'F-Bombs for Feminism': A viral video exploiting girls, not empowering them

A video featuring little girls standing up to discrimination with some strong words has gone viral. While the message is clear, the aim of the video is not as much. Is the company that produced the video selling equality, or t-shirts?

Screenshot from FCH8.com
An image of a model wearing a t-shirt available for sale online from FCKH8.com.

Yesterday, for-profit T-shirt company FCKH8.com released a video called “F-Bombs for Feminism: Potty-Mouthed Princesses Use Bad Word for Good Cause.” The video features five angry girls, ages 6 to 13, who express outrage at society’s sexist treatment of girls and women while decked out in princess attire.

The video opens with the girls sweetly cooing, “Pretty!” while posing in their gowns and tiaras. But three seconds later, they switch gears and shout: “What the [expletive]? I’m not some pretty [expletive] helpless princess in distress. I’m pretty [expletive] powerful and ready for success. So what is more offensive? A little girl saying [expletive], or the [expletive] unequal and sexist way society treats girls and women?”

As the video progresses, the girls review the ongoing issues of inequality, systematic discrimination, and sexual violence faced by women in the US. They pepper these facts with more f-bombs, of course.

This combination of pretty pink princesses and relentless use of the f-word is potent and clearly calculated to provoke. And provoke it has: For the shock value alone, everybody’s talking about this video.

But in all the conversation about whether the video is offensive, we need to also consider the ad from a media literate perspective and consider FCKH8’s corporate interests.Was it right for the company to script a slew of swear words into an advertisement featuring young children?

If we follow the money and consider the company’s motivations in producing “F-Bombs for Feminism,” it’s can seem pretty clear that FCKH8 is in the wrong. 

Although the video purports to be “for [a] good cause”—presumably, to raise awareness of sexism—what they’re really promoting is their t-shirts. 

By putting its bottom line ahead of girls’ best interests, the company is being exploitative.

In fact, “F-Bombs for Feminism” betrays a social media marketing perspective devoid of ethics. The video’s ethos is so steeped in a “Generation Like” mindset that having the video widely “liked” and “shared” is clearly what matters most—resulting in the company’s decision to push girls as young as age six into the roles of cultural provocateurs.

As a social media marketing strategy, it worked brilliantly. The video went viral almost instantaneously, prompting heavy traffic to the company’s website. There, t-shirts proclaiming “This is what a feminist looks like” and “Girls just want to have fun-damental rights”—as worn by the women appearing at the video’s end, of course—are up for sale.

Sadly, despite what major corporations and indie brands alike would have us believe, empowerment can neither be bottled nor sold. Commodification of feminism is not empowerment, and FCKH8 is not empowering girls or women through this video. Instead, they’re using girls as a means to a commercial end: to raise awareness of sexism to sell their t-shirts.

I would feel differently if a video along these lines had been produced by girls as a way to find an audience for their authentic voices. 

But that’s not the case here. This video was scripted and slickly produced by a t-shirt company that evidently has no qualms about exploiting girls who are too young to understand the implications of the script they’re bringing to life.

So, my advice is this. Let’s stop debating whether we’re offended by little girls cursing and focus on the heart of the matter, instead: By putting adult words into children’s mouths, FCKH8 is only exploiting girls through its advertisement.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Rebecca Hains blogs at rebeccahains.wordpress.com and the original post shared here can be found here.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'F-Bombs for Feminism': A viral video exploiting girls, not empowering them
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today