Since I’ve spent much time condemning religious sexism and misogyny, it’s only fair to acknowledge that atheists aren’t free of it either. Case in point: this article from the Daily Beast, which makes a case that Robert Fisher, a 31-year-old Republican state representative from New Hampshire and an out-of-the-closet atheist, is the creator of the popular “Red Pill” forum on Reddit where misogynists congregate.
Based on evidence presented in the article, Fisher created the Red Pill forum in 2012 under the alias “pk_atheist”, a reference to his background as a deconverted preacher’s kid. Its name is a reference to The Matrix – a reliable source of inspiration for angry young men who think they’re deep – and alludes to the fact that its members are supposedly the only ones who recognize that an all-powerful feminist conspiracy has taken over society and is cruelly oppressing men.
Like the “men’s rights advocates” I’ve written about before, red-pillers are convinced that women regularly fabricate rape accusations to destroy men’s lives, or “trap” them by getting pregnant and then forcing them to pay child support. This paranoia comes with a side of gross sexism, asserting that women are unintelligent, uninteresting, selfish, spoiled, and have nothing to offer men except their bodies.
Yet despite their view of women as malevolent, untrustworthy harpies, red-pillers are obsessed with learning how to pursue and seduce them. They compete with each other to be more “alpha”, boast about how many women they’ve slept with, and swap dating tips which proceed from the assumption that women are like video games that can be “won” if you just press the right buttons in the right order. (You’d think that if they were so distrustful of women, they’d just have sex with each other. All the pleasure, none of the pregnancy scares!)
Fisher is no exception to any of this. Under his pk_atheist alias, he claimed that he’d installed a video camera in his bedroom to prevent false rape accusations. (It’s unclear whether he intended to tell his prospective sex partners that they were being recorded.) He bragged that he had a “soft harem”, red-piller speak for multiple sex partners who are unaware of each other. He also shared the disdain for women’s intelligence:
And yet Fisher’s past comments on a host of Reddit forums are arguably far more disturbing than what his colleagues have said in public. He blasted women for their “sub-par intelligence.” He said that women’s personalities are “lackluster and boring, serving little purpose in day to day life.”
That linked comment only hints at the depth of its author’s misogyny. Here it is in all its glorious stupidity and un-self-awareness:
Conversations I have with women can be fun, they can be flirty, they can really push my buttons and be witty banter for sure. But you know what two-way conversation I’m never going to have with a woman is? About how interesting special relativity is. How I consider the free-will argument to be moot because time travel causes paradoxes that render the concept nonsensical. Oh, sure, they’ll be interested, or at least act like they are. But there will be no two way conversation.…Now, before you write me off- understand I do not think this is a physical limitation. I think it’s an effect of the sexual market, which dictates that women who are attractive do not need to develop these traits, and instead aim for a guy to provide for them. And it works for them. Women are not oppressed- they’re literally free from a lot of the responsibilities men are- to the extent where women have no need for the functioning every-day knowledge that most men have by the age of 18.
…If you took the conversation skills, the sub-par intelligence, the lack of curiosity and put it in a man’s body- would you hang out with that guy? No! Would he be successful? Hell no! Those things are useless without a woman’s body attached.
As recently as 2016, Fisher was active in the Red Pill forum and claimed he was in ongoing real-life contact with some of its members. However, he seems to have realized that his role in it could be a liability, given that women vote:
It’s possible that now, four-and-a-half years after Red Pill’s founding, Fisher may regret his creation. When reached for comment by phone, Fisher denied participation in the Red Pill forum, claiming not to know what The Red Pill was….
Within hours of contacting Rep. Fisher, and after delivering by email a summary of his apparent connections to The Red Pill kingpin, his two primary Reddit usernames had been wiped, and four blogs connected to him were deleted or made private. He has not returned additional requests for comment.
Given the critical role religion has played in entrenching misogyny and racism, you’d hope that when people break free of religion, they would abandon these prejudices as well. Sadly, the truth is that many people just invent new ways to rationalize their bigotry and carry on acting as before. Instead of their deconversion prompting a complete reexamination of the beliefs that form their self, they wrongly conclude that because they’ve seen through one false belief, they now know everything and don’t need to look any deeper (something that’s implicit in their “red pill” self-designation).
For red-pillers, one common rationalization comes from evolutionary psychology: the belief that men are genetically compelled to be promiscuous or even violent, and it’s wrong for society to suppress these natural urges. Like “scientific racism” before it, this amounts to little more than a pseudoscientific sheen painted atop a mountain of unexamined prejudice.
It’s a stain on the secular community that we haven’t been more resistant to misogyny like this. I maintain that atheists are less sexist than organized religion, but I admit that’s not saying much.
Whatever justification they cite for it, the red-pillers have fallen for the siren song of a belief system custom-tailored to appeal to lonely, angry men. It tells them that they don’t need to engage in the hard work of introspection and self-criticism, that their romantic disappointments aren’t their fault but the handiwork of a conspiracy aligned against them, one that’s keeping them from claiming what’s rightfully theirs. For all that we call ourselves skeptics and boast of our devotion to rationality, it seems, there will always be a market for ideologies that tell people what they most want to hear.