Warwick University rowing club women's team calendar

(382 Posts)
duchesse Mon 14-Oct-13 15:20:10
duchesse Mon 14-Oct-13 15:21:51

I wonder if these young women feel empowered enough to do this in a sort of post-feminist ironic take on men's Chippendales-style calendars (themselves a take on the previous utterly un-ironic pirelli calendars). Just how many layers are there to this?

ErrolTheDragon Mon 14-Oct-13 15:25:50

I'd have thought it was more inspired by The Calendar Girls than the Chippendales. Which you can probably unpack in a different manner...

Phaserstostun Mon 14-Oct-13 16:10:20

There are precedents to this sort of thing. The French men's national rugby team did something similar recently, as have some of their clubs;

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dieux_du_Stade

Some people might see these things as celebrations of human athletic physiques. Michelangelo and other historical perves of his ilk were also at it, many moons ago. Who knows what he would have produced with a camera or iPhone?

Phaserstostun Mon 14-Oct-13 16:18:13

Actually, looking at their website, both men and women's rowing teams have done this. Young people, eh?!?

PumpkinGuts Mon 14-Oct-13 19:47:41

It's cute that they think they "came up with the idea"... because they invented posing naked in a calendar.

libertarianj Mon 14-Oct-13 21:50:23

Fair play to them, they look all natural and very tastefully photographed. However i am sure it's only a matter of time until someone on here posts that it 'objectifies' women and it should be banned. sad

There's more photos and a video on the Daily Mail web site:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2458567/Warwick-Universitys-female-Rowing-Club-defy-critics-releasing-naked-charity-calendar.html

FloraFox Mon 14-Oct-13 22:23:20

"Some people might see these things as celebrations of human athletic physiques."

They're not though, most of the pictures have the women coyly covering their breasts or genitals. These pictures celebrate human athletic physiques:

espn.go.com/espn/photos/gallery/_/id/8146596/bodies-want-2011

But even here, some of the women's pictures are passive, reclining sexy shots.

The calendar does, of course, objectify women and is anti-feminist.

AutumnMadness Mon 14-Oct-13 22:42:12

I am honestly struggling to analyse this theoretically. But my emotional reaction was that the photos were beautiful and the young women in them were beautiful too. The setting was natural and they were photographed engaged in their sporting activity as they normally do. They are healthy and happy, their bodies are not photoshopped so we are indeed celebrating the real human form.

FloraFox, sorry, but I found that many images of women in the collection in your link were extremely sexualised. I found them inappropriate in a sporting context. The images of women who were not were photos of what looked like top athletes, whose bodies are sculpted by their sport to the extreme. I'm afraid the "form" of the women in Warwick is a bit more like an average young woman in this country.

FloraFox Mon 14-Oct-13 22:51:30

Autumn I don't want to derail the thread. I would agree with it being "many" rather than "some" that are passive and sexy. The Julie Chu, Suzy Hotrod and Sylvia Fowles are not though.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Mon 14-Oct-13 22:59:10

poor old lib, every conceivably way that he can gaze at naked women is being thwarted.... sad

<feminists aren't anti-nudity only dorks think that >

AuntieStella Mon 14-Oct-13 23:15:03

I'm surprised this is news.

Durham Unversity Rowing Club did exactly this years ago.

And many organisations, featuring both men and women, have done nude calendars since the WI hit the headlines for it. It may be a tired format, with it's own cliches, but it's far better than porn industry nudes.

AutumnMadness Mon 14-Oct-13 23:38:40

Sorry, FloraFox, I really did not mean to be confrontational. It's just that the public appearance of an unadulterated nude female form is so rare these days, that the sight of some rather artfully presented fetching naked bums makes me rather giddy. And I've not seen any other similar calendars before (except the original Calendar Girls), so there is a novelty factor in this for me.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Mon 14-Oct-13 23:45:21

On a quick glance through Flora's link I would say that 4/10 of the female athletes were in overtly sexualised poses. I wouldn't say any of the men were.

