What's the worst way to fight sexism? Certainly this deeply disturbing viral video, produced by progressive clothing line FCKH8, is a serious contender.
The video has been panned—by all people of taste—for its startling use of young girls, ages 6-13, who are made to rattle off the usual false statistics about sexual assault and the gender pay gap. The video's gimmick is that the girls are dressed up as polite princesses, but launch into profane tirades to make their points. A sampling (each line is spoken by a different kid):
"What is more offensive? — A little girl saying fuck — Or the fucking unequal and sexist way — Society treats girls and women? Here's some words more fucked up — than the word 'fuck' — pay inequality!
As expected, the sight of little girls cursing like drunken sailors enraged some social conservatives. But with respect to my own libertarian sensibilities, the swearing is by far the least offensive thing about the video.
Using kids as props in ideological propaganda videos is disgusting. It's inherently exploitative, since there is little chance the youngest of the girls understands a thing about the perspective she's selling. Worse still, the girls are being taught that screaming expletives at people who disagree with them is an effective or praiseworthy form of advocacy. As someone who frequently writes about women's issues relating to campus due process, I can say for a fact that the current debate between far-left feminists and their critics does not need any additional hysterics. And while I would never deny that a well-timed fuck or two can help get a point across, cursing shouldn't be an 11-year-old's crutch in a public policy debate.
But worst of all is the actual point the profane princesses are trying to make about sexism. The almost-certainly-false statistic about rape makes a groan-inducing appearance: The girls gleefully count off "One, two, three, four five," before proclaiming that, statistically speaking, one of them will be raped. "Which one of us will it be?" wonders one of the girls. So, in addition to using kids as props in service of a distorted perspective on feminism, the video's producers want a bunch of little girls to think one of them is going to be raped.
The insanity of it all speaks to the obvious falsehood inherent in the one-in-five statistic. If two in every ten women actually experienced sexual assault while at a college, for instance, the problem would demand immediate intervention, not some laughably inadequate quibbling over the definition of consent. If one in every five cars broke down and caused its driver serious harm, automobile factories would be condemned as public health hazards. Similarly, if colleges were veritable production lines of rape, it would be necessary to shut them down.
Thankfully, the statistic has been repeatedly debunked. No, American women don't have to endure Somalia-levels of rape; rape has declined substantially in recent decades and continues to fall. Whatever the severity of the campus rape problem, it is assuredly not as bad as two biased surveys with small sample sizes and self-selection problems suggested it was.
Trying to scare people into believing they are in much greater danger than they actually are is contemptible. When children are the targets of such efforts, it's even worse.
At the end of the video, the ringleaders of this horror show appear on camera to tell viewers that if they reacted negatively to the swearing, rather than the sexism, they are part of the problem. And "fuck that sexist shit," says one of the kids.
It's worth keeping in mind that these people probably aren't as crazy as they seem. FCKH8 is a brand that uses videos to sell T-shirts to self-identified progressives—or at least, the kind of progressives who think buying T-shirts counts as activism, bless them. I don't hold FCKH8's business model against it; selling T-shirts to rabid anti-capitalists is always good for a laugh (see: Guevara, Che). (Predictably enough, the money-making aspect was the only thing Jezebel didn't like about the video.)
But for fuck's sake, don't use children as props, don't make them scream obscenities and lies, and don't try to frighten them into thinking they are in imminent danger of being raped.