By Julianne San Antonio
When it comes to issues like domestic violence, FCKH8 is a sentiment we can all agree on.
One of the latest videos from the T-shirt organization’s “F-Bombs for Feminism” commercial series was released last month, titled “Potty-Mouth Princesses Break the Silence on Domestic Violence.”
As the title suggests, the advertisement begins with several little girls in princess costumes cursing at the camera while speaking out on violence against women. The commercial takes a drastic turn when their faces are covered with bruises and bloody gashes to show that one in four women will be victims of domestic violence. At the end of the video, men and women are shown promoting FCKH8’s “Break the Silence on Domestic Violence” tank tops.
According to FCKH8’s Facebook page, approximately $9 of each $15 tank sold will be donated to domestic violence charities voted upon by the page’s followers.
FCKH8 is a for-profit company that sells T-shirts for change. These T-shirts are intended to serve as “mini-billboards” in support of racial, gender and LGBTQ equality.
However, due to the shocking nature of its ads, the company has faced backlash for exploiting children and oppressed communities in order to sell its T-shirts.
FCKH8’s first viral “F-Bombs for Feminism” ad drew criticism from many, including Toronto-based writer and feminist blogger, Anne Thériault.
“There is nothing feminist about using little girls as props in order to sell t-shirts – in fact, I would argue that this is the opposite of feminism. There is nothing feminist about exploiting a bunch of little girls by having them swear and talk about rape statistics just so that FCKH8 can make a quick buck,” wrote Thériault on her blog The Belle Jar.
Washington Post‘s Darlena Cunha echoes Thériault and also stresses the importance of preserving children’s innocence. She points out that, ” By having them internalize the message that they are strong and unstoppable, we may inadvertently be pushing them along the path of blaming themselves should they somehow be unable to stop a rapist, mugger, or even the patriarchy in general.”
On the company’s latest ad, Jezebel’s Isha Aran finds it frustrating that the video, “creates a zero-sum game of guilt where there isn’t one.” In spite of what the commercial suggests, Aran argues that finding the black-eyed makeup placed on these girls to be morally problematic in no way reflects a lack of concern for domestic violence.
To address these critics, FCKH8 released a follow-up video which includes interviews with the potty-mouthed princesses and their mothers on why they support the company.
“We know we’re doing the right thing, because people are gonna listen,” says Lacey O’ Connell, mother of one of the girls in the video. “Whether it be your negative attention or positive attention, we got your attention.”
In the second episode of “McClung’s One on One,” I speak to McClung’s staff and students to discuss the latest controversial FCKH8 ad and domestic violence.