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Dispirited Men

A new movie calls attention to a gender double-standard.

Courtesy, JayeBird Films
Source: Courtesy, JayeBird Films

Last night, I saw a pre-release screening of the movie, The Red Pill. It was created by self-described fervent feminist filmmaker Cassie Jaye, who planned on it being a hit piece on the men's movement.

Indeed, the movie begins in that vein. For example, she interviews Katherine Spillar, Executive Editor of Ms. magazine and Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and raises no questions about Spillar's contentions that "it's still a man's world."

But the film then moves to documenting Cassie's painful, conflict-inducing journey toward understanding men's perspectives. The movie shows her interviews with men and women in the men's movement juxtaposed against its most credible female and male opponents, including SUNY Stony Brook sociology professor Michael Kimmel.

Periodically through the movie, we see Cassie's growing uncertainty about the validity of the radical feminist narrative versus that of the little-known men's movement. Speaking into the camera, we see her struggling to figure out if the men's advocates statements are true when feminists, colleges, and media relentlessly assert "male privilege." Also, she expresses fear that if she softened her feminism, she'd lose the support network she felt was so important to her. Indeed, during the movie's filming, as it became clear it wouldn't end up as another male basher, some crew members and potential funders backed out, and Cassie needed to rely on Kickstarter to get the money to finish the film.

Here are some of Cassie's discoveries that created such disequilibrium in her:

  • Feminists call the system a sexist patriarchy, pointing to an imbalance among CEOs and in Congress and that women earn less than men because of male sexism. But the activists and media fail to mention the research, for example, by "Factual Feminist" Christina Hoff Sommers and by former National Organization for Women board member Warren Farrell that finds that women's choices are at play. For example, fewer women are willing to sacrifice family and personal time for, for example, being reassigned to far-flung places to acquire the needed skills to rise to top levels of employment. Fewer women doctors choose stressful specialties with irregular hours such as surgery, which pay more. They're more likely to be pediatricians and internists. Feminist activists, politicians, and the media also don't report the Associated Press analysis that finds that unmarried women in their 20s make more than equal pay for equal work. The media merely reports the broad-brush and misleading characterization, "Women earn 79 cents on the dollar." That shook Cassie and dispirits many men.
  • When women have a deficit, for example, "under-representation" in science and technology, there's major effort to reverse it, for example, the Million Women Mentors program. But when men have the deficit, for example, a large and increasing difference in college enrollment, there's little effort at remedy. Even when men suffer the ultimate deficit—American men die five years younger (among the world's biggest gender gaps)—we see yet more efforts regarding breast cancer, a sea of pink ribbons. And a search on "men's health" and "women"s health" in PubMed, which indexes 3,000 medical journals for the last 60+ years, finds that, contrary to feminist activists' assertions, "women's health" comes up vastly more often. That double-standard shook Cassie and dispirits many men.
  • Although over 40 percent of severe domestic violence occurs to men, of the thousands of shelters, only one serves men. That shook Cassie and dispirits many men.
  • When women are victims, they get far more attention. For example, Boko Haram kidnapped and burned hundreds of boys alive. That got virtually no media attention but when Boko Haram kidnapped girls and did not burn them, there was wall-to-wall media coverage and government action. The double-standard shook Cassie and dispirits many men.
  • 92 percent of workplace deaths occur to men yet that gets little media or government attention, nor much sympathy from the feminist community, even though many men risk their lives in dangerous jobs to support their family. Imagine what would happen if 92 percent of workplace deaths occurred to women! The double-standard shook Cassie and dispirits many men.

The Red Pill presents many more examples of why men feel dispirited: from unfair treatment in divorce court to rampant false paternity claims to disparate sentencing: Men receive far longer prison terms than women for the same crime, a discrepancy far larger than the much publicized black-white difference.

There's much additional basis for men's dispiritedness. For example, a wealth of evidence is offered in the proposal to the White House to create a Council on Men and Boys. (I was one of the proposal's signatories.) The proposal was rejected but a Council on Women and Girls was approved and heavily funded.

You might ask, "Why don't men publicize this more?" My answer: We try. For example, when Warren Farrell was on the board of directors of the National Organization for Women in New York City, his op-eds and articles were routinely published in the New York Times, etc. But once he started to write articles offering a pro-male perspective, his articles and op-eds are rarely published. My own efforts have been similarly rebuffed. All the respected people I know who try to obtain fairness for men report pervasive censorship and a gender-based double standard.

At the end of the movie, Cassie again turned the camera onto herself and, struggling for words, said something she never imagined she'd say.

The audience gave the movie a long standing ovation and then, many stayed in the lobby to open up about these issues, some in tears. I heard, again and again, men expressing gratitude that someone finally gave voice to the pain they feel because of the perceived double standard.

The takeaway

Men are half the population. If only for the men and boys in your life, it's worth seeing The Red Pill, which will be released early next year. Or at least watch the 8-minute preview linked-to here.

In the meantime, consider that all groups can find legitimate grounds for grievance but men's seem to be disproportionately ignored or prematurely dismissed. Men are supposed to hold up at least half the sky but their knees are buckling.

Dr. Nemko's book, The Best of Marty Nemko, is now out in its 2nd edition. He is a career and personal coach. You can reach him at