Why We Bared Our Bums
Following criticism from certain quarters that our best bum awards are “sexist” and “irresponsible”, three of the participants issue their rear-sponse.
I have never liked my bum. I’ve always had the vague but persistent feeling that, for a money-maker, it doesn’t so much shake as wobble unconvincingly in all the wrong ways. But I never realised the full extent of it until I offered to bare my backside for Cambridge (and, inevitably, the readership of the Daily Mail), and was instantly filled with deep and soul-consuming dread. I dropped my kegs and donned my birthday suit and started snapping away, and seeing my nekkids for the first time made me think garbled squirmy things like AAAH THAT’S MY BUM IT’S GROSS I AM GROSS. My poor, unappreciated booty was a bulging can of insecurity worms, and what an ass-tounding realisation that was.
I realised I had to submit it. I had to get over the fear of my rear. It wasn’t about succumbing to a system of value judgements and objectification: it was about confronting and overcoming those judgements and the way they manifest themselves on me. It was about realising that my bum is just a bum, like everyone else’s, and I had to get used to it. It is what it is. No amount of votes will change that, and nor should they.
Was it in some way anti-feminist of me to feel liberated by exposing myself to the scrutiny of our society? I don’t think so. I think it’s unhelpful and reductive to pigeonhole everything into the brackets of feminist and anti-feminist. If I want to be naked as the day is long, who would be so regressive as to force me to cover up? This wasn’t a vacuous, unthinking whim, or a bid for attention, or an accidental subscription to the clutches of patriarchal evaluations that I don’t fully understand. It wasn’t an, inverted commas, ‘choice’: it was a choice, and it was utterly liberating. My posterior and I have never been prouder.
I didn’t choose to bare my bum for profit, nor for fame. I did it because it was fun. Every step of it was fun. Deciding exactly where I was going to take the cheeky snap: doing a Titanic on the railings of Orgasm Bridge was vetoed due to the risk of falling off – and, more importantly, because it would probably cause a few cardiac arrests in the Tit Hall library. Settling on the UL, and desperately trying to keep calm as we wandered its halls looking for a quiet spot where we wouldn’t be disturbed. Hurriedly taking off my clothes (except the socks, they stay on) and getting the picture done, then nearly bricking it as we realised we were right next to a lift. Sending the picture in and waiting to see the fruits of everyone else’s creative endeavours. Watching as thousands of people quietly rejected my bum in favour of Dave’s offering. The only slightly upsetting thing is the implication by some that by contributing what I considered fine art to this moonie montage I was condoning sexism and objectification. I don’t mind the latter. I love that I, and others, are comfortable enough in our own skins that we’re able to expose ourselves, both metaphorically and literally. What upsets me is when people post ‘trigger warning: nudity, sexism, objectification’ next to the article. I’m really worried now. I don’t want my bum to trigger anyone.
I enjoy exhibitionism, not in a “oh look at me”, overtly sexualised kind of way, but in a “we all have these, why giggle?” kind of thing. I decided to bear all for the ‘Rear of the Year’ because I genuinely do not see a problem with it. How can this be something that is sexist, if both sexes are involved? CUSU Women’s Campaign saying that The Tab undoubtedly knew that the girls would be treated differently, suggests that the girls should be treated differently, and objectified. Surely, this is The Tab just treating the bums of all genders as equals. Giving both men and women the choice to display themselves on The Tab, to me, just demonstrates a forward-thinking attitude. I don’t see myself as being objectified, even if others think I should. If anything a DM comment mistaking me “for a man”, suggests quite the opposite. I see it all as fun and satire. The poses, the niche interests and the layout all are satirising more pressing issues like Page 3. To suggest it reversed the achievements of decades of feminist action is absurd. Allowing a girl to bear all for the fun of it, out of her own choice, is not demonstrative of a dominant patriarchy at The Tab. I enjoyed it and so did the photographer. It was thrilling and unexpected. And, therefore, I say “bum for all, and all for bum”.
In case you missed it, you can still cast your vote here.