It was March 2013 and I had just completed the screening tour of my feature documentary The Right to Love, a film about one family’s fight for same-sex marriage rights. Before that film, my body of work consisted of women’s issue films, including my first film Daddy I Do, which examined Purity Balls, where girls as young as 6-years-old pledge their virginity to their father. I also made a documentary about the lack of women in engineering called The Story of GoldieBlox and another film for the International Museum of Women called Making Mothers Visible. There’s no denying that my interests have always been centered around gender issues, so when I came across the brash online community of the Men’s Rights Movement, I was intrigued.
Fate had it that I was searching for my next film topic while a controversial men’s rights website called A Voice For Men was growing in popularity. All I had heard the media say was that A Voice For Men (AVFM) and the larger Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) is a misogynistic hate group determined to turn back the clock on women’s rights. I was considering other options for film topics, but something kept drawing me back to exploring AVFM and the Men’s Rights Movement. I wanted to see for myself who these Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) really were.
The first person I reached out to was the President and Founder of A Voice For Men, Paul Elam, the most notorious MRA. After some hesitation, he agreed to do an interview with me, which turned into a year of me filming him and other leaders and followers of the MRM. However, the film I intended to make was not what this film ultimately became. During my year of filming, I kept video diaries for my own research purposes; I wanted to document what topics and talking points drew me in, and what I was still struggling to understand. While discussing the film with my producer, Nena Jaye (who also happens to be my mother), I showed her one of my personal video diaries. At that moment she suggested that the film should include my video diaries and show the audience my psychological battle with this topic as a feminist filmmaker. I didn’t commit to the idea of including my own story until a couple years later. It was the most difficult decision to make since I’ve always felt more comfortable with the fly-on-the-wall approach to documentary filmmaking. However, my struggle to understand men’s rights issues and the turmoil I experienced in questioning my long-held feminist beliefs set the tone to have an open and honest discussion exploring opposing gender ideologies.
My hope for this film is to educate audiences on the issues that face men and boys in our society today and analyze why the current gender discussion is not fully inclusive. I don’t have all of the answers, but I believe the first step in the right direction is asking the uncomfortable questions.
I know this film may cause visceral reactions in some people, but I now believe that if you aim to understand, you will never be offended.
Director, THE RED PILL