By Shankh Chatterji
A social movement starts to balance the scales in the society. But often enough the equilibrium that it aspired to achieve is broken because of the very cause. The last century (and this) has seen the pendulum swing to a need for equality. Men and Women have come forward to fight for equal opportunities and rights. But, (and there seems to be a big one there) there might be a problem brewing right under our noses while we have turned a blind eye to it because of the need to be politically correct.
In Wachowskis’ iconic science fiction film ‘The Matrix’, the protagonist Neo is offered two pills by Morpheus – a red pill which signifies knowledge of the self and truth and a Blue Pill that refers to a return to blissful ignorance. These ‘pills’ have gone on to become pop culture icons of the 21st century.The 2016 documentary ‘The Red Pill’ refers to the scene in an obvious way and addresses the rather uncomfortable subject of the men’s rights movement in the United States of America. But maybe the subject is not restricted to just that one country.
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Made by Cassie Jaye, it is based on the Men Rights Movement (MRA) in US. She spent a year filming this documentary when she entered as a sceptic feminist and returned questioning her views on gender, power, privilege and possibly even hypocrisy.
The problem that the documentary addresses is the rampant use of the term ‘feminism’ as a defense for women to commit crimes or get lawful advantages and its effect on the social equilibrium.
“Feminism did see accurately that we value male work more over female work, but there is also the issue that we value female life more than we value male life.” says Fred Hayward, Founder of Men’s Rights Inc. in The Red Pill Documentary.
Not only does society in general think of men as disposable but has also assigned harsh gender roles to them despite wanting to remove the same for women. Men are supposed to be strong and macho, just like the Marlboro Man in the old western movies. But when it comes to reality it invokes a harsh duplicity in the society we live in today.
“Every society that survived, survived based on its ability to train their sons to be disposable. Disposable in war, disposable as fire fighters, workers at oil rigs, coal miners and so on.” says Dr Warren Farrell.
When quoting this to long standing feminist, Ankita Mahabir, Founder of Socially, she decidedly said “Yes, men have been seen as disposable. However, what about when women have to marry under compulsion and be tortured for the rest of their life under domestic violence? The men conveniently forget that side of the coin.”
But aren’t the men being pushed every day to be more masculine according to the gender standards that have been set by the world too? That in turn is pushing them to alarming rates of disposability. The whole idea of patriarchy also falls back on gender roles. The problem here is not that men are more dominating in this scenario, but they are being pushed to be providers and protectors.
“It is still the expectation that if someone is going to go down with the ship it is going to be men.” says Paul Elam, Founder of A Voice For Men. He goes on to explain how these problems don’t just stop at the job market or stick to mainstream gender roles. But, they run deeper. Majority of the men in today’s day don’t have a say in the welfare of their own parenthood.
“In a custody court, approximately 89% of cases are won by women and 11% by men. The concept now is that women have a right to the child while the father has to fight for them. While the women are fitter to take care of the children, the men are only useful for providing a cheque every month.” says Tanisha Bhatia, a lawyer at J. Sagar Associates.
The blue pill paradigm
Paul goes on to explain the Blue Pill Paradigm that might clear up a few doubts. He states “The blue pill is the paradigm, that most people live by. That men have all the power, that they’ve always had all the power, that domestic violence is a problem that is committed ‘by men against women only’, that sexual assaults are ‘only committed by men against women’, and moreover this preaching that we need to stop violence against women, instead of just stopping violence. That is feminist training.”
The whole feminist movement which was supposed to be about female empowerment and removal of female oppression, whist levelling the field for everyone has been widely distorted by modern radicals and now has led to the transformation of society where equality does not exist and one gender needs to be ahead of another. The idea of feminism was supposed to be equality for women, but it has been so widely misunderstood that it has become a movement that promotes male bashing (according to quite a few people).
However Kingshuk Chakravarty, a music producer went on to say “There are good people in the feminist movement; however there are no good people in the radical feminist movement.”
Uncomfortable or distorted?
Paul states, “’The Red Pill’ is looking at these issues in an honest way even when it’s uncomfortable.”
When I presented this ideology to Ankita, she said, “The women do not have an advantage over men, we are just starting to get a level playing field here. It is the constant distortion of data that leads to such claims that are preposterous and anyone looking at the actual data can confirm this.”
This statement make you doubt whether the whole idea of this movement was that these men were threatened by the equal rights of women and were tampering data to prove a point that did not even exist.
As Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times spoke up about this documentary and said, “It only exacerbates that divide with its uncritical, lopsided presentation and inability to craft a compelling argument regarding a topic this controversial.”
Perhaps the whole point of the documentary was to bring out the other side of the coin – that plenty of fabricated cases are being filed against men every day for sexual harassment as well as domestic violence (physical and mental).
Everyone should be entitled to speak their mind, until they understand the backlash that it might have. Till such time, I still stand here believing that one day there will be equality for all genders in all walks of life, because an ideal society cannot be ideal if one gender is ahead of the other or if one gets preference over the other.
About the Author – Shankh Chatterjee is an avid traveller and amateur photographer and student. He has studied across the world and someday wants to make travelling his profession. He has his own blog Drift Today in which he shares more of his travel experiences.
You can also follow him on Twitter and Instagram.