Down the Rabbit Hole Part I: The Red Pill
My fascination for the internet runs deep. It is not just an interest in the physical make up of the internet, but the incredible amount of original content that it supports. I have found the analogy between digital space and real space to be a helpful one. What I propose is a road trip, an exploration of some of the lesser known destinations available on the web. In this multi-part series, I will present some of my more interesting findings, outlining the communities and beliefs I stumble across.
With 1999's The Matrix . a particular phenomena became a popular means of discussing reality. The use of the film's famous red and blue pills as means of choice entered into western culture. Taking the blue pill represents a return to an imagined reality, where we live in ignorance. But with the red pill we are awakened to a deeper reality, and taken outside of the 'matrix'. Although the community I spent some time with does not propose that we are living in the construct shown in film, they do propose a different reality. Red Pill Philosophy, as it is called here, refers instead to a male awakening. They believe in a society that oppresses males, specifically in a sexual context, and advocate for a specific means of seduction and 'game' as catharsis and redemption.
My time here was limited, because of the amount of hostility and marginalization present. I in no way agree with the proponents of Red Pill Philosophy, and do not consider it as philosophy at all. Once my presence was known to be skeptical and investigative, as a=opposed to self congratulatory, I was run out of town in a manner similar to Children of the Corn . I learned much from them, all of it negative, including the notion of 'game'.
Game, as it is discussed here, refers to the art of picking up women. Game is both something you have and you use, as in 'having game'. This in itself is not that unusual, and is merely a representation of how a certain number of young adults feel about dating and casual sex. It is a more formal discussion of 'hook-up' culture presented from a male point of view. The first and most fundamental offense I took at this website deals in its use of universal terms, and how exactly that offends becomes increasingly obvious as we dig deeper.
First and foremost, women are painted as recipients of game. They are objects to be chased, obtained and used at the whim of the man. It is of note that all gender roles here are concrete, meaning no efforts are made to describe dynamics between GLBT persons, and both sexes are presumed to be homogeneous. There is the male and there is the female. That is to say that there exists a specific male attribute or set of attributes and a corresponding one for females. This is communicated by the language subscribers of this philosophy use. where those who are in are 'awakened to reality', and those who are out have simply not seen the truth. This suggests that this view of women and men is universal, and those that miss out do so only because they have not, or refuse to, see the truth. What is more troubling is exactly how they label this homogeneous group of women. They describe females as manipulative, weak, controlling, and at the mercy of both their biology and their culture. There is an obvious absurdity here, where at once these men describe all women as both weak and in control, and victims of both biology and culture.
There is rampant confusion about how exactly women are to be looked down upon within the community. Some suggest that such malicious behavior as described above cannot be helped, as it is hard-wired within the archetypal female brain. This is perhaps the softer approach to women within the community, as it suggests that women should not be hated, but pitied. They cannot help it, they explain. Contrasted with this is the belief that western culture is becoming feminist and hostile, where women are elevated into positions of sexual power. Here too, women are victims of culture, but given that the group of men here is marginalized, and will always be, they do not work to change this (often with vague allusions to 'men's rights', but I cannot often bear to delve further), but instead move to take advantage of these women.
The attack against women here, explaining how they are manipulative and controlling, derives from the philosophy's belief that western culture is becoming feminist and hostile. They believe that in sexual relationships, women have all of the power, and unfairly at that. It takes an impressive amount of philosophical gymnastics to arrive at this conclusion, the breadth of which I will attempt to explain.
First, Men are always looking for sex (keep in mind the homogeneity of the view). All women are looking for sex too, but society has raised them to be picky. All women lie about what they want, so they cannot be trusted. Instead, men have to treat women like sub human to come off as confident enough to properly court the woman. This both, as far as I can tell, seems to be the crux of the philosophy. Women are somehow both malicious and slaves to their bodies and/or culture. Treating them like second class citizens is supposedly justified by the aforementioned hostility, or as a means to subvert radical feminist culture. The whole belief is a self fulfilling prophecy, because since the group itself is in the fringes of society, they can ignore any and all arguments against it, because, of course feminist society would disagree with them, as it has a lot at stake.
