The Red Pill Can Make You Sick

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Photo via Sausyn

Sometimes, metaphors take on a life of their own. What begins as a handy means of describing some critical insight can grow into the center of a movement. What begins as shorthand for a set of truths intended to liberate can grow into shackles.

This can even happen with the Red Pill.  The Red Pill, of course, is a metaphor drawn from that moment in The Matrix when Neo must decide whether he wants to see things as they really are.

In contemporary Internet parlance, the Red Pill is a metaphor for a set of politically incorrect and sometimes uncomfortable truths about the relations between the sexes. Rather than trying to enumerate these truths here, let me just say that any idea that offends a feminist is probably included.

I started reading blogs discussing these ideas nearly a decade ago. Since that time, the number of people embracing Red Pill ideas has grown exponentially. Red Pill truths have become a common touchstone among many on the digital right.  The overall effect of this has, without a doubt, been salutary. How can the embrace of what it true ever be otherwise?

This doesn’t mean that any idea called Red Pill by some anonymous twitter user is valid. As the number of people discussing Red Pill ideas have grown, so have damaging misconceptions about how people ought to respond to its insights. Such misunderstandings can confuse people and lead them to doubt whether the basic insights put forth by Red Pill writers are true.

I thought of all this again the other day when I read LeeLee’s post called, “Red Pill Doubts.

It’s safe to say she seems to be struggling with this very issue.

She writes:

I just feel like at this time that I can’t keep one foot in the world of real life and one foot in the Red Pill blogosphere without deliberating shutting my eyes and refusing to see in at least one of those places.

She’s torn. A couple of examples. One on side, she:

can’t refuse to see how many of the women around me actually are, how they in no way approximate the dire descriptions of female nature found on Red Pill twitter or the Manosphere. I can’t refuse to see how they sacrifice their bodies, dreams, ambitions for their families. I can’t not see how devoted so many of the women around me are to serving, loving and respecting their husbands, often at great personal cost.

On the other, LeeLee says:

I have to admit that there those dire descriptions aren’t a misogynistic farce. There are women out there who really are utterly debased and morally corrupt, and they are often encouraged to be that way by our culture. It’s not that those descriptions of female nature aren’t descriptions of reality… it’s just that they’re like the 12 inch ruler — good for measuring certain things, not everything.

LeeLee is seeing a discrepancy, a disjunction between what she actually sees and what she would expect to see based on descriptions of reality she believes some Red Pill writers have put forward.

To resolve her quandary (and probably that of others) we need an important distinction.  We must distinguish between the Red Pill as a basic set of truths, and “the Red Pill” as a social movement that, at times, can veer dangerously toward enforcing an all-encompassing ideology.

By “ideology” I mean any attempt to take a set of basic insights and to create out of them a comprehensive system that will cover every possible human situation to the same degree and in the same way. This is what someone on twitter the other day was getting at when he asked, “When did the Red Pill become the male version of feminism?”

It is also a characteristic of ideologies that they tend to cast people who question them as an enemy. Ideologues want simplicity and purity.

Before I go on, let me say this. Yes, the basic premises of Red Pill thinking describe the reality of relationships between the sexes accurately. They’re true.  They represent accurate data about how things really are.

The problem comes in the next step. Once this set of accurate descriptions becomes widely adopted, certain APPLICATIONS of that data are assumed to flow from it. So, for example, an expectation gets established that a man who accepts Red Pill truths will behave in a particular way, that he will set out to seduce as many women as possible with this knowledge, say.

But, because Red Pill truths only tell us what IS and not what OUGHT to be, men can embrace them and react to them in multiple ways. A man can become a player or a hermit in response to the Red Pill. And, whether player or hermit, he can believe Red Pill truths.

This is why it makes no sense to write or talk about who is “Red Pill” enough. People can respond to truth in multiple ways. It’s impossible to determine the strength of their belief in that truth based purely on their visible response.

Whenever we see the establishment of these kinds of expectation about how people who believe Red Pill claims “should” behave, it’s an indication that the Red Pill has gone beyond being a tool people can use as they like; and become something closer to an ideology that burdens people with an obligation to prove through their behavior that they can pass whatever tests of ideological purity have been appointed.

My guess is that something like this is behind LeeLee’s doubts.

Look at one of her examples.

LeeLee writes:

I went to a Christian mini-conference for stay at home moms this morning. How do I use the Red Pill to measure my experience sitting through workshop after workshop on putting yourself second, caring for your husband’s needs more, living life as a servant, being thankful and faithful… a group of women got together to put on this event, put the program together for no pay, just to encourage women to be better wives and mothers… tell me, how does that in any way match up with what you read about female nature on the manosphere?

Here’s how it matches up.

The basic Red Pill notion that all women share the same nature is true. No exceptions. This is a first principle of Red Pill thinking. It’s clear from observation across the ages.

From that first principle, however, does not follow the broader, less careful claim that all women allow their nature to run amok. This claim is more ideological and, instead of being logically entailed in the previously stated first principle, flows out of the sundry legitimate hurts men have sustained in a blue-pill culture.

What LeeLee is seeing contradicts not the first claim, but the second. It’s clear to her that there are other forces, like religion with its disciplines and mortifications, in the world that mitigate the worst expressions of not just female, but human, nature.

In sum, while there are no exceptions to the non-ideological claim that women share the same nature, there are exceptions to the ideological claim that all women allow their nature to turn them into raving, insatiable narcissists. This is the kind of distinction we have to have to keep us from falling into the habit of painting with too broad an ideological brush.

In its basic form, the Red Pill can set people free from the ruin modern thinking brings to their relationships. But, this is true only if people have the freedom to apply those truths in ways that work in their own peculiar circumstance without being forced to live up to some ideological vision of what they should be.

Without that freedom, the misery only increases. Without the freedom to reject tests of ideological purity and calls to be Red Pill “enough”, the Red Pill can cease to make us well, and serve instead, as just another poison.


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4 responses

  1. Wow this is a great post. I am feeling many of the same things. A tear between some of the red pill ideology and what I see in reality. Just wrote some posts on it that will be up next month. I sincerely hope that getting away from the black and white thinking for a more realistic worldview that isn’t so deterministic is the path that the “red pill” will be taking but it’s hard to say. This is great, first time seen your blog will be checking back regularly. Saw this article in a tweet from Jordan Woodward.

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