The Red Pill Movie (review)

The Red Pill – A Feminist’s Journey into the Men’s Rights Movement is a 2016 documentary directed by Cassie Jaye. Jaye acknowledges her feminist worldview at the beginning of the film. While researching “rape culture”, she discovered articles written about various men’s rights Web sites, most notably A Voice for Men, a site started and maintained by men’s rights activist (MRA) Paul Elam. Mainstream articles about such sites frame men’s rights groups as “hate groups”, who use the Web as a platform for sharing and propagating woman-hating, anti-feminist, misogynistic ideology. Jaye’s idea for the film was born of the interest in what men’s rights activism is really about – who are these people, and what are they taking issue with? Is the men’s rights movement just a backlash against feminism, comprised of men who are upset that women are making advances toward equality, and lashing out in misogynistic hatred?

Jaye thus begins her journey, spanning a period of time during which she met with and interviewed leaders in not only the men’s rights movement, but also leaders at the fore of the feminist movement. The metaphor of going down the rabbit hole, from Alice in Wonderland, is leveraged to characterize the feeling of disorientation she experienced while being exposed to information that seems so alien to her accepted view of reality; namely, that the social deck is actually stacked against men in some substantial, even horrific ways. Throughout the film, the prevailing feminist ideology that men are Oppressors and women are The Oppressed – that somehow men have an unfair advantage at the expense of women – is flipped upside down through personal testimonies and careful analysis of the validity of commonly held views based on social demographic studies.

I appreciated that Cassie Jaye took care not to minimize the real issues women face. She is one herself, and she seemed honest in her struggle to process what she was learning while keeping her mind open to the facts. This is what we need more of today – an openness to the truth and a willingness to examine our own beliefs. As is par for the modern course, dogma tends to rule the day, and this film is effective at deconstructing feminist dogma and turning a listening ear to the voices that tend to be shouted into irrelevance.

When you hear the term “domestic violence”, what images does it conjure? Maybe a billboard presenting a woman’s battered face? An angry man in a wife-beater t-shirt, a woman cowered in the corner, fearing for her life? When you hear that 1 in 3 women are affected by domestic violence of some type, do you also hear that 1 in 4 men are also affected? If domestic violence is perpetrated on each gender nearly 50/50, why is domestic violence largely presented in the media as a women’s issue? Why are there two-thousand or more shelters for female victims of domestic violence in the United States, and only one for men? Domestic violence is a human issue, perpetrated on both genders. Where is the outrage when it is perpetrated on men? Have you ever stopped to consider that domestic violence perpetrated on men is possible? This is just one example of many men’s issues the film explores, from the biased family court systems to reproductive rights, paternity fraud, and suicide rates. The information and data presented stands in stark contrast to the messages we receive from feminism in our culture.

I particularly enjoyed the segments focused on the Honey Badger Brigade, a team of female men’s rights activists. These ladies get it. They do not drink the feminist kool-aid. I would proudly be the first registrant were there ever to be a certified Honey Badger dating app.

The Red Pill was screened in select theaters worldwide in 2016, and was released to most major video streaming services this week on Tuesday, March 7th. I went to a screening in Seattle, Washington in January of this year. Some screenings, such as one in Melbourne Australia, were canceled after feminists petitioned to have this “misogynistic propaganda film” shut down. The claim that The Red Pill deals in misogyny is ridiculous and untrue. I am thrilled that the film’s reach has expanded, and I am looking forward to seeing how the dialogue progresses in the coming years. If we want to survive as a species, we cannot continue to foster a system where gender relations present a threat to either sex. We are all in this together. Real equality does not tip the scales to anyone’s advantage, or treat anyone as a means to an end (see Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative).

The screening I attended closed to applause from both men and women. That was heartening, especially in Seattle. I left the theater with a sense of hope, and I wanted to give Cassie Jaye a big hug. Let this post be that metaphorical hug.

Thank you Cassie!

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Running out of Steam

March 2017 is turning out to be one of those months. Work, college, and kids are what I eat, sleep, and breathe for the foreseeable future – and I am running out of steam. This situation has been chronic for the past ten years, and I know it will take time off the end of my life. My downtime is spent sitting in traffic, and each destination brings with it the burden of its own set of expectations. I want to go to sleep for four to five years.

