There’s been a LOT of controversy around the FCKH8 video since its release last week. Personally, I was amazed and delighted by 95% of my initial viewing of the video.
I loved the way stereotypes were being challenged, that young women were given the agency of freely using one of my favourite words repeatedly, and, most of all, that the issues discussed in the video were being recognised by the next generation of potential Feminists.
Critics of the video are slating it because it’s designed to appeal to a certain breed of ‘young, hip feminists’, while going for the highest possible shock factor among the rest of the world.
So, only the ‘young and hip’ have liberal attitudes to swearing? Perhaps only the ‘young and hip’ are gullible enough to be suckered into actually buying one of the t-shirts being sold by FCKH8?
Frankly, I don’t imagine a single one of my ‘young and hip’ friends would stump up the money. I’m sure they’d rather donate £10 to a ‘worthy cause’ directly, and then make their own t-shirt. Young and/or hip doesn’t factor in the equation, it’s simply a matter of morals.
I first saw this video posted by a woman I adore and respect, alongside her comment:
‘This video is excellent up until the point it tries to sell you a T-shirt. Jesus Christ capitalism, stop trying to commodify feminism you fuckcake.’
I couldn’t agree more.
Using a social justice movement as a means to sell your product? Way to go, FCKH8, no-one’s thought of that before!
The video relies on shock factor to increase its shareability:
Shares = Publicity = Sales
It’s a shame, but it’s true: if there’s a way to make a profit, capitalism will find all kinds of ways to use our values against us.
That’s just how advertising works.
Unfortunately, empowerment cannot be bottled nor sold.
That’s just how freedom works.
My main concern is that the video exacerbates a lot of the negative stereotypes that people already have about feminism, which is potentially damaging for a movement that is just regaining momentum.
The video works on the assumption that the majority of viewers are more distressed to see girls as young as six on film using the F-word than they are about the pay gap, violence against women and sexual assault. FCKH8 assumed right, people generally don’t like to hear kids swearing.
I’m personally of the opinion that the concept of ‘adult words’ is a load of bullshit.Words are just words. Treating any word as if it were a ‘bomb’ renders it more potent and enables people to use it as a weapon.
Teaching a child that certain words are out of bounds is just a disaster waiting to happen – think of all that temptation! But that’s just me. I view expletives as a more of a method of self-expression.
That said, critics have blown up about this video for its exploitation of little girls, citing the primary problem that it is scripted – these are not young women spouting a stream of expletives in genuine anger about the issues discussed.
I’m behind Rebecca Hains when she states: “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. If a group of young girls were passionate about combatting sexism in the U.S. and had decided to produce a video to raise awareness on the matter, and realized they could get their message out by swearing up a storm, more power to them—I’d applaud them for their creativity and media savvy.”
These are children saying what they’ve been told to by an organisation out to do one thing: make money.
FCKH8 has absolutely no sense of corporate responsibility. For all we know, these young girls haven’t a clue what they’re saying and have been chivvied into this ‘opportunity’ by pushy parents eager to guarantee their child’s first acting job.
In this and all sorts of other ways, FCKH8 is a pretty damn dodgy organisation. It seems they’ll do anything to create a provocative advertisement – even teach children about rape.
This video is certainly not a valid reason for children to learn about such subjects (do these girls even know what rape is? have they actually been taught?)… nevertheless, each of the five girls demands to know if she’ll be the statistically one-in-five of the group to be raped.
Ok, so we would like to protect our children from issues like these for as long as possible. But, in far too many cases, considering the vulnerability of so many children this notion of ‘protecting’ them is not actually helpful. If a child is vulnerable to rape or abuse, isn’t it important that they are supported and taught to recognise what is and is not appropriate physical behaviour (particularly from adults)? A sheer lack of sexual education (from both parents and schools) means young victims do not understand their horrifying experiences.
Their confusion breeds silence and enables their further manipulation.
How is any victim able to break a cycle of behaviour they are unable to put into words?
Understanding the problems surrounding this video doesn’t stop politically engaged people enjoying and sharing it for the value it does have: continuing the discussion about the issues affecting women worldwide every single day of their lives.
If you haven’t seen the video, please do watch it and share your thoughts below.
There is so much more to be said about this hugely problematic advertisement (both positive and negative). Frankly though, I can’t say it any better than The Belle Jar and Rebecca Hains already have. The way I see it, anything that promotes this much discussion is a positive addition to the world.
Originally published on Aliljoy.com on 28 October 2014.