(Mike Nudelman/Business Insider)
"A woman is a lock and a man is a key. If a key opens a lot of locks, it is a master key. But if one lock is opened by lots of keys, it is a dodgy lock." -Redditredpill
The man who uses the Internet handle "Redditredpill" is having difficulty understanding women after going to a nightclub with some friends. As he tells it, "girls threw themselves at us for a sip of our vodka, to sit with us, to feel wanted." These girls had "no intent on actually getting with [him]":
Imagine the reverse. I tried it. A table of girls, I went over to the girls on other side of club, and said 'Hi, can I get a sip of your champagne? Can I join you?'
What was the response? 'F--- off, go away, who are you, why should we let you sit with us?'
Said exactly the same to the [women] that came up to us [...] So a group of single girls on a table allowed some [women] to sit with them, rather then an attractive male, who they didn't know, [who] actually had a table himself [...]
Point is, they tried [...] and failed. And I tried to go to a group of girls and that failed too, as they thought they were superior.
This may sound like the instigatory words of someone looking for a fight, sarcasm gone too far at best. But Redditredpill shared his story in earnest with a very specific community that empathizes with his perspective.
It's more than a perspective, in fact: It's a philosophy.
The basis of this philosophy, which underpins almost all conversations in his community, is that females get away with things by virtue of being female.
Welcome to The Red Pill, an Internet community on Reddit founded on the general belief that women have it better than men. Red Pill is not a dating advice bulletin, but rather a forum for people — men, mostly — exploring an ideology that revolves almost exclusively around gender. Those who "swallow the pill" maintain that it's mennot women, who have been socially disenfranchised. Feminism is considered a damaging ideology and Red Pillers are quick to cite examples that bolster their points, some going so far as to argue that society is outright anti-male. Red Pill followers have their own politics, language, and culture. And they're growing: Eight months ago, Red Pill had only 100 followers. Today, it has more than 15,000.
What is Red Pill all about?
The Red Pill is a collection of ideas encompassed by what its subscribers refer to as the "manosphere," a number of loosely-associated blogs that focus on masculinity and personal philosophy for men. At the surface level there's nothing terribly contentious about this, but if you click around one or two layers deeper, you'll find plenty of examples why chatter from this gallery regularly turns heads. Like this:
"You are hating women because you have the wrong expectations for them. Don't hate someone for something they CANNOT be. Women are, by nature, manipulative, attention-seeking, inconsistent, emotional, and hypergamous. Accept this truth. Once you do, you can game women for what they are ... not what you want them to be."
The community's name is a tip of the hat to the truth-seeking attitude in The Matrix – Keanu Reeves pops a red pill to unplug his mind from a simulated world, freeing him to explore genuine reality.
For Red Pillers, genuine reality goes something like this: Female oppression is a myth and men are the ones holding the short end of the stick. That said, men and women are inherently different due to evolution, so each gender should carry out its designated role in society. For example, females should raise children at home and men should work and& have sex with women.
Red Pill pays a lot of attention to that last part about sex – conversations on the forum are often about one's strategies for attracting mates, but there's a present (if slightly lesser) focus on self-improvement as well. Community members motivate each other and update everyone on their progress as they lose weight at the gym and build muscle, though it's almost always for the end goal of increasing one's sexual eligibility.
The common criticisms
There seems to be an inherent contradiction at the heart of this community – it's an overwhelmingly male population advocating unpopular opinions on females, but it is almost entirely focused on attracting and seducing as many of them as possible. (There is a subset of Red Pillers that want nothing to do with women called "MGTOW." More on them to come.)
While there is absolutely an active, vocal female contingent to this group, its corresponding forum, Red Pill Women, is just shy of 1,500 subscribed members, a fraction of Red Pill's 15,000-plus.
For a group whose ideology presents itself as a straightforward means of self-improvement and sociological liberation, Red Pill often muddies the water with highly-charged polemics on the proper way for men and women to relate to each other.
Pickup-style artistry is often emphasized as the effective way to talk to and ultimately copulate with women. It's called "game," one's strategy in approaching someone for romantic purposes. Good game technique turns a conversation with a woman into a guys vs. girls jousting match of the mind, every word carefully calculated to make one seem as attractive as possible. If this sounds like a disingenuous way to meet people, some Red Pillers see it as no worse than a woman wearing makeup:
Men tend to enjoy good looks, women tend to enjoy a strong, masculine personality. But while it's pretty standard for a woman to artificially improve her looks, most blue pillers tend to shun any attempt to grow a strong, masculine personality. It's quite a double standard.
It needs to be clear that there's a spectrum to Red Pill attitude, as there is with any ideology. Some members seem genuinely interested in it as a way to get a leg up socially, to break out of their proverbial shells. But on the other (much louder) end are members who come off as fundamentalist, those more likely to hold ideas about sex, politics, and society that would make a feminist cringe.
A lot of people view this as malevolent sexism, but Red Pill's pseudonymous forum moderator Morpheus, champion of the Red Pill movement, told us that "we hold the principle of equal opportunity in high regard; it’s the desire for equal outcome that we disagree with – something that we strongly feel feminism pushes for."
