The red pill comprises a group of men who congregate to discuss sexual dynamics, male rights, and general self-development.
There are plenty of good things in the red pill.
But there is also some toxicity.
And you’re probably better off growing beyond the red pill.
In this article, we analyze:
- Red Pill philosophy
- The socio-dynamics & manipulation of Red Pill communities
- Why the Red Pill is a potential incubator of toxicity
- Who Am I: A Red Pill Author (?)
- What Is The Red Pill
- Is The Red Pill Misogynist?
- Alpha Pride: How Toxicity Can Start Innocuously
- The Social-Psychology of Group Conflict
- The Truth of Inter-Gender Relationships
- The Psychology of Abusive Red Pill
- The Red Pill Drift Into Nonsense
- Does The Red Pill Make Things Worse?
- The Red Pill: Feminism For Men?
- So What’s A Man to Do?
Who Am I: A Red Pill Author (?)
In many ways, I am a Red Pill author.
It’s not a self-description, but some red pill folks obviously thought so, since this website was one of the first ones to be featured in TheRedPill archive:
It makes sense this website is there.
But at the same time, this website is also different in a few crucial aspects.
This website promotes individual empowerment and smart win-win relationships. Including between genders.
That’s not the red pill.
What Is The Red Pill
This is a high-level definition of the Red Pill:
The Red Pill is a community of men, who congregate to learn, share and discuss topics and sexual dynamics that are too politically incorrect to be openly acknowledged, discussed, and appreciated by society at large.
The Red Pill is a subset of the larger “manosphere” constellation, dealing with varied topics such as life strategies, power dynamics, male rights and general self-development.
The main course is gender relations, dating and relationships.
The popular expression “taking the red pill”, means opening up to the hidden truths of life that society hides from most people.
That sounds admirable to me.
But is the Red Pill really about truth?
Is The Red Pill Misogynist?
Let’s start with the elephant in the room:
If we had to over-simplify with 3 buckets, this is how men relate to women from a red pill point of view.
- Blue Pill Man / SJW: men for women, white knight, women are oppressed, men need to serve women (lose-win)
- Red pill: men VS women, men need to protect against women and show power over women (win-lose)
This website adds a third bucket:
- Enlightened relationship leader: men and women, top men naturally are relationship leaders, and great leaders lead with the team in mind (win-win)
The Red Pill’s take is not wholly wrong.
Men and women’s interests diverge sometimes, and those divergences can create friction and chances for cheating.
We could call the Red Pill’s approach a “Machiavellian take on gender dynamics”.
However, the Red Pill view is imperfect (and potentially toxic) for two reasons:
- Men VS Women: It focuses only on areas of friction, disregarding opportunities for win-win
- Women as aggressors: It only focuses on women cheating men, never on the value women can add (beyond sex) and never male cheating
80% of the red pill toxicity stems from N.1, seeing men as opposed to women.
The second one is a consequence of the first, and leads to extremism.
So let’s see how the “man VS women” narrative start:
Alpha Pride: How Toxicity Can Start Innocuously
Red Pill philosophy encourages men to self-identify as men.
Up until here, all good.
Being a man, feeling like a man, and being glad of being a man is OK.
The problem with red pill male self-identification is two-fold:
- Man is the only self-definition: “being a man” is the main category of self-identification, and “alpha male” is the dream belonging, all else is secondary
- Being a man is opposed to being a woman: being a man stands against all that is not good, such as women, effeminate men, gay men, betas, blue-pill men, etc.
Both tendencies are either latent in Red Pill culture, or openly embraced and encouraged.
Here is one example from the Red Pill subreddit:
Red Pill authors discuss “male pride”, “male bonding” and “alpha male” at length.
Masculinity is Jack Donovan’s main focus, for example.
Donovan, author of “The Way of Men” and a respected author in the RP community, theorizes that society, weakened by feminization (the enemy), is on the verge of breaking up
So he teaches men “how to start a gang” and, tough lack for women, it’s for men only:
Rollo Tomassi, possibly the most notorious voice of The Red Pill community, also encourages “male pride” and “men only spaces”.
Rollo Tomassi says women actively try to “insert” themselves into male spaces to subvert them:
(…) women inserting themselves into male space in order to enforce the dictates of feminine social primacy
Rollo has some insights, but this is an example of one-sided analysis and conspiracy theorizing.