TeiTetua Tue 15-Oct-13 03:06:26

I'm afraid that even when it's not actually pornographic and even if it's being done for some reason other than financial desperation, I can never see women taking their clothes off in front of a camera as anything but exploitation. It just picks up on the pornographic motif, and when they say "but this is all for fun and showing off our athletically toned bodies" all I can think of is that we're just so used to naked women being out there in front of the camera or the easel, usually with a man behind it, that there's no way it can be done so as to be innocent. Just possibly, if they had women and men mixed up together and all equally exposed and looking like best friends, then it could be OK. The idea that women's and men's bodies could be of equal value and equally attractive, there's something innovative and maybe valuable there. But just more young women naked, no thanks.

NotDead Tue 15-Oct-13 03:28:54

Im pretty sure they originally had a mixed nude calendar at warwick. If it had been bimbo sex shots naked or not it might have been worth complaining about but worried about the posters here who see sex and porn wherever there is nudity.

There is the element of participant bravery and commitment here as well as the novelty. . and with the kind of porn available these days id be highly surprised if anyone was made 'glimpse of stocking' rabid by these pictures.

They seem like great nudes to me as do the equivalent male pictures.

BuffytheAppleBobber Tue 15-Oct-13 12:15:09

I'm going to surprise people with my response here, but my first instinct was that they weren't being exploited and I don't really have an issue with it, taken on it's own, from a feminist perspective.

Sure, it's in a societal context where women are valued for their looks and they are inviting their own objectification (just look at the comments on the article to see evidence that this is happening).

But I can't help thinking that they've made the choice to pose in this way with an appreciation of these issues. They're not being paid, co-cerced (though there might be some peer pressure) people aren't using them to sell newspapers or porn magazines. The photo I saw wasn't sexualised, or they were so much less so than the adverts we see every day. They're raising money for cancer research...

Esteemed FWR colleagues, what am I missing? grin

slug Tue 15-Oct-13 12:27:47

It's also possible, looking at the picture, that they weren't nude at all. they could have all been wearing strapless swimsuits.

libertarianj Tue 15-Oct-13 12:34:43

feminists aren't anti-nudity only dorks think that

well some of the feminists at Warwick Uni obviously are. Please Read the article.

It's also possible, looking at the picture, that they weren't nude at all. they could have all been wearing strapless swimsuits.

they were 100% naked, the video on the Daily Mail link i posted above confirms this.

TeiTetua Tue 15-Oct-13 13:32:37

Buffy, I would say your middle paragraph shows that you aren't missing anything--you even say that the comments (which I shall not read) show that others clearly get the point too, and not in a nice way. I think that more than cancels out what you say in the last paragraph. Basically I claim displays of naked women are too culturally poisoned to be a positive thing, even if there are individual incidents which are innocent. It would be nice to think that doing it right would be an antidote to doing it wrong, but as things stand now, I don't think that can happen.

SoWhatSoWhatSoWhat Tue 15-Oct-13 14:28:57

Another 'Calendar Girls' nude calendar. Yawn.

Some other current examples of these calendars:

'Barely There' - (mixed) vetinary students calendar
Cardiff uni students (women) for Brain Tumor Charity
Oxford Uni rugby club (men) for prostate cancer
Notts Uni polo club (just women?) for British Heart Foundation
UCLU and UCL (women) for Anthony Nolan
Leeds Uni Equestrian Soc (women) for Ride for the Disabled
Warwick Uni rowers (men) promoting themselves
Bristol Uni netballers (women) for rehabilitation of service personnel
Newcastle Uni boat club (mixed) promoting themselves
University of East Anglia (women) for CoppaFeel (apparently a breast cancer charity)
Exeter Uni Polo Club (mixed) Riding for the Disabled
Durham Uni rugby club (men) to fund their Australian tour
Also: female scientists, atheists, West Highland Terrier Rescue club (mixed sexes, mixed ages; that was quite a good one actually).

Why these calendars aren't funny/original/edgy any more:

Excuse the cut and paste from this women in science blog:
skepchick.org/2012/09/please-stop-making-calendars/

1. Regardless of the intent behind the calendars, regardless of how much fun we had making them, regardless of how empowering we found them, regardless of the racial and age diversity we showcased, and regardless of the fact that they were run by a woman and benefited women, pin-up calendars added to an existing environment in which women were seen first as sexual objects and maybe if they’re lucky they’d later be seen as human beings with thoughts and desires of their own. Back in 2005, I thought skeptics weren't affected by the patriarchy and that misogyny was something left to the religious. In a community like that, a pin-up calendar of women would be absolutely fine. I learned that a community like that does not exist and it was naive of me to assume otherwise.

