Backchat Investigates: Humans of Men’s Rights Activism

May 24th 2017

There’s a Youtube channel called CinemaSins where viewers are taken through “Everything Wrong With (insert movie) in X Minutes or Less”. The videos are intended to be humorous with petty questionings about gaping holes in the plotline or an unaesthetic costume design.

If CinemaSins featured The Red Pill, it would be titled: Everything Wrong with The Red Pill (and Society) in 1 hour 57 minutes 46 seconds and No Less, and there wouldn’t be much to laugh at.

The contentious documentary was directed and produced by “reformed feminist” Cassie Jaye. Exploring the men’s right movement, “an alternate perspective” to the feminist movement, the film is more first year university project trying to score a distinction, less Oscar-winning Michael Moore documentary. Scenes include Cassie typing in bed, a reflection of the computer screen off her glasses and phone dial sound effects as she reaches out to her interviewees. Her interviewees, mostly caucasian older gentlemen, leave little to be inspired. But those are the petty criticisms – the real criticism lies in the topics explored and the message conveyed.

The catalyst for the film was the Reddit thread The Red Pill, started by Paul Elam to promote men’s rights activism. Funnily, as Cassie points out, Elam is male spelt backwards, but rest assured this is his real name. The forum is broken up into different threads including “Theory,” “Example” and “Rant/Venting”, hosting discussions including “Attention and Validation are the currency of women,” “How to escalate and turn a conversation sexual” or “Feminism is a Sexual Strategy That has Caused the Breakdown of the Nuclear Family”.

Earlier this year, Palace Cinemas around Australia withdrew its distribution of The Red Pill and Dendy Cinemas followed. The University of Sydney originally banned screenings but the BROSoc, Conservative Club and Students for Liberty Society fought for it to go ahead, which was met with protest last week.

What is the MRA?

Men’s rights activism is the counter movement of the feminist movement. It is resistant to the feminist ideology that inequalities exist: men do not hold a privileged position over women because of the sacrifices they make to fulfil expectations of being the protector and provider. This is the double standard that has gone unrecognised. Feminism paints masculinity as toxic and oppressive, but women have conveniently prescribed a degree of masculinity that must be met for society to function and for their needs to be catered to.

MRA explores the bias that only men face as victims of domestic violence, in divorce and custody battles where the scales tend to tip in favour of the mother as well as compulsory military recruitment. The One in Three Campaign in Australia states one in three victims of domestic violence are men but the statistics the campaign is based on draws statistics from the Personal Safety Survey (2012) which is inclusive of all types of family violence, not solely partner violence.

Jaye’s main spokesperson, men’s rights attorney and author of book “The Myth of the Male Power”, Dr Warren Farrell, said

“While women are often seen as sex objects, men are often seen as success objects.”
“…we die for you guys. Women have the privilege and protection we never had.”

A table of the “Total U.S. Military War Deaths” is shown during the interview, with the ratio of men compared to women casualties. But it fails to acknowledge how the wars were started.

Jaye expresses her “uncomfortableness” as she tries to process these men’s views. Her conclusion is one that only acknowledges how far the feminist movement has come in one of the world’s most developed countries.

“I don’t think I would want that responsibility…”
“Fifty years ago I wouldn’t have wanted to be a woman but maybe it’s now that the tides are changing and women have the better deal.”

Does she have a point?

Third wave feminism has faced backlash for being too radical. Terms such as “feminazi” have been coined to describe supporters of the movement who discriminate against or blame men for their problems. The counter to this backlash is that it is simply a reaction from the patriarchy who fear they are being weakened. The screening of The Red Pill was attended by viewers who supported identified as being anti-feminist or were interested in supporting freedom of speech.

“There isn’t enough exposure to men’s rights.”
“Men’s rights seems an alternative to the, largely unreasonable feminist agenda nowadays.”
“I wouldn’t call myself a feminist personally because I don’t like what’s attached to the word these days. I would identify as a feminist if there wasn’t such a hateful connotation.”

At the screening, protesters marched and shouted

“Racist, sexist, anti-queer bigots are not welcome here.”

In response to the protest, Conservative Club member and co-host of the screening, Renee Gorman, said

“This is ridiculous. This is pretty intense…this is pretty pathetic.”
“…what they don’t realise is that by doing this, we win because they make themselves look bad.”

The Red Pill presents a one dimensional antithesis of the inequalities men face. Much like the radical feminism it denounces, Jaye and her film play the blame game, failing to approach gender bias in a way that enables a plausible solution.

Audio by Emily Jane Smith

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