Was Rear Of The Year sexist? RUTH GRAHAM and JOE BATES discuss.

Last week, the national press went ballistic over a rather dull story from Cambridge. Again.

Our female follow up to Rear Of The Year was, initially, contained in its reach. It got around the same readership as the male story and looked to recede into obscurity until it was picked up at the last minute by a news agency.

Whilst The Tab stands by its publication of the pieces, we should not have assumed our legal rights to protect the photographs would prevent them from being used illegally by the tabloid press. I unreservedly apologise to the models for any distress this has caused.

We took action against The Sun, The Mirror, The Daily Mail and The Mail Online for their publication of the photos. The Sun and The Mirror both apologised and removed the photos within an hour of notification. The Mirror offered to send its fee for the photos to a charity of our choice (Jimmy’s Shelter).

The Mail Online took a day and a half. They also sent investigative journalists down to Cambridge to unmask the women’s identities. Eventually The Mail removed the photos saying it ‘regrets the dispute’ and, ‘as a gesture of goodwill’, agreed to donate the fee for the photos to Jimmy’s Shelter.

In order to make this legal process easier, and because of the absurd readership the piece garnered, The Tab was forced to take the piece down. I apologise to any disappointed readers.

An issue separate, however, from these technical difficulties is the legitimacy of the piece itself and whether they were sexist or not. To debate the issue, Ruth Graham, CUSU Women’s Officer, and myself, The Tab’s editor, have both written pieces.

——————-

RUTH SAYS:

It is predictable and shameful that some national tabloids have decided to attack the women photographed for ‘Rear of the Year’.

It’s also irritating that some of the press respond to the photos with gleeful excitement, as though they aren’t the same kind of image we see in the media every day.

But as we all know, everything done by Cambridge students must be treated as though we are exotic, elitist monkeys, pretending to be normal in a bizarre deviation from day-to-day life, in which we wear tweed onesies and sweat mathematical formulas.

This isn’t about The Tab doing something unusual or different: this is just another replication of very typical images. The Tab’s decision to run with the ‘story’ is dull.

What’s much more interesting, and much more controversial, is the question of why the portrayal of women as sex objects is problematic.

As for The Tab’s male ‘Rear’ article, anyone being honest would accept that the images were not sexualised but instead comedic (I cite Ben from Fitz, urinating). But even if they were, it cannot be desirable to ‘balance’ the scales of inequality by objectifying men too – no-one wins in this scenario.

Sexual objectification means portraying people solely as de-personalised objects of desire. And The Tab adding a line underneath one of the photographs saying the woman is into frotteurism (by the way, you’ve advocated sexual-assault) doesn’t count as personalising. There is a huge weight of research showing that objectification happens more to women than it does to men.

This may not automatically seem problematic to some. Yet in research for the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s Integrated Strategy on Violence Against Women, every expert and organisation consulted asserted that “the sexualisation of popular culture and the ubiquity of sexualized imagery of women” are “conducive contexts for violence against women.”

The causes of violence against women are obviously complex, and are not just as a result of objectification. But when the experts in violence against women say it is a factor, shouldn’t we stop and take notice?

Reproducing sexualized images of women that are there simply for the viewers’ titillation also reinforces tired stereotypes about women’s value in society. The UK’s report to the UN’s CEDAW puts it succinctly: “stereotypical attitudes … and … the power imbalance between the sexes contribute to male violence against women.”

The photographs also unthinkingly illustrate an old-fashioned, harmful message, one replicated through images we are bombarded with every day: slim, white and able-bodied is the only way to be beautiful.

Oh, and it really matters to be beautiful. The American Psychological Association’s research (amongst others) demonstrates that the media’s portrayal of women as sex objects, rather than subjects with their own sexual desires, also harms women’s mental and physical health, leading to low self-esteem, as well as eating disorders.

We should consider the welfare of women in being constantly exposed to these images, but we should also consider the welfare of those photographed. The Daily Mail were literally waiting outside my office last week, demanding the contact details of those involved (obviously I told the journalist where to go).

Sadly, this is predictable given the media furore in 2009 over Tab Totty. Last time this went national, one of the women revealed that she had only done it “as a favour to a friend”, was “embarrassed”, and wanted the photographs to be removed from the public domain. Yet the pattern has been repeated: suddenly, predictably, The Tab is desperately trying to claw the photographs back from the public domain, and the media are out in full force snarling about the women involved.

In 1995 the UN’s World Conference on Women produced an international declaration of women’s rights, calling on governments to “encourage the media to refrain from presenting women as inferior … and exploiting them as sexual objects”. Seventeen years on I say it’s time we started demanding it ourselves.

