The Purple Pill

You may have noticed I don’t have a blogroll. You probably didn’t, though, because who cares? A blogroll lists the blogs a person recommends. I read blogs… obsessively… because I am a truly obsessive person. When I was a kid, I used to get really into a show or a book and I would talk about it for weeks. I’m still that person. I may control it a little better, but… wait. No. I don’t control it better. That was someone else.

It must have been her.

I don’t list the blogs I read, because they aren’t blogs that my readers would necessarily enjoy. While there are some touching divorce blogs, funny dating blogs, and entertaining satire blogs that I follow, the majority of what I read covers my latest obscure obsession. I went through a phase a few weeks ago where I followed the blogs of several people taking on group sexual relationships. Then it was blogs criticizing Fifty Shades of Grey. Then it was erotic blogs. Then book blogs. Now it’s blogs discussing the Red Pill and anti-feminism. For those of you who didn’t drink seven cups of black coffee so strong you could chew it, because you were up procrastinating on graduate school work last night, allow me to enlighten you. The Red Pill is a movement of sorts that pushes back against extreme feminism. It’s spearheaded by men who are tired of being treated like shit by women who have taken the women’s rights movement too far and think it means they don’t have to have respect or consideration for the opposite sex. That’s the most unbiased description I can give and I think it’s pretty good, because I’m pretty unbiased about this. The people “swallowing the Red Pill” are consenting adults who have chosen to go with the traditional idea that a man is the head of the household and it’s working for them. It’s none of my business. But it’s fascinating.

Yes, I’ve gone on a few Rosie the Riveter rants in support of women’s opportunities and choices, but that’s exactly what they are: opportunities and choices. Telling a woman that she has to hold a corporate position, when she just wants to be milked by snuggling infants is just as harmful as confining her to the kitchen when she wants to go get an MBA. We live in a society where we can make our own decisions and I’m all for that. End disclaimer and back to my point.

My dad’s family is highly matriarchal and Catholic. The couples are mostly wealthy, with each individual bringing in a large sum. We women are all loud and I’ve heard my grandma K shout “That’s fucking bullshit” in her nicest Christmas outfit with a drink in each hand. There are as many opinions as there are hugs. The love and liquor is plentiful. All the gals wear the pants on the little stuff (how to decorate), but will usually defer to the men on the big stuff (that move to Texas). My dad, however, was the obvious head of the household in all ways growing up. Because of my parents’ drawn out and explosive divorce, I was largely raised by my Gramma, who worked as a corporate supervisor in tailored pants suits and heels and was one of the first moms on her block to get divorced in the 60s. This woman never swears, unless it’s in defense of one of her baby chick grandchildren and where her heart should beat, she has the sneezing baby panda instead. She’s that pure. She’s traditional in the sense that she thinks it’s a travesty that my brother does the dishes while his wife lounges on the couch, but doesn’t understand why a woman has to take a man’s last name. She’s an adorable little contradiction. So where does all this leave me in regards to gender and relationship roles?

confused woman with maths
Confused as fuck.

When I was a teenager, I desperately (and perhaps unhealthily) wanted a man to take care of me. My mom had made certain that I had no relationship with my dad at the time and I was often abused at home when she couldn’t handle the stress of raising the teenager with whom she’d isolated herself. That being said… what the fuck happened?!! I married my ex-husband, who didn’t work, clean, bathe, feed the pets, or contribute in any way. Quite the contrary, he stole from me, trashed the apartment, abused my animals, burned down our house for monetary incentives, lay around all day, cheated on me, and even lied to fabricate jobs that weren’t paying him. He was the worst sort of person and no man at all. On the one hand, he was nothing close to a traditional man eager and willing to practice traditional gender and relationship roles. The very opposite of him should still appeal, yes? Well, yes, in theory, it does. I love my alpha male romances. On the other hand, I’ve had two years to take charge of my life and care for myself and I’m not sure I could ever hand over those reins again. You can only retain so much trust in people after looking at your dead pets all over the front lawn.

