Rugby exposed: Degrading or hot?

In the past few years, some top women’s rugby teams have posed for nude or close-to-nude calendars as part of their fundraising efforts. A few of the national teams have calendars, including the Canadian team, as do a handful of club teams.

The team at Oberlin College in Ohio has a nude calendar, and has taken a lot of heat for it.

One of the members of the team told the student newspaper The Oberlin Review,

“In a society that brands female competitive sports athletes as masculine, this calendar parodies the standard beauty myth, by juxtaposing the concept of the seductive and submissive pinup with images of women who assert themselves not only as strong athletes, but also as empowered women.”

I’ve played my share of rugby — I came out on a rugby team, and it was like my own platform 9-3/4 to the lesbian world. Our team talked about doing a nude rugby calendar to sell as a fundraiser, just as these teams have done.

We were sick and tired of all the “Feed Shane” images of women. We wanted to see muscles and abs that rippled, not skin and bones.

Besides, naked is nothing new to the average rugger. Have you ever done a Zulu? Like swimming and wrestling, rugby is a sport that seems to attract people in a hurry to get naked, usually just for some harmless fun.

The flip side, of course, is that some people think any nude shot of a female athlete is just wrong and degrading.

This issue was a big deal a few years ago when Jenny Thompson, the Olympic swimmer, posed for Sports Illustrated wearing nothing but tight shorts and red shoes. Other Olympians have also shown off their fine forms.

What do you think? Is it empowering to see a rugger’s abs and big muscles presented as sexy, or is it degrading?

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