2. Adding a calendar of men did not balance out the calendar of women. In a perfect non-patriarchal world, it would, but what I realized was that the women in the calendars were not being seen in the same way as the men in the calendars. The women were objectified on a level unmatched by those viewing and commenting on the men. This was something difficult for me to objectively evaluate at the time and was just a hunch based on my casual observations, but that hunch was confirmed last year when I had shitlord after shitlord emailing me to tell me that I have no right to complain about being groped or propositioned at conferences because I posed in a calendar for skeptics (see my filthy slut photo as the featured image on this post). If Phil Plait ever complains about a woman grabbing his crotch at a conference, I’m confident that no one will forward him his entry in the 2007 “Skepdude” Calendar and tell him to stop being such a whore if he doesn’t want that kind of attention.

4. No one uses calendars. Okay, admittedly I can name three people I know who continue to take out a pen and write things down on a paper calendar. Every other person I know uses something on their phone and/or computer to keep track of appointments and tell what day it is. I have a calendar hanging in my office – it’s the nude revolutionary calendar, and I have it hanging up because I love the people who made it and want to show support, even though I forget it’s there and have to flip over two months each time I remember it.

5. Here’s the most important one for all the organizations currently considering making a calendar: calendars, and particularly nude calendars, are in no way edgy, interesting, or clever. Everyone has done it, including ambulance drivers, humane societies, rowing clubs, the staff of Marks & Spencer, Mormons, and two different coffin-makers. And as my list near the top of this post indicates, it’s not even special in our niche. There is now an abundance of skeptic, atheist, geek, and scientist calendars.

SoWhatSoWhatSoWhat Tue 15-Oct-13 14:31:57

Sorry, missed this bit off.

So please, organizations and people I love and support: find something new to do. If you want to make women in science more visible, put them somewhere people are looking. If you want to show the diversity of atheist women, you don’t need to make them take off their clothes. If you want to be revolutionary, come up with a new idea that no one else has thought of yet.

Maybe one of those novelty pens where when you tip it upside down, the lady’s reliance upon appearance-based self-worth falls off.

ButThereAgain Tue 15-Oct-13 14:48:16

I have mixed feelings about this, like a lot of you. But I think that the back-story of pictures like this is a lot to to do with the recent fashion for mass naked pics as a kind of performance art, rather than striving to be a so-called ironic post-exploitative take on porn and porn-influenced images.

If the women were older, their bodies more sharply differentiated from a sexual ideal, then we might enjoy the images more easily, we might feel less anxious about their possibly faux-ironic, exploitative status. But does that amount to saying that if you happen to be young and fit and beautiful, then that in itself traps you with a sexualised perception of images of your body, regardless of context and intent? That you have to be old and unattractive before you can feel free of that? That seems perhaps a bit unfair on the beautiful!

I don't particularly admire the images, I don't think they are powerfully ironic, or deconstructive of sexualisation, or anything grand like that, and they are unoriginal too. But on the other hand, I think they look quite nice. They are entertaining and positive pics to have on the wall. I think.

ButThereAgain Tue 15-Oct-13 15:05:20

(If they were being pictured as scientists, rather than rowers, I would certainly regard the pictures as demeaning and trivialising of the subjects and would hate the pictures unambivalently. But there is a slightly stupid physicalism about the image of rowing as such, which the pictures take further. In other arenas, the stupid physicalism of picturing naked bodies would be a damaging imposition, inextricable from sexism, which would seem to thwart women's efforts to be taken seriously.)

TeiTetua Tue 15-Oct-13 16:17:57

Skepchick's point number 1, what she said, I agree with. In fact to repeat:

Regardless of the intent behind the calendars, regardless of how much fun we had making them, regardless of how empowering we found them, regardless of the racial and age diversity we showcased, and regardless of the fact that they were run by a woman and benefited women, pin-up calendars added to an existing environment in which women were seen first as sexual objects and maybe if they’re lucky they’d later be seen as human beings with thoughts and desires of their own. Back in 2005, I thought skeptics weren't affected by the patriarchy and that misogyny was something left to the religious. In a community like that, a pin-up calendar of women would be absolutely fine. I learned that a community like that does not exist and it was naive of me to assume otherwise.

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