Saturday, 21 January 2017

So I Watched... The Red Pill.

This piece is about my thoughts on it and will avoid spoilers as much as possible. The copy I watched was the digital copy I received for backing it at the $25 pledge level.

Before this film came along, I was only mildly aware of Men's Rights Activists and their cause. I did not ever consider myself one and nor did I much care what they had to say or what they fought for. With that in mind, why would I back a Kickstarter for a documentary, made by a feminist, to take a fair look at the Men's Rights Movement?

I am a happily married man. I have four children with a woman who knows me better than most people ever have and puts up with my faults because she loves me too. I have seen men I have known go through either bad experiences with women after relationships have ended and come out worse off; that influenced my decision to back this Kickstarter.

Two men I knew had children with women who claimed to be taking the pill, both relationships ended and the child stayed with the mother but both cases went in different directions. One moved far away because he had not wanted to be a dad and didn't want the responsibilities of it and the other ended up having to fight to see his child after the mother moved away. In both cases, myself and other onlookers found it extremely interesting that both the woman had fallen pregnant when they did. Especially as both of the relationships were on very rocky ground and looked like they were about to end.

Another guy I knew had a child with his girlfriend but the relationship came to a bad end, due to too much fighting between them. After they parted company, out of spite she moved to a different town with the child and didn't tell him. When he eventually found her, he had to pay a stupid amount of money to a solicitor just so he could get regular visitation rights to his child; the mother received no punishment for her actions. A friend of mine had a fight over phone with his ex girlfriend over a toy he brought their daughter, when the argument looked to be going his way the mother denied him access to the child as a way to hurt him. This eventually was settled but he never forgot it. A guy I once worked with had an arrangement in place with his ex wife that he would pay a set fee to what ever their child needed as he could not afford too much, and she knew that. Without telling him, she contacted the Child Support Agency without telling him as she had decided she needed more money. One night at work, he opened his payslip to discover over half his wages had been taken; crippling him for quite a while.

Another one was with my brother. He and his wife split and she had their daughter, it was hard for him but they hard worked out an arrangement which suited both of them. She then had the bright idea of moving far away to start a job she wanted, in order to see his daughter he would have to travel in the car for three hours each way and he simply couldn't do that because of his working hours. She eventually settled on travelling back every other weekend but after a while she tried to change the arrangement because it didn't suit her. Eventually she moved back and he got to see his daughter more often, although I did my best to keep my nose out of it I was pained to see him go through this. To say I thought very unkindly of her would be putting it mildly. The final example is probably the one I try my best not to think about but it is always there.

Andy was a guy I had once worked with, he was a cocky type of guy but you couldn't help but like him. I did not know him as well as the others but we spoke here and there, when his wife of a couple of months decided that she didn't want to be married to him anymore and threw him out, the pain on his face was quite evident. I had heard at one point that she was dragging his name through the mud to deny him access to their children but I had chosen not to ask him about it, it was none of my business. One Monday night, we learned he had killed himself. The atmosphere that settled over the workplace that week was one I will never forget, I don't think I ever. My manager read out a statement on the company's behalf, behind his glasses I could see tears in his eyes and that shook me. The station I was working at, Andy would come past every shift and say Hi to me. All that week I kept looking around to see where he was.

It was because of those examples I decided to back the documentary.

The final product is a great one and Cassie Jaye should be proud of what she has made. Her interviewees tell their stories with no interruption and a lot of the stories told by these men in it about the fates that they have ended up with really disturbed me. Jaye shows some of the video diaries she made during the production and it was a nice touch, especially as she was questioning what she was hearing in parts of them. I watched them and understood why she was conflicted but in the end, the men that were being interviewed were the ones who came out better when the light was shone on them. The radical feminism on display from those against the MRAs was horrible to watch, especially the protesters at the Warren Farrell talk and they way these people talk to police and those attending the event. Various stories throughout the documentary left me feeling very cold and one scene near the end, involving a young baby boy, nearly made me stop watching it as I felt physically sick and had to turn away. That scene alone is the one issue I had with the documentary and as a result I do not know if I can watch it again.

My only fear of this documentary was that it wouldn't be fair to the men involved but I was pleased that it was as fair as it possibly could be. I respect Cassie Jaye for that and if she keeps this approach up then she will continue being a fine film maker. One thing mentioned in the documentary is when the MRAs try to have these discussions, they are shut down or prevented from doing so. The irony of this happening to Jaye when it became clear to many that her film would allow them to tell their stories is inescapable. Nasty pieces have been written about the film, showings of it have been shut down in various countries, and bloggers like David Futrelle did his best to attack her over the film, it's content, and who backed it. The fact that this was pretty much predictable when the film was being made and released, to see how many people wanted this film either shut down or silenced; that saddens me to no end. The fact that she had to go to Kickstarter to fund the film so that it could see the light of day is probably a sign of the times and I would hope certain people in the media are ashamed of themselves.

I hope she continues to make documentaries like this as she clearly is a skilled film maker and I respect her for it. Hell, if she has to do another Kickstarter because of a similar situation with funding she can count me as a backer. Finally though, I will end this with a message to those who would do their best to silence people like Cassie Jaye and hope some of them take it on board; it is a quote I am sure a few of you will recognise.

When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a lair, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.

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