrator, and wants to collaborate with other contributors to the project.
Both can be contacted via LCdismantlers@gmail.com
How is the project going to work?
As you can probably see, it is very free-form at this stage. In the past I have wrote zines, operated in riot grrrl gangs, and recently I published my first book. I now feel empowered to publish things and to see what else I can do.
What comes in to the project will determine what comes out. At the moment I am guessing there will be a book, a series of exhibitions, and a record album. There should also be a website – if you have website design skills to contribute please let me know.
I mentioned in the call for submissions that the project is currently unfunded. If you know of funding that would fit, please inform me.
Finally, I am looking for people who have the time to work more closely with me in bringing the project to fruition. If you might be able to do this, I’d be very happy to hear from you.
And here’s a poem to keep you going, by AJ McKenna.