Image: Republican member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Robert Fisher. Image Source.
For those not inclined to trouble themselves with the darkest misogynist corners of the Internet, you may have never heard of or encountered Reddit’s Red Pill forum. At its heart, the Red Pill is a ‘subreddit’ designed to accommodate the ideologies of the Men’s Rights Movement; peppered with female-loathing commentary, narratives of struggling masculinity, and packaged as a space for male self-improvement in life and dating.
The term “red pill” recalls the famous scene from the Matrix wherein the protagonist, Neo, is presented with the option to swallow either the blue or red pill; the blue pill presents the opportunity to return home to a contented life, sheltered from the truth whilst swallowing the red pill will open Neo’s eyes to the world as it is: the unfettered and confronting wasteland. For these Redditors, the red pill is a sanctuary for those who claim to perceive the world as it is: overrun by misandry, steeply disadvantaging men, and reducible to evolutionary terms of dating wherein individuals are only defined by their sexual and reproductive value. As for the men they believe have swallowed the blue pill, this community belittles them as fools blinded by feminist lies and deceived into believing that sexism is real. In other words, those who exist within the Red Pill are the ‘woke’ minority, we are the bumbling masses.
So, why on earth should we care about it? Why should we care about an online community of sad obsessive men? Why should we care about their deluded ramblings? For a start, it should be mentioned that the Red Pill is a phenomenally powerful cultural force in the strange and perverted landscape in which it exists, they currently boast over 200,000 subscribes (or possibly over a million if we are to believe one claim) that Reddit actually hides the total number of subscriptions that was posted on r/The_Donald – a Subreddit that had its origins in ironic fawning coverage of Donald Trump that was eventually monopolised by genuine and zealous neo Republicans, but that’s a story for another time).
Beyond the Reddit community in which it has staked a looming and abhorrent identity for itself, the Red Pill and its philosophy have been shown to wield remarkable ideological influence. This includes a supportive relationship with former Senior Editor of Breitbart and all-round appalling human being, Mio Yiannopoulos and one contentious relationship with Return of Kings owner and tremendous douchebag Roosh V who once claimed that he was the “father” of the Red Pill (they didn’t appreciate the claim).
The Red Pill has also managed to gain its militant followers and garner widespread media attention due to the extremism of its claims and the sheer scale of sexism that it propagates. ‘Political correctness’ is not a term that holds any weight in this universe. A quick browse through its forum will reveal the absurd and confronting mentality that many of these users hold dear including statement such as, “The only thing that offends a feminist more than the idea of rape is the idea that no one actually wants to rape her”, “Feminism is a sexual strategy that has caused the breakdown of the nuclear family” and one “Red Pill Theory” that I discovered within approximately thirty seconds of scrolling titled “Men build with stone, women with sand” that detailed a concept including the following nugget of wisdom, “Women? Let me explain that for 70% if not all of them in the West are both culturally and biologically engineered to choose the easiest path. Most women choose an easier, albeit parasitic life of exchanging their bodies and pretty looks for me to take care of them.”
The language employed by Red Pill users is an entrenched dictionary of terms that attests to the vigour of its culture and philosophy. ‘Alphas’ and ‘Betas’ are given terms defining ranks in masculinity, ‘SMV’ refers to “sexual market value. A shorthand statement for “what you bring to the table” and ‘DHV’ is a “display of higher value” i.e. “anything that improves your sexual market value in the eyes of another”. You can read their official glossary of terms here if you wish to conduct independent Goodall-like anthropological investigation. Unsurprisingly, the Red Pill glossary also includes a number of terms that viciously define their woman-hating stance including (but not limited to): defining feminism as “a doctrine of class hatred, and violence”, outlining the meaning of the “Pussy Pass” as the doctrine of female privilege whereby women are let off “without actual consequences for illegal behaviour”, or perhaps introducing the term ‘ASD’ or “Anti-Slut Defense” i.e. the barrier behind which women all supposedly shelter their “slutty side” when they don’t allow men to have sex with them. It is a hellish place.
Perhaps most fascinatingly is the popularisation of the term “cuck” within the Red Pill: a shortened version of the word “cuckold”, which is a pejorative expression referring to a man whose wife or girlfriend has sex with another man. It is used loosely to refer to any “Beta” male who is deemed socially impotent or as having swallowed the aforementioned “blue pill”. The word has now been integrated into the alt-right dictionary as a demeaning insult essentially for liberal men who exist in the masculine sphere but are inadequate and unable to stake their own claims. And if you believe this to be inconsequential “Internet talk”, you should be aware that the literal White House Chief Strategist, Steven Bannon, has reportedly adopted the term to denigrate senior advisor, Jared Kushner. The relationship between Trump’s alt-right, men’s rights activism, and the agonising exploration of modern masculinity by losers on the Internet is far more intertwined that you may initially consider (read this incredible essay if you don’t believe me). The Red Pill’s generally libertarian philosophy has become so deeply intertwined with that of the alt-right that The Red Pill was forced to launch a secondary branch of the community, “The Red Pill Right”, which consistently explores the notion of the “cuck” as both a political and sexual sentiment.
The Red Pill has made headlines this month as a result of an investigation conducted by The Daily Beast that revealed Republican member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Robert Fisher as the secret creator of the community. The Daily Beast managed to track Fisher down as the faceless original moderator of the Subreddit by linking email addresses connected to a Red Pill associated domain with an email address also responsible for creating Fisher’s band website (a band for which he is the sole member). Tracking his usernames, the Daily Beast uncovered quotes such as the following, “Rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really…I think rape is bad, I’m not arguing for it. I’m arguing against the idea of an absolute truth”. Fisher was also pinned for describing women as having “sub-par intelligence”, “lacklustre” personalities, and responsible for a perceived plague of “false rape accusations”.
Fisher has subsequently admitted to the allegations but claims that some of his quotes were taken out of context and that those views “are certainly not reflective of what I stand for or what I have done in my time here in Concord”. New Hampshire’s Republican Governor, Chris Sununu has now requested that Fisher step down from his position, notably in light of a statement given by Fisher that doubled down on his false rape accusations statement, in which he asserted that taping sex might be the “best, or only, form of protection for men to prevent false rape accusations”. The Daily Beast have also tracked another account that they believe Fisher is still posting under on The Red Pill and has created several posts referring to his dating life, pondering whether his current girlfriend is “trainable” as well as musings on The Red Pill in general and his own public attacks: “knowing the truth and living by it was not enough to save that man from the wrath of vitriolic women. He stands as a testament to what happens to men who stand alone: They get torn down.”
The Red Pill is a sickening, repulsive phenomenon but I think that is important, to some degree, for feminism to recognise that philosophies such as this not only exist, but appear to be thriving amongst a fanatical minority. There are many reasons that men seem to subscribe to its ideologies (loneliness, sexual failures, poor judgement, ignorant generalisations of experience) but what I believe in ardently is the notion that the fractured masculinity that has alienated these men and led them to these horrendous and miserable conclusions about the world is something that is ultimately solved by feminism and its dissolution of traditional gendered approaches to life. And that just makes me want to fight that much harder.