Traditionalism and the Red Pill

Photo via Ernest Duffoo

Photo via Ernest Duffoo

Not long ago, maybe just after I wrote this post, someone on Twitter told me he didn’t want to know about the Red Pill because it encouraged a “player” lifestyle and promiscuity.  I had a simple answer for him.

No, it doesn’t.

Nevertheless, I can understand why a casual observer of the manosphere might get this impression. Unfortunately, the guy who casually repudiated red pill thinking to me on Twitter was probably a member of a group who needs it badly: guys who desire to live out traditionalist values and captain their own traditional family.

Too often, however, these guys are repulsed by the tools they most need. It’s easy to understand why. Many online sources of red pill thinking are closely associated with pick-up artistry and lax sexual values. But, that association is practical, not logically necessary.

To clear this up, we have to define some terms.

First, I know there exists a sophisticated philosophical school of thought that goes by the name Traditionalism. There are other blogs that explore these philosophical themes. In this context, I mean something much more concrete.

I mean the desire to found and raise a natural family in the pattern of the thousands of families that came before, and the recognition that certain virtues are necessary to make that happen.

From this definition, you can see why believing that red pill thinking encourages promiscuity and the desire for a traditional family would clash. But, the rejection of red pill thinking by these traditionalists springs from a serious misunderstanding.

The term “Red Pill” is a reference to a scene in The Matrix in which Neo must choose between a red pill and a blue pill, the red pill will allow him to see reality as it is, the blue one will send him comfortably back into the world of illusion.

The term eventually emerged online to mean a way of thinking about relations between the sexes that was not controlled by culturally reinforced feminist understandings. Now, “red pill” is used to refer to thinking and analysis that challenges the mainstream narrative on multiple topics. Today, for example, you will see people promising a red pill approach to health or finance.

For this reason, it’s a mistake for traditionalists to reject red pill thinking out of hand simply because of an imprecise label and the lifestyles associated with it.

Traditionalists have to make a distinction between red pill thinking and, for example, pick-up artistry. To do this, they have to understand the distinctions between three important ideas.

First, they have to grasp that red pill thinking is simply an attempt to lay out how men really are and how women really are and what we really want from one another. Red pill philosophy is not a lifestyle prescription, but simply an attempt to see what is real.  If traditionalism means anything, it means embracing the real.

There are certainly greater experts on red pill thinking than I online, so I will defer to them to explain the details.  Suffice it to say that a fair bit of red pill thinking draws on what feminists now call “the patriarchy” and what our ancestors called “common sense.” A fair bit of red pill content is a revival of notions that have been around a long time, another reason for traditionalists to be open to its insights.

Second, if red pill philosophy is the theory, game is the application. When a guy begins to understand red pill theory, he naturally changes his behavior. Red pill thinking claims that certain behaviors will be rewarded in interactions with women while others will be punished. The development of techniques to optimize a man’s behavior to earn social rewards has generally been called “game”.

Traditionalists who reject game out of hand tend to do so for two reasons. First, traditionalist guys with happy wives and families necessarily have enough game to found and sustain such an operation. Whatever he does to keep his wife interested and satisfied counts as game.  Just being up-front about expecting to be the head of the family and having the confidence to act on that expectation is a kind of game.

Traditional men who dismiss red pill theory and game out of hand often cannot make the connection between their beliefs and those of red pill writers. They are unconscious of what practices they employ to keep the family running smoothly, and seeing others discuss such tactics openly makes them queasy. After all,  it’s easy to be blind about others’ attempts to lay earn something that was given to you.

Third, too many of these guys make the same mistake as my Twitter interlocutor. They can’t distinguish between the theory, the practice and the practitioners. As I have said, people with only a passing familiarity with red pill ideas can easily get the impression that only pick up artists employ them. They think because some high profile red pill writers encourage a lifestyle of noncommittal hook-ups that red pill thinking NECESSARILY entails easy sex.

It should be clear by now why that isn’t the case. No goal is necessarily dictated by either red pill insights or the techniques of game. These things both can be put toward the goals of the individual man.

Men whose goal is a traditional home and family life would do well not to reject the red pill. Of course, incorporating the knowledge available there will require discernment to know which bits serve the goal and which do not. But in the end, men who reject the red pill totally reject what is real, what our ancestors knew, reject the very basis of the kind of family life they long for. Because while you can have the red pill without traditional family life;  you can’t have a traditional family life in a blue pill world.


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9 responses

  1. “incorporating the knowledge available there will require discernment”

    A large amount of discernment. Large amounts of the subculture are toxic to traditionalism.

    I think what people call ‘game’ nowadays used to be more common-sensical. Boys probably picked these things up from other men around them, such as their fathers. Nowadays, with children isolated from their fathers or mature men (single mothers, extended age-segregated schooling, juvenile television, and so on) it is more difficult for successful relationship patterns to be inherited.

  2. “Because while you can have the red pill without traditional family life; you can’t have a traditional family life in a blue pill world.”

    Well… Either that or you’re uncommonly lucky.

  3. I have been pondering the ethical considerations my Christian faith requires on red pill philosophy and I appreciate this thoughtful take on the matter.

    My tentative (and overly simplified) conclusion at this point is that just as money can be a servant or a master (i.e. used for good or evil), I believe the application of red pill philosophy, and its ethical implications, is a matter of the heart.

    Using game and aligning your actions with the reality of your masculine nature and your wife’s deep-seated, innate female desires for the purposes of creating the optimal relational experience is both practical and edifying to a marriage. As a husband, it is my utmost desire to meet my wife’s physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. Taking the red pill has freed me up to do just that and it has enhanced my already solid marriage beyond measure.

    I see nothing immoral about me being intentional to not give in to her sh*t tests, while being decisive, bold, assertive, ambitious, romantic, strong, healthy and intellectual. In fact, I believe as men we are called to harness these attributes as God’s appointed head of the family.

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