A few nights ago, my wife and I watched the 1975 movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” It had been years since I’d seen it even though I love the film and think it’s perhaps Jack Nicholson’s best role. But what struck me most this time was that the movie is an astonishingly accurate allegory of what gender feminism has done/is doing/wants to do to this culture and society.
Remember the movie? It takes place in a mental institution, a ward really that’s under the control and supervision of the Big Nurse, Nurse Ratched, wonderfully played by Louise Fletcher who won an academy award for her performance. It’s a men’s ward and the inmates are utterly cowed by Nurse Ratched. The very first scene is of them lining up to take their medicine. Nurse Ratched is all about control. She’s either taken their masculinity or they’ve given it to her without being asked.
Enter Randall Patrick McMurphy (Nicholson) who’s spent time in prison but has been sent to the mental ward to be evaluated. Is he crazy or is he just unwilling to walk society’s walk and talk its talk? He’s brought in in handcuffs and as soon as they’re removed he breaks into one of Nicholson’s patented madman laughs, the eyebrows jump, the eyes sparkle and he grabs one of the guards and plants a huge wet kiss on his cheek. Dr. Spivey, the institution’s resident psychiatrist, asks McMurphy why he thinks he’s been brought there to which McMurphy answers “Well, doc, as near as I can judge it’s because I fight and fuck too much.” Here’s an unabashed man in a world that fears and loathes men.
Nicholson’s McMurphy is the soul of anarchy, the untamed free spirit and the polar opposite of Nurse Ratched. One look at Louise Fletcher’s face, her icy hauteur, her smug sense of being in complete control, her malignant hatred of the men in her charge, and we know that these two will clash. If McMurphy likes to fight and fuck too much, Nurse Ratched is all about order. As to fucking, can anyone imagine her exhibiting the slightest sexual passion? McMurphy announces his intention, to the delight of the other men, to “put a bug so far up her ass she won’t know whether to shit or wind her watch.”
He sets out to do exactly that and ends up getting enforced electroshock therapy for his troubles. But he’s undeterred, believing that once his criminal sentence is complete, he’s a free man. Not so. One of the aides sets him straight. He’s in the mental ward until they decide to let him go and “they” means Nurse Ratched. We know for certain that she’ll never release him until he’s become like the other men in the ward, feckless and feminized.
It’s a fight to the death between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. One will not escape alive. Ultimately, one of the men on the ward (Brad Douriff) for whom McMurphy has developed tender feelings commits suicide, humiliated and emasculated by Nurse Ratched. McMurphy attacks her and in one of the most powerful scenes in the movie, attempts to strangle the life out of her. (Fletcher later said that when she attended a screening of the movie in Chicago, the audience stood and cheered throughout the strangulation scene.) He’s restrained by the aides on the ward and sent to the Shock Shop for a session that leaves him in a vegetative state. Nurse Ratched has won although she almost paid for the victory with her life.
But Chief Broom, an enormous, silent Indian on the ward understands that a lobotomized McMurphy is no McMurphy at all. The man’s body, bereft of its power, its spirit of joy, fun and disrespect for authority, is worthless. He suffocates the helpless man and, in a feat of inhuman strength, breaks out of the ward and lopes off into the night, headed for Canada.
All is as it was on the ward before McMurphy’s arrival, but the Chief is free, released from his self-imposed inertia by McMurphy’s vitality.
That’s a hasty sketch of the movie. If you’ve never seen it, I urge you to do so. If you haven’t seen it in a while, watch it again. To me, it’s THE movie for the men’s rights movement.
Ken Kesey’s book is pretty frank about what it’s saying. It was first published in 1962, too early to be a condemnation of gender feminism, but amazingly, it’s perfect for the job. Kesey’s view was that the march of civilization ultimately tramples the masculine spirit, that the demands of good order are finally incompatible with the anarchic strength, the creativity, the risk-taking spirit that so defines what it means to be a man. Kesey was clear that that quality of civilization is itself feminine and at odds with the male.
Whatever one may think of Kesey’s view of humanity, his book and this extraordinarily fine film are directly applicable to present-day gender feminism, the bastard child that has entirely shanghaied that movement. Put simply, to watch the movie is to be smacked in the gob by what gender feminism seeks for this society. Nothing better shows the frank misandry of today’s gender feminism than one look at Nurse Ratched’s face. She is a weak woman in a position of great power and her visceral need is to destroy masculinity in the form of Randall P. McMurphy. Nurse Ratched’s face, her body language, everything she is and stands for are the very soul of gender feminism.
At one point Dr. Spivey has another talk with McMurphy and asks him why he doesn’t like Nurse Ratched. McMurphy says “She doesn’t play fair. She likes a stacked deck.” Is there a truer statement about gender feminism today than “it likes a stacked deck?” The phrase speaks volumes.
And what about the men on the ward? They knew all along that Nurse Ratched held the keys to McMurphy’s freedom, that in order for him to get out of there, he had to toe the line that she had drawn. McMurphy didn’t know that and crucially, they didn’t tell him. The allowed him to go on putting “a bug up her ass” and digging his own grave in the process. They were thrilled by his power, but acted to make him one of them rather than the other way around. They were traitors to him, to themselves and to their sex. Sound like anyone you know? The Michael Kimmels and David Futrelles of the world who proudly and dishonestly attempt to sell out their sex in exchange for a few kind words from their gender feminist overlords? Like them, the men on the ward beg for scraps of approval from the Big Nurse.
And finally there’s Chief Broom, the one who uses McMurphy’s energy to finally understand the insanity of the world (the ward) he lives in and, alone among all the men there, escapes it. It’s not in the movie, but in the book, Kesey describes the Chief’s patient loping away from the institution as resembling a dog with his nose to the ground, on a long journey seeking something “like he had a mission.” MGTOWs anyone?
I tell you, the movie’s uncanny. From forty years ago, it speaks to us today as vividly as anything I’ve ever seen or read about what we’ve become today and warns us about what gender feminists hope to have in store.