“F-Bombs for Feminism: Potty Mouth Princesses Use Bad Words for a Good Cause" is a viral video showing young girls between the rough ages of 8 and 14 dressed up as princesses.
The girls start by daintily holding their hands and saying, “Pretty,” while music fit for a tea party plays in the background. One of the girls interrupted the pretty fest by screaming, “What the f*ck?!” and pointing out how she is not, in fact, some pretty, helpless princess.
The girls then ask one simple question: "What is more offensive: a girl saying 'f*ck,' or gender inequality?" And, judging from any of the comments surrounding this video, the answer is, unfortunately, the former.
Some of the comments actually bring up valid arguments. For example, should we really be using children to prove a point? However, other comments are asinine at best, problematic at worst.
The most common comment I’ve seen includes some type of bemoaning sentiment over a purported lost innocence. It suggests that by saying the F-word, these poor girls have lost their purity to swearing.
But, here’s the problem: Getting upset about an 11-year-old girl swearing is symptomatic of the exact problem the girls are addressing.
Let’s flip the roles around. Imagine that instead of young girls swearing about how inequality could affect them, the video featured young boys swearing about the same thing, but for their friends, sisters and mothers. (Or, even themselves, as gender inequality affects everyone, but that’s for another day.)
Now, we have an 11-year-old boy in a Prince Charming costume, swearing up a storm. There’s a 13-year-old boy yelling, “What the f*ck?!” There’s a 9-year-old boy saying, “F*ck toxic societal values!”
Genuinely think about how we react when we hear a pre-adolescent boy swearing. Remember how society at large handles any situation like this. What do you think the reaction would be to this version of the video? A laugh, a facetious roll of the eyes and an, “Oh, boys will be boys!” sentiment.
Maybe some people would comment on the potential exploitation of children to prove a point, as they did with the girl version. Maybe some would point out that the boys have "poor manners." But, I'm willing to bet money that absolutely no one would bemoan the boys' "lost innocence" as a purity that should have been "preserved at all costs."
Why? We see a loss of innocence as something that comes from war, assault and abject poverty, not swear-free talking. Unless we're dealing with girls, that is.
This type of reaction is a reminder that we still hold arbitrary and unfair standards for girls versus boys. Worrying about a girl's swearing — putting such a heavy emphasis on chaste thoughts and words — is the precursor to judging a grown woman based on how many men she’s had sex with.
The reaction to this video demonstrates that, in many ways, we still haven’t veered from the values that are as old as the Middle Ages. Why is this important to note? Because, while we're addressing things like sexism, this is the stuff we have to note.
It's easy to identify the overt, but it’s a lot harder to notice the subtler, more nuanced forms of inequality.
It’s also a lot easier to piss people off when you do. But, it’s these little judgments — fretting over what a girl says versus the “boys will be boys” mentality — that create the foundation for bigger judgments. Like, where one stands on equality laws or how one reacts when he or she hears about sexual assault in the news.
And, since it is so subtle, no one questions those judgments or takes a moment to wonder where they might have originated.
So, let me be the first to say, “What the f*ck!” at so many reactions to this video. I'd rather have a daughter say she's a "f*cking strong, capable girl," than adhere to outdated ideologies. I am far more worried about the implications of the public reaction to a video than I am about a tween uttering a swear-jar-worthy word.