here’s my issue with FCKH8

FCKH8 is pretty well-known for their provocative pro-feminist, anti-racist, pro-LGBTQ+ videos and merchandise. Their latest video, “F-Bombs for Feminism,” has been making the rounds on Facebook and the WGS.111 blogs recently (re: gildaraz and nikkithinksnikkiwrites):

Before that was their “Hey White People” video, which featured spunky “#Ferguson kids” speaking out against racism.

So what’s the problem?

From the FCKH8 about page, emphasis mine:

FCKH8.com is a for-profit T-shirt company with an activist heart and a passionate social change mission: arming thousands of people with pro-LGBT equality, anti-racism and anti-sexism T-shirts that act as “mini-billboards” for change. Started in 2010 with comedic viral videos that captured millions of views on YouTube, FCKH8.com has shipped almost 200,000 equality tees, tanks and hoodies to supporters in over 100 countries.

Um….for-profit t-shirt company?

It’s easy to forget that FCKH8 isn’t actually a charity or nonprofit, and this seems intentional (For about a year I confused FCKH8 with the charity NOH8 Campaign). And that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means that we do need to bear in mind the economic motivations for their viral videos (or should I say, advertisements?), which uniformly feature and market their bold-lettered t-shirts. That economic motivation acts in conflict with their supposed “social change mission” because it means they’re more likely to produce inflammatory, viral, “spreadable” content without necessarily propagating positive, well-informed messages and images of the minority communities they supposedly speak for.

FCKH8 has been criticized for being transphobic, biphobic, ace-phobic, and generally insensitive of those who identify outside the gender binary, in doing so propagating popular stereotypes of minority groups (black kids as sassy, gay men as catty or effeminate). Take for instance:

and:

They’ve also been called out for stealing content from other artists and campaigns without crediting the original creators, profiteering off of social issues and minority groups, perpetuating the sexist and patriarchal tactics of mainstream media, and just generally being inflammatory, ignorant, and horrible.

So yeah, maybe FCKH8 has an “activist heart and a passionate social change mission,” but that their proposed solution is “propagate provocative viral videos so people buy our tee-shirts” needs to be recognized and kept in mind. Their seeming ignorance of and insensitivity to the people they purport to speak for makes it double difficult to believe in their supposed altruism. And in terms of general bad practice, FCKH8 seems to have a lot more than three strikes.

More blogs, posts, articles on the flaws of FCKH8:

Why FCKH8 is not an ally to the queer community
Clothing company FCKH8 gets hate for anti-racism Ferguson t-shirt
The Case against FCKH8
FCKH8 needs to stop

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2 thoughts on “here’s my issue with FCKH8

  1. This seems to be a pretty pervasive problem in the LGBT community–bisexuals have their identities erased (you’re just figuring out whether you’re gay or straight) or are looked down on (clearly you’re just a whore), trans* people are not welcomed within the lesbian/gay communities (you used to be a man so really you’re straight, not a lesbian), ace people are mocked… the list goes on. What’s really disappointing about this is how generally this kind of behavior is accepted as valid or normal–but we can’t call ourselves the LGBTQIA+ community if we aren’t behaving like a community. FCKH8? Definitely not helping.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The profit factor cannot be ignored here – this company appears to sell shirts with a wide range of messages, some of which even contradict each other, at least implicitly — I’m thinking of the sexualization of women’s bodies as a selling point for many of them. . . I’m inclined to think that the ability to make real change will not come about by virtue of wearing T-shirts in any case.

    Liked by 1 person

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