——————-

JOE SAYS:

Something is sexist if it treats people differently because of their sex. Rear Of The Year didn’t. Therefore Rear Of The Year is not sexist.

I feel like that’s the only argument I should need, but if dealing with the tabloids for a week has taught me anything, it’s that people will see what they want to see unless you yell at them loudly enough.

So this is me yelling: Ladies’ Rear Of The Year was an afterthought. The men’s one went well, the comments section was packed with requests for a follow-up and I thought ‘Why the hell not?’

The answers to that question have had me scratching my head for the last week. Here’s my attempt to answer a few of them.

The first thing that made me chuckle when leafing through the acres of newsprint dedicated to the sight of cantab bums was Ruth’s suggestion that the men’s poses featured such masculine stereotypes as ‘urinating and cooking’.

Now, I’m pretty sure cooking in an apron isn’t one of the best known males stereotypes. But more importantly: we didn’t choose the poses (or the models). The models sent in what they wanted, we published.

I think it’s definitely true that the women were, in general, shyer than the guys in their poses. But is that any surprise, given the absurd over-reaction that followed? The greater care taken by the women is just a recognition that we live in a sexist world.

But here in The Tab‘s more salacious wing, our motto is ‘equality of objectification’. We are conditioned to think that comparing people based on their bare assets alone is sexist, shameful, or as the Mail tutted, ‘unedifying’. The more thoughtful tell us that viewing sex purely physically is demeaning and reductive.

But all this this is only a problem if we are taking ourselves quite a lot too seriously. Judgement only hurts if it’s on something we care about or if we try to claim that the object of judgement is something of genuine importance. If I told most of my friends here that they sucked at football, I’d get a baffled ‘So-what-man-I’m-too-fucking-cool’ look. But at primary school, it was a deadly insult, likely to result in tears before bedtime.

The same goes for bums. The reason why our models were happy to be judged by you lot, The Tab‘s anonymous hate army, was because they correctly recognised that there was a lot more to them than their glutes. The piece reinforced this: it couldn’t have taken itself less seriously if it were written in Comic Sans.

And if this was genuinely the problem with the piece, why didn’t Ruth or our other complainant (all one of them) contact us after the first piece?

Because, unlike us, some people do actually have an instinctive problem with female sexuality. An instinctive reaction that says female bums are sexist, demeaning and rude, whilst men’s bums are just a laugh for the lads.

The problem is that whilst we continue to patronise brainy young women by telling them they lack the ability to take it as joke, we continue to stigmatise female sexuality, to view it as naughty, demeaning and wrong.

In reality, the story was only of the tiniest bit of interest because of the way the press exploded. And that happened because these were women from Cambridge. The subtext of the national press’s explosion of slut-shaming was that female sexuality is fine – so long as it’s not combined with intelligence (or anything else that gives women power).

‘Clever’, in the letchy eye of the Mail Online, must always mean ‘ugly prude’ just as ‘stupid’ must always mean ‘pretty slut’.

Anything else is sexist, right?

 

  • I thought

    Leila only liked frotting doors?

    • Matty McBroide

      Aye, and I though rear of the year was only a bit of craig

    • Fact check

      "Fact check: frotteurism refers to a paraphilic interest in rubbing, usually one's pelvis or erect penis, against a non-consenting person for sexual gratification. It may involve touching any part of the body including the genital area."

      • Wikipedia

        is not gospel

  • Question fo Ruth

    What's wrong with women wanting to look sexy?

    • Ewww

      she is physically incapable

      • keep it

        serious. I want to know what she says.

        • sense

          she's saying portraying women as "solely sex objects" ie de-personalised is the problem, not sexiness!

        • From a boy

          Nothing really as long as you are happy with women being treated as purely sexual objects as a result.
          While you might be very happy with boys looking at your ass and tits (which I assume is what you want when you dress in a sexy fashion otherwise why bother? You can look good and nice and attractive without looking 'sexy'), it is that attitude which will encourage a culture in which all boys will look at all girls and judge them SEXUALLY on their clothes, their figure etc. When Stacey 24 from Lemington Spa gets her tits out on pg3, boys don't give a shit about her personality. We only look at her boobs and judge her on that and nothing else. Not all women want that which is why there is irritation at girls flashing their bottoms on the Tab.
          It is attitudes which shrug off these photos as 'girls wanting to look sexy' which engender objectification. If you're happy with that objectification, fine – but dont have a go at those who aren't.

          • feminist

            marry me?