I hope how this is offensive to women is obvious: the assumed homogeneity of the female persona, and how dumb, hostile and shallow it is supposed to be. It is also suspect how convenient it is that this group's world view not only promotes but justifies using women as sexual objects, and encourages treating women horribly. What may appear less obvious is how their own view is actually offensive to men as well.
The offense comes primarily from an point they use to attack women, that people are slaves to their body. Consider that their homogeneous view of men notes that there is a primal drive to use women. That is the male persona. How is this any different from their view of women? Both assume homogeneous sexual attributes, the only different being that women are slandered for being 'choosy'. The assume women have control in sexual relationships because if they say no, than the man has no choice in the matter. Red Pill Philosophy does not once consider why they assume the male persona will supposedly always attempt sexual relations. The 'always on' mentality is the basis of their anti feminist society argument, and it is offensive and illogical both. If they believe both sexes to be instinctual beings, why are women shamed and men promoted? All disagreement on this point brings trouble to the person disagreeing.
It is here that the group exhibits classic in-group/out-group language. All men who subscribe to the philosophy are Alphas, ostensibly men who put women in their place. All men who fall prey to women's manipulations are Beta males. Anyone who disagrees with the group are Beta's also, because they have fallen prey not necessarily to the women themselves, but to hostile feminist society. Men are said to be just as helpless to their sexual drive, yet they are supposedly better than the females they abuse. And it is abuse, this view. The amount of condescension, manipulation and hatred I have encountered is fundamental to this philosophy. And that brings me to another point.
This is not a philosophy. It is self fulfilling and circular. For example, they cite psychological studies to show gender differences in learning and proficiency. Yet when pressed on how exactly these studies prove that women are homogeneous and docile/malicious/victims/perpetrators (depending on what is convenient at the time), they explain that society would never allow such a study, which would surely prove their points, to be published. They both rely and do not rely on science at their leisure.
The obvious counter-point to Red Pill Philosophy, even if they could prove a single woman fit their description, is that not every woman is like that. This point is met with preemptive disdain among the community. It is referred to as the not-all-women-are-like-that argument, or NAWALT. When I was presented with this information, there were pauses in the conversation, as if giving the argument a name pigeon holed it and made it less relevant. The simple truth is that women, nor men, are homogeneous. There exists wide variation in traits within the sexes. Red Pillers simply have no evidence to suggest otherwise.
Their belief about feminist society is their 'ace in the hole', allowing them to avoid any and all scrutiny. They attempt to prove this hostile takeover by showing how it is the women who decides when men can or cannot have sex. If the women consents, the man is allowed to proceed. If not, the man cannot continue. They ignore the fact that this belief assumes that men are just as or more instinctual than women.
After three weeks of observation, discussion and eventual flight from the Red Pill community, I have learned much. At first, I had trouble even believing the identities of the people that posted on these message boards. It is one thing to assume that people who use screen names are the people they claim to be. This is the simplest and easiest leap to make on this journey. My faith was continually stretched when anecdotes and articles were posted that all exclusively confirmed the community's beliefs. The mechanism behind this was even more troubling. On internet boards and communities where Red Pill Philosophy is discussed, the community itself selects and promotes what is discussed and presented. That is, the community self selects its content, and then uses the content to confirm its beliefs. What faith I had in this group was shattered when, after making the leap to assume people were who they said they were, and what they said happened actually did happen, these shaky foundations were used to support monolithic theories about the feminization of society. Coupled with their both use and avoidance of science and empirical evidence, the whole facade crumbles.
So my first stop on this journey was an interesting one. I encountered a community on the fringes of society that speaks about the majority. I was welcomed, talked to, and subsequently expelled with near religious fervor.
It appears there really is something for everyone on the web.