In male bonding, Rollo Tomassi sees a bulwark against the feminine assault.
Criticizing the MGTOW movement, he says:
This only serves to cede power to the feminine imperative
-Rollo Tomassi, “Positive Masculinity“
Tomassi sees genders locked in war, and he is not alone.
The Red Pill is founded around a purported big struggle between men and women.
This extreme sense of belonging coupled with an adversarial attitude leads to increasing anger and hatred towards the outgroup (in this case, women).
Let’s see a few examples:
#1. Men Are Good, Women Are Bad
Someone once said:
In war, truth is the first casualty.
Among the truths that first go AWOL in the Red Pill are the nuances and complexities of human psychology and behavior.
The Red Pill replaces complexity with a more effective and group-bonding take on life: “men are good, women are bad”.
It’s a convenient belief to adopt.
It helps men find solace among other disgruntled men while also propping up their ego, as they can bask in their supposed superiority.
Red Pill practitioners deny, promoting the Red Pill as a culture of self-development investigating uncomfortable truths with science and open mind.
That’s typical debating “confound game”: when someone accuses of a specific flaw, no matter how evident it is, always deny it with appeals to complexity and higher ideals.
But it seems apparent that a significant chunk of Red Pill’s philosophy can be boiled down to this precise central tenet: “women are bad, men are superior”.
Let’s see some examples:
#2. Men Work Hard, Women Manipulate
Do women manipulate?
But the Red Pill wears the distorted lenses which are typical of adversarial group dynamics.
With the conveniently distorted lenses, the faults of the “us” male ingroup are out of sight, while the faults of the “them” female outgroup are in full focus.
A quick sift among the most popular threads shows repeated confirmation of the “good men VS bad women” frame:
Red pill author alpha male strategies also recommends men to “string women along” for as much as possible because, he says, that’s what women do to men.
#3. Men Are Smart, Women Stupid
This is what I have realized:
Misogyny and anger might not be the style of the best Red Pill authors, but they are endemic of Red Pill communities.
This post has been upvoted more than two thousand times, by 88% of the readers, and received the moderator’s endorsement.
Here is what it says:
Basically, this guy claims unsurpassed experience to draw the conclusion that “all” women are “f*cking retarted”.
Makes a lot of sense… Not.
And still, most people Red Pill members lapped it up.
#4. AWALT: All Women Are All Like That
The good old “they’re all alike”.
What does it remind you of?
To me, it’s reminiscent of indiscriminate pogroms, ethnic cleansing, and the worst ilk of racism.
Again, no surprise for anyone schooled in group dynamics and psychology: this a natural consequence of adversarial ingroup/outgroup dynamics.
These two group dynamics are particularly salient in communities like the Red Pill:
- Self-Stereotyping: members strive to conform to the group (See Haslam, 2006)
- Outgroup stereotyping: the outgroups is seen as “homogeneously bad” (see Baumeister, 1997)
Both of them can take some mental gymnastics.
It’s not always easy to only see the positives in us and only the worst in them.
How do red pillers pull it off?
Enter cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957), the ostrich-mode psychological superpower to stick to your preferred beliefs no matter what.
In online communities it’s simple: simply publish and upvote only information that supports our view until supporting information is all that’s available to see. And everyone can keep repeating “see? All women are bad”.
In real life, it takes some more work, but it’s doable. Plus, they got the online community to go back to for a shot of “Red Pill truth”.
Here is a meme on Red Pill cognitive dissonance:
Once the community becomes protected by cognitive dissonance, it becomes an insular island detached from reality.
And free of any external interference, it becomes easy to spread one-sided theories that are poor reflections of reality.
Here is a quick overview of what the Red Pill hammers its members with:
- Women are slaves to hypergamy (but men are not)
- Women dupe a beta to provide, then cheat him (as if men were not interested in cheating)
- Marriage is how women keep men hostage (as if some women couldn’t be victims of poor marriages)
- Women never really love a man (you really need to have little experience to believe this)
- Women form no real attachment: she forgets you the moment she dumps you (same as above)
Again, there is a backdrop of truth in most of them.