          • from another boy

            Why the sexist double standard? If men are allowed to look sexually attractive on occasion without a culture in which all men are seen as objects then why not women?
            Your desire to treat men and women differently in terms of sexuality, which borders on shaming women for their sexuality , is sexist.

          • Other way round

            "If you're happy with that objectification, fine – but dont have a go at those who aren't."

            Equally if you're not happy with that objectification, fine, don't dress that way – but don't have a go at those who are.

  • Hmm

    One of the bums on the girls' rear of the year was actually a boy's…

    • Barack Obama

      I don't think so.

  • Misguided poll

    Surely the issue is whether it was demeaning to those involved / women in general, not whether it was sexist?

    • wondering

      How is it demeaning if the girls/boy agreed to have their pictures on the site?

      • Misguided poll

        I'm not suggesting it was in particular, but we don't know who wrote the captions that arguably made it much more sexual and could contributors be expected to realise that they would be printed in the national press?

  • Bristol Netball Team

    I'd like to remind the DM that they didn't call this calendar sexist, or imply that the girls had no morals. Maybe it is because the girls were not from Cambridge. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2070701/Bristol-...

    • Wow

      I want one

    • to quote directly

      "The girls from Bristol University showed they were game for a bit of fun by posing with nothing but netballs to cover their modesty."

    • In the

      wank bank!

    • Represent

      Maybe not sexist but I'm pretty sure there's some racism going on.

  • Two good arguments

    but what is interesting is that it's the piece claiming the article wasn't sexist that ends up being more ideological (advocating complete gender equality and blaming the article's readers for any sexist interpretations) and Ruth's piece is more pragmatic (saying that we have to treat women differently, if slightly patronisingly, because studies have shown that to do otherwise can adversely affect them). Joe's piece actually comes out more in favour of equality than Ruth's.

    • Two good arguments

      (that is to say, Ruth's main argument where she argued that this sort of thing has been proven to affect the perception of women was a well-argued point. Some of her piece was bollocks.)

    • not really

      so by saying sexism exists you create the problem?
      we can't reach gender equality just by denying that inequalities exist… just like how the "gender neutral" pensions system favours men by rewarding long periods of uninterrupted work, and so ignoring the fact that many women take maternity leave. being gender-blind does not create equality

      • gap year twat

        You're arguing that people should be rewarded equally for work done when they've actually done different amounts of work.

        Equality isn't that easy to define, treating everyone the same is the best way to get there.

    • Perhaps but

      I see what you've done, but I disagree. First, it's a stretch to call desiring equality 'ideological', particularly with regards to so frivolous an issue as this.
      Second, yes, in the strict substance, Graham's argument cites more sources, etc. But three things undermine this.
      a) most of the 'evidence' is a selection fo imprecise assertions by groups with an investment in this question, not independent experimental work (and even experimental evidence in this field is pretty dodgy). Note the weasel words in promoting these: the first bit of 'research' of 'experts' was actually a survey of organisations involved in this field.
      b) consequently, the asserted 'evidence' may well be ideological itself. So while it would be pragmatic *if we knew* sexualisation causes violence to not sexualise, the basis for such an impossible-to-measure relationship is rooted more in a certain ideologically-inflected view of the world than in evidence. Specifically, it's rooted in the arts' commonplace that perception is everything and people are nothing more than a collection of the language and symbols that surrounds them. Ironically, this partly removes the burden from the rapist etc. for their actions, in parallel with the 'rape myths'.
      c) the most fantastically ideological part of the piece is the suggestion that if we accept a) and b) — that there is objective evidence for a causal connection between sexualisation and sexual and violence — then *any tiny thing* that feeds into this or, in reflection of the majority culture, buys into its stereotypes, must be equally harmful. Only by arguing this rather strained point can Rear of the Year, or Tab Totty, be portrayed as a danger to women the world over.

      As an aside, it's not clear what Graham is arguing overall. Does she want all objectification banned? How? Does she think this is only a phenomenon of the evil media rather than a reflection of human constants? In which case, what possible solution can she have but that we all wear burquas? In which case, how would we go to France?

      Finally, two more observations. First, there was a far more astute point (the evidence for its truth is evident in the respective articles) made by 'Bristol Netball Team'. Secondly, ideologically, Graham somewhat undermines her credibility with the snide and stupid remark on frotteurism.

      • Too long…

        Lost interest after the first line

  • Realist

    Ruth Graham should resign. This is such an embarrassing piece of writing. She is morally vacuous.

    • Democracy

      Can we have a referendum on whether we should have a women's officer position? I'm all for equality, but paying someone £18,000 a year to needlessly criticise things that the rest of us agree with is a waste of my JCR's contribution to CUSU.

