My sister sent me the Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism video on Saturday, and I don’t mind telling you straight out that I was horrified. It was like a gut-punch to my brain. The email I sent back to her began with two words: CHILD ABUSE!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a feminist and well aware of the alarming statistics about gender economic and social inequalities, sexual violence, and domestic violence. I am in complete agreement about the need for social change. In fact, I’ve been living with that goal in mind for over 40 years. My daughters still remember songs they grew up with from Marlo Thomas’ record album, Free to Be...You and Me, and when they were the ages of the girls in the video (6-13), Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s treatise on non-sexist childrearing, Growing Up Free: Raising Your Child in the 80's, became my primary parenting guide and fuel for the fire created when my marriage heated up because I wanted to revise the traditional marital dynamics that my husband and I had integrated into our daily lives. Moving from deeply embedded sexist beliefs and behaviors into an egalitarian relationship is rigorous work similar to the multi-layered process of uprooting racism, which obviously is another area of life-threatening need in our country. Both processes require study, community solidarity toward the goal, continual self reflection, and proactive, open-hearted work. But first, and always, they require respect.
In my opinion the developmental needs of these girls are not being respected; instead, they’re being exploited by the adults involved with them in making these videos. The rapidly repeating use of the f-word coming out of their young mouths in order to shock the viewer are words that they would never think of in that way themselves unless they were living in a home where that’s what they were hearing constantly. These girls are being used to sensationalize the messages, and in so doing they’re being deprived of experiencing the power of assigning their own language to their own experiences in their own time. It seems to me that one major thing they are learning in this process is that using foul language makes them powerful and gets them attention, attention that they could not get on their own. Besides shouldn't adult work be done by adults?
For me, feminism is essentially a commitment to upholding the dignity of each human being regardless of gender, and it begins in childhood. Ms Pogrebin’s above-mentioned book supports feminism and encourages the commitment by a parent or other caring adult to helping children be free of sex role constraints, free of patriarchal predestination, and free to discover the very best in themselves. Do these videos help these girls to discover the very best in themselves? I don’t think so. Toward the end of F-Bombs for Feminism: Potty-Mouthed Princesses Use Bad Word for Good Cause, a woman says, “Maybe society should clean up it’s act.” To my mind this is just the kind of act society needs to clean up.
Notes: The title of this blog is plural because though I’ve watched it but don’t specifically mention it, there is also a video of F-Bombs for Feminism, Part 2: Potty-Mouthed Princesses Break the Silence on Domestic Violence. Both are released by fckh8.com
I like videos like the Run Like a Girll video, designed to help girls keep their confidence. It can be seen at www.zazzle.com. Also, here’s a wholesome website for girls that I like very much: www.amightygirl.com
If you're looking for research statistics related to issues mentioned in this blog be sure to check out these websites: