An Open Letter to Vanier
Dear Annie-Claude Banville & John McMahon,
We, the students of Vanier College, are voicing our concerns over the screening of the documentary The Red Pill, which was organized by a faculty member of the English department, Kevin Bushell.
The Red Pill is a documentary film that promotes rape culture and hate speech against women. It presents itself as an exploration of the men’s rights movement; however, it is truly a propaganda film. Throughout the documentary, there are many instances that incite hate against women, while propagating a culture of victim-blaming.
At one point in the film, one interviewee said the following: “Women need to stop pretending to be oppressed”. Additionally, another man stated that all women have the fantasy of being raped by a complete stranger. These quotes are extremely troubling and further the propagation of rape culture in our society.
Also, the film is framed as a factual documentary; however, it is truly ONE feminist’s journey into the movement. Her journey results in her renouncing her feminist views after being “enlightened” by the men’s right activists she met. This ending promotes the idea that there is only one “correct perspective”.
Moreover, all of the men’s rights activists presented throughout The Red Pill were cisgender heterosexual Caucasian men who do not represent a voice for all men and of all paths of life, despite their attempt to do so by generalizing an intersectional issue into a universal “male crisis”.
The documentary also paints feminists with a wide brush as crazed misandrists, thereby discrediting the movement. The few scenes that do present feminists, involve them shutting down public events held by men’s rights activists. This perpetuates the concept of a “blue pill”, where feminism is the mainstream, as well as a comfortable “dreamworld” that the men’s rights movement, “the red pill”, is to disrupt.
These so-called feminists want to erase men’s struggles and their voices while not willing to hear out “the other side”. This depiction adds little to the discussion of gender equality from an academic perspective.
In reality, though there are multiple perspectives, there is an intersection and an overlapping of them.
We, the students of this establishment, do not condone the message of this film: one that incites hate against women. We are also quite concerned that this event is sanctioned by a faculty member who is encouraging anyone to participate in the viewing. Many of us now feel unsafe on campus with this event happening in our own amphitheatre.
Those of us who have watched this documentary on our own time have found it to be extremely mentally taxing, and we fear for the mental well-being of the students who must watch it.
Additionally, we find that the viewing is ill-timed as it will be shown less than a week after Vanier is celebrating International Women’s Week, as well as after the student panel on Backlash in the fight for gender equality. Ultimately, it is hypocritical to show a film promoting hateful and hurtful views towards women right after celebrating their voices.
Due to these fundamental issues surrounding the rhetoric within the film, no healthy or fruitful educational discussion would occur. If anything, because the issue of gender equality was falsely reduced to an alleged dichotomy between men’s rights and feminism, showing the film would result in unrest and division within the Vanier community. The film fails to mention feminism’s intersectional theory, which promotes unity and cohesion, unlike how it is portrayed in the film.
Ultimately, we feel that this film goes against all of Vanier’s progressive values and against all that our establishment stands for in its almost 50-year history, especially when unity has kept us together for so long.
Concerned Students of Vanier College