      See DSK at the Union and this. CUSU as a whole is of a questionable purpose in my eyes, but the Women's Officer position seems to be the most wasteful of them all.

      • A welfare officer

        Absolutely 100% agreed.

      • Mouse

        Do it! Bring it up at CUSU Council next term, have the debate, and have a referendum over it! There's no reason not to debate the position!

        • Democracy

          I genuinely think I might have done, but unfortunately I'm graduating this year. I've never been to a CUSU or JCR meeting in the 3 years I've been here because I think both are a massively inefficient waste of time and resources, but I have regularly voted (mainly to RON), because you can't take complain about democracy if you don't partake in it. But hopefully someone will read this who isn't graduating, so please get a campaign going for this next year.

      • RUTH <3

        i find it amazing that cambridge students are so anti women's rights. we are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow, when are we going to recognize that we do not live in an equal society? gender, race, class, and many other factors shape systemic inequalities. no one is saying gender is the only one, but it is an important issue for us in cambridge – judging by the pay gap, imbalance of women in higher levels of academia, and the fact that without all-female colleges there would not be a gender balance among students.

        I know I'm not alone in thinking that Ruth does a fantastic job of standing up for women.

        • Cambridge Students

          I think the point is more that we – as 'the leaders of tomorrow' if you wish to call us so – feel like we can realise these things ourselves without somebody being paid £18,000 to remind us of them.

          The thing is, all CUSU Womens Officers have made a big thing about hating the Tab; what they don't seem to get is that nobody at the Tab really cares – it recognises itself as a bit of fun, as do the majority of students. CUSU, as ever, being in touch with exactly what we think…

          Also interesting that Ruth has altered her comments from the national press , where she condemned the predictability and shamefulness of the Tab in running the campaign, to now condemn the predictability and shamefulness of the national papers. Has she changed her mind or is she toning down her opinion so as not to inflame Tab readers?

        • Mouse

          That's true, she does; BUT if there's people who want to debate having a women's offiicer, why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't there be the chance to raise this issue and debate if students want to?

        • no.

          I realise we don't live in an equal society. I just don't think the way to solve this is to moan about "objectifying women" every three seconds. It actually is counterproductive – it makes people not take gender equality seriously. "Women's rights? Oh that's the thing that made people tear down the free speech banner at the Strauss-Kahn talk. I don't want any of that!"
          A women's officer is supposed to represent women. Not ultra-feminists. There is a difference.

          • err sorry…

            1. what about Ruth is 'ultra-feminist'?
            Ruth and the CUSU campaign do not represent 'ultra-feminists', they do not speak of the superiority of women, but for equality.

            2. why should criticizing the objectification of women make the women's campaign be taken less seriously?

            3. it wasn't a 'free speech' poster, it was a poster that said 'so what if he is a rapist, he might still have something interesting to say'.

            • I'm sorry too

              What you've done at the end there is voiced an opinion. You've said 'whatever the Union might have said about DSK, that wasn't the case'. Which I imagine diminished the respect you had for the Union. It's not necessarily correct, but a human judgment.

              In shouting to whoever that would listen that the Tab has been really sexist, Ruth Graham ignored what a large majority of the country thinks (90% in Tab poll, I can think of 3 national press articles that agree with Ruth and many more that don't) and said her point.

              This majority – including many women – disagrees with Ruth, and so by her banging on about sexism when it isn't accepted by so many means assessment of her goes down and people don't take her as seriously. She is positioned to an extreme of feminism, because she isn't representing 'women', she's representing a small section of them, which seems a bit weird.

              I think that's 1,2, and 3 answered

              • why

                why is it 'banging on' when it is about sexism, but no one is ever accused of 'banging on' about racism?

                • here's why

                  Probably because we don't have a CUSU race officer at 18k a year yet.

                  • Great idea

                    We should do, considering the majority of our ethnic minority students are from two countries: India and China. Of course these things are issues.

            • ECHR

              Re point 3: what's the difference?

              We've had a convicted murderer in the Union chamber before, why is it any worse to have someone who (a) hasn't been convicted, of a (b) less serious offence?

              And the right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, i.e. it applies to all humans. Having some unproven allegations made against you doesn't stop you from being a human.

              • empathy

                i think the difference is that there aren't many students walking around cambridge who have been personally affected by murder, whereas there are actually a significant number of girls who have been sexually assaulted and raped here

                • are you serious

                  Great, and many more students in Cambridge are affected by theft than either rape or murder. Clearly it does not follow that convicted thieves have no right to speak or are not human.

