A fake documentary known infamously as “No Men Beyond This Point” aired at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, but its trailer has recently gained quite a bit of public attention. The movie’s concept of men dying out after the 1950s caused rage-induced uproar from both male and female viewers that demonstrates the true evils of generalizing and stereotyping members of both sexes.
Public outcry was largely due to the movie being quickly branded as a proponent of feminism—a word that has become blurry in meaning but is today often associated with irrational radicalism. The comment section of the film’s official trailer on YouTube claims a large number of viewers had forgotten the movie was designed to be a “mockumentary,” otherwise known as satire styled as a formal documentary.
As one might expect, the argument sparked by this movie is wrought with generalizations about both men and women. Claire Lampen, a staff writer at Mic, addressed a multitude of spiteful online comments about the movie and quickly associated many of them with men in her recent article (fittingly titled “This Mockumentary Imagines The World Without Men—and Men Are Pissed”) by saying, “Predictably, it’s ruffling a lot of feathers among men who can’t discern fact from fiction.”
However, though the article showcases several tweets about the film, it only displays negative comments about the film from male users to readers. Comments like “I don’t know what’s (funnier), a functioning society with only women at its helm or the fact that this isn’t such a far-fetched concept for a lot of militant feminists and many gender activists,” and “Women’s suffrage was a mistake” were likely handpicked in order for Lampen to prove a point about all men’s reactions to “a women’s world.”
However, the views of a few don’t represent the entirety of all male commenters, and to imply “those who can’t separate fact from fiction” are all men in this manner is as equally misguided as it is biased.
Generalized arguments on both sides of an ideology as complex as feminism are riddled with misconceptions about members of both camps. It’s common for humans to believe we know someone or something well enough to fully understand it, even without experiencing it firsthand. The basic tenets of social psychology also state we tend to be more sympathetic when we have a loved one or friend directly involved or associated with a movement, as we are able to understand it through their eyes.
Because of innate characteristics such as these that aren’t often looked past or acknowledged, misunderstandings of both sexes abound across the board and unnecessary divides are set in place that only further add to an “us versus them” mentality.
However, the rise of social media presented a much different problem that still has no clear solution today. People claiming to represent what they may not fully understand now have the ability to reach a wide number of people through the use of services like Twitter and YouTube, which may in turn cause onlookers to perceive these users’ incorrect perspectives as the only “true” interpretation. Feminism has been the most popular victim in these circumstances, with both men and women fundamentally misunderstanding the term.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines feminism as, “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men,” and nothing more. By definition alone, feminism is purely an egalitarian movement; it seeks to eliminate inequality, not swap the patriarchy into a matriarchy. The movement simply demands equality for all people.
Whether “No Men Beyond This Point” is asserting a matriarchy or not in its premise is a different issue entirely, but the film’s vehement commentators serve as an excellent learning experience in the dangers of generalization. Generalization leads to misinterpretation and ultimately convinces us two unrelated things are absolutely correlated at all times.
Though many often point fingers and claim people don’t truly understand what feminism means, the only standardized definition we have for the term clearly states leveling the playing field for women is its only goal. Outbursts like the comment section of “No Men Beyond This Point” are the result of everyone talking and nobody listening, and as human beings, we can do better than this.