Latest posts by Jonathan G (see all)
- Queer News You Should Know - January 4, 2018
- Is Will & Grace Still the Most Queer Representative Show on Network TV? - October 25, 2017
- Men’s Rights, Feminism, and Taking the Red Pill - August 14, 2017
Earlier this year, I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline when I stopped at a particularly interesting post. A popular YouTube feminist had posted her first video in a long time. It was titled, “Taking the Red Pill.”
I had no idea what the video was about, but I knew I would watch later on that day. As my day went on, I noticed a discussion forming on Twitter. Not only was she engaging with her own followers, but other feminists I followed were engaging as well.
I knew that the online feminist community took issue with this feminist, but the nature of these newer conversations seemed very different. When I eventually investigated more deeply, I understood and agreed with the backlash that she was facing.
Red Pill Background
There’s a high likelihood that you know exactly what “red pilling” entails, but for those who live under a rock like me, I’ll break it down. Last year, a woman named Cassie Jaye released a documentary titled The Red Pill. The documentary recounts her journey as a feminist into the world of the “men’s rights movement.”
What started as a skeptical exploration of “men’s rights activists (MRAs)” transforms into skepticism of the feminism movement. Jaye listens to stories of how men feel oppressed because of issues such as misandry, false allegations of rape, and domestic violence. The documentary also features feminists discussing their take on MRAs and the oppression they feel. Eventually, Jaye finishes her journey skeptical of modern feminism as an anti-feminist.
“Red Pill” comes from a famous scene in the movie The Matrix. In essence, the main character is faced with an ultimatum. He could take a red pill or a blue pill. The red pill would allow him to see reality as it truly is, while the blue would allow him to remain ignorant to the truth. This scene also has literary and philosophical roots.
So, in the case of Jaye’s documentary, taking the red pill allowed her to see “past” feminism and into the true realities of the world.
I’ve tried to be as objective as possible in my background of red pilling, but rest assured, I had issues with it too. I want to make one thing clear: I do believe that it’s beneficial to question your beliefs, but I don’t believe red pilling is the way to do it.
One issue with red pilling is that it frames feminism as a lens that distorts reality. To me, feminism opens up a conversation where oppression and social justice can be examined more thoroughly. It doesn’t distort — it enlightens.
Anti-feminists frame red pilling as a neutral way to view the world; however, it’s biased. Most evidently, those who “take the red pill” (or support it) usually take issue with the more radical side of feminism and apply that to feminism as a whole.
In the case of Jaye’s documentary, most anti-feminists who watched the documentary categorized the featured feminists as radicals. Jaye failed to balance out these claims. While the MRAs were conveyed as victims with whom you can sympathize, the feminists were shown as man-haters who won’t budge on their “radical” claims. Convenient, right?
The Danger of Red Pilling
Choosing these particular radical feminists to spotlight allow audiences to see feminism in a hyperbolized manner. In truth, feminism is not defined by its extremes. Take this blog for example. There is a subset of feminism that is trans exclusionary, but you won’t find that here.
Another glaring issue with “taking the red pill” is the notion that feminism oppresses men. That’s obviously not the case. Many of the issues that the MRAs in the documentary were concerned about are concerns in the feminist world too. This includes domestic violence and sexual assault amongst men. It seems to me that the MRAs had more of an issue with toxic masculinity than they did with actual feminism.
Red pilling portrays feminists as monsters and extremists, while portraying anti-feminists as purveyors of truth. This dehumanizes feminists. This dehumanization is what leads to violence and vitriol, especially toward feminists who are female, of color, and/or queer.
“Red pilling” seems more like a thinly veiled method of vilifying feminists than a way of discovering truth. While I won’t shame or dox the aforementioned former feminists, I remain skeptical about whether red-pilling is beneficial.