By Wendy Widom, CBS 2 Social Media Editor & Heather Sadusky, CBS 2 Apprentice
Warning: The FCKH8 video, which we link to in this article, contains frequent use of strong language and discusses topics that include violence against women.READ MORE: Man Shot, Critically Wounded Near Lincoln And California Avenues
This post is part of CBS 2’s Mom and Millennial series.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Last week, the FCKH8 campaign gave the public a sharp jolt with its new video featuring young girls dressed as princesses firing off expletives about gender inequality and violence against women. As it wended its way across the Internet, women everywhere watched, cheered, squirmed and debated the campaign’s decision to use young girls to prove a point about sexism. Did girls cursing make you uncomfortable? Did their depiction of adult sass and anger inspire you?
CBS Social Media Editor Wendy Widom, a 40-year-old mom, chats with Apprentice Heather Sadusky, a recent college graduate, about our disparate reactions to the girls in the video, as well as why young women pose on social media in skimpy clothing and what GamerGate means for all of us.
Wendy: The first time I watched the FCKH8 video I actually had to turn it off halfway through. I have a daughter roughly the same age as the girls, and seeing their ferocity made me uneasy. I’m not against profanity and don’t care if my child curses. It was their rage and adult mannerisms that freaked me out. This is feminism? This is what will help women gain equality?
Heather: The first time I watched the FCKH8 video, I immediately wanted to share it across all of my social media. I thought it was absolutely hilarious and delivers—I laughed aloud, alone at my computer. This is the way to get feminist ideas across. It’s always funny when little kids swear, but sassy little girls dressed as princesses telling society what’s wrong with its treatment of women is genius.
Wendy: Can I confess something I find confusing about young women? I see lots of conversations among young women about gender inequality. But then I look on Facebook and Instagram and see the same women wearing clothes that leave little to the imagination. Just as I don’t mind kids cursing, I also think that women should be able to wear whatever the heck they want and not be objectified. But why choose clothes that seem to be playing into what men find seductive and sexy? Have young women internalized a man’s version of beauty or is this a form of freedom, the way Playboy was in the 60s and 70s?READ MORE: Woman Seriously Injured In Hit-And-Run In Lakeview, Half A Mile West Of Wrigley Field
Heather: Well I’d have to agree with you on this one. That is indeed the problem I have with the concept of feminism. I think maybe we take advantage of our beauty and youth when it’s convenient. In the name of feminism, we demand that a man not stare at our assets even when we put them on display. On the flip side, many women also want that same man to open doors for us and carry us across puddles.
That’s why I like this video. I think the greatest part is that the girls are in princess costumes. They mock the status quo, asserting that girls should be able to dress like princesses and still get fair treatment. It would have been an entirely different message had the girls been dressed like tomboys. We want to wear our dresses without being slapped on the ass. Is that too much to ask?
Wendy: It’s not. I just realized that women over 40 have two problems. We don’t want to be objectified, or “slapped on the ass,” as you so aptly refer to it. On top of this, we also feel pressure to look 30 in order to stay in the game, personally and professionally. Look at Renee Zellweger’s recent transformation. Would a 45-year-old man have to undergo so much work to stay popular, relevant and attractive?
I think that’s why I didn’t fall in love with this video. It seems to exist in an echo chamber. Sure, women who are already frustrated with the status quo will enjoy it. But I’m unconvinced that young girls cursing in princess dresses will make a dent among those in society who don’t agree or fail to see the importance of gender equality.
Heather: As a woman, the video made me feel a tiny bit empowered, like ‘yeah, they’re right!’ “Why is it more offensive to throw an f-bomb than to be raped?” How can anyone see a young girl say that and not be outraged by this issue.
Wendy: I was definitely outraged. When the girls counted who among them would likely be raped, my heart hurt for my daughter. What will it take to change society? What will it take prevent a travesty like GamerGate, in which women who spoke up about misogyny in the gaming world are now seriously fearing for their lives? I think it’s time to focus our limited resources on women and men who are actively blocking the advancement of women or who are, just as importantly, ambivalent about these issues. Despite my reservations about this video,however, I am glad it’s getting people talking. The more we debate issues like inequality, the more likely things are to change.MORE NEWS: Bills That Would Strengthen Privacy For Sexual Assault Victims One Step Closer to Becoming Law After CBS 2 Investigation
Heather: Hopefully, in this case, the extreme approach will make an impact. The most outrageous expletive that stuck with me was a little girl suggesting we teach boys not to rape. Sometimes the most obvious solutions come from kids, and I’m glad this video is addressing the blatant issues underlining women’s rights. There’s no denying our society responds well to humor, and tackling a serious topic with a laughable video can be a powerful way to spark change.