on the 'red pill':
The angry men who: 'know what women want'
If you haven't heard of the 'red pill' theory then you might want to
look away now. But if you're a glutton for punishment read on.
Red pill theory is based on film The Matrix, (remember that?) in
which Keanu Reeves's character Neo is offered a blue pill to stay
plugged in where everything is nice, or a red pill where everything goes
horribly wrong but makes a much better movie.
Rather than languishing in the early 2000s where it belongs, the
premise has now been adopted by a group of men's activists or 'meninists'.
The movement has gained traction over the past couple of years, even
leading to the production of a controversial film The Red Pill, which
saw feminist film maker Cassie Jaye explore the men's rights movement
and is due for cinematic release in 2016, following a Kickstarter
So what does it all mean?
These men's activists use the term 'blue pill' to refer to
conventional dating practices. According to MarriedManSexLife.com (a
life coach who claims to 'help you attract your wife, beat affairs and
breakthrough relationship blockages'), the blue pill is "what women say
they want from a man."
But, as we all know, our tiny lady brains aren't capable of deciding
what they want. We might think we want to be treated with kindness and
consideration - but we're wrong.
Enter 'red pill' theory. This is the belief that what women really
want from men is a bit of good old-fashioned subjection.
Rather than focusing on the very real issues affecting men today such
as mental health stigma, suicide and the under reporting of sexual
abuse, the activists focuses on how women 'should' behave instead.
Red pill aficionados, who mostly hang out on Reddit boards, really
believe that women are wrong when they claim that they want respect and
equality. Apparently what we really want is dominance and traditional
gender roles. We've just been brainwashed by feminist propaganda.
Men on the internet who claim that women are lying about wanting
equality are nothing new. What's far more disturbing is the presence of
another board within the online red pill community, titled 'Red Pill
This is a discussion space for women who believe that they are
biologically programmed purely to procreate, and see being single in
your thirties as an actual tragedy.
Red pill woman
According to MarriedManSexLife.com there's a list of 20
characteristics that define a red pill woman; from keeping herself
physically attractive to her partner (at no point is it suggested that
he might do the same) to understanding that she should never deny her
The forum itself goes further in to explaining how a red pill woman
is expected to deport herself. For instance the importance of not being
"You do not have to act less capable than you are to be feminine. Men
are not sexually attracted to intelligence, and are put off by
Or the essential ability to put yourself second:
"Don't keep score of who is doing what for whom, simply focus on the
ways you can enhance his life. Expectations are nothing more than future
What a brilliant life hack. If you stop having any expectations from
your partner, he can never disappoint you. Sorted!
The red pill women of Reddit spend most of their time sharing tips on
being 'better', including a lively debate about how to improve your
man's morning routine (get up an hour before him, look pretty, make his
breakfast is the general consensus).
It's toe curling stuff.
The women who populate the forum were unsurprisingly loathe to
discuss their involvement with me (perhaps realising that publicly
stating unmarried 35-year-old women had 'failed at life' wouldn't make
them any friends).
But the posts they share are unguarded. Take this painful
"I'm 19 year-old college student and even though I'm currently
looking for a part-time job I still have a lot of free time. I was
wondering how I could spend my time to become a better woman and a
better partner for my future boyfriend/husband".
The red pill women's advice? "Be compassionate. Be honest. Be
nurturing. Be sweet. Be gentle. Be positive. Be meek. Learn how to cook
and clean - which you are doing!"
If that's not worrying enough, one woman has started a thread about
her partner, who she previously broke up with because of domestic
"Sex is a bit of an issue, because he gets very frustrated when he
doesn't get head for too long, but between caring for a two-year-old,
work, school, and trying to keep the house somewhat not disgusting, it
has gone as long as two months between my being able to provide this -
though I did just do it twice in the past few weeks - helped being more
aroused the second time."
To which the best rated advice was:
"Sex and physical intimacy is not a choice, so stop thinking of it as
a voluntary endeavour. Make it your mission to spoil him rotten. Every
day you should have some kind of sexual interaction with him.
That's right ladies. Consensual sex is not a choice. We've got it
twisted with all our silly feminism.
Our vaginas should be freely available to our partners, at all times,
regardless of what else is going on.
Aside from how painful it is to see 'meekness' praised as a character
trait in 2015, the salient question is why on earth any young woman
would find herself aligning with this view?
In the 1980s, along with the rise of power suits and career women
came a rise in the sales of Mills and Boon books. In the 2000s, 50
Shades of Grey out sold Harry Potter and the Bible.
The correlation between the emancipation of women and the increased
popularity of the dominant male in fiction is often used by red pill
theorists as proof that women don't actually want power; they want to be
What red pill people seem to misunderstand is that they deal
exclusively in theory and further than that, in fantasy.
Women might well lust after a Christian Grey type, who forces us to
forget about climbing the career ladder with blindfolds and wrist ties.
But it's a fantasy. It's not real.
And for these women who haunt Reddit, discussing how to be a better
surrendered wife? It's all part of the same fantasy. And really? Fantasy
is exactly where it belongs.
Yes, a powerful, assertive man is a sexy prospect.
But what red pill theory misunderstands is that women might want
that, but they certainly don't want that all the time.Is it sexy when a
bloke throws you down on to the bed? Yes.
But is it any less sexy than when he takes out the bins so you can
stay in the warm, or runs you a bath because you've got menstrual
Ultimately, the adoption of the red pill by women is about fantasy.
While the movement is buried in forums like Reddit - so the posters
could be anyone, male or female - it seems likely that they are truly
Unhappy women who want their lives to be better, and who have been
taken in by a false promise.
Red pill thinking offers the chance to make your relationship better
and claims to fix your problems.
All you have to do is make a few simple changes to your personality!
I don't deny that if one partner is capable of being totally selfless,
self-sacrificing and never complaining when they're unhappy, then it's
likely going reduce the number of arguments a couple has. But that
doesn't make things better. It just makes women quieter.
Aggressively maintained gender roles don't make for happy
relationships. Compromise, sharing and love do that. And that's why,
despite all the thousands of words written about it on the internet, red
pill theory will remain exactly that. A theory.
(A version of this article was originally published
in Telegraph UK)