                  There is no way to justify giving rape a special category: either you are in favour in freedom of speech for all or you are against it.

                  Think before you speak. (I am not 'ECHR').

                • empathy?

                  Oh that's so true, a crime is only serious if one has been personally touched by it.

                • Mouse

                  well, considering that point then; why was no fuss raised over Julian Assange coming to the Unio, given that at the time he was being charged with two counts of rape and was appealing against deportation to Sweden?

                  • Also,

                    I happen to know quite a few people here who have had family members murdered…

                    Although, isn't it the fact he WASN'T convicted? The murderer (sorry, I can't remember his name, but I did go) admitted what he had done and repented…he travels around preaching AGAINST murder. Whereas DSK's denial implies he condones rape or at least hasn't been punished….

      • YES!

        YES YES YES PLEASE.
        As a woman, my feelings of intense annoyance towards women's officers in general outweighs any benefit (actually, what benefit?) that having them provides.

    • Agreed

      no wonder women from Cambridge aren't taken seriously, what an appalling ambassador

      • Why?

        Why?

    • anon

      that's a ridiculous statement. in what way morally vacuous??

  • Bottom Line

    Far too many bum notes in this article.

  • Everyone

    When will we see Tits of the Year?

    • Please no…

      They'd have to do a men's version too :-s

      • Genitals

        of the year then!

    • Sad

      This comment gets +37. THAT'S why we need a woman's officer.

      • Mr. I Rony

        Men like breasts. Shocking.

        We must correct this disgusting trend immediately.

      • Mr. I Rony

        Also: I refer you to the below comment calling for a cocks of the year piece, which also has +37.

  • mr.lister

    Rear of the year was sexist because the women weren't bare but the men were.

    • actually

      this had nothing to do with the Tab. The contestants sent in thier pictures dressed however they wanted.

      • actually take two

        Yes it did. The Tab specified that the bums had to be bare for the first article and not the second.

      • Spelling police

        their

  • Low

    Is Ruth Graham from ARU?

    • Fool

      no, she's just on her period

      • comments like this

        AND YOU WERE WONDERING WHY WE NEED A CUSU WOMEN'S OFFICER!?

        • Captain Obvious

          Jesus Christ. It's the Internet. There will always be people who troll. Judging by the ratings, it isn't exactly popular.

          To use an extremely sexist phrase: grow a pair.

        • Fartrt

          You're right! £18,000 a year is a LOW PRICE to pay for addressing two anonymous internet comments! Because the people who made these comments are SO EASILY CONVINCED BY PEOPLE LIKE RUTH

          • *shock*

            ruth's main job is not dealing with this stuff on the tab (though that could be a full time job).

            why do we need an access officer? because the cambridge entry system and process is skewed towards private schools.

            why do we need a women's officer? because the cambridge entry system and process is skewed towards men.

            • Public School Boy

              Is the Cambridge entry system really skewed towards men. According to the Women's campaign's website:

              "women students have only recently begun to make up 50% of the undergraduate student body with at least five colleges still containing well under 50% women."

              So (even if it is only recently), women do make up 50% of the cambridge population. And, if 5 colleges are well under 50%, the other 29 (including the women's only colleges) must take more than 50% women. This (and in particular the existence of women's only colleges) suggests to me that it is in fact skewed towards women. After all, if getting in is all that matters I think applying to a college where half the prospective Cambridge applicants are ineligible on account of their sex is a significant advantage.

              As for the process, that's a debate being had on a different article, but I would again suggest that while the process may (and i'm still not sure of it) have a glass ceiling, it seems to have a glass cellar as well – lot of men out there getting thirds.

            • you're a silly cow

              Seriously?
              Christ you people are so utterly convinced of your own dogmatic persecution complex.
              The issue of exams being unfair to women has already been raised on the tab and subsequently debunked, so let me adress entry instead.
              Where is you evidence for Cambridge's entry system being "skewed towards men". http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/publicat
              look at table 3.1
              Go on show me.

            • http://xkcd.com/37/ Tits

              No. What a fucking dumb ass-statement.The Women's Officer doesn't do Access. Access work targets students from under-represented schools, areas, genders, ethnicities, and Trekkie fandoms. The Women's Officer has fuck all to do with Access. And you're a tit.

        • asr

          You seem hysterical.
          You need to calm down and take control of your wandering womb.

  • Ruth

    is clearly just jealous.

    • Get the

      feck out of my University you dumb plonker.

  • below the belt

    these comments should be a debate not a personal attack on Ruth

  • Ordinary Female

    Ruth Graham is the most relatable Women's Officer that CUSU has had in a looooong time. She uses evidence and she's read things!

