What Is The Red Pill?
The Red Pill “is internet slang … (that) describes the process of “waking up” and accepting reality” — Milo Yiannopolous
The red pill has started to enter the public sphere as a metaphor used for a raised awareness about how the world and humans work. It is used often enough in general and frequently by me in my writing that I realized I should post what I know of it for reference and clarification. The term has grown and changed over the years. And many will argue about its meaning. So I am clarifying here with what it means to me and how I use it. As a metaphor in the public domain, it has taken on a life of it’s own from the original meaning but still holds some specific definitions related to the red vs. blue pill mindset that seem to apply regardless of who is using the metaphor.
Wikipedia describes the red and blue pills as follows:
“The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are popular culture symbols representing the choice between embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red pill) and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue pill).”
From what I understand, originally the term came from the pick up and seduction communities and had specifically to do with the nature of women. It came from the observations from men that if you followed the accepted wisdom on how to attract and seduce women, you would likely end up getting used or ignored. But if you watched women’s behavior and observed how they acted instead of listening to what they said, you would find predictable and replicable patterns. You could behave in certain ways and elicit the response you wanted.
Men found that practically doing the opposite of what women wanted and demanded would get a positive reaction. Women appeared to behave in completely contradictory was to what they claimed to want.
This was shocking to many men because it contradicted what they had been taught their whole lives. They had internalized a set of behaviors that were “supposed” to result in success. Being nice, doting, coddling, accommodating created more distance and resentment. Acting like an “asshole who didn’t care” brought the women to them like moths to light. The question next was why?
But even asking why met with resistance. There was pressure to deny these real, observable results because it wasn’t popular or acceptable.
Yet if they behaved in ways that contradicted the popular wisdom, they might get shamed by friends, sisters, “social mores” but they would have success with women. When their desire was to attract and have sexual relationships with women, the reward outweighed the risk or stigma.
Naturally, once these men realized that the common knowledge was holding them back with women, they began to apply this same contrarian attitude in other places in their lives and found that again, if they observed the actions and didn’t get caught up on expectations, social pressures, guilt and shame, they would reap the rewards and get repeatable results.
The term itself came from The Matrix. Milo Yiannopolous, famous contrarian provocateur described red pill as follows:
The Red Pill “is internet slang, taken from the Matrix franchise. It describes the process of “waking up” and accepting reality, even if it is hard to do, or you are presented with facts in direct opposition to closely-held beliefs. ” — Milo Yiannopolous
Of course, red pill got a bad reputation because it was not politically correct. Information is neutral, but people can be good and bad. When someone finds something that works, they will use it to their advantage. Naturally there were people who took advantage of this information. But there were obviously others who tried to use this information to build better lives, find more satisfaction and build fulfilling relationships. But the biggest reason red pill got a bad reputation was because it revealed some ugly truths about women.
Women are very protected in our society, not only physically but also from the darker sides of life. Corrupting a woman with the truth is unforgivable in many circles. In the past there were topics of conversation, activities and knowledge of the world that was for men only. In part because it didn’t concern women, in part to protect women from it. Not only were women protected from violence, physical labor, sexual material, criminal behavior, etc women were also protected from the harsh truth about the world, especially as it related to them.
With women, innocence and purity are praised. Knowledge, experience and know how were associated with hardness, ugliness and undesirability. The attitudes still hold today that women are corrupted and ruined by the truth, men are empowered by it.
Some want to keep the definition of red pill limited to sexual strategies, the nature of women and human nature but the term has caught on and been applied to any truth about the world and especially human nature that seems to oppose “social pressures” and closely held beliefs.
Those who are red pilled, or “woke” tend to have a near obsession with getting to the truth of a subject or situation, regardless of how uncomfortable that truth may make them feel, or how contradictory that ultimate truth may end up being to everything they have believed up until now. I have this same obsession.
By the time I learned about the term and read about it, I was already thinking in a red pill fashion. I didn’t have a name for it. All I knew was that my life had shattered and I had to make sense of it again.
I wrote in my journal in June 2010:
“I know what it’s like to wake up one day and have the world turned on its side. At first I thought I had to lift it back upright, but after giving it everything I had and failing, I gave up. I was defeated. Then when I had nothing left to lose I decided to kick it over the rest of the way. Why not? What I found was that my world had been upside down to begin with.”
To me, being red pill is realizing that the world is not what it seems, what is meant to help you might be what hurts you. The treatment is the disease not the cure. Nothing is as it seems. And from there you start trying to make sense of it all. When it clicks and the new reality is internalized and life makes sense again, from a wildly different perspective than what you once had, you’ve had your pill. You are woke.
Kitten Holiday is a writer, lover and free thinker based in North Carolina. She writes essays, humor, fiction and opinion on her blog Kitten Holiday. Kitten is famous in small circles, widely read by a couple of people and a total bad ass when time allows.