My husband and I are in bed at the end of what felt like a very long day.
We aim for equality every day: equal time working, equal time parenting. Time together. Time apart.
But today it felt like I was holding the world together by myself.
I’m trying to tell him how hard it was, looking for appreciation, looking for a promise that he’ll help me get more me time tomorrow.
He’s not hearing me: He’s defending. He’s explaining. He’s excusing. He’s rationalizing.
I take a deep breath, measure my words, make sure this comes out as an “I statement”:
“I feel unappreciated and alone.”
“Well, you’re choosing to feel those things.”
Clearly, we need some help communicating.
I came across some relationship advice claiming to fix everything.
A whole new frame for seeing the world:
Here was advice, aimed at men, to stop doing exactly what he was doing: DEERing — Defending, Explaining, Excusing, Rationalizing.
The only problem was, the advice came at the expense of my status as an equal member of my marriage.
Enough mystery: I’m talking about The Red Pill. And specifically, I’m talking about Married Red Pill.
From the FAQ of the Married Red Pill (MRP) subreddit, which has over 24,000 subscribers (and I’ve got to assume thousands more lurkers who don’t want their wives to know):
“We are men that (sic) subscribe to The Red Pill (TRP) philosophy of sexual strategy, and are dedicated to applying it in marriage or in Long Term Relationships.”
“This is the Red Pill on hard mode.”
Wait, what’s The Red Pill?
The term Red Pill comes from the beginning of The Matrix, where Morpheus offers Neo a choice between two pills: a blue pill to wake back up in his bed and carry on as he was, or a red pill to learn the truth.
The “truth,” as Red Pillers see it, is that men are a certain way and women are a certain way, and men should work on themselves in order to be/appear more alpha (like a wolf pack leader. Sigh.) They believe men are naturally dominant over women, and more rational, and should “game” women in order to get what they want (to have sex and be served by women).
MRP is “Red Pill on hard mode,” because these men are trying to game the same woman every day, rather than just trying to get strangers to have sex with them. Trying out false confidence on lots of ladies until you manage a one-night stand does sound much easier than getting a woman to stay with you long-term once you’ve swallowed the Red Pill.
What would a Red Piller have done, in the conversation my husband and I had?
This thread on MRP is about when your wife is trying to vent, or connect, and you’re trying to mansplain. (Of course, it doesn’t use the word mansplain.)
The man in this post fails when he tries to, in his words, “give a great logical solution to a woman,” and she replies, I just want you to listen, not to fix everything.
Okay, most of us have been there.
The good advice tucked inside, and what makes Red Pill so dangerous:
STFU. At first I thought it meant to tell the woman to STFU, but the advice is actually for the man to be quiet. Yes, that could help.
Hug. Yes, if she’s open to a hug right now, that could be awesome.
Sass. Depending on what’s said, a little humor could help.
Dancing. Sure, getting moving could be helpful. Dancing with her could feel like connecting.
“She wants the feeling she gets that she’s worth listening too (sic).” Yes, exactly, it feels good to be listened to!
But then comes this bit of mental gymnastics:
“This is why the ass-hole got the girl. While you were determined to care about and fix her negative feelings… he was busy not giving a shit…”
Somehow the Married Red Pill takeaway was that caring is the problem, while listening — okay, not listening, but giving the appearance of listening — works because it’s an asshole move, and women really just want assholes.
Nope. Woman here. Can confirm that we just want our partners to treat us with basic respect and care.
Other problematic things in that Reddit post:
Where do I even begin?
- “As an MRP dude you are inherently logical.” Read The Magical Thinking of Guys Who Love Logic by Aisling McCrea to understand how ridiculous these repeated assertions of logic and rationality are.
- Women “don’t have the greater sense of righteousness for acknowledging her flaws and improving them.” Lol.
- “Ever notice that most women are bad at telling stories.”
- “Respond by controlling her feelings to what you want!!”
Married Red Pill is repackaged relationship advice, without the heart.
The Red Pill philosophy of sexual strategy (and especially Married Red Pill)
contains bits of useful relationship/communication advice, but the deeper meaning has been stripped away and replaced with patriarchy. Similar to how Eastern religions got repackaged into productivity bestsellers, the timeless virtues of patience and listening are co-opted into strategy to get men laid.
Hey, we’ve got something tried and true; let’s remove the heart!
In the case of Red Pill, the missing piece is the “giving a shit” part, the caring, the love, the respect — the partnership. And Married Red Pill men are proudly trying to game their wives. It’s all tactics.
TRP is a “philosophy of sexual strategy.”
Married Red Pillers, though already in serious relationships, are studying pickup artist tactics designed to trick women into having sex with men. MRP followers discuss tactics to get their wives to quit asking them to do stuff (what they call “nagging” and “shit tests”) and to have more sex with them.
