Warwick Rowing club preserves after unforeseen social media controversy

For the second consecutive year, Warwick University in England has issued a calendar featuring its female rowing club in a state of undress. The calendar is meant as part of a charitable cause to raise funds for the Macmillan Cancer Support and its efforts towards cervical cancer. The 2013 edition of the calendar raised over $1000 US dollars.

Prior to the unforeseen social media firestorm that occurred, the 2014 calendar had sold 1,500 copies, while raising over $4,500 US dollars. 17 members of the Warwick Rowing Club were photographed in various states of undress along the River Avon and their boat house in Warwickshire. While the club had a page titled Warwick Rowing Women’s Naked Calendar on a very popular social media site to help promote and raise awareness about their cause, their page was shut down by the site.


Taking into account that the site interpreted the calendar as pornography, it was believed that the photos displayed explicit sexual content. This was compounded by the fact that the group of rowers was advised that their photos were in breach of the site’s nudity and pornography policy.

Ironically, the rowing club also features a calendar with men that pose in various states of undress. Having started their own site on social media, their site endured no criticism or removal whatsoever.
Of note, the photos did not feature any frontal nudity. In addition, many celebrities have pages on social media sites which feature shots in thongs that are much more sexually suggestive than anything the rowing club would dare to produce.

The cover of the 2014 edition of the Warwick Rowing Club's charity calendar

The cover of the 2014 edition of the Warwick Rowing Club’s charity calendar

Despite the club conforming and removing the photos, a very unfair move was executed. The popular social media site outright removed the page. As the page helped raise money for cancer research, this is a shocking and somewhat contradictory move. Private companies that are infamous for producing adult material operate pages on these sites, therefore, how can the rowing club be considered worse?

Was this attributed to the fact that the group was trying to use the site as a means of marketing their calendar? Considering that the athletes in question are university students, social media is simply an innovative and cost-effective means to market their product, which helps raise money for cancer.

As a side note, the 2015 edition of the calendar is currently in production, ready for sale in October 2014. Sophie Bell, who hails from Upminster, Essex, helped to organize the calendar and appealed to the site. Other rowers, such as Frankie Salzano and Hettie Reed also pleaded their case to the media. Salzano mentioned how the photos were tasteful and artistic, while Reed indicated that the rowers were praised for being strategically covered up.

While a media backlash resulted in the page being restored, it was a struggle that should never have endured. While this saga has all the makings of a Hollywood film, the girls should be praised for taking their fight to the media, getting their page restored. In the end, the positive publicity should only help increase sales for 2015. Before the page was even taken down by the site, it had over 2,000 likes, a positive sign for the club’s popularity. While their calendar was formed with the goal of helping charity, it has stood as a symbol of the struggle for sporting equality.

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