What are the big differences in life post-Red Pill and life pre-Red Pill? They are subtle, and honestly a lot of them come from the fact that the person the Red Pill has affected most is me, not my wife or family.
Let's keep with the metaphor of the Red Pill as an actual pharmaceutical for a moment, and pretend that this last year has been a first-phase clinical trial (technically, under FDA rules I think it would be a Phase II, since Phase I deals with a drug's use on animals, but apparently me being more Alpha didn't impress the family cat one bit, so for the moment we'll pretend that this first year was "Phase I" and 2013 will be "Phase II". Clear? Good.). Pretend I "took" the Red Pill for the last year.
Just what does that entail? See yesterday's post for a taste, but essentially the Red Pill (for me) has been a re-assertion of my positive masculinity; a glorious embrace of the masculine and celebration of its role as the lynchpin for our society, community, civilization and culture. Of course, I wrote a book exploring all that stuff along the way, so you could say I was just doing "research", but the fact is I was at a point in my life where I needed some resolution to old baggage and the development of a conscious masculine maturity. The Red Pill was that answer.
Some would argue (and Mrs. Ironwood leans in this direction) that this is all just a big "mid-life crisis", and then dismiss it disparagingly as a "misogynistic phase" (Mrs. I is NOT in that camp -- she takes this shit seriously.). In all fairness, I'll cop to some of this -- but this isn't a "typical" mid-life crisis. I'm not certain there is a "typical" mid-life crisis. I don't hate my dad, we have a great relationship, I love my job, my kids are great, and I have an outstanding wife -- what do I have to take issue with?
But the fact is I'll be 45 soon, which even optimistically puts me at the half-way mark in my life, and the man who can face that without reflection and consideration either has his shit together far more than I, or he has his shit together far less than I do. Regardless, it was time to assess and take stock, and chart a new direction in my life.
I know that sounds all Oprah, but part of recognizing a mature masculinity, I've realized, is being able to be give thoughtful consideration to your inner dialogues and express them to the world in a meaningful way. Life is too short to be lived in quiet desperation -- our passions are what guide us and challenge us, not what handicaps us. To be able to express and experience those passions within the context of our society and culture is among the most fundamental elements of the Red Pill I can name. Thankfully we have the medium of the internet and its protective anonymity to shield us during the process, but even without it the goal of giving life to your innermost voice is the most basic of masculine values.
Just try not to get all girly about it.
And that brings me to my first Red Pill Observation: Girls and Boys are different. And that's . . . okay.
Overcoming the baggage of the dreaded word "equality" was a major effect of the Red Pill. I had no idea just how insidious it had become as a concept until I wallowed in it for a while, but the idea that men and women are "equal" in all ways and in all things is one of the largest shackles around the collective ankle of masculinity. Not because men and women should be valued differently -- I haven't abandoned the Humanist ideal of every human being having a unique and irreplaceable value to the universe -- but that after making that assumption, just about every other aspect of humanity is innately colored by our gender.
Further, extending the equality meme to try to cover all situations is a recipe for madness. The fact is that 10-15% of the people in the world are not straight. That doesn't mean they aren't men and women, that they aren't entitled to the same legal rights, etc. that everyone else does.
But it does mean that they are a minority - an exception to the rule. And the rule is that 85-90% of the people in the world are straight, more or less (that time in college/camp/prison didn't count -- just 'cause you build a couple of shelves doesn't mean you're a carpenter). That means that the general rule of boys-are-different-from-girls applies to them. For the other folks, they get a different rule. Accept that. It doesn't mean you're a homophobe or tolerating sin, it means you are accepting the Red Pill reality of the matter. Boys and girls are different . . . and gay boys and lesbian girls are even more different. Accept it. Move on.
Boys and girls are different.
Boys and girls -- men and women -- are also complementary.
That means that where one doesn't have the skills or the abilities to do something or get something done, the other often does.
If my explorations of masculinity have taught me anything this last year, it's actually how appreciative I am of true femininity. Saying I'm a misogynist because "I hate women" is utter fallacy --I love women. I love femininity. Just because you don't like the way I love women, don't accuse me of hating them. They complement the masculine existence and enrich it immeasurably. Whether you believe in Genesis or Evolution, the complementary nature of the sexes is a miraculous and wondrous thing to behold. There is an art and a beauty to the whole reproductive/social dance that is awe-inspiring.
Femininity is undergoing a big change right now, a cultural shift akin to social menopause. The primal sexuality of the neolithic woman gave way to the robust sexuality of the Agricultural Age, but now that the "productive" period of womanhood in our culture has transitioned into the post-Industrial age, femininity is still struggling to find an expression that works. Feminism, unfortunately, tried to hijack this, and actually had several good contributions to the process before it went batshit crazy and started blaming men for everything.