Gail is divorced also and had a similar situation to mine. Her ex didn’t contribute in any way, but he constantly quoted biblical ideals about being the “man of the house.” This has sent her running for the hills from anyone who might use that phrase. Today, as we discussed the Red Pill blogs we were both reading, I brought up my concerns. My Gramma has always told me that someone must lead in a marriage. She thinks it should be the man, but her main point is that someone always has more power. Maybe she’s right. Perhaps someone always is more dominant. The Red Pill school of thought titles this “Captain” and “First Officer” with the man taking up the hull. It’s a somewhat extreme take on gender roles that has Gail insisting that there can be two heads of household with no superior dominance. Gail has a kind and gentle, laid back boyfriend, whom she has seen infuriated once or twice, just not at her. They’re neck in neck for who is the most passive. It’s like watching kittens lick each other and trying to decide who’s angrier.

becca and adam

Partly just to piss her off, I told Gail that she was the Captain and just couldn’t tell, because she didn’t like the idea of wielding such power. She refuted my claim and I asked whose name was on the lease since Terry moved in with her. She said that was immaterial and I sent her an “Aye, aye” and the following picture.


Frustrated, she ended the discussion, so I sent her another:


I’m funny as shit. Gail’s lucky to have such an amusing friend.

Regardless of where Gail’s relationship lies, it’s still up for debate for me. Can there be a mutual partnership running the household? Should there be someone in charge, regardless of whether their sexy bits are concave or convex? The Blue Pill is assigned to men who passively let their wives run the show (like Terry, Gail) and the Red Pill designates men who’ve woken up and decided to lead. It’s a Matrix reference and it’s all a little extreme for my tastes, but intriguing. It’s working for these people. It’s giving the men a sense of control and making the women feel protected and they’re enjoying the initiative he takes. We all complain that he won’t just pick a restaurant… so he picks a restaurant. It may not be for me, but it’s made me wonder. Is there a middle ground? Must someone come out on top? Who should it be? Does it even matter?

I must say, I am girly as fuck. I love pretty dresses and the color pink and makeup and nail polish. I own pink guns. I think men should open doors and pay and that if a parent stays home with the baby, it should be the concave one. FOR ME. This doesn’t apply to other people, because I don’t give a single fuck about what other people decide makes them happy. Maybe I have a hot pink master bath and a dozen pretty dresses, but that doesn’t invalidate anyone for not following suit. This isn’t 1943 where women have to stay home and cook and breed. It’s also not 1983 where women have to fight for Vagina Rights and work 60 hours a week or they get their girl power ring taken away. It’s 2013 and we don’t have to do anything.

The key factor in all of this, of course, is respect. The feminists are demanding respect for women and the Red Pill enthusiasts are demanding respect for men. Most women still make .80 on the dollar to men for the exact same job. We’re teaching little boys that girls are cherished and protected, but wrapping those little ladies in shirts that say “Boys are stupid. Throw rocks at them.” In society and in a relationship, each group needs to respect the other, genitalia aside. It drives me crazy to see a woman on Facebook complaining that her husband is away on business. REALLY!? How about you have him plant his ass on the couch for four years? That’ll put hard work into perspective. Similarly, my brother regularly tells his wife that her salary means nothing, because she doesn’t bring home as much. It’s broken all around and we need to concentrate on respect and gratitude and praise in general. Example: “Hey, honey. Thanks for not killing all the pets and pawning my Gramma’s jewelry while I was at work.” Was that so hard? But that still doesn’t answer whether or not someone must hold more weight.

I suppose my “girly as fuck” declaration makes it clear that were someone to be in power in my future relationships, it would likely not be me. Despite my oh-so-witty banter with my Gail, I’m not an aggressive person. I’m sometimes too passive, because I tried everything with my ex-husband. I was his cheerleader. I left him alone. I nagged him. I cried. I begged. I screamed. I threw things. I ignored the problem. None of those brands of conflict worked, so I just naturally avoid conflict now. I work in a public service position, which exacerbates the issue, because this is an asset. It truly is. I love my job, but it is paved with eggshells and I know it. I’m good at it. Therefore, I don’t want to be in charge of other people at home. Were dual leadership an option, I could do that. I could be a teammate in leadership. My profession is all about group work. But is it possible? Or is my Gramma right and someone will inevitably tip the scales? Is it better to acknowledge this upfront and be aware of the dynamic or to be surprised when one person takes over, despite who it might be? Is it best to expend the effort to co-captain the relationship and family as Gail has insisted Terry do?* Or will this inevitably become a battle for power, causing more trouble than it’s worth? Is there a purple pill? I have no answers. But it’s fascinating stuff… and it renews my relief that I don’t have time for dating right now.

purple pill

* You just recently came to me for help pissing someone off, Gail. Just keeping sharp.

