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The Red Pill
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in The Red Pill, documentary maker Cassie Jaye presents men's rights movement positions, interviewing movement leaders who believe that women aren't disadvantaged in society, but rather that men are the real victims of discrimination. They admit that women are paid less than men for equal work but complain that men die younger. Movement advocates state that men are treated unfairly to the degree that more of them commit suicide, and that more are arrested, imprisoned, and executed. They argue that while male-on-female violence gets all the attention, many men are sexually assaulted by women, and that women perpetrate almost as much domestic violence against men as the other way around. Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch," and to hear stories about battered men. Angry encounters between protesters and men's rights movement proponents are shown.
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What's the story?
The term THE RED PILL has been adopted by the men's rights movement (MRM) from the Matrix movie to signal the choice we have between seeing the world as it really is -- in this vision, a hotbed of discrimination against men -- or taking the blue pill, which supposedly offers the blissful but false view that ignores terrible prejudice causing men's widespread suffering. In Cassie Jaye's documentary about the MRM, the advocates and leaders she interviews give moving examples of real-life individual instances of unfairness visited on good men. Some men get a raw deal from the justice system while trying to get custody of their children, and other innocent guys can't get the authorities to recognize that they've been battered and sexually assaulted by women. These accounts seem to be valid individual examples of true injustices, but notably absent from the film are comparisons to equally disturbing stories from women about abusive men and social systems long rigged to favor men. The MRM leaders Jaye presents are generally soft-spoken, likable, and articulate espousers of the claim that men are disadvantaged in society. Friendly, warm, and polite, they cite statistics showing that men die younger than women, visit the doctor less frequently, become addicted more often, and are arrested, convicted, imprisoned, and executed more often. Their sentences are longer than convicted women's sentences, too. Plus, men now attend college less often than women, and those who attend graduate even less often than that. Jaye's response to most of this is a renunciation of her previous status as a "feminist."
Is it any good?
This documentary tries to masquerade as a serious and fair look at the men's rights movement, but it doesn't give all the necessary facts. The information that documentarian Cassie Jaye omits here speaks volumes. She seems to accept everything her men's rights advocates say in The Red Pill but doesn't question what they write when her camera isn't trained on them.
While the men's rights interviewees are polite and soft-spoken, Jaye offers rabid "feminists" spewing venomous curse words in contrast. Jaye also fails to note that most of the MRM complaints are basically economic in nature and based on policies set by corporations run by men (95 percent of all CEOs) and legislative America (80 percent of all U.S. Congress members). She could easily have noted that published studies say that in 15 developed countries, men have died younger for two centuries, but, notably, since the 1970s -- when feminist ideas first began to take hold -- the gender gap in life expectancy has actually narrowed. Could feminism be good for men's health? While well-intentioned, this movie would be much better with the balanced information that's necessary to cover this complex and worthy subject of inquiry fairly.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether they see evidence in everyday life of the prejudices against men described in The Red Pill. Who gets paid the most at your or your parents' place of work: men or women? How many female bosses do you know?
What does it mean to be a feminist? Why do you think so many people misunderstand or misuse the term?
Do you think men face as much discrimination as women? How could you prove your point?
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