Or you can turn that around: men are making the adjustment to their masculinity in response to the post-Industrial world, and women are finding a complementary femininity. It works both ways. Increasingly this makes men and women competitors in ways they've not culturally experienced before . . . and it confuses the hell out of our mating patterns.
For men who are having a hard time dealing with this adjustment period, may I remind you that the last time we went through this sort of thing (the Neolithic-to-Early Agricultural period) one of our dudes, Alexander of Macedon, conquered the Known World in a fit of boyish impetuousness. If we get out of this with just Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dworkin as a result, we're still waaaay ahead.
So the Red Pill is, in part, an attempt to re-define that complementary balance between the genders by first recognizing the ineffectiveness of the "equality" meme. While equality might be great for the business world, when it comes to running a family the best way to ensure it's prosperity and security is to manage the equilibrium between Mommy and Daddy, not try to make sure that they are always equal. Sure, they are both equally valuable to the relationship, but someone has to be Captain.
Let me rephrase that. Someone will be Captain. Whether or not they claim the title, one of the two of you is going to be the one making policy and holding people to account. Now, if you've studied even a little Married Game, by now you should understand that women in a hetero relationship often (usually) tend to prefer a strong dominant mate, regardless of their political beliefs. If you, the dude in the relationship, aren't willing to step it up and take the lead, then she will do so by default . . . and she will not be overcome with a wild attack of the hornies for assuming that responsibility.
Men and women are complementary, but someone has to lead. In relationships where men take a leadership role, there seems to be more stability and more sex involved than when women take a leadership role. Indeed, it is rare to find a woman in the role of head-of-household of a family with a husband who doesn't eventually admit that they treat their spouse more like a child than a mate.
Sure, women can lead . . . but it is far, far better for the long-term health and stability of a family when the couple adopts the Captain/First Officer model. Especially when you put sex in the equation.
When a woman is forced to follow a man out of respect for his authority and competence, she can become among his most steadfast admirers . . . whereas a woman who finds herself forced to lead her family will come to resent and despise her Beta husband, no matter how nice she is to his face. Women and men are complimentary, but where men lead most women are eager to follow. Lack of leadership from the men in their lives, on the other hand, throws the sense of female security needed to have a robust and healthy sex life into the toilet.
Which brings me to my next point: Men need to be the dominant party in their relationship in order to ensure it's long-term survival.
But it rarely thrives the way you want it to unless your expectations for love started out artificially low - and that's rare. Most people want True Love and endless passion. You don't get that by committee. If you want passion in your marriage, then "full and co-equal partnership" is NOT the way to go. If you're a dude, it is in your best interest, and the best-interest of the marriage, to step up and start leading, without worrying if your wife and family will follow you. And without her permission.
(Why? Getting her permission to lead violates Solomon's Paradox: by granting you her permission for you to lead her, she has actually assumed the leadership role herself, which utterly undermines her desire to see you lead. This is one of those major Red Pill lessons that a lifetime of stubborn Blue Pill exposure makes difficult to absorb: You cannot ask her permission to be the Captain. You just have to DO IT, and see what happens. Either she'll follow you or she'll rebel, but either way she'll have to make a decision that commits her to a course of action and behavior regarding you. She implicitly gave her permission for you to lead when she got married, even if she didn't vow to 'obey'. She may not realize that, at first, but the key to making this work is not discussing it to death. Announcing your newfound desire to be the Captain and be treated like it, while making her the First Officer, is highly counter-productive when you are first taking the Red Pill. And it makes you sound like an arrogant ass. Assume the leadership role without discussion or permission. Don't demand pointless symbols of respect unless you have earned them through your actions. Trust me on this one.)
I didn't truly appreciate the necessity for male dominance in a marriage when I started this experiment -- I saw it as a tool, as an interesting and intriguing change of venue, but I had been floating along Beta for so long that when I began I actually downplayed the idea of "male dominance" as a potentially unnecessary element to the Red Pill.
I now stand corrected. Men need to dominate their relationship.
(Remember, I said men need to dominate the relationship -- not necessarily dominate their wives. Being the dominant party in the relationship, the leader, the Captain, gives her the opportunity to follow you . . . which most wives relish. Once she sees you are the dominant factor in the relationship, then more than likely she will be far more comfortable submitting personally to you. But that's not the goal. That's just gravy).