28 thoughts on “The Purple Pill

  1. Dear AML,
    Really, your username is too long to support easy familiarity. Are you keeping us at arm’s length?
    I noticed your traffic in domestic discipline blogs and tracked you down because of your wit. Love your lucid writing. Your posts flow.
    On self-prescribed medication (red pills):
    One factor to consider in the he’s the boss /she’s the boss debate is experience. Many, if not most, practitioners of male led domestic discipline have been married for twenty years plus. We tend to be people who’ve been fortunate enough and tenacious enough to hang on to our marriages. I say fortunate because consenting to give someone control of your living space implies that said someone can be trusted with power. I say tenacious because marriage is occasionally a teeth gritting, blindfolded, onerous chore. In general:
    – we’ve asked for DD
    – we are successful in our chosen endeavors
    – we’ve found it to be successful beyond all imagining
    Is it possible that as a group we’ve tapped into a bit of wisdom here?
    I quit wearing the pants in our family because they don’t fit me.
    Lovely to make your acquaintance,

    • Bea, thank you for the compliments and I’m actually planning a name change soon. Haha. The fact that these women have consciously CHOSEN to take on these roles is what makes this intriguing as opposed to scary. You’re intelligent and competent adults, and this is what works for you. I don’t see anything wrong with that and actually find it romantic when any couple finds their balance.

      I want to make clear that I don’t judge this lifestyle at all. I find it quite interesting and have thought that perhaps, yes, maybe you all HAVE tapped into something. I’m not dating at the moment, because I’m a grad student with two jobs, but when I graduate in a couple of months, y’all have given me some things to think about.

      I don’t know if I could do a full red pill, but it’s certainly interesting to consider, since it’s clearly working for you all.

      • Bea.

        I was on the fence about the name change. You convinced me. 😀

  2. For me and my husband, what works is that he takes the lead and has the final say in things that he knows more about, and I do the same for things that are in my area of expertise. We have to respect each other and our strengths for this to work. It also means that sometimes we have to go along with something that we think might not be the best decision and not criticize if it doesn’t turn out well. That is particularly hard for me!

    • Jessica, I think that’s a pretty great agreement. I certainly know more about organization than cars. My tools are pink and I tend to hurt myself with them. I definitely think keeping criticism to a minimum is key.

  3. I like Jessica’s idea. As for it being 2013 and women can do anything they want….well, let’s just say that at 48 I’m getting worried, because I see a backlash against feminism that is almost “radical”. I am being vigilant in my understanding of the issue and trying to stay informed because I have an 8-year-old daughter. I want for her the same kind of opportunities I felt I had growing up in the 70s and 80s.

    This is totally off topic, but I noticed you brought up several times your murdered pets. It obviously caused you great pain and as an animal lover I want to kick someone’s backside on your behalf.

    • Yes, I worry about that as well. I want my girls to have the choice to be in a partnership if they can swing it. These women are CHOOSING their paths, and I find that wonderful. I hope that remains the case.

      Yes, my ex-husband was a terrible person. I outlined the pets story quite thoroughly in It was pretty disturbing, hence my whopping trust issues.

  4. I think the primary thing to consider, is that there is no way to always have an equal partnership. I tend to use business law as an illustration. For example, when you form an LLC you assign a membership interest. Members determine the course of action for the LLC and the managers carry it out. There is a tendency when two people are forming an LLC (or corporation or partnership) to want to assign equal membership interest; that is 50/50.

    Attorneys will almost always discourage this because when the time comes for a decision to be made, if the two parties do not agree, they end up in a stalemate. They each have equal membership interest and therefore equal decision making power and neither one can overrule the other. This concept applies towards relationships as well. When the time comes that two parties disagree on a course of action, who will be the person who holds the 51% interest and has the final decision making power?

