Sex sells, for charity this time

Thanks in part to nudity, the calendar crew and fantastically fit Warwick Rowers will be stripping down — for a good cause — again next year. As of last week, they’ve kicked off their 2015 crowd funding operation, releasing a video hot enough to make you want to throw your entire life savings into their cause.

Popular not for their rowing skills (although they may be talented; it’s unclear on their website) this team is known for their “Naked Rowers” calendar: a stripped-down charity project designed to raise funds for Sport Allies, an organization whose aim is to battle homophobia and promote inclusion through sport.

This all sounds great, fantastic even, but I’m not quite sold. How does a calendar of naked rowers, sometimes covered in paint or spraying each other with a fire hose, help battle homophobia? More importantly, do the people who are buying this calendar even care about inclusion?

While I want to be convinced that the people who purchase these calendars or videos (“Brokeback Boathouse” is a popular one) want to challenge homophobia, the sad truth is that the only reason these calendars are selling is because there are fit, naked men being pretty bizarre on 12 pages of semi-gloss paper.

Even so, there’s nothing wrong with that. If someone who might be bigoted wants to purchase a calendar that supports a cause they’re against strictly because it’s covered in attractive men — go crazy; the joke’s on them, and the money won’t be turned away.

The real problem I have with this calendar operation is engrained in the foundation: to challenge homophobia and support inclusion. Buying into the ideas of what is attractive to our society and selling it as charity is a severe misstep and a disgrace. A bunch of guys straddling each other and goofing around “sexily” might challenge society’s view of masculinity, but it’s not doing much to challenge homophobia.

Further still, these men are all chiseled, largely straight cisgendered athletes. The message they’re trying to send isn’t be received. The whole calendar could easily be mistaken as some kind of incredibly risqué Abercrombie campaign. It’s a project that doesn’t do much to recognize what should be celebrated about the gay community: differences and individuality. Everything about the project is atypical, cheesy and covered in baby oil.

If you’re going to start a charity project, it’s probably best to raise money for something you understand rather then generalizing the idea of male-on-male action and ending up with some kind of hodgepodge of sexual tension, tan lines and muscular backs. There’s more to the gay community than what this calendar of straight males is portraying, and it is absent from every page of the product they’re selling.

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via Warwick Rowers twitter (@naked_rowers)

While I cannot deny that these men are not a feast for the eyes, I can say that sex sells – but I’m not buying.

Reach the columnist at mjrodr11@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @mikayrodr

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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