Just not the way the Red Pill presents them, because the Red Pill naturally distorts them.
#5. Women Control Unfair System, Men Fight Back
The Red Pill sees itself as a bastion of truth and fairness.
A bunch of rebel freedom-fighters against a feminized society which is out to oppress, harass and turn men into blue-pill slaves.
It’s a romantic and appealing way of looking at oneself, reminiscing of old myths and modern rebels fighting wicked dark empires.
It’s also exactly how hate groups operate, recruit and proselytize (Lee, 2002). And it’s a convenient narrative to double down on conspiracy theories.
Part of the “good rebel” narrative, appealing to the masses and which further distort Red Pill “analysis”, are:
- We’re right, they’re wrong
- We’re good, they’re bad (a free pass to being nasty)
- They’re strong, so we must stick together (helps the group survive)
- They control the brainwashing media, but we’re smart
The last one is particularly interesting.
It provides an excuse never to double-check one’s theories because you can’t get the truth outside the Red Pill.
Great weapon for cognitive dissonance.
You can see that the “unfair system” against “us” is exactly how nazi hate groups recruited young and lost men:
The Social-Psychology of Group Conflict
Writes social psychologist Roy Baumeister:
People do not generally need a great deal of urging to despise the groups that are arrayed against them (…)
That much is true.
But just to make sure, the Red Pill still provides plenty of urging.
In social psychology, the tendency of hating the outgroup is an offshoot of the “realistic conflict theory“.
Conflicts become more extreme when:
- Members are authoritarian, craving power, and control
- Members engage in competition
- The competitions are zero-sum games
All three are true for the Red Pill.
The Red Pill attracts authoritarian men who crave more power and control, men high in Social Dominance Orientation, which in turns predicts sexism (Pratto et. al., 2000);
it encourages a view of gender relationships as social competitions;
and (falsely) teaches that relationships are zero-sum games.
The Truth of Inter-Gender Relationships
I always loved this expression from the Bible:
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye
That might be the red pill’s mantra: focusing on the speck in the sisters’ eyes and missing one’s own planks.
When red pillers focus only on the “wrong” that women do and “what’s to lose”, they only see 1/4 of reality.
Why one quarter?
Because they miss:
- The positives of women
- The negatives of men (also see “games men play“)
- The potential for win-win (you find what you look for, as they say)
Read more on win-win:
Cynicism & “Zero-Sum Game” Fallacy
At the core, red-pillers look at relationships as zero-sum games.
This is what Rollo Tomassi writes in “Preventive Medicine“:
For one gender’s sexual strategy to succeed the other gender must compromise or abandon their own.
I respect Rollo Tomassi, but with that attitude, I am truly curious about his marriage.
And if you see relationships as zero-sum games, then the red pill approach makes sense.
It makes sense for some men “go their own way” or focus on short-term, zero investment, and even exploitative and manipulative relationships.
The Red Pill is at odds with women and relationships because it presupposes zero sum games relationships, playing against a cheating opponent, who successfuly rigged the system to win.
Here is the typical red pill advice when it comes to women:
- Avoid long-term relationships
- Never trust women
- Make sure you can drop her quickly
- Invest nothing in women
In game theory, this is referred to as a “defector strategy”.
But, more befittingly, I define this strategy the “fearful defector”:
- Fearful defector: is so afraid of being cheated, that he either avoids the game altogether, or approaches the game with a mindset of “I’ll cheat first”.
The problem with that mindset, of course, is that relationships are not always zero-sum games.
And healthy relationships have at least the potential for being win-win.
Of course, if you approach dating with a red pill mindset, you will never have a healthy, collaborative, win-win, and truly satisfying relationship.
Again, the red pill does get something right.
A touch of cynicism is great to have, and some the dangers they highlight are real.
The virtue lies in looking at those dangers realistically, and crafting effective strategies around them.
Please read more here:
- The positive cynic mindset: growing past poisonous cynicism
But in short:
Relationships have plenty of areas of friction and men (and women) should be aware of them.
But humans collaborate with each other because it’s good for them.
In relationships, humans developed as a pair-bonding, semi-monogamous species because it was good for both.
The red pill defector strategy of approaching relationships as win-lose is harmful to those same men.
