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Blake Nelson’s The Red Pill

[1]1,620 words

Blake Nelson
The Red Pill: A Novel [2]
Bombardier Books, 2019

This is a novel about a divorced man in his early 40s learning to navigate the contemporary dating scene. Martin Harris grew up in Portland, Oregon, went east for college and worked for an advertising agency in New York for ten years. Returning home, he cofounds a successful agency. But this professional success does not seem to translate into the new world of internet dating. He meets a series of middle-aged women at Starbucks, converses with them for forty-five minutes, discovers that all are “seriously flawed in some obvious way,” and never sees any of them again.

The action begins in early 2016. Martin’s sister Sadie recommends he get advice from her husband Rob who “got into that pickup artist stuff in his twenties.” This embarrasses Martin because he feels superior to his brother-in-law who dropped out of community college, works in construction, and drives a pickup. Worst of all, Rob likes Donald Trump. Nevertheless, he agrees to talk to Rob, who begins by explaining why internet dating is usually futile:

“It’s what they call a buffer. It’s a thing that allows you to do something, without actually doing it.” “It’s easy to write up a profile. You’re sitting there in your basement and you write some crap about yourself. Then some girl, sitting around in her sweatpants, she writes something about herself: ‘I live life to the fullest, blah blah.’ So you match or whatever and go on a coffee date and talk about what TV shows you watch. And that’s the problem, no adventure, no excitement, no risk. And so naturally nothing happens. It’s boring. It’s routine. But it’s easy. So you do it.”

“But what’s the alternative?” asked Martin.

“The alternative is, you approach.”

Later on, Rob accompanies Martin to a café to practice approaching women, with the following result:

The women ignored Martin as he approached. They were still talking when he stopped beside their table and stood over them. At that moment, the “friend” was speaking while the “target”—Rob’s words—was listening. That was unfortunate timing. But there was nothing to be done. “Hi,” blurted Martin. The word fell tumbling out of his mouth like something thrown out of an airplane. The friend continued to speak as though Martin wasn’t there. “Hi,” said Martin again, louder this time. Without stopping her flow of words, the friend turned her face up toward Martin. The target also turned her attention toward him.

“Excuse me?” said the friend. “Can I help you?” Martin felt his face flush. But he forced himself forward: “Uh…hi,” he said for a third time. “My name is Martin….” He was speaking to the table, unable to make eye contact with either of the women. “I… uh…” he stammered. “Excuse me?” said the friend. “But we’re having a conversation? In case you didn’t notice? A private conversation?” This was exactly the response Martin had expected. In a way, it helped him relax. He turned to address his target. He lifted his eyes to her and saw that she was visibly alarmed. “I wanted to say…” said Martin, trying to keep calm. “I’m with my friend.” He turned and pointed at Rob sitting at the table behind him. Rob was leaning back in his chair and casually scrolling on his phone. He didn’t look up. “And I happened to say to him, that you….” He focused again on his target, and despite being unable to hold eye contact, forced out the words, “that you were…the kind of woman…I would want to go on a date with.” The two friends looked at each other. Martin managed to raise his eyes and glance at the target’s face. Now she was blushing. “That’s very nice,” said the friend, forcefully, “but like I said, we’re in the middle of something” “—I’m married,” blurted the target. “And she’s married,” said the friend.

“Oh,” said Martin. “You know, there’s a thing called online dating,” said the friend. “If you’re that desperate.” “I’m not desperate,” mumbled Martin. “It’s just that… um….” “Okay, that’s enough,” insisted the friend. “Thank you. But we’re not interested.” She waved him away with the back of her hand. Martin wanted to obey the gesture. He wanted desperately to retreat. But his feet remained where they were. There was one more thing he was supposed to say, and he wanted to say it.

According to the pickup gurus, no approach is complete without the “number close.”

