The controversial movie about mens rights inspires protests at Sydney University and a heated debate about freedom of speech

In both the fictional world of the 1999 movie The Matrix and the very real one of the three men rights movement, the ruby-red capsule represents embracing reality in all its uncomfortable intricacy. Proponents tell of their ruby-red capsule moment, the phase at which they spurned blissful ignorance for reality. In the context of mens rights activism, their uncomfortable truth is that mens lives are of lesser value than womens( The Matrix itself doesnt appear to have any particular notions on equal opportunities ).

At Sydney University on Thursday night, a large group of students had either taken their drug, or were part of groups strenuously resisting it. The Conservative Club and Students For Liberty( for classical liberals and libertarians) had organised a screening of The Red Pill, Cassie Jayes controversial film on mens rights activism( MRA ). Fascist Free USyd and the Socialist Alternative Club had organised a protest against it.

Outside a small auditorium in which the movie was to be shown, and under the observation of a small group of police officers, the two groups taunted and filmed and rallied against each other. Competitive chants started up GOODNIGHT ALTRIGHT from those holding banners about the MRAs tears, and FREE-DOM, FREE-DOM from a group that included a human in a shirt that read FEMINISM IS CANCER and another in a Make America Great Again cap.

Eleanor Morley, of Fascist Free USyd and the Socialist Alternative Club, told Guardian Australia the movie was deeply misogynistic and dedicated a platform to mens rights activists with outrageous panoramas about women. She had watched it online the previous night: I thought it was a bit of a gag, actually. It constructed no impact on me.

But its statement that humen were systematically oppressed by civilization, she very strongly disagreed with. The movie was worrying for its anti-women posture, which, Morley said, indicated that of the US president: Its not just as an isolated group of weirdos who share these views.

A ban on the movie Morley referenced in Melbourne last year was a private screening, organised by a mens rights group, that was cancelled by the cinema after an online petition. Much of the backlash had assumed it was a curatorial decision, a representative of Kino cinema had said, which was potentially damaging to its credibility.

On campus, the duel was ideological , not commercial. For those in favour, the Red Pill was a proxy for freedom of speech but it represented misogyny for those working against it.

Morley said the intent of the protest was not to shut the screening down: Were simply here to present a counter, left-wing, pro-women, anti-homophobic message. According to Conservative Club members, the protesters initial programme had been to cyclone the auditorium halfway through, effectively objective the event.

The odds were recognized to be tip-off in the protestors prefer when, a month out from the screening, the University of Sydney Union announced that it had decided to disallow the use of its funds or resources for the screening after receiving a number of complaints.

In a statement headed with a content advising for sexism and rape, USU said the film was discriminatory against women, and has the capacity to intimidate and physically threaten women on campus.

The Conservative Club reproduction this on posters promoting the event: Read the movie that USU tried to stop you from seeing.

I put a trigger advising on the tickets because, according to USU, this movie is physically threatening to women, organiser Renee Gorman told the crowd of about 100, perhaps 80% humen, gathered inside the auditorium before the screening on Thursday night. I dont know about you girls here, but I put on my big daughter panties this morning.

This inspired whoops from the crowd; Gorman herself had been applauded as shed arrived, flush from the frontline of combat against those ferals … the crazies outside the auditorium. Inside the ambiance was jubilant, she observed. I think were in a pretty good mood. I think that was just funny.

When USU defunded the event, Gorman paid $530 for the venue hire and two security guards. It was for two good makes, she said: fighting censorship on campus and prostate cancer. Gorman afterwards told Guardian Australia that the event created more than $1,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

I knew that it get banned in Melbourne, but I had hoped Sydney University would be a place that was more accepting of free speech and alternative notions, she said. All I actually wanted to do was have a discussion about legitimate male issues.

One she was particularly passionate about was domestic violence not being a single gender issue.

Thats something I actually want to pioneer: it needs to stop being stop violence against women, she said. It should still be stop violence, full stop.

The Red Pill screening inspired heated debate at Sydney University. Photo: Elle Hunt for the Guardian

Support for female victims of domestic violence is described as a half-a-billion dollar industry in The Red Pill. Some of the views put forward by Paul Elam of the blog A Voice For Men she said moved a little bit too far when feminism was not the cause of all mens issues but she empathised with the sympathetic posture of the documentary manufacturer, Cassie Jaye.

Gorman defined herself as both a classical liberal and a libertarian and equity feminist, pointing to the work of Christina Hoff Sommers, the American author of Who Stole Feminism. It was easy to feel alienated by the movement, which she said had exaggerated some problems for women at the expense of real female issues such as female genital mutilation and child brides.

But, Gorman added: Even if I said I wasnt a feminist, it doesnt mean Im a sexist.

Just as its bad to stereotype feminists as all being extreme human haters, its bad to stereotype MRAs as being women haters. Silence their views isnt the right way to be going about this. We should be working together, I think.

Gorman had invited those who opposed the screening to come along, watch it all the way through, and then have a debate. Their response had been to call her and her fellow organisers sexists and bigots, and tear down posters advertising the event.

This is Sydney University, its not Berkeley were not going to let alternative panoramas be silenced only because people are offended, she said.

There are a lot of things that I find on campus offensive, like putting up posters of Che Guevara, who slaughtered thousands of people but I wouldnt stop the socialists doing that.

The two-hour film was more confused than it was hostile, proffering statistics of US military war fatalities and the women and children first policy anecdotally observed in sea disasters as evidence of the expendability of male lives. Someones protracted, specific, and in some cases bizarre, experiences of custody combats and paternity exams were put forward as proof of the diminution of all men.

The audience watched on mostly passively, perking up only when the documentary illustrated protests like the one they could still hear going on outside the auditorium doorways. RACIST, SEXIST, ANTI-GAY MRA, GO AWAY, chanted protesters at a mens rights rallying in Toronto in 2013.

I recognise that! yelled person at the back, to much laughter.

The film concluded with Jaye not-quite swallowing the ruby-red capsule, detecting current realities of the three men rights movement to be somewhere in the middle but renouncing her feminism all the same.

The credits rolled, the daylights came up and Gorman opened the flooring to questions and comments. One human was quick to respond.

I is believed that really important is that, when we walk away from this … we try and find out whats the truth, whats real, and we dont descend to the level of abhor and fear that is on that side of the door.

Its only very, very important. If we go back the other style, this just maintains going backwards and forwards, and no one gets anywhere.

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