    • Mouse

      I'd agree, but that's also a pretty shocking indictment of who the last few Womens' Officers have been…

      • Cantab

        I thought the last few Women's Officers were all Natalie Szarek?

        • Guestimus Maximus

          Thankfully the Education Act of 1994 limited her to only two terms…

    • What is

      CUSU?

    • Tab vs CUSU?

      "She uses evidence and she's read things! "

      I'm not so sure.

      With regard to pornography the report that the CUSU Women’s officer cites in her argument, repeatedly argues that “pornography influences young men’s expectations of sexual relationships”

      This is a taken from a study of 14-15 year olds.

      The report cited by the Women’s’ Officer also repeatedly makes claims that its source for this data derived the information data from “2081 respondents”.

      No it didn’t.

      In actual fact if you read the original source material the “pornography influences young men’s expectations of sexual relationships” comment was derived from focus group research consisting of 67 young people.

      67 young people.

      Aged between 14-15.

      From Rochdale.

      You decide how reliable that data is.

  • Raphael Nadal

    Fitz beat Johns at rugby

  • Who's up for

    cocks of the year?

  • Daily Mail

    'CAMBRIDGE STUDENTS MAKE FUN OF US'

  • true story

    phwoarr the mail online are twats aren't they

  • Oh, come on

    So, one article offers an evidenced based argument regarding the dangers of objectification; the other offers lazy rhetorical devices based on blatant misrepresentations of the opposition's argument.

    If Joe can defend Rear of the Year on the basis of a researched case for why objectification is not damaging to women, then that's a case I'd genuinely like to hear. Clearly he's been unable to do that, so has fallen back on cheap argumentative tricks that would leave any self respecting Cambridge student embarrassed for falling for.

    • spot on

      it's so lazy to say
      a) erm..well..they sent them in so…
      b) the boys did one too so everything's equal
      c) it's a bit of a laugh and anyone who disagrees takes themselves far too seriously.

      Let's have Tab Titties next week please. It's for a laugh afterall.

    • Joe Bates

      Hi there, thanks for commenting. A few replies:

      1. Ruth's piece was well researched. She, as women's officer, undeniably knows more than me about this topic. My argument, however, was not primarily about consequences but about moral decisions that I had to make. These are much harder to research or to present statistics on.

      2. Rhetorical devices is just a snide way of saying I tried to write well. Don't be snide, you get thumbs down.

      3. The problem with a researched case on this is that The Tab's approach is so different to other media sources. We print normally between 2 and 5 articles per year that objective men or women in this way. This is totally different from the impact discussed in Ruth's examples, where the images are circulated daily. I do, however, have one statistic for you: before the press went wild, the men's article was on 9000 hits whereas the women's was on 8000 (and had been the front page, unlike the mens). This, to me, would suggest that Cambridge students don't consume images in a sexist way and that therefore the concerns of imbalance Ruth had are not as mainstream as she might think.

      • and 4 for Joe Bates

        you go Joe Bates!

      • Pippa Middleton

        The men's one was popular because the photo link to the page was of my arse!

      • duh

        the men's article was up a week before the women's, so the women's article got nearly twice as many hits in the same amount of time

    • independentwomyn

      OH NO
      Women have the opportunity to send in pictures of themselves just like men do.
      What a nightmare!
      Everyone knows that women lack any agency or the ability to make decisions for themselves.
      They were practically raped!

  • I bet

    Jimmy has a well nice shelter now

  • Chris Wilson

    Still got that place in my heart for you Jess #cosmylifeisrosayyyyy

    • Mike Wilson

      Classic Chris

  • what if

    I email you personally; can I still get the photos?

  • wut?

    Ruth you're trying to make out that the article "advocated sexual assault" and "contribute[d] to male violence against women". Sorry, I just don't buy it.

    • septimus

      I don't think she's saying that this particular article did, just that the fact that articles which sexualise women (and she thinks this is one of them) can contribute to male violence against women. That is, if people are bombarded every day with sexualised images of women, it creates an atmosphere in which it is normal for women to be seen as objects. That's all. I mean, personally I disagree with her, but what she's saying isn't actually all that ridiculous.

      • wut?

        But there's no evidence for that. She just says every 'expert' in a survey asserted that sexual imagery in the media led to violence.

        • Prudes?

          No offence, but Rear of the Year was hardly sexual imagery.

  • Fed up

    Can we not have one article in Cambridge press about women that this bint doesn't comment on.

    • Public School Boy

      She is the women's officer. She'd be doing a pretty shit job if she didn't comment on articles int he student press about women.

