Patreon Movie Review: ‘The Red Pill’ (2016) – Men’s Rights Ideologies That Are Extremely Hard To Swallow

Published by Shah Shahid on

This Movie Review was requested by a Patron from my Patreon Page.

Gender equality is a major topic of conversation these days. From equal pay to the more recent Hollywood sexual abuse upheaval, the disparity between genders has probably never been under this much scrutiny as it is right now. So a documentary, ‘The Red Pill’, made by a feminist to examine many gender issues from the perspective of men and, more specifically, a Men’s Rights group, is interesting to say the least. And while there are some valid points of discussion here, the documentary comes off as kind of culty and reactionary.

‘The Red Pill’ tries to showcase men as victims of the Feminist revolution, but their bitterness is incredibly hard to swallow.


★★ /5 stars

Watch ‘The Red Pill’ on iTunes

As asserted by documentary filmmaker and director Cassie Jaye herself, ‘The Red Pill’ began as a film about the other side of gender issues that are rarely discussed; the men’s side. But as Jaye was introduced to concepts and ideologies she didn’t previously consider, she kept a video journal of her own struggle and reactions to these new perspectives, as she interviewed with people advocating men’s struggles in society.

‘The Red Pill’ prominently features a group of activists that identify themselves as the Men’s Rights Activists. (MRA) The group’s existence and mandate is to raises awareness of men’s issues, such as lack of education, employment, suicide, imprisonment and other issues where statistics show the affect on men, more so than women. But this is the problem with the MRA’s entire philosophy, the thing that invites hate, vitriol and animosity towards them:

The MRA’s entire ideology seems to be based on a direct comparison of men, against women. The lack of resources that men have dealing with these issues, versus women dealing with similar issues. The lack of sympathy or empathy towards men, versus women. The treatment and expectations of men in family situations and society in general, versus those of women. And so on.

The MRA cannot seem to discuss men’s issues independently, without levelling complaints against the benefits that women in similar situations are receiving. Which honestly comes across as incredibly petty and reeks of bitterness.

While the issues that the MRA want to discuss seem legitimate, ‘The Red Pill’ doesn’t seem to feature any credible solutions or movements that the MRAs seem to be participating in to bring about any real change for those problems. If the statistics are accurate, then majority of men being high school drop-outs is a concern. But the documentary doesn’t feature the MRAs in partnership with any educational  or other organizations to help facilitate boys staying in school. Men committing suicide more than women is tragic. But again, the documentary doesn’t outline any initiatives by MRAs to prevent or manage those situations for men suffering through them.

The only real change or actionable participation by MRAs seems to be in the avenue of domestic situations, where some lawyers have tried to pass legislation against Paternity Fraud or in the case of children’s custody post-divorce. It almost feels like the MRAs mission and proposed solutions are directly linked to specific situations that members of the group have faced themselves. Which comes across incredibly short sighted and self serving.

The existences of MRAs also seems pointless, given that the majority of the documentary just features various members of the group, basically complaining about the ‘injustices’ against men. No real solutions. No proposals to fix things. Especially when there are hundreds of non-profit groups that do deal with Men’s issues in a manner that is a lot less aggressive, confrontational and not at all in competition or rivalry with women’s issues.

director Cassie Jaye

November just passed, and with it the Movember Foundation’s annual efforts to raise funds and awareness for Men’s Health issues such as Prostate and Testicular Cancer and Men’s Mental Health issues by encouraging men to grow moustaches. It’s an inherintly man-centric event for men’s issues that don’t revolve around condeming women for not being able to grow facial hair.

And this is the problem with the MRAs that ‘The Red Pill’ inadvertently showcases, but fails to address. That the entire movement seems to be conceptualized as a reaction to the Feminist movement, and to women being liberated from a perception in society that saw them as less. The MRA movement seems built on the entire premise of ‘…but what about us?!’

While Men’s Issues are valid, and definitely need to be addressed in our society, just as much as Women’s issues, attempting to discuss them by throwing the other side under the bus is probably not the best approach. And of all the advocates for Men’s Rights featured in ‘The Red Pill’, almost all seem more concerned with defeating the progress made towards women then furthering the issues about men that they claim to hold dear.

To its credit ‘The Red Pill’ does genuinely try to provide a fair and balanced look at both sides of the argument. However, it almost seems like director Jaye begins to lose objectivity at one point, and it starts influencing the narrative of the film itself. While she falls down the rabbit hole and starts buying into the ‘poor us’ mentality of the MRAs, one almost wants to scream at her to run, as if she’s a victim in the first act of a horror movie.

The men involved in the MRA’s also seem to not comprehend the fact that a lot of society’s perceptions of women that they point out as preferential treatment, stem from the very same misogynistic and sexist attitudes that feminists are fighting against. Women are better parents and caregivers. Women need a man’s alimony to support themselves. Women are physically weaker. These are all patriarchal attitudes and viewpoints that feminists are trying to undo. But the MRAs hold them up as evidence of a secret conspiracy by an underground matriarchal society that is out to destroy men, or some such evil plot.

‘The Red Pill’ is a well intentioned, but misguided attempt to highlight an issue in society that seems to come from a perspective of petty attitudes bordering on self pity and misdirected blame. The fact that MRAs cannot separate legitimate men’s issues from women’s issues, creates a rivalry that doesn’t exist in anyone’s minds other than their own.

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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