Cambridge Paper Asks Readers to Rate Students’ Butts for ‘Rear of the Year’ Contests

An online student newspaper at Cambridge University is courting controversy for staging a pair of contests asking readers to select the “Rear of the Year.” In separate photo breakdowns, The Tab presents a small group of male and female Cambridge students with their butts facing the camera– fully or partially exposed or clearly outlined by tight-fitting clothing.

A brief cutline accompanying each pic whimsically and almost always sexually shares a bit about each student.  An example: “Elizabeth admitted to us that growing up, her first sexual thoughts were of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”  There is also wordplay involving the football club Arsenal and terms like astoundingly and parse.

According to the paper, the inspiration for the contest was Pippa Middleton’s bottom and its instant rise to fame at last spring’s royal wedding.  As the intro to the male contest notes, “[T]hat wedding was a year ago, and . . . P. Middy’s once show-stopping rear is frankly so yesterday.  It’s time to find a new bum on which to focus our attentions.”

Along with oodles of online and outside media attention, criticism has centered on sexual objectification and minority exclusion issues.  A Cambridge student: “This kind of portrayal of women as sex objects not only plays to tired gender stereotypes, but it also reinforces the message that only one kind of beauty is acceptable, and it is a thin, white image.  This is a harmful message to reproduce and one that we ought to be stepping away from.”

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