P.S.: Exceptions Apply! You Must Be A SMART Cooperator
This post does not urge you to “get into a relationship”, or to “trust women (or men) blindly”.
Quite the opposite.
Also read more:
The Psychology of Abusive Red Pill
Let me start with the obvious:
Not all Red Pill men are abusive.
Yet, it would be naive to deny the overlap between Red Pill philosophy and abuse.
There are 5 dynamics active in the Red Pill which can lead to abuse (and self-abuse):
- Dehumanization process (common in all hate groups)
- Unhealthy dichotomy of “be alpha & dominate, or be a loser”
- Ultra-conservative political views
- Defensive, win-lose, & scarcity mindset (leads to attacking first to avoid losing, Forward, 1998)
Let’s go in order:
#1. Dehumanization Process
Dehumanization is how normal people become abusers.
Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, notable researcher on violence and abuse, lists four social causes responsible for evil:
- Deindividuation (“I” merges with “red-piled men”)
- Dehumanization (women are bad, so morals don’t apply to them)
- Anonymity (Red Pill communities are founded on anonymity)
- Diffusion of responsibility (the more of us, the safer it is to be extremists, thus the effort of recruitment)
De-individualization means that men project their identity onto the “group” of men.
This leads to all kinds of low-quality and disempowering mindsets and behaviors, including what I call “ego-leeching“.
Ego leechers use other men, and the supposedly “superiority of men” to feel about themselves.
Seen an example here:
NateSim latches his ego on the “men’s cart”, so he can feel good about himself when a man “beats” a woman. Very low-quality behavior.
Dehumanization (Kelman, 1976), possibly the worst of them all, is not only tolerated, but encouraged in the Red Pill.
This is what Esther Vilar, author of one of the most popular Red Pill books, writes:
Women live an animal existence. They like eating, drinking, sleeping – even sex, providing there is nothing to do and no real effort is required of them.
Vilar describes women as mindless, animal-like creatures who leech on men for their survival.
Vilar’s book, “The Manipulated Man‘, is a recommended reading of The Red Pill subreddit, finding a prominent spot right on the sidebar:
Through dehumanization, even normally moral men stop feeling any bond and empathy with women.
See an example from a popular thread:
The toxic end game?
Once women are dehumanized, then it’s fair game to treat them as sub-humans.
See an example:
- Psychopath’s sexual strategy: active in the red pill subreddit
#2. The Alpha Imperative: A True Male Yoke
This is what f*cks men up without them realizing it.
The Red Pill purports to free men.
But it actually enslaves them under the yoke of the alpha man.
The Red Pill talks about “feminine imperative”, but the true diktat Red Pill men are all under is the Red Pill “alpha imperative”.
Men who buy into the red pill build their self-esteem around semi-toxic and inherently fragile traits such as:
- Being alpha / dominant
- Banging lots of women
- Controlling the relationship
- Being the most alpha she’s ever had
See the pattern?
Every fear of this red-pilled man can be boiled down to the possibility of someone more alpha than he is.
If there is someone more alpha, that other guy wins, he loses… And he goes into an existential crisis.
Why is he in such a crisis?
Because, after internalizing the Red Pill philosophy, he builds his self-esteem around inherently fragile Red Pill commandments.
And if he’s not the most alpha she’s ever had, then… Ouch, then that will crush his Red Pilled ego.
The fear of other alphas “branding” women has a name: “alpha widows”.
Alpha widows, or women who have been with an alpha, are supposedly “dangerous” to be with because they’re harder to control (again, the toxicity of controlling men).
True Development Means Not Fearing Alphas
Overcoming the fear of alpha is crucial both mentally and practically.
It’s just rational after all: you can’t be afraid of other alphas in her life because high-quality women mostly date alpha men.
High-quality women will only sleep with high-quality men, who are most likely to be alpha males.
Avoiding women who have been with an alpha male is the equivalent of looking for a low-quality woman.
Looking for the woman who’s never been with a great man is the equivalent of trying to be the big fish in a small pond.
#3. Hierarchical-Minded Authoritarianism: Oppression is Natural, So It’s Good
There is a significant overlap between Red Pill followers and affiliation to political conservatism.
