There seems to be a bit of a problem over in Britain, and it’s being blamed on ladettes. Ladettes are the female members of lad culture, and the best summary of how they are perceived was found on Urban Dictionary: “a young woman who behaves in a confident and noisy way, who drinks alcohol and may enjoy sport or other activities that are traditionally enjoyed by men.” I’ll confess that I’m not very well-versed in ladette culture, but that bland definition strikes me as harmless. But a few articles in the last week (one from The Mirror and one from The Daily Mail) make the point that ladette culture is behind a rise in “thuggish” violence throughout the UK: “Nearly 8,000 [young women] were fined for being drunk and disorderly in 12 months – up almost a third in three years.”
Let me make clear that, as a woman who very rarely drinks (and there are pretty amusing results when I do) and hasn’t hit anyone since the last time I smacked my little sister when we were both kids, I’m not endorsing whatever binge drinking or violent outbursts that the articles refer to. But the tone of the articles smacks of an odd blend of prurient interest and paternalism.
The Mirror article is accompanied by a picture of a young woman lying passed out on a bench wearing knee-high boots and a short black skirt, even though the actual text is more concerned with such things as violence. Even more bizarre is this bit: “The move comes after police warned that females are no longer the “calming influence” on male drinkers they once were.” Oh, good to know that’s the only reason women should ever be around alcohol: to keep tabs on the menfolk! Also this: “New figures show binge-drinking is out of control among “ladettes” who appear to be trying to outdo their violent male counterparts in the thug stakes.” Right, because that’s the only reason women would binge drink. Having gone to an all-women’s college, I can safely state that you don’t need men around to indulge in destructive/self-destructive behavior.
Then there’s this charming comment left on the Daily Mail article:
this is the one of the problems with women now,years ago their role was simple ,find a man.. have babies.. stay at home.today they are told to go out to work,told they have to compete with men at all levels.women simply can`t cope with modern life,so are turning to drink..
As I said, how charming.
I’m not about to stand here and minimize or condone uncontrolled alcohol consumption, especially when it leads to violent consequences. I’ve watched loved ones struggle with alcoholism for years. But there is never this level of shock when young men get thoroughly drunk or even attack people. It’s a boys-will-be-boys mentality that, while not approving of the behavior, tacitly accepts that it’s the “normal” way of things. The Mirror makes the point that “a quarter of all street attacks are now believed to involve sozzled young women.” (‘Sozzled’ is my new favorite word, by the way.) This means, of course, that the remaining three-quarters of all street attacks don’t involve young women. But that wouldn’t make for a terribly exciting article, now would it? It’s just easier to focus on the statistics that show not all women are the perfectly docile little ladies that our culture would love to believe they are — or should be.