This Feminist Filmmaker's Documentary about Men's Rights Activists Leads to Questions on Feminism
When we hear about Men's Rights Activists, our first reaction is to scoff. Especially, if this is the sort of thing one sees on their timeline:
@MensMrm we need more groups like this to save us from Feminazis around. They aren't creating Gender Equality instead they are bullying men— cossac (@geetsahani) November 4, 2015
Men's Rights Activists mostly seem to be a bunch of people who are inherently misogynistic, and lash out against women because they feel threatened by the fact that the power they enjoyed exclusively is now being shared with women. However, Los Angeles-based filmmaker Cassie Jaye is trying to show the world a side of Men's Rights Activism that we haven't seen before. Her documentary, The Red Pill has received funding on Kickstarter , raising $211,260 over the $97,000 goal, a film about the Men's Rights Movement in America.
The description for the documentary says, “A feminist filmmaker follows the Men's Rights Movement and begins to question her own beliefs. A comprehensive look at Gender Politics,” and we have to agree—it is a “comprehensive look at Gender Politics.”
Jaye talks to The Daily Dot about her own feminist awakening, which happened when she moved to LA at 18 to be an actor. “I was always the vixen, or the cute girl-next-door who always died in horror films,” she says. And if she wanted more than that, she was asked out by the producer and/or director, and the implication was always there; that she'd need to sleep with the men to get the role she wanted. Understanding how unfair the system was, she started her own production company in 2008, Jaye Bird Productions, and went on to direct two very successful documentaries, Daddy I Do and The Right to Love , focusing on abstinence-only sex education and the fight for gay marriage respectively.
She soon learned about Men's Rights Activists while researching rape culture after the Delhi Nirbhaya gang rape, and the Steubenville rape case . Instead of talking about the culture that perpetuated this kind of behaviour, she decided to talk to the MRAs to figure out just what they were about, because common sense deems it absurd that there were people who still preferred this patriarchal world, a world that is unfair to both men and women.
While we haven't seen the entire film yet, we have been reading about all the reactions to the film. Martin Daubney writes in The Telegraph that this is “the movie about men that feminists didn’t want you to see.” Here is where the problem lies. The preview that we see above answers everything that Men's Rights Activists are supposedly fighting for. There are plenty of MRAs complaining about how the women are taking advantage of the fact that men are traditionally the stronger sex, and it would be hard for society to believe that it was the woman who committed the act of violence on the man.
Yes, it happens. Domestic violence does take place, and the women are not always the victim. Rapes take place all the time, and once again, the men are not always the perpetrators of rape. It isn't spoken of much, because most of the men don't speak up, for fear of being laughed at. How could a man be a victim of sexual or physical violence when the perpetrator is a woman? The--for want of a better term--weaker sex? This notion that masculinity equals dominance and physical and sexual superiority is what patriarchy advocates, and that is exactly what feminism is fighting. As we've said innumerable times before, feminism is not against men. Feminism is against patriarchy - a system that is unbelievably unfair to both men and women. A system that bolsters the belief that women should stay in the kitchen, and that men cannot be emotional. Based simply on the preview, one can say that the MRAs featured in it are on the same side as that of feminists. If they say that MRAs are not misogynist, and do not believe that a woman should stay home, then we have to say that real feminists are not misandrists. The belief that feminism is about hating men is incorrect, and that probably explains why so many people can be heard saying, “I'm all for gender equality, but I'm not a feminist.”
Darrah De Jour explains it in one sentence, “Is it possible that the things they are railing against are actually patriarchal things?” and they are. We need to wait for the film to release before we make any more assumptions about Men's Rights Activism, but if it is to ensure that men do not get treated unfairly when they are victims of abuse, then they too are feminists, like it or not.