Where did Red Pill come from?
This post lays out a point-by-point explanation of why Red Pill exists. Many men "have trouble finding physical and emotional intimacy" and are given "terrible advice" as they try to remedy the situation. Red Pillers don't want to isolate themselves from women per se, they want to "understand [them], have sex, and understand why 'game' works in our society and discuss its ramifications."
A 2010 blog post called "The Misandry Bubble" functions as a Red Pill manifesto of sorts, and lays out an involved but accessible overview of ideas. It's a lengthy read worth of any armchair sociologist's time, and every word serves to further the idea that "the Western World has quietly become a civilization that undervalues men and overvalues women."
Red Pill thought extrapolates this to the extreme. The situation is "unfair to both genders, and is a recipe for a rapid civilizational decline and displacement, the costs of which will ultimately be borne by a subsequent generation of innocent women, rather than men, as soon as 2020."
So Red Pillers' ideas and actions come from a place of resisting what they find to be a generally oppressive society. This forum was born as a place to share game tactics, Red Pill theory, and to just blow off steam with like-minded folks.
Why does someone swallow the Red Pill?
The prime candidates for this community generally seem to be men who, for whatever reason, have had bad luck with women or have been otherwise wronged by a female. It can also be a person who's tired of what he perceives as a culture of misandry, seeing gender-based causes for social wrongs. And it can be for guys who just want to get laid more often and want advice on how to get there.
Morpheus explained it to us like this: "[When men] realize their failures [with women] were within their control to avoid, it can induce a bit of anger [...] I think that a lot of the men have a misplaced anger towards women. I wouldn’t say it’s hatred [...] They want to learn how to be better with women. But there is a temporary anger. We have examples posted every day of women acting contrary to what we’re told women would do. Because in our culture, women are mostly regarded as the 'good' sex, the one that does no harm. Our subreddit pulls back the curtain and says, 'Hey look, these women are human just like everybody else. It’s time to put away your idealistic views and embrace reality.'"
This group's distinct sociology has birthed a specialized vocabulary, almost a language, of sorts. There's a shorthand for referring to many common concepts inside Red Pill thought.
"The wall," for example, refers to the point in a woman's life "where her ego and self-assessed view of her sexual market value exceed her actual sexual market value; the beginning of the decline."
One Red Piller describes what it's like to see his friend's wife "hit the wall." This woman turned 28 and purportedly became a racist homophobe as her biological clock counted down:
She spent her 20's riding the cock roundabout and [...] took occasional trips in the pussy wagon. She has become massively racist [...] She has become massively homophobic (which is rich, coming from her. She loved watching gay men f--- in porn, just doesn't want them to be able to get married). She has just become a hateful, miserable person to everyone. She is also on the 'all men are bastards' kick.
"MGTOW" is short for "men going their own way." This is a school of thought similar to Red Pill that's all about being a man who "will not surrender [his] will to the social expectations of women and society, because both have become hostile against masculinity." A fully-realized MGTOW (there are levels to it) is someone who shuns all relationships with women, short-term, long-term, romantic, and otherwise. He eventually shuns society as a whole: "For all intents and purposes, he does not exist. A urbanite might keep to his own apartment, while someone further out may simply head into the wilderness and go off-grid."
A "snowflake" is "a woman who tries to persuade a man that she’s somehow unique, different, or special by playing up her good girl resume and downplaying her bad girl resume."
This user shares a field report of getting a "snowflake" to send him a nude picture by appealing to her "naughty side" shortly after meeting her and her boyfriend:
I ask her where her boyfriend is. She says 'You tell me! He's not here right now and when he is, he usually criticizes me.' I am so grateful for my luck. This woman is all emotional. Women go crazy when they're emotional. Time to make her doubt this bf and look at me for some sexual release.
What does Red Pill do?
Community members dissect Red Pill theory with each other, sharing "field reports" of their experiences, writing "rants" against feminism or other topics.
For a group of socially-aware individuals disappointed in the current state of gender relations, there's not much activism, so to speak. By Morpheus's own admission, Red Pill doesn't do much offline.
"We’re definitely a little different from the men’s rights movement in the sense that we don’t seek to 'fix' society or our government," he said. "In fact, a lot of us feel that things are beyond fixing. Sure it’d be nice if reproductive rights were equal between women and men, but nobody’s holding their breath about it. A majority of our goals are personal and interpersonal improvement. Not really something to write your congressperson for."
Misandry and male disadvantage
(Return of Kings)
This comic (right) gets at the general tone of the Red Pill worldview.
One user cites this personal experience with society's anti-male attitude. He loves lifting weights because he enjoys getting stronger and pushing himself, but his family makes fun of him for doing so. They lob accusations of wasted time and money at him, telling him that girls don't like muscular men, only gay men do. He concludes that his family is teasing him because his weightlifting is "not in the service of a woman, so it's bad and a waste of time."
Other commonly-cited examples of our so-called misandrist society? In some states cohabitation is considered a Common Law marriage – a man's common law wife could have him evicted from his own house. 80% of women will get human papiloma virus. More than 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and 70% of these are initiated by women.
