Moving beyond ideas of laddism: Conceptualising ‘mischievous masculinities’ as a new way of understanding everyday sexism and gender relations

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Nichols, K.A. (2018)
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis

This article engages with current debates on ‘lad cultures’ by questioning how we understand the term in the specific context of everyday sexism and within groups of men varying in age. Further to this, using a feminist and critical masculinity studies perspective, the article will explore how men do not necessarily comprehend their behaviour within the framework of lad culture or within the continuum of sexual violence. Through discussion of ethnographic and interview data collected over a year at a site historically associated with lad cultures, that of a Rugby Union club in Northern England, an alternative way of conceptualising masculinity and everyday sexism, ‘mischievous masculinities’, is proposed. Men in the research practiced what I term mischievous masculinities, whereby they implemented ‘banter’ to aid in both the construction and de-construction of sexist ideas within the rugby space. Performing mischievous masculinity enabled men of all ages to both engage in and simultaneously challenge everyday sexism in ways they understood to be ‘innocent’. However, the continual framing of banter as ‘just a laugh’ demonstrated that this form of sexism can be construed as problematic, due, in part, to its subtlety, in relation to more overt and violent sexist practices. A key difference between the men in my research and previous theorising of ‘lad culture’ is the recurring theme amongst older participants that ‘I should know better’, demonstrating consciousness of the sexist and problematic connotations which could be drawn from this interaction. This notion of mischievous masculinities then, in the context of a life course perspective, can be seen to challenge more established notions of an unreflexive lad culture, thus affording a more nuanced understanding of everyday sexism amongst more diverse groups of men than currently exists, as well as allowing for men’s agency in a specific site.\ud \ud
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