How important is this factor? Well, about three months in I started to get slack, and backed off the Red Pill a mite. The reaction was quick and decisive. Mrs. Ironwood was not happy with my sudden willingness to negotiate and conciliate, she did enough of that shit at work. For my personal situation, at least, my undertaking the responsibility to lead the family made me incredibly attractive in my wife's eyes. Far from being concerned I would attempt to "dominate" her with a bunch of self-serving BDSM crap, or how I would become a hard-assed abusive control freak, she saw my assertiveness as a huge bonus to both her and the family.
When I slacked off, we almost got into a fight. After nearly three months of being handed directives and agendas in which she'd had virtually no say, when I started trying to include her in the discussions she got pissed off . . . like I was purposefully being a dick because I was "forcing" her to make decisions.
And if that means she occasionally has to work 'sex kitten' into her job description, I try to ensure she finds the effort worthwhile.
I've got dozens of great observations about the complex interplay of the male-female relationship under the auspices of the Red Pill, but I thought it would be best to start with a list of good Red Pill attributes I found I needed to develop in myself, to help dominate my relationship and be the leader my wife desires.
I've tried to come up with a good Red Pill list of attributes I had to focus on this last year, and while Athol's book and the other Manosphere sites are outstanding resources, my own personal experience with Mrs. Ironwood suggests that the personal development I've had to do has really been about making changes to myself. Being dominant doesn't actually come naturally to me (like many men), but once I understood that it was not a natural condition but a learnable skill I was able to concentrate on a few key factors. They ended up coming out in a neat list of 26 attributes I could peg to the alphabet -- who knew?
I've discussed how to begin to be dominant in my Male Dominance: A Beginner's Guide post, but in essence my experience suggests that you begin to develop the following qualities:
Assertive - say what you want to happen. Then make it happen. Because you said what you wanted to have happen, and you aren't entertaining any other possibility.
Bold - If you're concerned that what you might say might offend someone, then consider it carefully . . . and say it anyway. Yeah, you might piss someone off. That's the chance you take. Be willing to be an asshole, sometimes, or even fail utterly. But timidity is not sexy.
Committed - The chicken who provided the egg for your breakfast was invested in the outcome. The pig who provided the bacon was committed to the outcome. When you decide on a course of action, be more pig than chicken.
Decisive - to that end, when you have to make a decision, pick the best option and go with it without second-guessing yourself. It is a Red Pill axiom that it is better to be wrong than to be indecisive. "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice". Yeah, I quoted Rush. I went there.
Enthusiastic - women, in general, like dudes who express enthusiasm in what they're doing, even if they don't relish it. If your default mode is quiet disapproval or pessimism, you're only cheating your penis. Men who take an enthusiastic approach to life, and even life's most difficult problems, are more attractive than reluctant men. So start smiling, saying 'yes' when you can, and expressing anticipation of what lies ahead of you. It's easy. The world doesn't fall apart if you start being hopeful. Promise.
Honest - A no-brainer, but there's a subtlety here. All women value honesty. That doesn't mean they necessarily want you to be honest about everything. And as a dude your initial inclination is to NOT be honest, because we gain power from what we make secret. But we also often shoot ourselves in the foot by doing so. So how do you rectify the two? You simply have enough self-awareness to hold yourself to account, first, before you try to hold anyone else to account. "Fooling yourself" makes you a fool. Fooling your wife makes you an idiot. If you are ashamed of something, or are worried about how she might react to "the real you", you aren't doing anyone any favors by hiding it. On the other hand, confessing your sexual attraction to a well-crafted pair of pumps is unlikely to be properly understood, unless she has a complementary attraction. Be honest . . . but don't be stupidly honest. Like I said, subtle.
Intelligent - I know perfectly decent dudes who turn into knuckle-dragging neanderthals the moment their wives challenge them on something. Whether they don't want to "appear like they know everything" or they don't want to correct their wives if they know they're wrong, they shift into a laconic, non-committal mode the moment someone - particularly a woman - asks them to display their intelligence. You don't need to be a bossy smart-ass to demonstrate your intelligence, but 'acting dumb' is not sexy.
Jack-Of-All Trades - Some women get a thrill out of how deeply their husband is invested in his work, which may be of a highly specialized nature. Most don't. They don't value your mastery of a specific subject nearly as much as they value your adaptability and ability to cope. A $250,000 a year CEO is going to look like a putz to his wife if he has to hire someone to change a tire because he never learned how (as opposed to just being well-off). I'll be the first to admit that there are a lot of things I can't do, but I take pride in the manifold abilities I do have, and my ability to cook a tasty meal, navigate cross country, install a new sink, change a baby, build a shed, negotiate a better deal and plan a wedding have all been factors in Mrs. Ironwood's verbal admiration of me.
