Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Toronto screening of Cassie Jaye's "The Red Pill: A Feminist's Journey into the Men's Right's Movement." Because I've seen many posts on TRP which discuss the concept of the film, but have yet to see a review, I thought I'd share with the community my findings.
First off, I want to make it clear that I am not an MRA. My first exposure to gender politics was in university, where I minored in Women's Studies. I mention this because I found myself identifying with Jaye's "awakening" throughout the film; her perspective of women as an oppressed class slowly eroding under the weight of the evidence. This was similar to my own experience, which made the film personally relatable. If you have any interest in my personal RP awakening, you can find this in my post history.
Regardless - on to the review.
If you haven't seen the trailer, or read any of the posts discussing the content over the past year, the film documents a successful feminist filmmaker's exploration of the MRM. Jaye starts the film by highlighting her past work, her most recent film prior being focused upon marriage equality. As part of her research into "rape culture" (which was originally intended to be her next topic) she chances upon the highly controversial website "A Voice for Men", written by none-other than GLO's favourite, Paul Elam.
As Jaye delves further into Elam's writings, she becomes fascinated by the dissonance between the media portrayals of MRMs as "rape apologists", "woman-haters", and "misogynists" vs what they are actually saying, and decides she'd like to interview Elam and several other prominent MRM speakers. These include names like Dr. Warren Farrell, who penned "The Myth of Male Power" in the 70s and was an outspoken figure in men's issues long before TRP. She also meets with The Honey Badgers, a group of female MRA's; as well as Elaine Pizzey, who opened the first domestic violence shelter in 1971 and who was one of the first to acknowledge publicly that domestic violence can be perpetrated by both men and women equally.
As she collects insight from the MRA side of the discussion, she also consults leading feminist figureheads on their views of the mens movement. Participants included the Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation, Katherine Spillar; and Dr. Michael Kimmel, American sociologist and gender studies "expert." She even interviews Big Red, the infamous loud mouth who is immortalized on YouTube for disrupting an MRA event at U of T and then proceeding to scream and demean the participants.
Without highlighting every single point that Jaye makes in the film, she does an excellent job of exploring traditional gender roles and their impact on normative behaviours (particularly compelling was the comparison of men as "success objects" to the feminist script of women as "sex objects"). Jaye also delves into the statistics surrounding so-called "male privilege", pointing out that 98% of military deaths are men; 94% of workplace fatalities are men; 75% of suicides are men; 90% of the homeless are men; and that 1 in 4 men will be victims of intimate partner violence (compared to 1 in 3 women). She covers the significant drop in male enrollment in post-secondary education; sexual violence against men and boys; and the epidemic of autism diagnoses and Ritalin prescription to "control" boys' behaviour as they grow.
She also explores father's rights and the damage of wrongful paternity. Jaye touches on examples of willing Dads forced to see their children adopted, or others who fought justly for 14 years in custody battles, only to lose their children forever. She highlights cases where men were forced to pay child support for children that DNA proved were not theirs; and others where entire families were destroyed by paternity fraud.
Throughout, Jaye records video diaries where her perspectives gradually shift. At one point, she attempts to revisit her feminist leanings by involving herself in women's events - but this is in vain. As the credits begin to roll, she states that her journey has transformed her - and in good conscience, she can no longer identify as a feminist.
Some of you may read this and immediately assume that Jaye is pandering to her audience. You may be familiar with the Breitbart campaign to raise funds to make this film. I was skeptical as well, and going into this experience I decided to reserve my judgement until I had watched the whole thing and could comment fairly on what I had seen. I am happy to say that I do not feel Jaye pandered at all. There was adequate screen time for both the MRAs and Feminists, and any holes or flaws in the feminist logic came directly out of the mouths of their speakers - not from Jaye.
This is an important film. Jaye successfully unpacks the extremely complex issues surrounding modern gender politics and presents mens rights as a multitude of intersecting topics, and all worth discussing. Through evidence, she debunks the hateful rhetoric which is associated with the manosphere, and opens the door for further dialogue around the meaning of egalitarianism in the 21st century.
Part of the reason we all visit TRP is because we acknowledge that our culture increasingly lacks a positive identity for men. One of the central tenets of TRP is, a-la Fight Club, that you do not talk about the red pill. But therein lies a problem - if we cannot have an open dialogue regarding equality in our culture, especially when it pertains to half our populace, we cannot consider ourselves free. We remain prisoners in a gyno-centric society where men are disposable and unwanted. If any of you one day wish to have sons, it stands to reason that we cannot allow this to continue.
I hope that this film opens new doors to the public discussion of the issues facing men and boys, and as such I give this film ***** - Highly recommended.