RedPillWomen is the "feminised" version of the infamous RedPill—a men's rights subreddit whose members claim to have "taken the red pill" and finally realised the truth about feminism. Namely that it shouldn't exist.
I've always been curious about this strange subsection of an already-strange community. So I decided to reach out, which was hard, because "Red Pill Women" have their guards up. They're wary. They're angry. And they're aware that there is something curious about them: A group of women who wholeheartedly believe that…women kind of suck.Because of this, every Red Pill Woman I reached out was careful and reluctant to talk with me. "In general, the only interest we see from writers is in gathering material for a hit piece," one said.
But there was a sense of urgency, too. The women wanted to be understood. RedPillWomen members wanted me to know that the group is independent of its male counterpart, that it is owned and run by women. It's a feminine space, for sure—I mean, there's a pink background and cursive font. On its FAQ page, RedPillWomen describes its members as "self-aware women that work to identify their weaknesses, stifle their inner Bitch, and increase their female sexual value as much as possible in order to attract, or keep, a good Red Pill man."
My first impression of the group was fairly brutal. It seemed like a online home for thousands of defeated women jealous of that girl at their high school with impeccably long legs who everyone's brother wanted to bang. They didn't see themselves as the hot girl, but these women had never been able to quite make it as "one of the boys" either. The fact that they subscribe to this dichotomy at all may be the most puzzling thing about them.
I was so curious about who these women were that I decided to delve into Reddit's chamber of bigoted secrets. I called myself electricwoman9. As I started getting involved in the forum, I noticed women would happily comment on threads that made my feminist skin crawl. Like "Questions About How to STFU"—where other women were encouraged to provide suggestions for how to not upset a male partner, who was referred to as their "Captain."
I sent private messages to these frequent commenters, trying to get one of them to talk to me. After being suspected of foul play and asked to provide photo identification, one user finally agreed to chat. Lauren* met my curiosity with politeness, asking only that she could remain anonymous. She was worried if her real-world feminist friends found out about her affiliation with the contentious online community, she would be scorned. "Are you going to paint me as brainwashed?" she asked.
There's no denying that she was friendly. But of course she was. She had made a conscious decision to "embrace being nice… as a woman", as she believed she was then "more likely to get a positive reaction than by being aggressive." Lauren wanted to be liked, understood and recognised. Don't we all?
When asked how she stumbled across RedPillWomen, Lauren laughed. "My boyfriend… although not in the way you might expect," she told me. "I was reading an article in a feminist newspaper which was decrying the 'manosphere'. After Googling it, I recognised some of the language from things my boyfriend had said early in our relationship. I confronted him, accusing him of being a sexist, awful person."
Her boyfriend, it turned out, was an MRA. "His explanation of how it had been a part of his life was common. He had first come across The Red Pill in his late teens after his girlfriend had cheated on him. He was angry, disillusioned, and felt there wasn't a place for him. The Red Pill assured him that these insecurities weren't his own fault."
This was, as much as Lauren insisted otherwise, confirmation that most men on Red Pill end up there through the same set of circumstances. Upset about a failed relationship with a girlfriend, and thus looking for a place to vent with other men who also feel women are inherently untrustworthy.
When I asked Lauren how she felt about the violently misogynistic claims published on both subthreads—TheRedPill and RedPillWomen—it was as if she nervously anticipated the question. Much of what disturbed me about the group was its approach to rape culture: There is a term employed in both communities to describe when women who, after seeming willing to go home with someone or engage in sex, at the last minute decide they don't want to anymore. It's called "Last Minute Resistance" (LMR). I was interested to know Lauren's perspective on this issue.
"My little cousin was raped [a few years ago]," Lauren uncomfortably responded."She was so drunk that she could not consent. I am reasonably sure she offered some LMR," Lauren confessed. "But these terms are not really used on RedPillWoman. It is assumed that those who are reading it are aiming to find long term relationships with men."
RedPillWomen preaches an old-fashioned approach to relationships. Like, archaic. "RedPillWomen… advise that unless you want to have sex with a man, try to [engage only in] dates that are not conducive to sexual activities," Lauren explains.
She's suggesting that men and women hang out in public places, rather than bedrooms. "The community encourages taking practical steps and for women to be as responsible as possible for their own decisions. Although I am very conscious of the risks of victim-blaming, I find this approach somewhat refreshing. I want advice that reflects how things are. This is controversial, I know."
There is nothing edgy or revolutionary about the sentiments celebrated by Red Pill Women. They are, largely, a group of women who only superficially understand the intentions of the gender equality movement. That's it.
Perhaps there is some comfort in convincing oneself that you aren't an oppressed person. That, in order to avoid sexual assault, for example, you can just be more responsible. But this attitude is isolating for a lot of us. And, because those contributing to the hateful discussion on RedPillWomen are indeed women, their input gives men permission to continue to abuse, mock and humiliate women who speak out against it.
Speaking candidly with Lauren—a proud member of the Red Pill Woman community—only proved something I already knew: there is no right way to be a woman. If a woman wants to participate in some good old fashioned misogyny, she has every right. But if she wants to protest, she has every right to that too. And I sure hope she chooses the latter option… because, as I have discovered, there's a lot to be angry about.
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