"Transcend and include... this is the self-transcending drive of the Kosmos—to go beyond what went before and yet include what went before... to open into the very heart of Spirit-in-action." Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a group of people somewhere were for something and against nothing?" Ernest Holmes

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Integral Field Trip to Mens' Rights Documentary "Red Pill"

[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)

Social issues

  • 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 Reaction

Audience 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 Perspective

In 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?


Ananda001 said...

I wish I could have attended. Creating a thoughtful way to dialog and learn about this perspective and issue is a really great step toward healing. Besides men, the same sort of treatment could be created around "white" issues. There are many black, women's, GLBTA, Latino, Asian orgs in most colleges and represented by offices on local/state governments...but imagine if one were to propose a "white" persons group/organization? As demographics have shifted dramatically in the USA since the 60s and as laws have been changed (and to a degree enforced)white folks frustration has increased. As we know more college education white women voted for Trump so it's men and women who need to be engaged and allowed in a tent that for 50 years has excluded them. Stereotypes and profiling are bad for all concerned.

Teri Murphy said...

Thanks for stopping by, Neil. We definitely need a new approach to bringing everyone into the tent.