How Warwick Rowing's women fought Facebook and won

Oct 20, 2014 at 2:02 p.m. ET
Image: Sarah Bell/Vimeo

The University of Warwick Rowing Society's women incurred the wrath of the mighty Facebook but they survived and are back with a bang. And plenty of cheek.

After Facebook temporarily banned their page in July for "inappropriate content," the women from the University of Warwick Rowing Society fought back. This week they are celebrating the release of their tastefully shot nude calendar, which they will be able to promote to their heart's content on their Facebook page… unless, of course, the social media giant decides to unpublish it again.

Facebook took down the page for The Warwick Rowing's Women's Naked Calendar on the basis that it breached its nudity and porn regulations.

"It really hurt us when it was branded as porn because that is exactly the opposite of what we want to do," said third-year history and politics student Sophie Bell, who helped organise the calendar. "We are all strong-minded women and our first thought is to make sure the shots are tastefully done so it makes a calendar we can all be proud of. We have raised more than £3,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and thought we might struggle to sell as many of the 2015 calendars without Facebook. Thankfully, due to the support of our loyal fans, they saw sense and put the page back up again and the girls are really looking forward to selling as many as we can to our fans all over the world."

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Warwick Rowing Women's Naked Calendar 2015! from Sophie Bell on Vimeo.

Video credit: Sarah Bell/Vimeo

The female rowing team have faced controversy since they released their first calendar in 2013. It was called "tacky" for showing women as "sex objects." But the girls didn't let the criticism stop them and used the publicity to their advantage. Their 2014 calendar showed the team completely naked and raised £3,400 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

They hope to hit this year's target of £5,000 for the charity with the proceeds from the 2015 calendar, which they call their best yet. It features the 12 members of the rowing club — aged between 18 and 21 — larking around in their boat house on the River Avon in Barford, Warkwickshire. The women look beautiful, happy and healthy — and the overall effect is about as pornographic as… well, rowing.

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Interestingly, the University of Warwick men's rowing team has sold a naked calendar since 2009  — to raise money supporting groups that fight homophobia — but their Facebook page has never been taken down.

Looking for a cheeky Christmas stocking filler? To buy a calendar for £9, visit warwickrowing.org.

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