Kind - No, really. Kindness does not come naturally to all men, because male society doesn't reward it the same way female society does (which over-rewards it). Kindness is cutting someone a break when you don't have to, lending a hand unexpectedly, soothing hard feelings in those around you through displays of generosity and affirmation. Men frequently underestimate just how "sexy" kindness can be. Or they over-estimate it, and look like a sappy sucker. The key is graciousness and restraint. Being kind when it's expected is no big deal -- being kind when you could be screaming is.
Managerial - When we talk about things like "dominance" and "leadership" and "Alpha", we rarely talk about the administrative necessities of the Red Pill experience. But if you can't competently manage your own business and bureaucratic affairs, then how can you expect your wife to respect you enough to follow your lead and be held to account? The fact is, as Captain you are responsible ("able to respond") for a mountain of managerial responsibilities. If you do not handle them, then you will personally spend most of your time in damage control mode instead of making progress toward your personal goals. So manage yourself. Get your records under control. Make sure your calendar is up-to-date. See what bills need to be paid, what debts you have outstanding, what paperwork you have to contend with. Taxes? Permits? If you were your own boss, how would you rate your performance? Then consider your wife as someone in need of management, and don't be afraid to assert your management of her by asking her questions about specific issues on her plate. If you are having questions about just how you do that, consider reading some books on corporate management and efficiency and such and incorporating those ideas into the business-end of your marriage.
Noble - Huh? Did you read that right? How does a man be "more noble" in this decidedly non-noble universe? First you have to understand just what "nobility" means in this context: Possessing and demonstrating excellent personal qualities or properties including superiority of mind, character, ideals and morals. That is, don't be a sonuvabitch. When you make a promise, you stand by it, failing compelling circumstances. When you give a gift, you give richly and lavishly. When you praise, you do so effusively and without hesitation. When you are asked for advice or opinion, you give it as usefully and as succinctly as possible. The Red Pill encourages a man's inner nobility, and the expression of that nobility is an indicator of you character. The goal isn't to fit in or to be a part of your community or be compliant -- the goal is to be exceptional, in a very positive way. It doesn't come easy to a lot of dudes, so think about it awhile before you embark. But acting more nobly on a consistent basis is a proven panty-dropper.
Punctual - Heh. This is hard. It's part of the Ironwood Curse that all Mrs. Ironwood's are a minimum of fifteen minutes late . . . for everything. My mother was almost an hour late for my wedding . . . and she was my ride. One of the biggest adjustments I made in the last year was doing my best to be punctual, and insist upon that in others. Or at least express my displeasure when they weren't. Most dudes feel like they have spent more time waiting on women than they have, say, shaving in their lives by the time they're my age. I know I have. This year I cracked the whip, stared at my watch, and was sharply disapproving when the women in my life tried to make me late. But what I found, to my surprise, was that after a few months of grumbling, they began to expect me to keep them on track and started planning accordingly. We started getting to places on time . . . or at least less-late. But being a visible timekeeper was a great way to augment my authority and hold everyone to account on time -- myself included.
Responsive - Another "Huh?" entry. But a good Red Pill husband needs to be as responsive to feedback from his wife and family as a good customer-service operator is. That means that when the Missus tells you that she wouldn't mind getting flowers once in a while, that you actually send her flowers once in a while. That means that when she mentions that she really likes the way you do X, that you will, in the future, make more of an effort to do X (without doing X so much she gets sick of it). Good management is always responsive management -- even when the answer is a resounding "no!". If you need to think about something before you respond, then say that -- don't let her comments, observations, suggestions and complaints linger in limbo too long, or you look slack as Captain.
Thoughtful - That is, you think about things before they become problems. You consider the consequences of your actions and inactions. You know how much toilet paper and milk is in the house and you ensure that you don't run out. You know when your wife's birthday and your anniversary are, and you start planning weeks in advance. You know the state of the tires on both cars and whether or not there are spares and jacks for them. You make sure the smoke detectors have batteries, the cat has food, there's emergency chocolate stashed somewhere on the premises, and when the power goes out you know where the flashlight is. You are thoughtful . . . you think and plan ahead.
Vigilant - You alone are responsible for your family, regardless of what your wife says. You cannot relax about this. You must be vigilant foreseeing dangers before they happen and undertaking maintenance to ensure that they don't. You must be situationally aware of the state of your family, and prepared to take steps if there's a problem. It might suck to feel like you are stuck permanently in the driver's seat . . . but the pussy is way better up there. Trust me.