      I happen to think she's doing a pretty shit job anyway, but that's because of what she says, not that she says it.

  • Jingles

    Dear Ruth,

    A man's naked bum while urinating is considering very sexualised by some! Don't let your pedestrian tastes affect your judgement. Also, a woman can be into fotteurism in that she can enjoy rubbing herself onto inanimate objects, so unless you consider that sexual assault against, say, a table or a cushion, maybe you should think before you write – first time for everything!

    kisses

    • Not exactly

      By definition (at least Wikipedia agrees with me here) frotteurism necessarily involves a non-consenting person. That said, I remember from the original article that the girl was said to rub herself on doors, so it's still silly to criticise it as Ruth does.

      • not at all

        if frotteurism necessarly involves a non-consenting person, that is sexual assault – i remember the first article definitely said the girl was into frotterusim, so even if it then went on to say that included rubbing herself on doors (can't remember the particulars of this), still bit off to be promoting it.

    • I Drink Wee

      Agreed.

      "As for The Tab’s male ‘Rear’ article, anyone being honest would accept that the images were not sexualised but instead comedic (I cite Ben from Fitz, urinating)."

      Having taken it upon myself to conduct extensive internet research on the subject and I for one was surpised by the number of comedy websites, most charging money to join, that feature women having a piss.

  • Aviva

    HATE ARRRRRRMY!

    PLEASE can we have an unofficial Tab Suporters Group. You know, that meets in a shed somewhere near to their offices, claims it was better 'back in my day' etc. and stages shitty protests against other papers OR changes in Tab ownership/ management.

    HATE ARRRRMY!

  • Guest

    To be honest I think it is the media that is sexist more than the tab. The fact that they can't deal with the idea of intelligent women being proud of their bodies and making an article to relieve some of the exam term tedium. The media think that intelligent women aren't allowed to be sexual and should just shy away while their 'less intelligent' counterparts are permitted to 'get their tits out' etc. The Mail and the Sun consistently demean celebrities and their bodies but they don't make a fuss about the women showing flesh. Yet as soon as women who are 'the leaders of tomorrow' do it then there is a massive moral panic?

    To me the sexism is in the media because men do not receive this double standard about showing their bodies, otherwise the mail would have criticised the first competition.

  • Giles C.

    Ruth Graham can suck the back of my balls

    • Giles' Mum

      she can suck my clit if she thinks that was sexist

    • I think

      you're a bit of a doofus & ninnyhammer of the first degree

  • Lolz

    How much is DM Offering in £ sterling for info on names? If the price is right……

    Naw, wouldn't really (DM couldn't afford it), but in all seriousness some of them were atrociously obvious, bad effort at anonymity. If you don't want your ass plastered on papers internationally it might not be the best idea to take pictures of it and put it online. Man up.

  • Rational

    I hate everything

  • Not problematic…

    So if we adjust Ruth's argument to incorporate the fact that the pictures were chosen by the models, not The Tab, then it must follow that the female models who were objectifying and sexualising themselves? Or else maybe it was all just a bit of fun like the male competition. Just saying.

  • tired of this

    It's a shame that this comments space is so aggressively sexist that most feminists refuse to read the Tab, let alone comment. If it wasn't, I'm sure we'd see a much more balanced debate, rather than 80% ridiculous insults.

    I for one definitely won't be bothering reading the Tab anymore.

  • Thomas Smith

    How much do you get paid if you're a sexist? Do you need to study sex at university first? I might apply.

    Yes,

    Thomas x

  • naomi campbell

    rub oil into my batty crease

  • Feminist

    The photos obviously weren't sexist. How could women objectify their own bums? When I get naked I am not being sexist. The sexism/objectification was done by those looking at the photos in a sexist/objectifying manner – e.g. the commenters who professed a desire to touch their rude bits and the national press who put the photos on the pg.3 of the internet. Maybe the Tab provided a platform for this, but it's not the guilty party. It's onlooker's attitudes that need to be changed: I genuinely think a screw you sexism rise in female nudity is the answer.

    • Men Everywhere

      We wholeheartedly agree with your last comment – where can we sign a petition for a rise in female nudity?

    • All Men

      I agree. Female nudity is always the answer.

    • Not really

      However, onlooker's attitudes are facilitated by girls stripping down and posting photos on the internet. Its lazy and irresponsibleof the girls involved and observers to shrug it off as jokes. How are attitudes going to change if 'a bit of fun', 'a bit of a laugh' etc are going to be equated continually with implicitly sexual photos? They therefore facilitate objectification.
      It is the same as girls going out with the shortest skirts around and their boobs out because they 'want to look good'. 'Looking good' is immediately equated with looking sexually desirable. You can look nice without showing off your tits but this isn't done. Dressing and presenting oneself in a purely sexual manner is going to facilitate an attitude where girls are observed in a purely sexual manner. The photos aren't sexist, but they help engender a culture of objectification.