See an example here, with Red Pill moderators officially endorsing Trump:
There is plenty of research showing that the authoritarian branch of conservatism:
- Cannot stand ambiguity: that’s why you see the sweeping generalizations
- Focus on threats: that’s why they naturally focus more on defection than on possibilities of cooperation
- Tend to form outgroups and derogate them: that’s why the strong “us” and “them”
- Prefer, respect, and enforce structures and hierarchies: that’s why you see lots of anger for anyone who discusses the basic tenets of “red pill theory”
- Fall for the naturalistic fallacy (Miller & Kanazawa, 2008): what’s “natural” is good, so if oppressing others whenever you can is natural, it’s also fair
BTW, much research links low intelligence with conservative political affiliation (see Sapolsky, 2018)
How’s that for a generalization (BTW, I don’t believe that’s the case).
The Red Pill Drift Into Nonsense
Fundamentalist groups are bound to be irrational.
From a social-psychological perspective, the bigger the personal self-identification with the “we”, the higher the depersonalization.
At the extreme of depersonalization, the group becomes more important than the self (Turner, 1986) because, well… The group is the self.
Any attack on the group is an attack on the self, and defending the community means defending oneself.
And at that point, the goal of the community is the preservation of the community itself.
And to preserve the group and its Red Pill ideology, anything goes.
The bar gets lowered to anything that might help confirm the ideology, no matter how unlikely the theory is or how flimsy the evidence appears.
This guy, for example, offers confirmation that “all women are the same” after having visited one hooker:
Blue-pilled men and “beta males” also help preserve the group, serving two important Red Pill functions:
- Strengthen the group (“they suck, never go back to blue pill, stay with us”)
- Shore up weak egos (“I’m better than this blue pill”).
- Alpha male posturing: all about social climbing and ego massaging
- Big fish in a small pond: to help you overcome that small-timer attitude.
When At War, Extremists Lead: The Power Dynamics of Hate Group Leadership
Hate groups need hate to stay alive.
Says Baumeister in his landmark work “Evil“:
The members with the firmest sense of hatred will end up being the ones that the others look to for support and guidance.
A moderate leader disempowers the group by building bridges.
That’s dangerous because assimilation to another group means dissolution of the group/self and loss of the “special status” of “superior” red-pilled man.
Better an extremist to keep the group tight.
Out of fear of ostracization, nobody speaks up if a leader is too extremist. The more moderates will either quit or toe the party line, thus making the group even more extreme.
That is why some red pillers resent Jordan Peterson: he is not extreme enough and seeks too many bridges.
The community needs the outgroup of women to remain enemies to stay alive. Without them, the extremists lose power and support.
The biggest enemies of hate groups are people seeking bridges.
And the same is true for feminists. See how feminists isolated and viciously attacked a former feminist who realized that yes, male rights activists had some good points:
Former feminist: when you start to humanize your enemy, you in turn may be dehumanized by your community
Does The Red Pill Make Things Worse?
In a way, yes.
Men with a certain mindset naturally gravitate to the Red Pill, but the Red Pill also pushes them further down the line.
The Red Pill also provides angry men with the sounding board and confirmation to reassure them that “yes, I am right in my hatred”.
It takes already predisposed men into far higher levels of rage and bitterness that they would have never reached on their own.
Red Pill: self-development group or gangs for extremization?
The Red Pill: Feminism For Men?
Red Pill men cannot stand feminists.
And feminists cannot stand red pill men.
Which makes a lot of sense, since they are specular movements at the mercy of very similar group dynamics:
- “patriarchy” becomes “gynocratic society”
- “male domination” becomes the “feminine imperative”
- “toxic masculinity” becomes “feminazi”
The Red Pill is just a tad less bad than feminism, but I might be biased as a man myself.
So What’s A Man to Do?
How do we take it from here?
It’s already a long article :).
And I will end with a quote from Robert Greene:
We belong to the human race. Anything else is backward and far too dangerous.
The Red Pill presents itself as the place where to get the uncomfortable truths of life.
And some of those uncomfortable truths, are spot-on.
The next step is to turn that inquisitive mind towards, well… The Red Pill itself.
The red pill with its anger, disillusionment, and cynicism should be a phase in male self-development.
Beyond that phase, men should embrace exceptions, complexities, shades of grey… And the possibility for win-win relationships as well.