And they call it Fight Club. Married men are out there, swallowing the Red Pill, and discussing tactics with each other. They’re not respecting their wives, but they are respecting the first — and second — rules of Fight Club:
You do not talk about Fight Club.
How do you even know if your husband swallowed the Pill?
The creep factor is way up when you imagine that, even if it feels like you have a major breakthrough in communication with your partner, it might be that he’s manipulating you, rather than caring for you.
My husband is a visual artist, and he listens to a lot of podcasts while he works. He told me last week that he listened to a relationship podcast, that it was great, even though it was really, “Men are like this and women are like this.” Immediately, I felt panicked.
I’d just read Hussein Kesvani’s When YouTube Red-Pills the Love of Your Life in MEL Magazine. A friend of mine lived a similar story. Before divorcing him, she watched her open-minded, loving partner devolve into a racist anti-feminist, all because of the Red Pill. They have two young daughters.
My husband is a leftist anarchist, identifies as a feminist. I have zero reason to think he’d swallow the Red Pill (or any Pill), and yet I got so scared, afraid a podcast could brainwash him and ruin everything.
He told me the podcast was hosted by two ladies. I felt my entire body relax.
How Men Get Sucked In
Here’s a couple snippets from a post about “reasonable requests,” on the MRP subreddit, written by a newbie:
“I’ve found that a few times I’ve been failing in a different way when my wife makes reasonable requests.”
“I was being a sarcastic prick. My wife pointed it out, and she was right.”
This newbie recently discovered TRP philosophy, but he’s still in touch with reality, still understands his wife can be reasonable too, that men do not have dominion over reason.
He realizes his old communication patterns weren’t working, so he’s trying something new, communicating differently. And it seems to be working. So he’s thinking, “Wow, TRP is really onto something!”
Similar to how Eastern religions got repackaged into productivity bestsellers, the timeless virtues of patience and listening are co-opted into strategy to get men laid.
Every time someone posts that the techniques are working, because they feel closer to their wife, someone else tells them they don’t sound like an alpha, that it’s not about getting closer, that they “have a lot to learn.”
MRP Newb: “She’s told me she appreciates that I’m not just reacting, and she’s been sweeter and more affectionate toward me. We’re making progress because I’m making progress.”
MRP Commenter: “Did you tell her about fight club? Also, what the fuck is up with this “we’re making progress” BS? Yep… you’re balls deep in her frame.”
MRP Newb: “Feedback well taken. I was trying to say that I’m setting an example for what a better marriage looks like.”
What I’m thinking: Don’t listen to their feedback! You and your marriage still have a chance! Toss all the metaphorical pills in the metaphorical trash, and just treat your wife as an equal! Because she is!
The hierarchy is clear. And of course it is: their whole deal is hierarchy:
Alpha men on top, then beta men, then “all my kids, (wife included).”
Men go online looking for answers, because no one ever taught them how to talk about feelings. The Red Pill promises a solution, then gives them textbook toxic masculinity.
In case it’s not clear, Red Pillers despise feminism.
The Red Pill’s glossary — found in MRP’s pinned post — calls feminism “a doctrine of class hatred, and violence.”
The entire Red Pill philosophy rests on gender inequality. What clearer evidence do we have for the validity of and need for feminism?
Here’s a quote from a popular TRP post about what to do instead of DEER (Defend, Explain, Excuse, Rationalize).
Married Red Pillers called this post “INVALUABLE,” “fucking gold,” and “Probably the most valuable information on this subreddit”:
“In a healthy sexual relationship, the submissive feminine women (sic) is subordinate to a competent, masculine male.
You, as the man, are the captain of the ship, and she is your trustworthy first-mate.
You were given the responsibility of being the ever knowing, omnipresent manifestation of masculinity, and she is the flowery child, impulsive, curious, emotional, and silly, but most of all, eager for definitive direction from a strong authority figure.
If at any point these roles switch, there will be hell to pay.”
Married Red Pillers call themselves “captains” of their marriage, and refer to their wives as “children.”
Their entire philosophy rests on gender inequality. What clearer evidence do we have for the validity of and need for feminism?
Here’s one of countless “captain” posts. Notice the frequent use of the word “henpecking” and the insistence that wives want their husbands to be leaders— not partners, but leaders.
It’s terrifying — it’s Handmaidesque — but it’s also kind of sad.
These men want answers. They want to feel self-worth, appreciation. They want to feel competent, strong. They want respect, connection. They want what we all want: to feel like they have a clue what they’re doing, like life makes sense.
Life doesn’t make sense. We can’t find answers through a pill, certainly not through The Red Pill. But we can find connection, when we truly see each other as equals.
Is Caring For Others ‘Important Enough’ For Men To Do It?
We’ll never have gender equality until men do their fair share of the caregiving.
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