FCK FCKH8: The Problem With Exploitative "Justice"
by Alexander Jones | published Nov. 11th, 2014
Let me phrase this is language they might understand: I don’t think you fucking get it, FCKH8.
I know scoring an "F" from the Better Business Bureau due to mounting complaints about their customer service must be pretty disconcerting, but don't you think that they ought to be getting the hint by now? There's something unsettling and off-putting about a for-profit T-shirt company (owned by the massive corporate branding and marketing studio Synergy Media) exploiting very real, very sensitive social justice issues to rake in a cheap profit. Do you think that’s ever registered as an issue for them?
I think they’ve proven time and time again that, no, it hasn’t. Not at all.
FCKH8's latest video was a pretty huge success in terms of views and viral effectiveness, so it’s easy to assume that they’re still riding high off of the sales revenue it undoubtedly generated for their brand (above all else, FCKH8 is just a brand). They dubbed it "Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism," put a bunch of young girls (aged 6 to 13) in front of a camera and had them swear profusely in frustration toward societal injustices such as pay inequality, rape, damaging gender stereotypes and other concepts they were far too young to comprehend. At one point, they drop the highly disturbing fact that one in every five women will be sexually assaulted by a man in her lifetime, and all the girls are lined up and count up to five, the last one sighing "Which one of us will it be?" Were there counselors on staff to explain to these girls what the lines they had been assigned meant? Apparently selling $15 T-shirts and $35 sweatshirts is worth hiring children to ponder the cruel, unforgiving realities of our patriarchal society at ages where they can’t possibly begin to comprehend or contextualize what they’re saying. There’s an almost laughable hypocrisy in using young girls as props in order to support a feminist cause, one that FCKH8 truly does not understand.
FCKH8 recently published another shamelessly exploitative and profiteering video. This one features more children of various ages, almost all African-American, addressing "white people" in response to the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO in order to sell "Racism Isn't Over, But I'm Over Racism" T-shirts. Only $5 from each shirt sold went to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or the Michael Brown Foundation, while similar campaigns have donated all of their revenue in support of the cause. That doesn't add up, FCKH8. Are you really so entrenched in your capitalist cause-trailing that you aren't above using children and fabricating a deeper commitment to the causes you "support" just to get a paycheck?
What about that time you promised to send 10,000 LGBTQ-friendly coloring books to the homes of Russian families with children during the Olympics as a response to the Russian government's treatment of LGBTQ individuals? Do you have any idea how recklessly irresponsible that was, and how many lives you could have potentially endangered?
Or that time you shamed women in your ad that claimed, "Mammogramming Your Boobs is More Important Than Instagraming Them"?
Or that time you flat-out denied and mocked asexuality as a viable sexual identity on your Facebook page, calling those who identify as asexual "attention seekers" and telling them to "quit whining"?
Or that time you promoted damaging homosexual stereotypes in the vast majority of your videos?
FCKH8 is an organization that is not reputable in the slightest, placing profit and corporate branding head and shoulders above the causes they claim to support. As despicable as FCKH8 is as an organization, however, it’s still up to us as consumers and activists to properly assess how our dollar can most directly impact the social issues we hope to change. The allure and spectacle of viral campaigns can easily dupe the most intelligent and self-aware individual, which is why they’re so attractive to corporations like FCKH8's Synergy Media.
If we truly want to see such bold-faced dollar-chasing and exploitation disappear from social justice campaigns, it’s up to us to sharpen our skepticism and start paying more attention to what we support and share with others. Check where your money is going before you share whatever the next “shocking” campaign video is on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. FCKH8 claims to have donated “over $250,000 to the equality cause” on their website, but provides next to no information regarding the charities and organizations they have supported.Some charities have flat out refused to accept donations from FCKH8 due to their highly questionable practices. If you truly care to create a positive impact on a cause you support, you owe it to yourself and those you wish to help to be responsible and not support organizations solely based on the products they sell or the effectiveness of their ads. By making a conscious decision to assume the best, to not put in the effort to check sources, facts and figures, you are exactly where those who wish to exploit you want you to be.
If FCKH8 wishes to improve its ever-diminishing reputation, they would be wise to follow the example of genuinely reputable charitable organizations like the Michael Brown Foundation, The Point Foundation, The Astraea Foundation for Justice and the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute, and to not use oppressed groups as props to sell a product.
Until then, I really just don’t think you fucking get it, FCKH8.