By AISHEE DAS
On October 23, FCKH8, an organization known for being extremely vocal with social commentary, released a now-infamous video called “Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs to Support Feminism.” The video is exactly what the title makes it seem. Five girls, ranging from 6-13 years old, in princess costumes are shown using explicit language to express their frustration with the injustices that women have to face in today’s society.
According to the video, the idea that young girls “dropping F-bombs” should not be more offensive and shocking than the “unequal and sexist way society treats girls and women.” Examples of gender inequity that the video uses include the wage gap and the statistic that one out of every five women will be raped. At the end of the video, FCKH8 promotes two of its own feminist shirts and promises to donate $5 for every purchased shirt to charities working on feminist issues. Immediately after its release, the video received widespread criticism and hatred from parents, conservatives and feminists alike.
The first time I watched the video, I was definitely shocked by the frequency of explicit words that the young girls used. For a brief moment, I thought that the video was genius because it made me realize that I was more shocked by the use of foul language over sexism and inequality. However, the second time I watched the video, I paid more attention and noticed the ending in which FCKH8 promotes its shirts. $5 from each purchase of the two shirts, which say “This is what a Feminist Looks Like” and “Girls Just Want to have Fun-Damental Rights,” would go to “k****** charities that are fighting every day to make the world more equal for women and girls.”
I did more research on FCKH8 and was disgusted at the least. I found that FCKH8 had not announced the charities they promised to donate to. FCKH8 is a for-profit organization that sells accessories and apparel with social commentary on various issues like LGBT rights, racism and sexism. Their apparel resembles “mini-billboards” that spread activist ideas through large flashy print. Although the idea of FCKH8 seems alright at first, there are many issues with the organization. In a recent controversy, FCKH8 released a video called “Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by #Ferguson Kids,” in which a group of black kids living in Ferguson talked about the presence of racism in modern society. At the end of the video, FCKH8 advertised its shirt, which says “Racism isn’t over. But I’m over racism.” Once again, $5 from each purchase would go to charities. Race Forward, an organization that promotes awareness and discussion about racism, refused to accept FCKH8’s donations, however, claiming in their online publication, Colorlines, that FCKH8 merely “is making money off of Ferguson.”
Essentially, FCKH8 has created a business out of serious social issues like Ferguson. When I went onto the FCKH8 page to see the apparel, all of the prices ranged from $14.99 to $36.99. In total, FCKH8 donated $6,000 to organizations and charities concerning the Michael Brown incident. The profit FCKH8 has made over its apparel, however, is enormous and far outweighs the little charity they gave.
After looking into FCKH8’s history, I formed a new lens on the organization and went back to its most recent video, “Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs to Support Feminism.” The controversy surrounding the video is largely uniform in that the message of the video was accurate, but the delivery was too vulgar. Many critics say that letting young girls talk about rape and feminism is damaging and exploitive, but I disagree.
Brooklyne, mother of a child-actor in the video, explained tearfully on Entertainment Tonight that “if this didn’t mean something to me as a woman who was inappropriately touched at the age of four, I would not have let my daughter do this .” She continued by admitting that she never reported the abuse because she did not know that she was supposed to report it, and the abuser was a family friend. Although the video makes the point to “teach boys not to f****** rape,” opening the discussion to young girls is necessary so that they know what to do in situations like Brooklyne’s.
Critics also argue that using young girls as a shock value was an act of exploit. Video director, Luke Montgomery, explained on Entertainment Tonight that they were only “using a bad word for a good cause to get people’s attention.” The video certainly has caught people’s attention but for the wrong reason. Disregarding the advertising at the end, many people have focused more on the young girls themselves than the message that the video is trying to convey. Although I have no qualms with the girls using explicit language to convey a message, I find it disappointing that FCKH8 has exploited an issue that the young girls in the video face almost every day by rendering it into an advertisement for a shirt and a company.
Alongside all these issues, the statistics in the video, such as the “one in five women will be sexually abused” and “wage for a woman is 23% less than a man’s” ones, are faulty. The sexual abuse statistic was determined by an extremely generalized survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The wage statistic is also flawed as the study compared the median of wages of both genders in a widespread variety of careers rather than wages in the same careers. I do not disagree that an unacceptably high percentage of women are sexually abused or that the wage gap between genders is large, but I am disappointed that FCKH8 would use such sensational statistics and not bother to fact-check.
“Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs to Support Feminism” could have been a great video that I would have supported if the many issues surrounding it were fixed. Although I do stand by the message of the video, organizations like FCKH8 only make these controversial videos on serious and relevant issues in order to provoke the public and make more money, and I, for one, will certainly not buy into it.