WR20: From Warwick Rowers to the Worldwide Roar: FAQ
What is the Worldwide Roar?
The Worldwide Roar is a mental health project with a human rights message. Drawing on ten years of learning at Warwick Rowers, the Roar has been created with the help of academic experts at Leeds Beckett University and the University of Calgary.
The Roar will enable men to set project-based goals based on their sporting skills, their physical fitness, their social skills, empathy, courage and commitment to change.
Participants will be able to set their own objectives as part of an individual and group process that considers the purpose of the project, the reasons for taking part and the potential results.
Alongside personal development outcomes for participants, the Roar will: support local charities meeting local needs; fund sport at a grass roots level; enable participant to show leadership on key human rights issues within their own communities; fund the core activities of registered charity Sport Allies to identify and share best practice of inclusion through sport; andoffer participants a global platform to express their perspectives.
The Roar is intended to open a global, mindful conversation with everyone affected by male mental health.
Why the nudity?
We have always sought to highlight and confront patriarchal privilege and how that manifests within our culture. As we have established over the last ten years, the nudity in our project enables men to share new experiences, embrace new perspectives and show their commitment to their goals.
We need alternative perspectives on the human body to those of porn and the commercial objectification of advertising and magazines. We particularly need to see the male body presented in a way that is not an assertion of power but a demonstration of solidarity with the many people who have been disadvantaged by patriarchal, heteronormative male culture.
Over time, we have come to see the male nudity in our project as an opportunity for a male mass participation project with positive, constructive social significance. It remains transgressive to show male genitalia, particularly outside contexts where the visibility of the penis is used to assert male dominance. We need to demystify and democratize masculinity – who gets to define it and who gets to own it.
Is this a student project or a professional enterprise?
What started as a small volunteer project has grown into a flourishing social enterprise where experienced professionals, paid interns and unpaid volunteers work together in a relationship that combines volunteering, mentoring and work experience. It is a cross-generational gay/straight alliance of which we are all very proud!
Why the name change?
Our project promotes gender equality, LGBT rights and better male mental health, and we realised this message of inclusion couldn’t be told by one club or group of men alone. We want sportsmen everywhere to feel that they can truly be a part of this project, and we recognised that this meant finding a new, more inclusive name.
Why the Worldwide Roar?
We have kept the initials WR from our original name, because the last ten years are in our DNA, and we are proud of what we have achieved as a project in that time. As well as delivering a campaigning message of inclusion, the WR project has so far raised over £250,000 for good causes. Now, all profits go to Sport Allies, which this year entered into a partnership with London Film School and Sky Sports to produce films exploring outstanding stories of people, clubs and projects working to make sport more inclusive. The first three films have recently been shown to great acclaim on the SKY Sports platform.
Why isn’t there more diversity in the images?
Diversity is at our heart. As the Worldwide Roar we offer a platform for men to participate regardless of ethnicity, age, birth gender, sexuality, or physical ability.
Will you still be focused on rowing/rowers?
We are opening WR up to all sports and participants. Rowing remains a key part of our DNA, and we have been grateful to British Rowing and several rowing clubs for helping us create our biggest cover shoot ever. Rowing was the first sport to embrace our project, and it will always be an important part of the project.
Why Purple and Silver?
We originally chose purple as a colour identified with challenging homophobia. As a mix of blue and pink, we now embrace it as a reflection of the need to create healthier relationships with masculinity, with our birth genders and with our gender identities.
We were also inspired by Alice Walker’s seminal novel, The Color Purple. As one character says, "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it." In the same way, we want men to be mindful of their relationship with their masculinity, and we want everyone to stop and feel the joy that this project and its message bring to both our participants and our supporters.
Silver has a specific meaning within the context of our aim to promote healthier masculinity and greater gender equality. Some consider that silver restores equilibrium and stability to both feminine power and spiritual energy.
I'd like to take part, what's the best way to get in contact?
If you are an athlete and identify as male, we want to hear from you! Scroll up to get the link to our sign-up website SQUADWR.ORG