Mashable has a new article Exploring the toxic world of ‘female privilege’, which is a hit piece on the Red Pill Men’s movement. I will say up front that I am not a member of the men’s movement, nor am I a feminist. Also, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
It was early on Saturday morning when I crossed the threshold into a quarantined community. I was entering r/TheRedPill, a subreddit dedicated to radical misogyny. This breeding ground of anti-women invective and conspiracy theories is so brazenly hostile, it’s literally cordoned off like a health hazard. It was here that I hoped to trace the source of a term that is currently flooding the online forums devoted to male separatism and men’s rights activism.
The reason that r/TheRedPill is members only on reddit is that it is not politically correct. Since reddit is an anonymous message board, you get trolls, shit-posters, and others who are trying to get a rise out of journalists posting crazy stuff. So what? How is this any different from r/Pol, r/TheDonald, or 4chan?
That term is “female privilege”, and though it’s not one you’d likely hear in everyday conversation, it’s one that’s reverberating loudly through the corridors of the Manosphere — a constellation of anti-women, anti-feminist subcultures.
I wouldn’t say that any faction of the men’s movement is anti-woman. Pick up artists (PUAs) certainly don’t hate women. Men’s rights activists (MRAs) are against laws that treat men unfairly (primarily the family court). Men going their own way (MGTOW) would be fine with women if women would leave them alone. Are there individuals in these communities who are anti-woman? Certainly. Again, so what.
PUAs love feminism because it sexually liberated women, making pick up culture possible. MGTOW see feminism as a result of gynocentrism, the idea that our culture is centered around women. But yes, MRAs are in direct opposition to feminists.
Since the 1990s, academics have identified “female privilege” as a central tenet of the men’s rights movement. In 1996, the term was used by philosopher Kenneth Clatterbaugh to describe the two schools of thought within the men’s rights movement: “those who believe that men and women are equally harmed by sexism and those who believe that society has become a bastion of female privilege and male degradation.” Two decades later and the latter school of thought has found its campus on Reddit, home to around 21,000 posts on the topic.
r/RedPill is a tiny sliver of the men’s movement, and not a particularly influential one.
A quick Reddit search pulls up scores of colloquial definitions, theories, and lists to explain the concept in much more, erm, forceful language than Clatterbaugh’s. “Check your privilege, feminist shitlords!” reads a rallying cry of one Redditer who’d penned an exhaustive, 97-point explainer of the many privileges women enjoy over men. “If I’m not smart, but pretty, I can marry and achieve the social and financial level of my husband without ever working,” they explain. “I not only have the more valuable and sought after sexual identity, but I also have complete control over my reproductive choice and in many ways over the reproductive choice of the opposite sex,” they add.
It is true that women can marry and gain access to the social and financial standings of their partners. It is true that in the west, women have reproductive choice, and that men do not. Facts don’t care about your feelings.
The means to produce “offspring” is cited as another advantage women have, which men do not. According to the post this grants females an “‘essential’ status in our species that men can never have and which can never be taken away from…even in old age.” As this ridiculous point might imply, the list cites very few attribution links to items stated as facts.
How is it ridiculous to point out that women are intrinsically valued for their ability to bear children? How could anyone possibly question this fact?
Another lengthy post – authored by a “biological female” who says she speaks “against feminism” – declares that women have “no fear of getting rape accusations after a one-night-stand regrets her decision.” (Extensive fact-checking of this ‘false rape accusation’ narrative has found that men are actually more likely to be raped than be falsely accused of rape.)
And she is correct that women need not fear a false rape accusation, but that men do. The fact that men are more likely to be raped than falsely accused is hardly comfort for men who are falsely accused.
There’s a pattern among Redditers posting about female privilege. Some will cherrypick an individual headline or news story to submit “proof” that, societally, the odds are stacked in favour of women. The distribution of free menstrual products – the point of which is to mitigate widespread period poverty – appears to also be a hot button topic, especially when local government is funding it.
As a libertarian, I don’t think the government should be funding menstrual products, any more than they should be using taxes that they extract from me by force to give away free toilet paper.
r/TheRedPill is one of the biggest proponents of female privilege, describing itself as a space for “discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men.” Its premise is directly derived from the 1999 movie The Matrix, in which protagonist Neo is presented with a choice between two pills: one red, one blue. If he takes the blue pill, he continues to live in an illusory world in a state of blissful ignorance. If he takes the red pill, however, he will shed this mantle of ignorance and the truth will be revealed to him.
Red pill philosophy didn’t come from reddit. These forums are discussing a philosophy that has developed over the past several decades, and heavily driven by bloggers and youtubers.
In the Red Pill world, that “truth” is that the world in which we currently live now favours women over men. “Our culture has become a feminist culture,” reads the subreddit’s introduction page. “I am here to say, for better or for worse, the frame around public discourse is a feminist frame, and we’ve lost our identity because of it.”
There is real truth in this. This is why the Matrix analogy is so apt. Until you take the red pill, you believe the mainstream narrative. “It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”
In this “feminist culture,” women possess the ultimate privilege – sexual supremacy. “Feminism is a sexual strategy. It puts women into the best position they can find, to select mates, to determine when they want to switch mates, to locate the best DNA possible, and to garner the most resources they can individually achieve,” the intro page continues.
Feminism has certainly wrought changes–no fault divorce and family courts–that allow women far more freedom to switch partners and extract resources from former partners than they had before.
In this heartland of incel rage and misogynist vitriol, female privilege is a justification for declaring war on feminism. And in this war, women are both the enemy and the most coveted objects of all.
Incels desperately want to be in relationships with women. Being locked out of the sexual marketplace due to bad looks, poor economic status, or bad health, they lash out at women. Don’t imagine that other red pilled men are all like incels.
