“Feminist” video obscures manipulative company

We live in a culture that praises Internet virality. Getting millions of views on YouTube is enough to earn a feature on the Today Show and a place in living room conversations across the world. This week’s sensation, “Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism,” combines a divisive social movement and little girls with vulgar language, so naturally everyone is talking about it.

In case you haven’t seen it, the video features a plethora of girls and one boy, ages six to 13, wearing princess dresses. They spend the first few seconds of the video posing for the camera, when suddenly there is a record scratch.

“What the f–? I’m not some pretty f—‘ helpless princess in distress. I’m pretty f—-‘ powerful and ready for success.”

The rest of the video features the girls lecturing the audience about pay inequality, rape and putting unnecessary focus on a girl’s looks. Yes, with plenty more cursing. It is clearly designed to shock and spread the message through word-of-mouth, and it has succeeded. The video currently has nearly a million views it might have more, but the video was pulled from YouTube and then re-uploaded and has incited plenty of response articles.

Look, I’m a proud feminist. I believe wholeheartedly in equal pay for equal work, protection from assault and recognizing a woman’s achievements other than “looking pretty.” However, I am also wholeheartedly against this video for one simple reason: the corporation behind it, FCKH8. FCKH8 is a company selling anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-homophobia T-shirts and accessories. It also specializes in viral images. If you see a picture about these subjects on Facebook and check the corner of the image, you will probably see a FCKH8 logo. Sounds good, right? Wrong.

I could write another article about FCKH8 and its stealing of artwork and text for its viral images, its attacks on religion, its erasure of religious queer people and its reliance on stereotypes to get a message across. But that is not the point of this article. The point is that FCKH8 is exploitative. This is a common practice for the company, too. Recently, FCKH8 was in the news for a video about racism shortly after the death of Michael Brown and the violence in Ferguson. The problem is that these aren’t just simple videos to raise awareness. At the end of the “F-Bombs for Feminism” video, the real purpose of the video is shown – FCKH8 has a new T-shirt to sell, and it’s hoping to sell it by getting your attention with swearing six-year-olds.

It is one thing for a group of girls to get together and utilize shock value to take their own stand for feminism. It is another thing for a corporation to exploit that shock value to sell T-shirts. It should also be noted that while FCKH8 claims to donate portions of its proceeds to charity, it has been less than forthright in proving that this is so. The Better Business Bureau Business Review gives FCKH8’s parent corporation, Good Ideas for Good Causes, an F rating for this reason and for customer complaints.

Educate yourself on feminism, if you want. Take a stand, get involved and teach others about it. But ignore FCKH8, a private company masquerading as a crusade for humanitarianism. Do not let FCKH8 get away with exploiting children to sell a product and call it feminism. This is not what feminism is, and associating it with a terrible company like FCKH8 insults everyone.

Audrey Walker ’18 walker1@stolaf.edu is from Mountain Grove, Missouri. Her major is undecided.