Yesterday, for-profit t-shirt company FCKH8 released a video called "F Bombs for Feminism: Potty Mouthed Princesses use Bad Words for a Good Cause." [NSFW] featuring five young girls, dressed in all of their pretty pink princess finery, angrily declaring their outrage over male/female inequality and dropping some pretty grown-up words while they did so.
The words were carefully crafted to get your attention. Hearing an adorable six year old girl, dressed as a Disney character no less, dropping F-bombs as easily as a teenager from Jersey is purposefully shocking. The video was meant to attract attention and that it most certainly has: It has been shared on FB alone nearly 200,000 times since it's release yesterday.
I know that I am right in the target demographic for FCKH8's video, which was meant to appeal to young, "hip" feminists 18-35 (as well as shock and anger most conservatives, likely earning them thousands of hate shares, which still help the video go viral) and I certainly don't hate the message these little girls are loudly sharing. Though the video is short, they mention some big and very important issues: Inequality, economic disparity, violence against women and sexual assault.
The problem is not so much with the message itself, but rather with the company who produced it. FCKH8 claims (and really wants us to believe) that the video was created to spread awareness about sexism and patriarchal realities, but the truth is that it's not a PSA we're watching -- It's an advertisement.
Is it equality FCKH8 is looking to promote, or is it just their T-shirts?
I'll be honest when I say I have always found FCKH8 to be a problematic company. It's difficult for me to see them as anything more than a T-shirt shop wanting to profit as much as possible off of the LGBTQIA+ community (while also perpetuating stereotypes that are harmful to the very demographic they want to attract.) They've had a history of stealing art for their gear and have reacted poorly when accused of doing so. Their business ratings are extremely low and they're infamous for terrible customer service. [source]
I think I would feel very differently about this video if it were actually made by young girls who were angry about their place in this world, swear words or no swear words. If they had gotten together and figured out that they could spread a message they were passionate about by dropping f-bombs left and right in princess dresses, I would have applauded them for their media savvy and frighteningly amazing grasp on internet marketing. The truth is that sexism IS real and it IS a problem and I don't have any qualms with that message being spread around.
I do, however, have problems with exploiting children to make a buck.
This is not the first time FCKH8 has done something like this, either. Earlier this year they released a similar video in relation to the events in Ferguson, Missouri that also pledged to donate $5 per T-shirt to an unnamed organization. This seems to be FCKH8's business model: Figure out what social issue people are very passionate about and then exploit that issue to make money. I can't be the only one who gets a bad taste in my mouth at this idea.
If you are interested in volunteering your time or money for women's empowerment and are looking for alternatives to FCKH8, you can use websites like Great Nonprofits or Charity Navigator to search for trustworthy grassroots organizations local to your area, as well as do a little background research on the organizations you choose so you know exactly where that money is going.
A carefully scripted advertisement that puts adult words into children's mouths in order to promote their shirts and make a killing is more exploitative than informative, and to me there's nothing feminist about that.