Titled 'The Red Pill' the film has been controversial since its release in New York on 7 October 2016. The Australian premiere at the Palace Kino cinema in Melbourne cancelled their planned screening on 6 November 2016 after a petition circulated that called the film "misogynistic propaganda". The petition circulated on change.org received 2370 signatures. A petition to save The Red Pill screening attracted 4,769 supporters. Sydney's Dendy Cinema also cancelled its sold out premiere and Sydney University's student union backed down on an agreement to fund a student screening.
According to Wikipedia, 'the film discusses numerous issues facing men and boys such as male suicide rates, workplace fatalities and high-risk jobs, false allegations of rape, military conscription, lack of services for male victims of domestic violence and rape, higher rates of violent victimization, issues concerning divorce and child custody, disparity in criminal sentencing, disproportionate funding and research on men's health issues, educational inequality, societal tolerance of misandry, and men's lack of reproductive rights.'
According to the University of Sydney Student Union, the documentary is decidedly 'anti-feminist and anti-woman', and focussed on blaming women and feminism specifically for men’s issues. The USU went on to say the film was “rooted in an ideology which ultimately dehumanises women, seeing them merely as sex objects who exist primarily to purposefully negatively impact the lives of men.”
As a feminist, I am very much looking forward to seeing the film and taking part in a post-screening discussion with Bettina Arndt. In this way I will be able to critically assess the position taken in relation to how men and women's 'issues' are portrayed. As someone who cares deeply about gender equity and the role of women in society, I want to see the perspective of men. However ugly and hard to swallow. Because knowledge is powerful and gender equity requires looking at the bigger picture, which includes both men’s and women's experiences and understanding.
I am someone who has never supported banning visual, performing or creative arts as I believe they add to what it means to be human. The desire to ban things can often come from a position of fear, ignorance or misplaced social correctness. So it is curious that we are ok to be confronted by the works at MONA yet not prepared to accept a new way of looking at the impacts of the empowerment of women. This is not to say we have to agree with them, just to consider a different perspective.
Next week I will use this space to record my views and thoughts on The Red Pill. In the meantime, if any of you happen to be at Avoca Picture Theatre on the weekend, I will see you there.
Enjoy the last weekend in autumn :)