Wise - Yep, I said 'wise'. Like 'noble', this might be confusing on the surface. For some, this is a minor point. Due to my religion, it's a serious issue in my life. Wisdom, in my religious tradition, is defined more or less as "the art and science of doing the right thing at the right time." That is, knowing Right from Wrong is great . . . but actively choosing to do the right thing at the right time goes beyond mere moral guidance and moves into a proactive position in which you are actively seeking out knowledge to execute. Wisdom is a subtle, slippery thing. Mostly it involves not doing anything too obviously stupid. Sometimes it means doing something to avoid being forced to do something stupid later. It helps to remember that wisdom is a gradual thing, accumulating like single grains of sand on a daily basis. We don't start out wise . . . we learn wisdom. And that implies a lot of observation, intelligence, and forethought. Remember, any idiot can learn from his own mistakes, and most do or else Evolution handles it. But a truly wise man knows to learn from other people's mistakes. That's key.
Youthful - Every woman loves the little boy in her man, but few love the man in a monstrous child she married -- maturity is hot. Yet Blue Pill dudes seem to often mistake being too tired or unmotivated for "mature wisdom", and flee their boyish loves as signs of immaturity. The fact is, a woman likes to be reminded that she married a little boy who grew up every now and then. A man's playfulness is a sign of both his emotional engagement and the psychological willingness to relax and enjoy himself. Be a little boy every once in a while, both in her presence and out of it. It will help keep yourself grounded. In fact, it's an essential (but oft overlooked) aspect of the Paleo diet so popular in the Manosphere: daily physical play, emphasis on 'play'. In some cases this can just be indulging in a game of catch or pick-up basketball -- but it can also be playfully twirling your wife unexpectedly onto the dance floor, and by extension it can mean playing card games with the kids, in this context, or going to a really horrible movie just because you dig giant transforming killer robots. Playing with plastic dinosaurs when no one is looking or pursuing a passion for poker are fun, as is toy collecting, baseball cards, and just hangin' out with your dudes. Being mature is great for leadership, but even Picard got his jollies playing noir detective in the holodeck. A sense of youthful play is an outstanding way of both demonstrating personal confidence and fun, as well as not taking yourself -- or the relationship -- too seriously. Because when it comes down to it, we're all still just kids on the playground.
Zealous -- that is, "full of zeal". This goes back to the issue of enthusiasm. Being zealous about the Red Pill does not -- again -- mean being an asshole about it. But being quietly confident and determined to make a positive change in your life is difficult to manage if you don't have someone cheerleading for you. Especially if you're hitting problems with your spouse, it might be tempting to back off the Red Pill for a while, let things cool down, let her get over her snit, and make nice later. Only . . . don't. Zeal is a desirable quality in a man, as long as it's zeal bounded by reason and restraint. When you display your zeal, do it very consciously and with full regard for others' sensibilities. Manfully boasting about your male dominant lifestyle and gloriously heterosexual marriage at a lesbian wedding is often considered too much zeal. But getting up every morning and doing a hundred crunches before you get in the shower -- long after your wife noticed and commented on it -- is a demonstration of zeal that will pay big dividends.
Wow. That's twenty-six attributes, if you've been keeping track, plus a couple of other big-time observations, and it appears I've written another novel in this post. That's a lot to keep track of, and the fact of the matter is I could have had twenty-six completely different attributes and still been just as correct. It's important to remember that the Red Pill is a personal response to the realities of human mating, not an easy-to-bullet-point formula for happiness. Your individual talents and situation will play a big role on what attributes you need to develop, and the skills and abilities you build are the ones you'll need for your own marriage, not mine.
But after a full year on the Red Pill, I'm in the process of refining the dosage. So much of the above has become automatic now that I can safely move on to more pressing concerns . . . and that which remains will get especial attention this year. I'm very, very happy with my marriage and myself right now, and while I'm against gilding the lily on general principal, I believe that I can make my life with the Missus even better for both of us, with a little more effort, commitment and intelligence.
There will be at least one more section in this series, but for now I want to leave you with this: YOU GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT. If you don't do the work, don't expect the benefits.
Don't believe me? Try this simple experiment: tell everyone you know that you do five hundred crunches every morning, but don't actually do them. See if they "notice" your "well-defined abs". Now wait a week. Now start doing five-hundred crunches every morning, but don't tell anyone. See if anyone "notices" your actually well-defined abs. Compare the differences between the two experiments. See how putting effort and energy into something pays dividends, but bullshitting everyone does not?
The Red Pill is like that. It doesn't matter how much of a good game you talk, if you aren't putting in the time and effort, you're not getting the expected benefit.