The Red Pill journey involves men reimagining their identity and changing the narrative of their lives. The problem is that all men, even those in our ranks who were exposed to the modern counter-theory at a young age, are steeped in an idea of manhood that no longer fits. From the well of history, we have images of men as the protectors of and providers for women, as the unpaid guard at the entrance to the cave always pressured to prove their worth.
Man is the iconic dragon slayer, standing between porcelain damsels and any harm the world may bring them. That imagery and the imagery of men as providers measured by their extravagance with women has been burned into the western male’s consciousness for centuries. And it is alive and well in the modern discourse.
“Man up” isn’t just typical crowing from gynocentric conservatives, it is matched by identical shaming directives from the social justice crowd. Both camps advocate for men to just shut up and take it. Both are marching to the same drummer, and both are unconsciously parroting lines that were scripted for them by distant ancestors.
A growing number of men have begun to reject this messaging. That’s fantastic but the question is, once you check out, where do you go?
It may satisfy some to simply respond to that question with, “my own way,” and that is fair enough, but for me, that would be noticeably lacking. Gynocentrism isn’t the only narrative with a stranglehold on the lives of men. While challenging men’s expected utility to women is a great start, it doesn’t end there because gynocentrism’s control of men is matched by men’s control of each other.
Whether it is because of sexual selection or a range of other factors, men are born into a system of hierarchy which they are bound to as surely as they are bound to protecting and providing for women. Socially, we have come to describe roles in this hierarchy with labels from the Greek alphabet. Let’s take a quick review of three descriptions of men for a point of reference.
Of course, there is the Alpha male. The top of the heap. This is the guy usually getting the lion’s share of attention; the man who makes all the women in the room tingle and who frequently has them lined up to get in bed with him. He is also likely to fill some sort of leadership role, be it in politics, business, sports or even religion. Certainly socially he takes the center stage. He’s the envy of many men who sometimes try to emulate him.
Then there is the beta. The nice guy. The commonly boring guy. Betas tend to lack the physical presence, charisma and confidence of the alpha male. And while they may passively try to knock alphas down some notches in order to elevate themselves, they also defer to them, and to women, avoiding conflict and confrontation. Commonly, betas wind up being mere cogs in the alpha’s machine. They also frequently end up on the losing end of relationships with highly controlling women, pair-bonding with females who view them as something they settled for because they could not land an alpha.
Finally, there is the Omega male. He tends to be a loner and an outsider. He may be as confident and skilled as the Alpha, but he lacks the bravado. Where the alpha is insistent, often dependent on those in his circle viewing him as the top dog, the omega male could care less. His affirmation is internal and not dependent on others. Alternatively, the omega male may be viewed as one who, regardless of potential, lacks the drive for mainstream success and who lacks social skills: someone who has withdrawn from the realm of male competition because he doesn’t have the psychological ante to play in the game. Sometimes, like the beta, he is tagged as a social and sexual loser.
Now, before you rush to the comments to tell me where I have erred on any of these descriptions, I am going to point out that this, and any other effort to categorize men is not scientific. The ideas may be rooted in evolutionary psychology, but that area itself has all the scientific validity of a mood ring. And that’s a good thing because the idea here is not to help navigate or ascend in the male hierarchy. The point is to dispense with our participation in it in the same way that we dispense with the idea that we aren’t fit for anything but service to women.
In fact, an argument can be made that it may be hard to do one without doing the other. Sexual selection and male hierarchy are deeply intertwined. Male hierarchy may serve the culture in some ways but it comes at an expense to men. Luckily, we have made enough progress that the game is optional.
The red-pill man, at least in my interpretation of what that means, has little use for such antiquated means of self-measurement or the overbearing weight of group consensus that hierarchy involves. It is not because he can’t compete in the male rat race, but because he does not want to: because it does not serve him to do so. And because he is too smart, self-aware and principled to spend his days trying to stay on top, whatever that actually means, or backstabbing other men in the pursuit of crumbs or for a spot on the ladder just under the heels of an alpha.
The trick, just as it is with shedding gynocentrism, is in overcoming the narrative. People live by stories. In fact, as my associate Peter Wright has said, they die without them. Without some sort of story, a human being has no framework at all to define their existence. That makes it very hard to break out of any narrative that we were born into, and which has been hammered into our consciousness from a very young age. It’s why white knights outnumber red pill men by millions to one and probably always will. Only a conscious, insightful person can tear apart the narrative of their birth and write a new script — and conscious, insightful people are the exception.
As I mentioned earlier and as many have discovered on their red pill journey, there is little fundamental difference between a gynocentric traditionalist and a male feminist. Both are white knights cast in the same story. Both are living by the rules of the same narrative, even if they are at each other’s throats over their supposed differences. They are simply clamoring pathetically for prominence in a narrative they can’t escape.
We see the same phenomenon play out in our own community. There is jockeying for primacy. One camp doing battle with the other. Claims to absolute knowledge of what is and isn’t the correct for everyone are abundant. There are major battles and riffs over points that can never be proven or disproven. The details and personalities involved in all this are not important. What is important is the example that we have in those who shrug off one dysfunctional, outmoded narrative but remain beholden to another that they can’t even see.
It is symptomatic of a half-journey: of shrugging off the weight of gynocentrism, yet still operating in the male hierarchy that gave birth to it and that maintains it. To me, that explains the vocal minority of men who go their own way only to be consumed with dogma and ideology on the way. That ideology is the attempt at creating a story, a narrative that gives their existence meaning. What it can be, though, is something like the male feminist, who imagines he is engaged in new thought as he trumpets gynocentrism that was codified a thousand years ago.
I see the same in men who claim absolute knowledge of what anyone else’s path should be. They ironically demonstrate the pursuit of alpha status in the same hierarchy that sent them going their own way.
I am not suggesting any or all of this is absolute truth or empiricism. Just the opposite, I find that looking at this with an ideological lens is the best way to miss the point. I covered some of this six years ago when introducing the concept of the Zeta Male in one of my first major essays. There is a link in the low bar.
If I were holding an editor’s pen right now, I will redline a good bit of that essay. What I would leave, however, is the conclusion that many men can benefit from a model of manhood that stands independent of the hierarchy: that recognizes that competing with other men for primacy and power is an act that forces an indelible sense of inadequacy on everyone in the game. That includes alphas.
History is full of very powerful and accomplished men with deep-seated insecurities. That is the price of a life guided by group consensus and constant competition with no finish line. Like romantic love, gendered inadequacy is totally and completely manufactured. There is no truth to it. It is just a fiat currency with real-life consequences for those who buy into it. And the sad fact is that nearly everyone buys into it.
The challenge of the red pill journey for many men is to find a better place in the world by putting themselves in the middle of a new narrative as the protagonist of their own biographical fiction. Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Now there’s an understatement, both in the difficulty of the task and the worthiness of pursuing it.
Doing that is much more complicated than just forming a group consensus around where you don’t want to be. And getting where you want to be, if you can summon the courage to imagine something better than where you are, isn’t a three-easy-steps proposition. There is no template and no clear model that has ever applied to more than one man. It is an individual path that every man must carve out for himself but there are some basics that can help.
It is important to remember, as we start to explore those basics, that a complete and total escape from male hierarchy is as impossible as a complete and total escape from gynocentrism. We can, however, detach from both enough to greatly enhance the quality of life.