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Jelly-wrestling to return to Cambridge amid controversy

June 14th will see the tradition of bikini-clad women wrestling in jelly return to the University of Cambridge, despite the event being labelled ‘sexist, misogynistic and inappropriate.

The event is being reintroduced by the Gentleman Wyverns, a notorious male-only drinking club, as part of their 86th annual garden party. In order to be part of the Gentleman Wyverns you also have to have been a part of two sports teams and a member of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Magdalene College, Cambridge, where the Gentleman Wyverns are based

The news of its reinstatement comes just two years after jelly wrestling was banned following feminist accusations that it was ‘sexist and so was shut down through protests by the university’s Women’s Group with a petition that had more than 1100 signatures.

The fact this event involves male students watching female students grappling for money in a paddling pool filled with jelly has left many female students angry at the prospect of its return. However, for the first time, male participants will also be allowed to take part, with the society claiming to be aiming to find ‘Cambridge’s finest wrestler’.

By Cmglee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Cardboard Boat Race, another event at ‘Suicide Sunday’

Writing for The Cambridge Student Newspaper, one female undergraduate was not convinced. Natalie Holroyd writes that the event is still mostly going to be made up of “attractive” women and that the event may be mentally “damaging” to “women with body issues and eating disorders”.

However, a spokesman for the Gentleman Wyverns insisted in a blog post that this reinstatement was not simply “part of some cheap ruse to see women get down to their bikinis”. They went on to also say that jelly-wrestling would return but be “no longer tarnished as an alleged clog in the machinations of the patriarchy but placed at the forefront of competitive British sport at Britain’s greatest summertime event.

Nevertheless, it is clear that some students are extremely unhappy with jelly-wrestling being included on the agenda for ‘Suicide Sunday’, the Sunday after all exams finish when students need a little bit of unruly downtime.

Cecily Sheppard

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