Yesterday a video of girls dressed as princesses saying the word “fuck” went viral. While the apparent point of the video was to spread awareness of the inequalities and atrocities women and girls face in the world, it was actually made by for-profit t-shirt company FCKH8 who would donate $5 from each t-shirt sold to unspecified charities (presumably charities benefiting women). Capitalism aside, the video begs the question, what’s worse: little girls swearing or facing the likelihood that they’ll be raped or paid less than the men doing the same job?
If popular opinion is any indication it’s the former.
I was just thinking about this a few days ago. Why do we have to “watch our language” around elders or in professional settings when the same respect isn’t shown when it comes to sexism, racism and just generally being a decent person?
I swear “like a sailor” and have since I was the age of the girls in the video and even younger. At a third birthday party I yelled “fuck” while the guests were singing happy birthday. I got kicked out of kindergarten for swearing. My colleagues devised a swear jar to be mostly filled up by me. (I’ve never put a cent in it.)
What I want to know, though, is where’s the “problematic ideologies jar” that the same people who are offended by a word that has essentially lost all meaning other than to punctuate something or as a less formal way to say “make love” should be making deposits into? The same people who are offended by my refusal to burp under my breath or curb my fondness for the f-word but bang on about women who get raped shouldn’t get so drunk or go out with so little clothing, calling Adam Goodes a monkey isn’t racism because he does look like a monkey, when a man cheats on his wife it’s the other woman’s responsibility, and girls being inherently catty and bitchy.
Why should I have to watch what I say less an f-word pop out when people will freely volunteer that they think being gay is wrong, or that it’s not wrong, but at the very least it should be harder for them to have children as they “chose” that lifestyle.
What it comes down to is that women and girls should be seen and not heard. We don’t want little girls to say “bad” words because it offends the collective sensibility. We don’t want to know that women are more likely to face gender-based violence as long as they sit there, shut up and look pretty. The made-up princess aesthetic of the video is certainly fulfilling that aspect, but once the girls open their mouths they’re shamed for saying something that we’d rather not think about. Nay, saying anything.
It could be said that FCKH8 is only interested in making a profit from the t-shirts this video aims to sell. That may be the case but they have certainly got people talking. Just as the company has co-opted feminism for their own purposes feminism can appropriate their money-making ways in an effort to change the attitudes of the same people that are oh-so-offended by an f-bomb but are happy to espouse even more harmful ideologies.