Lad.dis.m [uncountable] British English:
The attitudes and behaviour of some young men in Britain, who drink a lot of alcohol, and are mainly interested in sport, sex, and music.
That, my goodMAN, is the definition from the LongMAN Dictionary of Contemporary English. Lad culture is so apparent in Britain today that words need to be added to our dictionaries to help fathom it. Mr. LongMAN’s definition makes the LadMAN sound like an uncouth sort of chap. Someone who might have featured in the movie ‘Green Street’. Apart from Elijah Wood, obviously.
Despite of (or rather in blame of) a university education, I often find myself wandering the corridors of lad’ish behaviour. I’m not sure why, but university life has, for a long time, revolved around this braggart behaviour. I once witnessed an example of extreme lad’ism: I stood in awe as a MAN, merely five feet from me, downed a pint of beer straight out of a fish. Clearly stupid, but it earned him his LadMAN stripes instantly.
There’s something enthralling about large quantities of young men coming together that inspires a brilliant sort of stupidity; one often fuelled by testosterone, Jagerbombs and cheesy chips. I’ve learned to embrace it – perhaps naively – in the hope that it is all part of my journey into MANhood. Although, I will draw the line at using seafood as a vessel for drinking.
We take our nods from the tribe hierarchy. If you can down a pint quicker than the next MAN, for a few seconds, you are that MAN’s superior and therefore chiefMAN. From experience, the skill of downing a pint is one you are born with. I unfortunately, was not blessed with such a gift. I once tried to solve this problem by downing a half pint. Foolishly expectant of approving looks and perhaps a round of applause, my efforts were met with a judgemental frown and a shake of the head. Oh well.
The culture (or apparent tribe) is even known to fashion linguistic nuances. The word ‘banter’ has been overused in recent years, but in this context, it is entirely called for. Without it, a ladMAN is nothing. Imagine a football team’s changing room without light-hearted weight digs or casual homophobia? It simply wouldn’t be coherent. Essentially, banter is all about confidence, wit, and the ability to recognise and then humorously criticise a friend’s incompetence without causing offence. I possess very few of these skills. Unfortunately, I often fool myself into thinking I do. Misjudging situations has become a trademark of mine. I once brought a schoolboy to tears on a bus with my taunts of cherry bakewells. There is a fine line between banter and bullying, one that I often cross. Always accidentally of course.
Even in 2011, a MAN who openly admits to not liking football is automatically subjected to a reassessment of his sexuality. Football often defines masculinity and provides a common ground for all lad-based communicative situations. I’m not bad at playing the game, but when it comes to football trivia, I am often dubbed an embarrassment. I have friends who could tell you the intricate details of Sir Alex’s family tree and yet I’d struggle to list the starting 11 of the England squad. It should be educationally paramount to be taught lad’ism’s. Maybe then I would at least resemble something that might be mistaken for a ladMAN – The lesser, misguided MAN-in-training, made up of everything I am piss-poor at.
The wardrobe of a ladMAN isn’t half as garish as his behaviour might entail. Somewhere between their primitive etiquette and their modern take on style is a paradox I’m often too perplexed [or drunk] to explore. Sportswear is often the look of choice but not one solely reserved for lad-culture. These pieces can be easily be worked in to a modern wardrobe and smartened up when lad’ish behaviour won’t be appreciated.
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