[March 9, 1917] Mainstream feminists will affirm that rigid gender roles hurt men as well as women. So why is "Red Pill," a film about mens' rights, so controversial?
The documentary chronicles the journey of feminist filmmaker Cassie Jaye who sets out to document the Men’s Rights movement, and ends in questioning her own beliefs. I attended the film this week along with several members of the newly revived DC Integral Meetup. My sense is that the controversy stems from two sources: the polarization that views any acknowledgment of the "other side" as a loss for "my" side, and Jaye's reliance on atmospherics over tough questions that might have clarified a few key points of contention.
For example, she fails to ask the mens' rights activists (referred to in the film as "MRAs") about apparently blatant misogynistic statements several of them have made. And when the editor of MS. Magazine tells her there is no area in which men are unequally treated, Jaye fails to ask for specifics in regard to this list of MRA issues.
|Film maker Cassie Jaye|
Legal and political issues
- Unequal treatment in divorce and child custody, (cited in the film as the top issue that brings men into MRAs)
- Unbalanced military conscription and assignments,
- Disparity in criminal sentencing,
- Lack of services or even sympathy for male victims of domestic violence and rape,
- Disproportionate funding and research on men's health issues, (e.g., research on breast cancer vs. prostate cancer)
- Lack of reproductive rights. (e.g., a say in whether a pregnancy should be terminated)
- Lower and still dropping rates of educational attainment in recent decades,
- Much higher rates of workplace fatalities and high-risk jobs,
- Higher rates of suicide,
- Higher rates of violent victimization,
- Societal tolerance of misandry,
- Uniquely subject to false allegations of rape
MRA's Goal: A Commission on Men and Boys
The screening March 7 was sponsored by MRA organizations. Its stated intention was creation of a White House Commission on Men and Boys to parallel the Obama-created Commission on Women and Girls.
Audience ReactionAudience reaction seemed to indicate that at least half the audience were MRAs. A Q&A session that followed was nearly sidetracked by the question of whether a Trump presidency is a good time to promote such a commission. One young man said it was because President Trump understands the social chaos that has come about since legalization of contraceptives and no-fault divorce. (Ouch!) Another wag pointed out that nothing was accomplished by the Commission for Women and Girls, so why should we expect results from a Commission for Men and Boys?
But the discussion also gave voice to attendees seeking to reconcile the two sides, such as these two comments.
"Instead of having a commission for women and a commission for men, let's have one commission that seeks redress for all victims."
"Let's not wait for a government commission. Let's each one mentor young persons of both genders to know that all paths are open to them."
The Integral PerspectiveIn brief reactions traded after the show, my Integral buddies seemed agreed that Mens' and Womens' issues are not mutually exclusive, but rather tied to each other in several polarities. I wished I could have asked the young Trump supporter if he would like to explore ways to help both men and women move to a new level.
Another point about language struck several of us. A woman at the end of the film points out that the term "patriarchy" connotes that men are the problem, while "feminism" connotes that women are the good guys. Integralist Susan Bellchamber said, "I'll never again use 'patriarchy' to summarize the problem."
Perhaps we need only refer instead to "gender assumptions enforced by law and partial awareness." Or, maybe we need something catchier. What do you think?