If you haven’t checked out Reddit’s Red Pill—a reference to The Matrix—its reputation has certainly preceded it. And it’s an interesting peek into some of the more extreme views on gender, modern women, dating and feminism—so long as you don’t check critical thinking at the door.
So why am I, a feminist, interested in the MRA (men’s rights activism) groups? Because I have to know if my lens of feminism is truly about inclusive equality and viewing the whole picture, or if these seemingly crazy dudes have some credible ideas.
Here are a few thoughts…
If men are expected to be comfortable as stay-at-home dads and involved fathers, why are the courts still largely tipping in custodial favor of women, even if they’re unfit mothers? If men are to be drafted and have their lives be disposable under the guise of patriotism, why don’t we have more resources for them when they return from war?
Are Their Points Valid?
The Red Pill is often portrayed as less of a productive forum and more of a bitter last resort for those who have felt slighted and rejected by the women in their lives. On one level, it’s a place to debate what a burgeoning neo-masculinity should look like, as well as share the grievances many men have about an ever-shrinking space for them in the cultural conversation. On another, it’s a movement intended to parallel feminism’s advancements for women. Many feel that third-wave feminism itself has created gender extremism and man-hating… unquestioning conviction included.
And maybe in some ways, they’re right about that.
As a woman who is lucky enough to enjoy the freedoms, choices and privileges feminism has provided me and believes we still have a way to go, I’m often disappointed with the narrow view some who embrace the movement have adopted. If feminism seeks to fight for true gender equality, where are the support systems designed to empower young men and to teach them about healthy masculine identity? To encourage emotional intelligence and civil expression rather than violence. If men are expected to be comfortable as stay-at-home dads and involved fathers, why are the courts still largely tipping in custodial favor of women, even if they’re unfit mothers? If men are to be drafted and have their lives be disposable under the guise of patriotism, why don’t we have more resources for them when they return from war?
That doesn’t seem like real equality to me, as it means men are still confined to the old paradigm of masculinity, which says, “suck it up and figure it out on your own.”
Many view the Red Pill as distasteful and offensive, filled with trolls and men who were jilted or betrayed by the women they loved, forever vowing to blame all womankind and their slutty values. And there are plenty of those types there, quick to degrade and debase women, encouraging violence and oppression, perpetuating the exact thing feminism has for so long fought to stop.
There are also users who disagree with the current expectations of men from society. They resent a movement that has become increasingly exclusive of them while claiming equality for all genders and simultaneously blaming modern men for the current state of the world. The frustration makes sense but it often becomes muddled when it isn’t communicated properly.
Where They Get It Wrong
The unfortunate reality for some Red Pill-ers is that despite having ideas with true relevance and validity, they often convey those ideas with demeaning language and phrases that drip with open resentment toward women, turning them off from the group they’re trying to communicate with and be understood by.
So their approach is problematic for several reasons. It’s difficult to take anyone seriously in a debate when they’re overcome with emotion and functioning from a place of anger. In fact, their once-valid points become easily dismissed or even laughable because they can’t keep their composure long enough to articulate a compelling argument in a respectful way. It often becomes insulting, which reduces the entire conversation to little more than a venting session about “sluts and bitches,” easily overlooked as some “bitter prick’s chip on his shoulder.”
They also tend to consistently take the stance of the victim and unfortunately, it’s difficult to feel empathy for people when they’re calling me a bitch or telling me that feminism, which has served to protect my rights and independence as a woman, is bullshit. Pointing out the holes or inconsistencies in a movement can be done without debasing the entire movement itself—and that’s what this article is about.
So where do we go from here? Well, I wonder what would it be like if some of these men took ownership for their umbrella statements and overarching generalizations long enough to reconsider feminism and the idea of women as the enemy. We can respectfully attack ideas without personally attacking the people sharing them (and this goes for both sides as Reddit’s Blue Pill has its own extremism). The less vitriolic the argument, the more likely someone is to hear it.
What about channeling all of that anger or frustration into reimagining the way we view gender equality and making a concerted effort to be more balanced in our views?