I Wasn't "Asking For It" - My Encounters With 'Lad Culture'

It’s a Thursday night and I’m in a bar. Surrounded by friends, we’re having the time of our lives. I’ve made an effort to dress up, not for anyone but myself. I’m wearing a bodysuit (backless) with jeans, some may say it’s a ‘sexy’ choice of outfit, but that’s a matter of opinion. I’ve been drinking, we all have, but in no way am I impaired or vulnerable.

We’re dancing, personal space is non-existent, the dancefloor is packed. Then he starts. I’ve felt his presence on a few occasions previously. He edges closer. There’s nowhere to move to, I’m surrounded, my friends are dancing and unaware of what’s happening, others around us may notice but regardless of whether they do or not, it’s considered the norm. Sure, he’s one of the “lads”.

He puts his hand on my waist. Within seconds, it’s traveling towards the lining of my bodysuit, which is exposing my back. He begins to slide his hand down the gap between my top and the end of my back and I suddenly snap out of my frozen state. “Get off me!” I say as I turn around to the sight of his smug face, his beady eyes glaring into mine. He looks both surprised and amused, surprised because I’ve confronted him, amused as his friends jeer from the side. I shouldn’t have to dress in a certain way in order to prevent a man from touching me without my consent. I shouldn’t have to feel paranoid when I’m out with friends, wondering whether the guys we’re dancing near are decent or dodgy. We shouldn’t have to live in that fear. But we do.

I’ve had enough of the nightclub and decide to call it a night. I’ve been trying to get a taxi for 10 minutes but with no luck and the cold getting too much, I decide to walk home. It’s a 15 minute walk, I’ll warm up on my way, I know the route like the back of my hand and I’ve had nowhere near enough drink to make that journey dangerous for me. But it is.



I make it to Donovan’s Rd. unscathed but that’s when the trouble starts. Young men, my age and a bit older are scattered around the street, most likely heading to a house party. Some pass comments as I walk by, my head down, trying to get as little attention as possible. One makes a sexual comment about what he’d do to me “without those jeans” and when I ignore his remark, continuing to walk past, his friend jeers “fucking whore”. I make it to my front door in just over 2 minutes and the relief I feel as I shut the door behind me can’t be described with words alone. As I go to sleep that night, I realise that weirdly, I was lucky.

When I tell the girls about it tomorrow, they’ll give out to me for walking home alone. The lads, some of the good guys, will warn me not to do it again, “it’s just not safe for a woman”. But why should I, a perfectly fit and reasonably sober girl, not be able to make a short, 15 minute walk home, on a fully lit route? Why should I live in terror of who might emerge from the shadows and assault me in my own city?




‘Lad culture’ as it’s called these days, should not be used in the same sentence as a ‘real man’. A real man has respect for both women and his fellow men, he doesn’t belittle women in front of his friends to be a ‘lad’ or to boost his ego. Children are sponges. From a very early age, they absorb the behaviours of those around them. If boys, and later young men, are brought up in an environment where it’s okay to belittle a woman, pass sexual remarks about her or objectify her, do you really expect them to behave any different years later?

Before I’m crucified, I’d like to point out that I KNOW not all men are like this. If a woman is assaulted by a man, she knows not every other man she meets for the duration of her life is going to do the same, but that won’t make her any less fearful. I also know that there can be a reverse of roles. Women can sexually assault men, they can objectify them and that is equally as wrong. But as a woman, I can only speak from my own experience so if there are men reading this who have been victimised by a woman, please let me know, it is honestly something I want to learn about.

And to the women, stay safe, but know, that you should never, ever be to blame for the wrongful, undesired actions of a man – you aren’t ‘asking for it’.

*If you have been affected by any issues raised by this article please call the Dublin Rape Crisis National 24-Hour Helpline 1800 77 8888.

Video: Sexual Consent & Why I Left LA

Credit: Melanie Murphy

Jacqueline Murphy
Article written by
Proud owner of award-nominated blog andomhanimocheann.com, Deputy Fashion Editor of Motley Magazine, mental health campaigner, winged eyeliner enthusiast and coffee connoisseur.
Facebook messenger