Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice? FCKH8’s Campaign Speaks Volumes

This morning my Facebook newsfeed gave to me: little girls dressed as princesses….swearing. Chances are you’ve already seen the video from FCKH8’s latest campaign to emphasize the inequalities facing women. You probably also tried not to shudder when the young girls number themselves and ask which one of them will be the one out of five women who are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Powerful stuff to watch over a morning coffee. The video is thought-provoking, eye-catching, and definitely well worth sharing as it makes you really consider the implications of how society places emphasis on expectations of female behavior and body as the main prerequisite for power. For instance, I nearly wrote “ballsy” to describe the video, before realizing that this was the exact point being made. We need to be more careful in our language if there’s any hope of redressing the imbalance that exists between men and women.

The FCKH8 video is the latest video to go viral which explores feminist issues. Who could forget Riley’s rant on marketing? Or GoldieBlox’s “Princess Machine”? Or the toddler who is going to kick the monster’s ass?

Despite the positives of videos like this going viral, there has been plenty of commentary on the darker side of FCKH8. It is a for-profit company whose money comes from making and selling t-shirts with slogans promoting social issues from LGBT rights to feminism. Looking back over the viral videos concerning feminism, many of them have been created by global, money-making companies. Everyone remembers the stir caused by Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, which was the first time non-professional models were widely used. Women were celebrated for their differences but the focus was still on their bodies. But this time, their bodies were not being airbrushed or exploited and were instead hailed as things to be appreciated and enjoyed. It is one of the few times I have seen women on a billboard in their pants and thought, “They look like they’re having a good time” rather than seeing them as trying to promote products through sexualization. Usually I want to run over and put a jacket on them because they look bloody cold and in need of a hot meal.

The issue is that, primarily, these companies are selling product. In the case of Dove, there is the added issue that the company’s products focus on improving women’s bodies through things like anti-cellulite cream. Cellulite is just the cake that loved us back too much to leave completely. There’s nothing wrong with it and it is certainly far more common across the board than Photoshopped magazine pictures would have us believe. Having said that, the more companies that focus on feminism and issues of discrimination facing women, the better. There has been a media storm over YouTube taking down FCKH8’s “Potty mouthed princesses” video (luckily, it’s still on Vimeo and you can see it below), which has in turn spread the video even further afield. Media focus on these campaigns causes positive reactions: Dove has been forced to put its money where its mouth is and launch a fund for raising self-confidence in children as part of an effort to show its customers it is being active in supporting the goals it puts across in its advertising. Furthermore, feminism is an issue facing women and girls alike. Girls have just as much right as women to be pissed off and it’s great that a company is aware enough to tap into that. Feminism is not just about “angry women”—it is also about angry little girls who will one day get told they can’t do something simply because they are girls. #queenofhercastle

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