Trigger Warnings – Strong language throughout and mentions of sexual assault
I’m going to start by saying I’m a feminist, if you hadn’t guessed already – I didn’t always understand the cause of feminism growing up, saw stereotypes and took my impressions of the cause from them until I decided to dig deeper and then realised that feminism isn’t a bunch of angry housewives wanting to beat men to death (not at the core, there are a few bad eggs but hey you get Buddhist marauders so…) but in fact people of all walks of life standing for equal rights, to have a world where everyone, at the most base level of human rights, gets the same treatment. I couldn’t agree more with this cause, we should all be equal because until I see a definitive reason one human being is greater than the rest (i.e born with a fucking halo) then you know, we should just try to get along as equals, be we gay, bi, trans, man, woman or none of the above
FCKH8 recently resurfaced in the attention of the masses with their ‘feminist’ advert, yes advert, in which little girls dressed as princesses drop the effing f-bomb like there’s no fucking tomorrow. Watch it to understand this article it’s easily found on YouTube. Now, I’m not against swearing, I curse like a sailor with his dick in a vice when I want to, swear words are so interwoven with our society as a whole that children swearing comes as no shock to me personally but to a lot of people this advert was a slap in the face, an affront to their senses as pretty girls screamed that they weren’t damsels in distress. Ok, so on the feminist front, it’s great that one message of this advert is that girls are not obliged to conform to the princess trope, that women aren’t helpless prizes to be won for a man’s achievements but the real problem with this advert isn’t the foul language, it’s everything else about the advert and just a heads up, this gets dark
I have an issue with using children to push products and messages they don’t understand, these girls are helpless, not because they are girls but because they are children being manipulated into shameless advertising. Sure, a third of the proceeds from the shirt sales goes to charity but that is not saying much if, out of your donation to a charity, only 33% actually goes to the cause and 66% goes towards everything else. Speaking only for Oxfam, as someone who works for the charity, we keep less than 20% of the money for running our business and the rest goes straight to fighting the spread of Ebola, supporting people affected by the conflicts in Gaza and so on and so on. The message is insincere, these aren’t the little girls defying the trope, these are little actors reading a script. Why not just ask these girls “Do you really want to be a princess?” and then have some girls saying that they’d rather be doctors or police officers or something that is generally considered a ‘male’ profession. A bunch of eight years olds swearing and reading statistics off a prompt just sends the message that they’re being pushed, sure they seem fine with it but that’s the thing with being manipulated, you never actually complain about being manipulated. Why not use adults? Why must we face the ‘shock’ of exploitation? The message is for adults, children don’t have pay inequality issues (yet) so using kids to talk about it undermines the sincerity of the message as little more than a stunt
Actually, that rolls onto my next issue with the advert, the statistics. Setting aside the obnoxious cocky tones that just further the stereotype of the angry feminist, there are mentions of rape, with the statistic that one in five women are the subject of sexual assault and one girl then asks in an eerie tone “Which of us will it be?”. You’re fucking ten years old, you shouldn’t be worrying about that. I know children can be victims of such assault but we shouldn’t be making them consider that at such a young age, gathering them in groups of five and then asking them which one they think is gonna get it first. Sexual assault is a serious issue that needs to be tackled but this isn’t the way to do it and the fact this adverts gives these girls the impression they are unstoppable forces of nature that should demand respect means that heaven forbid they ever are the victims of such assault, they will blame themselves because if something stops the unstoppable, the unstoppable doubts itself. You shouldn’t build someone up like that because it won’t hold water and they’ll be the victim when it all crashes down. I thought I was the greatest, turns out I wasn’t, I loathed myself and even now still have doubts about myself.
The advert, which is what it is, is a shameless debauchery of the cause, cementing the idea in people’s minds that a feminist is a foul-mouthed pissy little girl criticising men for having dicks. Saying fuck in a dress is not feminism and this advert is not empowering for anyone. Would you have your kids watch the advert? No? So the kids learn nothing. Do you feel empowered watching children swear at you? No? So you learnt nothing, other than FCKH8 is a penny-pinching organisation confusing anger and rage for justice. I mean, take the name, clearly meaning to read as ‘Fuck Hate’. Fuck it? Yes, nothing resolves hatred like hatred and heck, this organisation has always had trouble with it’s messages – seeing bisexuality as a cross between gay/straight, having very little to say for trans* equality, insinuating that effeminate gay men are the ‘best’ representatives of their cause – but an attitude of petty acts and outlandish anger just sells the greater cause short. FCKH8 is to the LGBT movement is what Farage is to British Politics – the noisy idiot that makes everyone look bad and makes us turn away from the whole affair.
In summary, feminism is not anger and rage and swear-words, it is simply wanting equality for all and though the name starts with ‘fem’ it is not about angry women ruling the world and castrating us all from birth, it represents the interests of us all. FCKH8, you did not relay a positive message by exploiting your children into selling your crappy confrontational t-shirts, you just embarrassed people trying to make a difference