Why am I blathering on about this? To stay in the habit of writing at least twice per week. It is easy to write when interesting things are going on, when I’m excited and have something to say. Right now, I’ve got nothing. I can barely keep my eyes open.

I recently learned about a religion called Zoroastrianism, of Persian origin, which allegedly pre-dates Christianity. It reminded me just how many religions are out there, just how many claims there are about deities, and just how powerful religious systems can be. The Zoroastrianists completed construction of temple in New York in 2016. Looking at the photos, the temple seems an anachronism… We humans have a flair for the dramatic. We create weird things. We lay claim to “truth”, despite all evidence to the contrary. We invest in our cultural and historical identities. We build temples, and play with strange fire.

I will return, reinvigorated, later this week.

 

 

 

Prayer Circle at a Pride Parade

When I was roughly twelve years old, active in the Christian church, my youth pastor (we’ll call him Chris) thought it would be a good idea to take our youth group down to Volunteer Park in Seattle, WA, during the Gay Pride Parade (now just known as the Pride Parade). I don’t remember having any advance knowledge of what we were setting out to do – we just loaded up into the church’s bus and headed out.

The sun beat down on us as we exited the bus and headed into the park, which was relatively empty for such a nice day. Chris led us into the park, and instructed us to stand in a circle and hold hands – we were forming a prayer circle. Chris prayed aloud. I don’t remember his words. What I do remember was wondering why we had driven all the way to this far-off park to stand around praying. I had questions about many things we did, but I had learned over time to just go with the flow. Chris had that way about him; everything was a mystery until he was ready to unveil his message. I used to think he behaved this way for dramatic effect, but now, I think that if he had been upfront about what he was doing, maybe nobody would have followed him. Our parents must have known, but they hadn’t said a word.

After a few moments in prayer, we heard a commotion. The sound of many voices echoing through the park. A stampede of people headed our way. Why all these people? Who were they? Chris told us to close our eyes and pray. Pray about what? What is going on here? I felt like I was on the front lines of something, woefully unprepared. I prayed for protection. This whole thing was starting to frighten me. Here we are, standing in the path of a stampeding horde, in a prayer circle. To say that my mind was racing would be an understatement – it had already jumped the starting gun and left me in the dust, disoriented and grasping for something steady. My pounding heart beating in my ears like a war drum, I could feel that we were surrounded now. The stampede was upon us. I opened one eye, just a crack.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The parade-goers had zeroed in on us. Two men were inside out prayer circle, right at my feet, dry-humping each other in the missionary position, looking right at me and crying out exclamations in mock pleasure. Outside the prayer circle, other male couples were making out, tongues tangling, making similar noises. Some of the shouting was angry and profane, full of hatred. One man ran up to everyone in the circle saying “sex is fun, try it!” and stuffing condoms in our pockets. I recalled the biblical story Sodom and Gomorrah – it was the only point of reference in my young mind for what I was witnessing. After a while, the parade passed, and everyone left us alone.

I had no way to fully process what I had just experienced. Chris explained that he had wanted us to see how people behaved when the Devil had a hold of them – just how depraved that we, too, could become if we gave the Devil a foothold in our lives. He said he wanted us to know what it felt like to be surrounded by sin and depravity. He described the battle between good and evil, and prayer as our best weapon in spiritual warfare. My friends and I spent the bus ride home recounting what we saw in hushed, scandalous tones.

That day stands out as one my most vivid childhood memories. What we were doing was inflammatory, and we provoked a response. The response was inappropriate, in my opinion, and illustrated mostly that when you publicly condemn the behavior of a people group at their own event, it can bring out the worst in some of those people. We had a right to free speech in a public park, but what did Chris think we were accomplishing? We weren’t engaging in respectful dialogue, or seeking to understand the hearts or minds of our fellow human beings. We were standing in judgement, maybe even declaring war.

This is how I was raised to look at the world. It is a microcosm of what religious dogma has created throughout history; war, discrimination, segregation, oppression. For all the good that people have accomplished because of their faith (and there is undeniably a long record of great things), there is an equally heavy burden of judgement, condemnation, delusion, and death that tips the scales in the other direction. Once reason is replaced with strict adherence to cryptic ancient texts, and we think we have the answers to end all answers, we are on dangerous ground.

The amount of security we feel in our own rightness is directly proportionate to our need for humble re-assessment of our beliefs.