    Deferring final decision making power to one person eliminates the contentious power struggles that cause so many relationships to fail. The Captain/First Officer analogy is apt; Athol Kay describes it thusly:

    “I’ve always liked the dynamic on the Star Trek series between Captains and First Officers. It’s always been quite apparent that the First Officer is always competent and skilled, and if anything happens to the Captain, they step into the role of being in command immediately. The Captains always listen, sometimes the First Officer has a better idea than their own. Sometimes the First Officer actually overrules the Captain in a crisis and gives the crew an order, the Captain usually just trusts the First Officer isn’t doing this to make trouble and runs with it. But at the end of the day… the Captain is the Captain and leadership comes from them, and final responsibility for the ship lies with them. If it all goes to hell the Captain is last off the ship.”

    • That’s a great explanation. Obviously, I’d like my next marriage to not be the painfully abusive disaster that was my first, so I’ve been giving thought to these issues. I’m 25 and was born in 87, at the height of Girl Power. Maybe we went too far in the opposite direction. Maybe SOMEONE still has to have final say, him or her. I hadn’t really considered it since my marriage and now I find it fascinating conversation. I do agree that in a crisis, SOMEONE has to take over. Based on who I am as a person, I’m pretty danged certain it wouldn’t be me. I have seen the Athol Kay site, though I haven’t had a chance to look that one over. Which is odd, because I’ve been reading on this stuff for days.

      • It’s always worth exploring and considering. If it’s not for you then it’s not for you. I’m glad you were able to get out of such a toxic relationship and I’m really enjoying your blog 🙂

      • Thank you! And I truly enjoy the look at a more traditional relationship. That may be for me, even if it is less so.

  5. I pretty much ran my marriage forever, but since taking the red pill I quit making the decisions. I wasn’t making the greatest decisions either.

    My husband wasn’t really into the thought of making all the decisions, but had to step up when I quit. When there is something I particularly want to do, I speak up & I make all my decisions about my work (usually discussing the big ones), but the personal relationship decisions are now made by my husband, or are not made at all.

    And it’s fine if some decisions aren’t made at all; we are older, everything’s paid for & there’s really nothing that we HAVE to do besides feed ourselves, etc.

    • See, that’s my thing. I may not know how I feel about the Red Pill thing, but I DO know that I DON’T want to be the one making all of the decisions. Ever. I can be a teammate or a partner, but I’ve got enough balls in the air without heading up a household of people. If there HAS to be a leader, I don’t want to be it. I was the only one who EVER did anything when I was married and I’m not repeating that.

      • It was a relief when I stepped back from leading. I was raised a strong independent woman & I didn’t even know that I could let someone else be in charge. My mother has always been in charge of her & Dad’s lives & I was a chip off the old block 🙂

  6. What a great post.

    Some of my favorite bits: “It’s like watching kittens lick each other and trying to decide who’s angrier.”


    “We all complain that he won’t just pick a restaurant… so he picks a restaurant.”

    That pretty much sums it up for me.

    • Thank you so much for the feedback! Having been married to someone who NEVER took any action, I can certainly appreciate someone just saying “Chili’s sounds good.”

      • Yeah it sounds like your ex-husband was a SERIOUS asshole. Sorry you had to deal with that. It’s good that you can see both sides. And just like any “movement”, there’s the extreme and not-so-extreme sides…make of it what you want! Also, I found it interesting that your friend didn’t want to admit to being the captain. I’ve found that with a few women as well.

        I just love this blog. You’re a fantastic writer!

      • Yeah, I sometimes fear my past marriage will throw me into a TOO extreme opposite and I’ll end up with someone too controlling. If anything about the Red Pill movement freaks me out, it’s that, and that’s my issue, no one else’s. I’m not sure if Gail actually plays the captain role or not, but I am sure she’d be threatened by the realization that either one of them did. She doesn’t want to take care of another adult, but doesn’t want to be “managed” either. We had drastically different reactions to near identical marriages.

        Thank you so much for the compliments on my writing! I’ve always loved to write and have been blogging since I was a kid.

