The title is, “F-Bombs for Feminism: Potty Mouth Princesses Use Bad Words for a Good Cause”. The video — which has taken off like wildfire across the internet — shows girls aged roughly between 8 and 14, dressed up as princesses. They start by daintily holding their hands and saying, “pretty,” while music fit for a tea party plays in the background. One of the girls interrupts the pretty-fest, screaming, “What the fuck!” and pointing out how she is not, in fact, some pretty, helpless princess. The girls then ask you one simple question: what is more offensive, a girl saying, “Fuck,” or gender inequality?
And — judging from many of the comments surrounding this video — the answer is unfortunately the former.
The comments range from ones that actually bring up a valid debate point (“Should we really be using children to prove a point?”) to the absolute asinine. The most common comment I’ve been seeing includes some type of bemoaning of “innocence lost”; how horrible it is that they’re “making girls says the F word” and how these poor girls have now lost their “purity” by daring to swear.
But here’s the problem: getting upset about an 11-year-old girl swearing is symptomatic of the exact problem they’re addressing.
Let’s flip the roles around. Instead of young girls swearing about how inequality could affect them, it’s young boys swearing about how inequality could affect their friends, their sisters, their moms (or themselves, since gender inequality affects everyone, but that’s for another article). Now we have a 12-year-old boy in a Prince Charming costume swearing up a storm. There’s a 13-year-old boy yelling, “What the fuck!” There’s a 9-year-old saying, “Fuck toxic societal values!”
Genuinely think about how we react when we hear a pre-adolescent (or “tween”) boy swearing. Genuinely remember how society at large handles any situation like this. What do you think the reaction would be to this video?
A laugh, a facetious roll of the eyes, and a, “Oh, boys will be boys!”
Maybe some people would mention something about the potential exploitation of children to prove a point. But I’m willing to bet money that absolutely no one would be bemoaning the “lost purity” of these boys — a purity that should have been preserved at all costs.
We see “shattered innocence” as something that comes from war, assault, abject poverty. Not swear-free talking. Unless we’re dealing with girls.
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 few men she’s had sex with (while, ironically enough, being as sexually attractive as possible). If society is overly fascinated with the concept of purity, then it isn’t that much of a jump from “good girls don’t swear” to “good women don’t have sex.” 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.
And this is the stuff we have to get at. We can identify the overt, but it’s a lot harder to get at the more subtle, 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 judgements: like where one stands on equality laws or how one reacts when they hear about sexual assault in the news. And, since it is so subtle, no one questions their judgments or takes a moment to wonder where they are coming from.
So let me be the first to say, “What the fuck!” Because I am far more worried about the implications of such a public reaction than I am about a tween saying a Swear Jar-worthy word.