  • TPJ

    I stand by the fact that showing pictures of women in not very much clothes from a (male u21's training perpective does insinuate something i'd like "to sexually have a go with")

    • TPJ judge

      shit. get back to training

  • Abdullah

    Women should be forbidden from sexually objectivying themselves like this.

    I'm glad Ruth and I can agree on the disgusting immorality and lack of modesty shown in these tab articles.

  • Tab vs CUSU?

    “This may not automatically seem problematic to some. Yet in research for the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s Integrated Strategy on Violence Against Women, every expert and organization consulted asserted that “the sexualisation of popular culture and the ubiquity of sexualized imagery of women” are “conducive contexts for violence against women.”

    Having read all 80+ pages of this report, in fairness, it is far from being anything approaching a balanced view of the issues and causality of what is obviously the extremely serious and extremly horrific issue of violence against women.

    The report is highly selective in its choices of sources for data to back its conclusions with this regard, and the empirical data secured by those sources, (would I think) give any reasonable person some cause for concern if preparing a report which reached such bold conclusions in any other context.

    The truth is that there is just as much academic research out there that concludes “sexualised imagery of women” has no effect as “conducive contexts for violence against women” .

    • Mr. Cultured

      Of course. Her sources are always highly dubious – they're part of a vast and complex industry that relies on the depiction of women as victims and men as predators, and are intellectually bankrupt because of it.

      Funny that Ruthy doesn't consider any similar links between depictions of male sexuality and gendered violence against men because, while gendered violence against men has been shown to be more common than that against women, braindead feminists like Ruth Graham refuse to discuss it because it poses a dangerous challenge to the female monopoly on victimhood.

      And why wouldn't Ruth work hard to protect the false female monopoly on victimhood? Afterall, the Women's Office only exists because discrimination supposedly does. Soon she may even be allowed to become a Labour MP because she has a vagina. Just like Harriet Harman, I'm sure Ruth can build herself a nice little career out of the lie that women are perpetual victims and men have everything perfect.

      • Lad

        I was coerced into being a lad by a naturalised, homogenising conception of masculinity.

        • Lad2

          And I can't get out.

          Please help.

  • Women's Officer

    It wasn't sexist due to the equal opportunity objectification. However the whole phenomenon of such objectification and the commodification of sex and the body is a reflection of the patriarchy that is inherent to modern society, and patriarchy, of course, is, by its very nature, sexist .

    • asr

      It's a reflection of men wanting to have sex with women's bodies, and profit-maximising organisations wanting to capitalise on that.
      There's no over-arching, sexist conspiracy between hundreds of corporations trying to keep women down.

    • beans

      I think I want to have sex with men just as much as they want to have sex with me.
      The problem with feminists is that they don't think women enjoy sex or anything to do with it.

      • Goody!

        Then let's!

      • Sad

        This is just a fucking stupid statement.

    • Wymyn's Offycyr

      Why is objectification a reflection of the patriarchy? This is the sort of thing most people who call themselves feminist would spout, but without giving any justification it's hard to take it too seriously.

      I suppose sex itself is also a reflection of the patriarchy, a misogynistic violation through 'stabbing', where consent is conditioned by cultural pressures to the extent that it's always, to some extent, rape.

      This is why feminism doesn't get taken as seriously as it should. Sexless monkeys churning out buzzwords and feeling self-righteous because of the choices they make.

      Ruth Graham wilfully distorted the facts – calling the men's piece a 'nod to equality' though it was published first, with the women's piece an afterthought; emphasising the 'comedy' men's poses, ignoring the sexualised elements she would have pounced on had they been in the women's piece; acting like the great protector of the women whose choices she publicly condemns (what could she have told the daily mail reporter other than 'where to go'? Joe Bates is the one working to protect their identities, while Ruth jumps at the chance to get in the papers).

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L8upjc-of8 Stop Snitchin'

    I want to hear more about how Rear of the Year was apparently hugely racist for not including and darker-shaded bottoms.

  • Stupid Tab

    I might be stupid but why did Tab seek legal actions against the national papers- so the Tab can enjoy less of a national exposure? By all means try to get money and protect the identities of the girls but why request them to take the pictures down..

  • you do realise that the mail online still has the picture up, right? gonna do anything about that?

  • not so long ago