He refocused on the target. “Can I have your phone number?” “No!” said the friend. “Are you crazy? Are you deaf? She just told you she’s married! Could you please leave us alone? Or do I have to call the manager!?” The target had not spoken. Martin, with great effort, raised his gaze to her face. When his eyes met hers she shook her head no. But her face had softened somewhat. Her expression was more pity than fear. And a tiny bit of curiosity. But it didn’t matter, she was definitely shaking her head no. “Okay, thanks,” said Martin, turning quickly away.

“That’s right! Gu’bye! Thank you very much!” said the friend to his back. To the target she said in her still raised voice, “Can you believe that? What is wrong with men these days? They’re pathetic!

Older readers will not find this scene believable, but it is a caricature well-grounded in contemporary reality. I know of men who have been confronted by the police after attempting to flirt or ask a woman out. Today’s young women have been taught—and believe—that expressions of male interest are “sexual harassment” and a violation of their rights. This is one of the main messages of lesbian-dominated “Women’s Studies.” Men, of course, are getting the message.

Rob recommends some manosphere blog posts which Martin at first finds nearly incomprehensible:

The specialized lingo and endless acronyms forced Martin to constantly stop and look things up on Urban Dictionary or one of the manosphere glossary sites. But he stuck with it. The basic strategies were fairly obvious. You found a “hot babe” (hotness was rated one to ten), started “running game” (teasing, flirting), and then went for “the number close.”

The overall key to success with women in general was understanding what they wanted. What they said they wanted was a nice guy, who treated them with respect, paid for dinner, was reciprocal in the bedroom. But what they actually wanted, according to these bloggers, was an obnoxious asshole who was insanely confident and very good-looking. Not caring about what women thought about you or anything else (Zero Fucks Given or “ZFG”) was also crucially important. Women wanted to be shocked by your arrogance, dazzled by your looks, and intrigued by your indifference. Then they wanted to be banged into next week.

The act of “waking up” and accepting these “hard truths” about female sexuality was called “taking the red pill.”

Martin becomes a regular reader of “P-Crusher,” a successful pickup artist whose early efforts had resulted in fiascos similar to Martin’s. Now he blogged about “Conquering Approach Anxiety” and “The Zone: The Ultimate Approach Mind-set.” Then one day, Martin makes a disturbing discovery:

Martin was deep in the comment section of one post when he came upon an unexpected diatribe against “niglets” and American “mudsharks.” Martin had seen the term “mudshark” on one of the other blogs and now realized what it meant: a white woman who has sex with a black man. Martin physically recoiled from his computer. Where had this come from? The original post hadn’t mentioned anything about race. An anonymous commentator had just thrown it out there, apropos of nothing.

Martin then remembered seeing something about Jews in one of the other comment threads. He’d skipped over it, but went back to P-Crusher’s search slot and typed “Jew.” Out it came: anti-Semitic GIFs, rants, cartoon caricatures. Martin was horrified. The cartoon images were especially hard to get his head around. They were so crude, so childish, they belonged in a history book from another time. And yet here they were, right now.

Martin did a search for “nigger.” That was worse. There were photos. Mangled bodies, lynching memes. A short video of two black girls beating the crap out of each other in a slum in Chicago. And not all of this was in the comments section. Some of it was in the actual blog. P-Crusher himself had some choice words for the “Kebobs” who were invading his beloved England. In some cases, he appeared to be inciting his readers.

So this was the dirty secret of Rob’s manosphere: besides being unscrupulous pursuers of sex, they were also racist, right-wing lunatics.

Deeply upset, Martin cancels his next appointment with Rob. He is unable to leave the “manosphere” entirely behind, however, because he keeps running into women he likes and making use of what he learned there. One day he runs into the women he had so disastrously approached, and this time her “friend” is not with her. The woman admits she is not actually married: “I’m not sure why I said that. It just popped out.” Rob is off on his first red-pilled adventure.

Unfortunately, Martin never comes to understand why race realism could be expected to pop up in the same places brutally honest discussion of women and sex is found. He apparently ends the book as much a conventional liberal as he began, despite managing to bed a series of unappetizing-sounding divorcées and the occasional pink-haired feminist.

The Red Pill is a faithful reflection of what feminism and the sexual revolution have done to relations between the sexes in America, and the result is not pretty.