You may have noticed over the years that I cover a lot of topics that don’t seem to fit squarely in this blog’s mission statement of helping nerds date better. One of the reasons why I write about feminist issues or bad behavior within the geek community is because, frankly, getting better at dating is a holistic system. As I’m fond of saying, dating success is 80% attitude and 20% skill, and a lot of that attitude involves both issues of masculinity and also understanding and empathizing with women. The people who do best with women are the ones who not only understand them but, critically, don’t view them as opponents, enemies or inferiors. Much of what we assume to be the accepted wisdom regarding relationships is based around intellectual fallacies and cultural assumptions with no actual fact behind them. In fact, many of these cultural biases end up coloring the study of relationships and human sexuality, letting confirmation bias and naturalistic fallacies distort scientific inquiry.
I mention all of this because one of the things I’m always pushing against are the toxic philosophies that so often masquerade as dating advice. The Pick-Up community, for example, can be of use to men wanting to do better at dating, in theory… but so much of pick-up is based around mistaken ideas regarding gender roles and female sexuality that it’s difficult to sort the gold from the toxic, rape-y dross.
Of course, there are a lot of people who don’t feel this way. They feel that women have somehow gained an unfair advantage in the world, making it virtually impossible for a heterosexual, cisgendered white man to get a break. They see relationships as a fight for dominance and sex as a god-given right that’s being kept from them by women because REASONS.
One of the more vocal subsets of this particular philosophy is known as The Red Pill.
Before I get too much further into this, allow me to share the email that prompted all of this:
Doc, can you help?
My brother’s gotten caught up in the Red Pill Philosophy. It’s a mindset that shows up a lot in the nether regions of the internet that’s basically a mix of PUA and Men Going Their Own Way, but with a lot more violent misogyny. Some their “dating” advice is basically descriptions of abusive relationships. They claim to not hate women and focus on self improvement, but believe men must establish control/dominance over the women in their lives in order to “get sex”, and that women are intellectually/morally inferior to men. Many people recognize that this mindset is very dangerous, but all criticism from women and feminist men only makes fun of their more extreme points rather than offering an alternative to men and boys that are frustrated.
I ask because I want something to offer men my age and younger when they say acting “alpha” is their only way to get the relationship they want. The issue affects me personally.
My parents have a feminist marriage, since my mother is the breadwinner, however my parents are not happy together. Their marriage is sexless. Part of this is a fundamental lack of compatibility (they didn’t want to get married but did because of unexpected pregnancy), but it is also because our father allows my mother abuse and manipulate him. My father has many positive traits: he is intelligent, hardworking, and caring, but he is socially awkward does not stand up for himself. He is what red pillers call “beta” and earlier generations of men called “pussy whipped.” My siblings and I grew up in this dysfunctional household without a solid model for how men (or women) act in healthy relationships. My brother, who also had a long time crush on a female friend that was not reciprocated, “took the red pill” two years ago. He eventually got a girlfriend (not his crush) which “proved” red pill worked.
In some ways red pill did make him more attractive. He started exercising, eating better, improving his style and hygiene, expanding his social circle, and actually asking girls out. However, he became a massive asshole in the process. He believed wholeheartedly in the “alpha fux/beta bux” model” where men who are “beta” will only ever be hated and used by women, a model which our parents seem to fit. He believed that all women are the same, that women are only good for sex and babies, that all women are too emotional/unreliable to vote, lead, or work. He regularly insulted and talked down to his female friends, and touched them in ways that make them uncomfortable. He also gaslighted my mother and threatened her with a physical attack when he didn’t get what he wanted, since he believed she hated men and was out to get him. One of the popular red pill themes is that men should be dominant over the women in their lives, and sex and sexual acts are the metric of dominance therefore worth as a man. My brother’s girlfriend was a shy, socially awkward girl. She didn’t want to have sex, partly because of her youth and and insecurity, and partly because he was pushing for it too hard. To “break” her he would ignore and insult her in public, spread rumors about her, and use the more coercive PUA tactics.
One of the popular themes in red pill is the idea that men who want sex should “just go for it”. This is different from sexually escalating: the idea is that women secretly want a man to force them to have sex (because rape fantasies, evo psych, it demonstrates “alphaness”, other bullshit). Eventually my brother decided to “just go for it” with his girlfriend at a party. She had to fight him off and leave the party to get away. Needless to say they are no longer together. I had a long conversation with him after that (I’m probably the one woman he still respects). He recognizes that he tried to rape a girl and that that was wrong, but he doesn’t understand how to have healthy relationships with women without the red pill. While I can give him some help, I have no dating experience, and I’m not a man who has faced and overcome difficulties with women.
Do you have any advice for him and all the other young guys who grew up with only porn and red pill for role models?
So let’s get into this a little, shall we?