So, everyone on the internet is freaking out about this feminism video. It’s an anti-sexism video by the organization FCKH8.com, in which 5 girls aged 6-13 are dressed up like princesses and are talking about statistical facts concerning the suppression and safety of women. However, they are doing so while dropping the f-bomb all over the place. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is. Just be warned, this is not suitable for work… unless you have headphones.
FCKH8 is asking the question: why is society more shocked and upset by little girls cursing, than they are by these horrible statistics about women in the video?
There have been a lot of reactions to this video, and if there is one thing we know, it’s that you either loved it or hated it right away. I have been following blog posts and articles about it, and writers/publications reacted in 3 different ways-
- Most commonly, they posted the video devoid of opinion and asked people what they thought.
- They loved it, and wanted to share it with everyone.
- They hated it, and thought that it was horrible.
I originally did the first one, with the intent on writing this follow-up post. What I found to be most interesting, is that on all the positive articles supporting the video, the majority of the comments were terrible, negative, bullying people saying how horrible the video is, and some general horrible rhetoric about feminists. And on the posts denouncing the video and calling it exploitative and damaging to children, most of the comments were terrible, negative, bullying people saying how great the video is, with some general “conservatives can’t handle it you’re all women-haters” rhetoric.
Anyway, the same arguments kept coming up again and again for both sides. I’ve boiled it all down for you in this handy dandy pro/con conversation that mimics my fall down this rabbit hole of an issue:
Pro: I love seeing girls who are unafraid to stand up for women’s rights, reject stereotypes, and tell it like it is. This was so cute, and I love that they’re spreading the word on feminism!
Con: Are you kidding? This was horrible, I can’t believe those girls were talking like that. I would wash their mouth out with soap! Why can’t they have a video about this without all the vulgarity? It takes away from the message.
Pro: But that’s the point! You’re finding their curse words more shocking than their statistics about women. And they’re old statistics! They needed to add the cursing to actually make people pay attention for once. This video never would have gone viral without the f-bombs.
Con: These girls don’t even understand the issues they’re talking about, they’re just reading from a script written by adults, it’s exploiting them to make a point and sell shirts!
Pro: These girls are actors, it’s they’re job to read from scripts. Besides, they looked like they were having a lot of fun, and I’m glad their parents aren’t sheltering them from the problems facing women in the world.
Con: But this isn’t even about women’s rights! It’s about selling T-shirts for a for-profit company, that’s only donating some of the proceeds to charities! They’re not only exploiting the children, they’re exploiting the feminist cause itself for profit!
Pro: While FCKH8 is a for-profit company, they have given a lot of money to various, legitimate charities with the proceeds of their t-shirt campaigns. Money that those places wouldn’t have gotten if it wasn’t for their shocking viral video ads. Besides, we all have to buy clothes, why not buy clothes that support equal rights for all? FCKH8 is spreading awareness with every T-shirt they sell.
Con: Well, I still don’t like it, and you’re a crazy feminazi for liking it.
Pro: Well you’re an ignorant, sexist women-hater, and I feel bad for any children you raise!
The last two arguments are the most important ones for me. The problem with this video is that it’s polarizing. You love it, and think everyone else should and f*ck them if they don’t. Or you hate it, and think everyone else should and f*ck them if they don’t.
If the goal was to sell pro-feminism T-shirts to feminists, than this video was genius. And I’m not saying that a goal like that is bad – charities need to raise money for themselves, and many times only those who are already members are willing to pay up. You have church events with donations from members, school fundraising aimed at parents, etc. And FCKH8 is giving money to legitimate charities. And it’s ok that they’re keeping some, because they never pretended they weren’t. If you’re going to be a corporation in a capitalist country, they’re doing it in the most moral way possible. I don’t think they were exploiting feminism for profit, I think they are trying to do their part to help and spread the word.
If this video was made to raise awareness and gain supporters for feminism, I don’t think it achieved that goal. It is a very common stereotype that feminists are angry man-haters, which has made it so that any type of ‘aggressive’ campaign to raise awareness for women’s rights is often met with hateful accusations by the rest of the public. This was a very aggressive, in your face type of video that people who are ‘on the fence’ about feminism won’t (and don’t) appreciate because it implies they’re f*cking idiots and contribute to a sexist society. And maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But you’ll never get them on board with feminism by yelling at them.
However, the problem is that no one should have to be polite and unobtrusive when talking about gender equality. These are fundamental rights and we are right to be upset. This issue reminds me of France Francois’s sign at the National Movement of Silence 2014 gathering to mourn the deaths of minorities at the hands of law enforcement:
Francois was protesting against inherent racism within law enforcement against blacks, but I think the sentiment that she expresses about her frustration parallels with the frustration feminists have to deal with when trying to discuss women’s issues:
“For me, it goes back to the idea that we’re not allowed to feel these sentiments. We always have to be stoic. We always have to make certain people comfortable and I really didn’t want to make anyone comfortable at that time. I felt angry. I felt fearful . . . I wasn’t trying to make people feel comfortable because I don’t feel like this is a moment where we should feel comfortable. We should be questioning the fact that this continues to happen and I wanted that to be expressed.”
Now, I in no way want to take away from any cause, nor am I trying to take attention from what Francois is fighting for and divert it to the feminist fight. I am just commenting on the problem with Respectability Politics, and the similar problem it poses when applying it’s theory to women in a man’s world. Just as blacks shouldn’t have to give into white notions of what an upstanding citizen looks like for them to have rights (hint, you need to look and act white), women shouldn’t have to behave politely, like a lady, and fit into the male-dominated world image of how a woman should act for us to be taken seriously as human beings. For men, being assertive and saying what you want is a good thing. For women, it makes you a complaining bitch.
Now, I’ve laid out these two problems here. One, that feminists need to be careful how they present their arguments for equality so that they can be taken seriously and not be dismissed as aggressive or man-hating. And two, that we shouldn’t have to conform to stereotypes about how ‘ladies’ and ‘respectable women’ should act for us to be taken seriously, because that’s giving in to the patriarchy we are fighting so hard against.
It’s a quandary, and I don’t know which is the right answer. There probably is no right answer. Maybe we’ll find one in the future. For now, I think we need to stand up for ourselves, while being respectful of others as human beings, regardless of sex, gender and race.
For those who don’t really understand what modern feminism is truly about, and whether or not it is still necessary, here is a very informative article, with legitimate sources for every statement they make: Do You See These 10 Everyday Sexisms? I encourage everyone, feminists and non-feminists, to read it.
What do you think of the FCKH8 anti-sexism video (take the poll here), and the arguments for and against it? And what do you think is the better choice for feminists when discussing women’s rights? Maybe we can figure it out together.