I love reasonable independent minded women.
"Just say 'I do' Pete"
"I do!" ♡
As part of her research for The Red Pill, American film maker Cassie Jaye spent hundreds of hours with the internet’s most notorious Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) over a two-and-a-half year period. For balance, she also interviewed some of their fiercest critics – such as Katherine Spillar, Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
For her efforts, she says she has been smeared, threatened with “career suicide” and even saw her funding dry up – to the point where the movie was unlikely to see the light of day.
But then something incredible happened: via a Kickstarter fund, a “global army” of 2,732 free speech advocates (of both genders), raised a staggering $211,260, ensuring the movie’s cinematic release.
The title The Red Pill refers to a scene in the Matrix, when Keanu Reeves’ character takes the red pill to see “the truth” – MRAs claim they see the “truth” about women and a world they feel is systematically stacked against men and boys.
The Red Pills’ key interviewees – including MRA luminaries such as A Voice For Men founder Paul Elam, author of The Myth Of Male Power Dr Warren Farrell and the National Coalition For Men’s Dean Esmay – have long been smeared as some of the internet’s biggest anti-feminist bogeyman.
Yet until now no serious documentary maker has tried to get inside their world.
“When I started this project, my perception of MRAs was definitely negative,” she tells me. “I thought they’d say shocking things and it would be a peek inside this mysterious, misogynistic community. All I knew about them was the cherry-picked, shocking comments used on feminist websites.
“But when I started to really listen to them, I started to empathise with a lot of their issues. Our cultural conditioning is that women have been oppressed and men are the oppressors. But I saw that wasn’t so.
“Within the feminist community, there is a level of dismissiveness and a lack of compassion. There is a feeling ‘they have been the oppressors, and now it’s our turn’. Some prefer to step on men in the process. Even when men were suffering, like falling behind at school, I heard a lot of talk about ‘toxic masculinity’ – that it was somehow the fault of the patriarchy, that men caused their own problems.
“But the MRAs weren’t loners or misogynists. Most of them are in loving relationships and have children, and that was shocking for me.”
“There was anger from feminists when they found out I was being too kind to MRAs,” she says. “They said, 'they’re going to turn on you. Don’t be fooled’.
“As time went on they did not want to go through with funding – because I was balanced and ‘giving the MRAs a platform’.
“It was a way of stopping this film getting too big. They hoped it would fizzle out. They believed they had control of the film. It was an indirect attempt to censor my voice.
‘So I looked at film grants, but there were no categories for boys and men. The situation was desperate”.
“People power, Twitter power, social media power, came to our rescue,” she says. “People were disgusted that one side was trying to silence and prevent this film from being made.
“Many said ‘I’m not into the MRA thing, but I absolutely believe they have the right to have their say’.
“It was a global uprising of both genders; people from China, India, Australia, USA, Canada and the UK”.
Now Red Pill is due for a cinematic release in Autumn 2016 to drive men’s issues on the radar ahead of the US Presidential Election (there will also be a London screening).
“I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people high up in the film industry who not only support it, but even wanted to make it, but they felt it would be career suicide.
“Making this was the most life-changing experience of my life. It completely changed how I see men, from my relationship with my boyfriend to my father figures. It will open doors for understanding how men work.
“Above all, Red Pill is not about attacking women: it is about supporting men. And that can only be a good thing”.