  7. Very interesting topic. I can understand your exploration of the info because I too had a toxic first marriage. It was very clear to me that I had been submitting to someone who had no clue how to make decisions. My second marriage is now a 17 year journey that’s nothing like the first. Now, the scale tips back and forth effortlessly and we give each other the room to have the decision making power based on our strengths. It’s just much easier to remove the ego in a marriage and practice mutual support in my opinion.
    Great exploration of the topic, thanks for sharing.

  8. Hello, Belle. I’m curious to find what you discover along the way, here, and your honest questioning of what has been and how you think is both interesting and promising. I’ve very little to add on this topic, though I’d like to make a note about the “red pill” as a concept: It’s not really just about a way of life, such as the Captain, First Officer arrangement discussed here, though it’s an aspect. It’s more of a metaphor for looking at the world in general, and why people do what they do. Just as in the movie, The Matrix (from which of course it’s drawn), it represents an awakening to the way things really work, instead of the house of cards, printed with pretty lies, that we are daily presented with. Not so much a peek behind the wizard’s curtain as a falling away of a grand illusion. It can get unpleasant, and discovering how much effort and investment has been put into downright counterproductive pursuits is painful, as I can vouch. The good news is that as you reconstruct your view of how things happen, your actions yield far better results.

    Gail’s problem, for example, is very probably that she comes from a place of fear: any deviation from strict evenness almost certainly causes a fall to one being domineering over the other. The very idea of Capt/FO gets a response of, “Well, that could work briefly if both parties are saintlike in their ethics…” It’s the same as those who see nothing between totalitarianism and anarchy. To use a geekism, fear leads to the dark side. It always has.

    I think you show a lot of promise. Looking forward to what you have to say.

  9. The promise is about the red-pill thing, by the way. As a writer, you’re a blast already, with style and honesty, and danged funny as well. Best discovery since Ian Ironwood, from whence I clicked.

  10. Well, thank you sooooo much for the writing compliments. I’m finding this is the way to my heart. Haha. Gail and I have similar issues as far as that’s concerned. The idea of anyone taking power is a touchy subject, because of our past marraiges. In all honesty, I think if I could every actually trust another person that much, the whole arrangement wouldn’t be so bad. And your explanation cleared a few things up, though I think I understood it for the most part. I’ve been reading Ian Ironwood’s blog and he makes from fascinating points, even when I disagree.

    • A position of power is, and should be, for adults only. Hitch yourself to less than an adult, you’re guaranteed less than stellar results.

      Speaking of results, the iron test for Ironwood is this: does his advice work? If it does, it matters not a whit whether I agree with it, as at that point I’m disagreeing with reality. If it doesn’t, of course, it’s a different matter.

      • That’s not a completely fair argument. His advice is proving to work on established relationships. These couples have (usually) been together for years before implementing his tactics. These women KNOW they can trust that the man will do what he says he will. Therefore, you can’t exactly say it’s reality that a man should be in charge, but rather than when THESE couples have the trust required, it’s reality that they can improve their relationship with more traditional gender roles.

      • Well, yeah… the suggestions probably only work with straight couples, too. Must compare apples to apples and all that. Note that I’m not saying whether the advice works, I’m asking. I’ve not a clue whether any of it applies to those who aren’t in, at least, a well-established relationship. I can’t prove by personal experience whether it does work in a long-term thing. All I’m saying is that my opinion of the advice has no bearing on its validity. Which is a nuisance, as it gives very little head start in judging its efficacy. Maybe that’s really a feature.

      • Very true. Were we all a little more willing to put aside our reservations and test out new approaches to relationships and gender roles, we might discover things we would previously shudder at actually work.

      • Heh. Yeah… but at least it’d provide amusement along the way, to those who knew all along.

        The other thing I was referring to in my initial, too-compact comment was that your ex does not sound fully adult, and was therefore unlikely to be worthy of being trusted with control of more than an X-Box. But how to know before jumping in? Trying to avoid that sort of thing brings us back to the old balancing act that no one can guess before trying: get enough dating experience to know what’s worth committing to, but not so much that you get jaded.

  11. Pingback: I am so going to end up in Tupperware. | Belle of the Library

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