There's plenty of discussion over gender-based news items: The woman who got less than four years in jail for cutting off her husband's penis to make sure he couldn't impregnate any other women. The woman who lied about being raped in order to win $10,000 on a talk radio show. Stories like these (and the ensuing discussion and debate) lead to the worldview that society isn't fair enough for men:
Our entire social structure is designed to support women’s living any way they want [...] Women are allowed to do and say anything they want anywhere. Men are restricted in their speech and conduct. VAWA [the Violence Against Women Act], which has a "must arrest" policy in a domestic violence call. Women can assault and beat men in public with impunity and the tacit support of feminists.
There are new social customs to constrain most men. A man is forbidden to notice an attractive woman at work. He is not to comment on it, talk about it or even look a second or two too long. Nuclear rejections, public shaming are the norm if a man she deems unattractive deigns to talk to her in public. Men are never, ever to even notice good looking women.
Attractive men are exempt from all of these legal and social conventions.
The other side of the coin?
A prominent feminist blogger who we'll call Alicia described Red Pill to us as follows: "Where feminists are saying, 'Okay men, you have enough rights. Let women catch up,' Red Pill says, 'Hey women, you have too many rights and we need to take some away.'"
She says that Red Pill isn't actually the other side of the gender relations coin, but a group of hateful, militant extremists. Red Pill is quick to respond with data that purport to show an institutional bias against males, such as the stat that "90% of imprisonments, suicides, and crippling occupational injuries are of men," but Alicia calls this a "shroud of credibility. They use that approach to make it okay to hate women."
When we asked Morpheus if Red Pillers hate women, he said, "Delving into Red Pill ideas is a very shocking experience for some, especially for those who were raised to believe that politically correct ideals reflect nature. The road to our forum is paved with bad experiences, men who have never been loved, have loved and lost, men who have tried and failed, or men who succeeded and were taken advantage of."
Alicia told us that she's "tried to empathize with some of these guys for a long time, because it's clear that many of them are suffering so acutely. They want female attention and for one reason or another, they're not getting it."
Having followed the group for many years, she said she wasn't too bothered by them when they were a smaller in number. Its introduction page still references a time when there were only 100 members (and as you recall from before, there are a touch over 15,000 members today). "As they grow online, the real danger is in exposing this stuff to younger boys," Alicia said. "When you're 15, girls are weird and you're looking for answers. The Red Pill claims to have them."
The stated goal of a man in The Red Pill community, generally speaking, is to "become alpha." We spoke to John Romaniello, a coach and author of Man 2.0: Becoming The Alpha, to get his take on what an alpha attitude is all about.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he hadn't exactly swallowed the Red Pill.
"My definition of an alpha is someone who wants to become the best version of themselves so that they can best serve the world. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with motivating guys to become better men, but The Red Pill seems to be doing so in an aggressive and adversarial sort of way. From an outside perspective, it seems like they're a bit too vocal about categorizing themselves as alphas and others as betas ... there doesn't seem to be an attitude of wanting to bring other people into the fold. It seems divisive rather than inclusive."
Romaniello referenced a post he saw where a Red Piller wrote something to the effect of "if you focus on self-improvement, you'll attract a higher-quality woman."
"There's nothing controversial to this statement," he said. "And, speaking personally, I agree with it. I think there are many Red Pill members who see it that way. But there are a lot of voices decrying this sentiment in favor of an attitude of ... degradation, I guess. It seems like The Red Pill is generally taking the idea of alpha from the pickup artist perspective and running in an extreme direction with it. Like any group or belief system, there's a lot of value to be found with the reasonable stuff. But also like any other group, The Red Pill has some extremists who are fervent in their beliefs and incredibly vocal. Oh, and batshit crazy. I think that's likely the reason The Red Pill has gotten the reputation of being misogynistic. "
Romaniello added, "I want to like the Red Pill. They're helping guys find confidence and actively seek self-edification. It's a good idea, I'm just not in love with the execution. The goal of an alpha should be to serve the world and improve other people – not to tear men down and hate women. Maybe the Red Pillers just have a bit more growing to do. I think they'll get there."
But does it work?
We were interested to see if we could find an example of someone struggling with Red Pill and everything that goes along with it. Maybe someone who adopted the ideas only to change his mind upon putting them into practice. The closest we came was this post written by a user who qualifies that he was drunk while writing it. Here's an excerpt:
I don’t know what I’m doing, but I want a really high value girl and this lifestyle isn't yielding what I consider to be high value and, to be completely honest, I don’t want what it has offered so far [...] I feel completely lost, full of value, and wandering amongst an ocean of women who aren’t offering what I desire (a healthy BMI, a fun personality that can take my teasing, and some legitimate intelligence to keep up with me and know how to push back against my teasing [...] I’m an attractive, muscular, intelligent, and fun guy. I fully believe in my sexual market value, but I don’t feel like I’m finding any girls to satisfy my desires in a partner.
The last comment on the post says, "You can make it through this man, I believe in you."
More From Business Insider