The Scarlet Medicine

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I finally got around to see that movie.

The movie itself is pretty interesting. That such a thing was made, and then actually screened in major theaters is in itself very surprising, and obviously the backlash is enormous.

During the movie, we see the creator (Cassie Jaye) talking with MRAs and Feminists, and doing her very best to stay neutral and let them talk. She barely even says anything to them except for the few questions, and focuses on what they have to say. That is exactly the definition of being neutral, and not acting biased. I would have probably told her to act exactly that way if I had any say in how the movie was made.

But now that I’ve seen it, I think it was a mistake. I’ll try to explain without spoiling too much of the movie.

Both sides had some valid points. I won’t go as far as to say that they both only had valid points, but there certainly were many. The thing is, there was one thing that both sides consistently got wrong. It was the other side’s points.

A good example would be when the MRAs were talking about the lack of men’s shelters. They were basically saying that almost half of the victims of domestic violence and abuse were men, yet there was only one shelter for male victims in the country while there were hundred of them for women, and the female ones turned down men, therefore male victims had no help available. The MRAs then explained how every time someone speaks about making male shelters, they are at best laughed at, and at worst hated for mentioning it. Then, Cassie confronts feminists about it, and for the most part they agree that there should be more men’s shelter, and then complain about MRAs being assholes because “They don’t want to solve things by making more men’s shelters, they want to solve things by closing down women’s shelters.”

In cases like this, The feminists and the MRAs agreed with each other, but simply didn’t know it. There were also cases where the opposite happens, which is MRAs complaining about what feminists want right after a feminist literally said exactly what the MRA wanted to hear. Obviously, there has been a lot of hostility between those two groups, probably enough of it to make anything the other group says less credible. I would go as far as to say that both groups would probably not even listen, let alone believe it, if the other said exactly what they wanted to hear to their face, because of cognitive dissonance.

But in that specific case, Cassie managed to get a very civil interview with both groups, and I think she was in the perfect position to say “Well, actually, that’s exactly what they told me they wanted”, and go past the cognitive biases straight to the listener. In the big picture, this probably wouldn’t have made a real difference, but as for the specific individuals, I think a great chance to come to an understanding was missed.

Of course, there is a possibility that one or both of these groups lie on purpose to pretend they want something good while actually wanting only the bad stuff, but I’m kinda optimist about it. I think that most of the feminists and MRAs who are mistaken, or contribute to problems instead of solutions, do it while being completely convinced that they are doing good and being a hero. I don’t believe that the ones who are the problem do it on purpose, so I am still looking for a way to bring everyone to an understanding. Maybe, for once in my life, I’m not cynical enough, but that’s really how I think things are.

Just listen to each other already.


PS: The best moment in the movie was when Big Red and her group pulled a fire alarm to stop a MRA conference, and then when being interviewed by Cassie she literally said that MRAs were jealous of Feminists, and they “should just stop bothering them and start their own movement, which they already have, but make it about bringing attention to the real issues instead of always trying to do shit and attack feminists”. You can see just how much cognitive dissonance can destroy any trace of rational thinking in some extreme cases.