It’s easy to dismiss female privilege as a silly idea dreamt up by crackpot conspiracists; after all it’s an empirical fact that men have vast systemic power over women and, because of that, “female privilege” over men does not exist.
What an incredible lack of self awareness. Calling the red pill men conspiracy theorists, and in the same sentence perpetuation the myth of a vast systematic patriarchy. The idea that an incel who can’t get a woman to talk to him has vast systematic power is a joke.
But the Red Pill community wields a huge amount of power. A recent study by Florida State University found that the Red Pill forum radicalised its subscribers during the 2016 presidential election, mobilising them to support Donald Trump. Far from being armchair activists with little effect, Trump’s “legion of supporters in alt-right digital spaces” are directly impacting today’s politics.
Alt-right? While there is certainly overlap between the white identitarian movement and the red pill movements, calling red pillers “alt-right” is just that: name calling. That said, with Hillary Clinton’s call-outs to feminists, is it surprising that red pilled men supported Trump? If you play identity politics, you may win some votes, but you will lose some too.
It’s no secret that women’s bodily autonomy and reproductive rights are under threat right now. Last week, Georgia, US, passed a new law banning abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Yesterday, Alabama followed suit, restricting abortions in almost all cases.
I agree. Many red pill men are libertarian, and are far more progressive on abortion than the traditional conservatives and the religious right.
Under the new laws, foetuses are considered persons with full rights, women found guilty of aborting or attempting to abort pregnancies could face prison sentences, and miscarriages could be investigated as possible homicides. We should not underestimate the disastrous consequences that could befall women at the hands of online armies of radical misogynists.
Conflating legal action from the conservative right with acts of terror by imaginary armies of radical misogynists seems unhinged.
It’s hard to know how people became so invested in the fallacy that women have power over men. In this age of evolving gender roles, these men likely fear that the privileges that have come hand in hand with their gender are under threat. As the famous quote goes: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
Rational people understand that men have power over women and women have power over men. Saying that women have all the advantages isn’t any worse than claiming that men have them all. Your famous quote applies to you as well as it does to any red pill man.
Having looked through thousands of posts about female privilege, I can also see that some of these believers occasionally identify instances where men face social inequalities – they’re just mislabelling them as female privilege, which doesn’t exist. What they’re actually posting about is something called “male non-privilege” – like the fact that more men die by suicide than women and the fact that traditional masculinity teaches men to stifle and suppress their emotions, causing psychlogical harm. These instances of male non-privilege often stem from toxic masculinity, which is a by-product of living in a patriarchy.
We do not live in a patriarchy. If we lived in a patriarchy, women wouldn’t be allowed to divorce, daughters would be effectively sold by their fathers as brides, and adulterers would be stoned to death.
Experts who’ve studied the causes of online radicalisation say there’s no single route to being radicalised — there are a lot of contributing factors. J.M. Berger, an expert on terrorism and author of Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, says that radicalisation can take place when a person has issues in their personal life – like losing a loved one, experiencing mental illness, or being exposed to violence. To vulnerable men who feel forgotten in the world, communities that unite angry men and fuel their rage might provide a false sense of belonging.
I guess vulnerable men who feel forgotten in the world should just remember their male privilege?
It’s easy to laugh at the absurdity of the views expressed by female privilege believers, but we should be alarmed. We’re already seeing the rights of women being eroded, but given the Red Pill’s instrumental role in getting Trump elected, there’s no telling where radical online misogyny may lead us next.
Radical feminism begets radical masculinity. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The harder you push, the stronger they will push back.
To give you an idea of who these people are outside of posting misogynist rants, their interests and hobbies include video games (many post in subreddits dedicated to specific games like Bloodborne, League of Legends as well as communities like r/gaming and r/gamingcirclejerk). Some of them are big sport fans, who post thousands of times about college football. Others prefer Harry Potter fanfiction, Spongebob memes, and The Lord of The Rings.
These sound like normal people.
One Redditer and female privilege exponent — who regularly posts in r/MensRights and free speech subreddit r/Not1984 — explained his views to me via Reddit DM. He tells me he’s 45 years old and he manages a small business, sourcing and selling parts for the agricultural industry in Denmark. His profile is marked as only suitable for Redditers over 18. He told me the concept is important to him because society is creating “a distorted picture” by always talking about “women, women’s issues, women as victims” and not focusing on men’s issues. “There are issues on both sides, but the media only ever really talks about one side. And often falsely so…”
The media does seem to favor women’s issues over men’s.
Evidence shows that as a society, we have not been collecting sex-disaggregated data (data specific to women) which means that everything from urban planning, transportation, policy, design, medicine, manufacturing all ignore the needs of 50% of the world’s population.
What? Treating men and women as equal is bad? You could as easily say that not splitting the data by sex ignores the needs of men. Your bias is showing.
Research by the University of Virginia’s Centre for Applied Biomechanics found that women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash than men because safety features are designed for men.
“An average of 18 people a day were killed on the job last year–about 90% of them men, the government reported Thursday.”–LA Times
Why do you think people in wider society aren’t talking about female privilege?
Him: Well, women don’t want to talk about it, for the most part. Easier to be the victims, and claim power through that. And unfortunately many men are weak individuals, who have been led to believe that they can gain points by supporting whatever women say. So you’re left with a small minority of women, and a large minority of men, which could potentially be talking about it, but this group has almost zero sway with the mass media and political elite, who overwhelmingly favour “the other side”.
Your article proves his point about the bias of the mass media.
Is there truth in the mainstream narrative? Of course. But there is also truth to be found in the men’s movement. The radical extremes on either side are almost always half wrong. The world isn’t black or white. By dismissing everything the red pill men’s movement have to say, you move yourself further toward the other extreme.