Blue Pill or Red Pill: the effects of “The Pill Cabinet” and the formation of incel worldviews Eunice Lim The Skeptic

[Content note: mention of suicide]

“You take the blue pill… the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill… you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

“I’ll take the red,” the incel said.

Short for “involuntary celibate”, the term “incel” was coined to refer to an individual who bases a portion of their self-identity around their inability to find a romantic or sexual partner, despite their desire to. Initially, this might have been associated with a multitude of reasons, such as social awkwardness, or being a late bloomer. Today, however, the term most often comes accompanied with an abundance of misogyny.

By taking the red pill, the incel believes they’ve woken up to a world where feminism has taken over, and the balance of power is tipped not in favour of men, but of women. Their belief that men do not hold systemic power and privilege, but are actually subject to the whims of women and feminists’ power and desires, is the start of a rabbit hole that leads down to a cesspool of contemporary male supremacist movements.

As they go deeper, the incel gets increasingly dispirited by their perceived reality of a world that is increasingly acquiescent to the demands of what they believe to be a growing modern misandrist agenda disguised as feminism. By contrast, they believe that the acceptance of feminism by a relatively large portion of society in any capacity indicates the mainstream refusal to wake up; that everyone else is choosing the comfort of the blue pill, and societally-determined morality.

To make matters worse, the internet has a nasty “habit” of making the most controversial, inaccurate, and polarising content the most viral. It’s not very discerning. Plastered everywhere, even if for a short period of time — the internet moves on very quickly — the viral content garners attention beyond its intended audience. Unfortunately for us, a good portion of content that goes viral also tends to act as reinforcement for an incel’s false reality.

The world really does hate men. They joke about being anti-men. Everything men do is wrong, oh- unless he’s attractive. And further down the rabbit hole the incel goes.

Near the bottom of the rabbit hole is the black pill. Coined by the antifeminist communities themselves and seen as a last resort after realising that their attempts at making themselves more attractive to women are futile, the black pill represents a resignation towards a women-serving feminist world and the permanence of their incel status as a result of such.

Proposed solutions to this permanent state of being span a short range: death and violence. Suicide is openly discussed, with individuals essentially egged on by others in the same community. And while these are obviously tragic outcomes and very damaging to the incel as an individual, it holds no potential threat to others. The same can’t be said for other “solutions” proposed by members of the community: in my journey down the rabbit hole of the ins and outs of inceldom, the most extreme idea I came across on incel community sites is something referred to as “Going ER”.

An homage to Elliot Rodger, the man responsible for killing six and injuring fourteen before killing himself, “Going ER” suggests eliminating women and men who get what incels can’t (women) through murder. Extremist parts of the incel community deem him a hero, a martyr, and a role model. It is scary to think that Rodger could be lauded by men who have constructed their own worldview to justify their hatred for women. To think that there is a possibility they might follow in his footsteps, to be a martyr themselves, and to think that there might be people around you who actually agree to certain ideas behind inceldom, completely unbeknownst to you. All because they took the red pill.

Inceldom’s red pill definitely shows the individual a truth, but one that relies so heavily on the cherry-picking and warping of feminism is definitely not the truth the individual was so hoping for.

The majority of incels are men, and as much as those incels would tend to argue otherwise, men have been and still are the dominant group in our gendered society. They have shaped history, socio-cultural norms, morals; everything we know today has passed through the lens of a man. Notwithstanding the other factors that might affect the degrees of dominance a person might enjoy – such as racial, class or sexual identity – society for the most part remains structured around and for the experience of men. Women and non-binary people, as the Other, fall below men in that structured social order.

Feminism disrupts this engrained social order, but its aim to empower women to the same degree as men is inaccurately interpreted by incel groups as a desire to see women disempowering men. Alas, we are all mortal beings bound by subjectivity. The lens through which an individual views the world is shaped by the individual’s experiences, opinions, interpretations of reality around them, and their emotions.

Feminism, in terms of value-adding to women’s lives, means close to nothing for most men. Yet women have been acting in accordance with men’s reality for most of the history of society, due to androcentric norms and expectations. Ingrained in them and often acted upon unconsciously, women’s history of living in a double consciousness makes it even harder for men to comprehend the need for feminism.

In justifying the value of feminism and the need for it in a society where women and men alike have been behaving in ways tailored to a man’s worldview, communication is key, according to Professor Isaac Wilhelm, professor of philosophy at the National University of Singapore, who told me that “blaming and shaming contributes to polarisation in an unproductive way”.

Prof. Wilhelm asserts that this does not mean that feminism should be about men, or that the movement should be entirely dependent on women pandering to androcentrism to be understood or accepted. Rather, it means that the desire to be understood cannot be unilateral. Incels, as damaging as their mindsets may be, are still a product of our society. Prof. Wilhelm proposes that some individuals get preyed on by other men selling the masculinity ideal because they are lonely and vulnerable in a society that highly values interpersonal relationships, especially romantic ones. It makes them susceptible to lies and antifeminist propaganda in hopes of finding commonality with others who share their experiences. The main issue is the insularity of these communities, where they act as echo chambers for inceldom and perpetuate a self-fulfilling prophecy of the undesired singleness, which in turn breeds increasing bitterness towards women.

In my opinion, insularity emerges from a centring of the self: in centring ourselves, we make ourselves, the individual, the “dominant group”. As such, no one is more legitimate by comparison. We judge and arbitrarily assign legitimacy to others’ experiences based on our own, and fail to realise that in doing so, we become naïve to outside perspectives. With every person doing the same thing, it is no wonder that we encounter such friction in attempting to smooth over divides in society, much less one as subversive as feminism.

As such, the decentring of the self seems to be a step towards reconciling the realities of feminism with the realities of those unaffected by the lack of this movement in society. Recognising that emotion and logic are not separate entities, but rather that logic resides within emotion and is contingent on our personal experiences.

Ultimately, feminists and incels share the same pill cabinet. The pills’ effects, however, depend on the worldview one is trying to treat.


Anderton, K. (2023, March 21). Inside the world of reddit’s misogyny. Medium.

Ellis, E. G. (2019, July 10). Reddit’s “Manosphere” and the challenge of quantifying hate. Wired.

The extremist medicine cabinet: A guide to online “pills.” ADL. (2018, July 20).

Itzigsohn , J., & Brown, K. L. (2020). 1. Double consciousness: The phenomenology of racialized subjectivity. The Sociology of W. E. B. Du Bois, 27–61.

King, A. (2023, June 1). Taking the black pill. Are We Europe.

Matthäus, S. (2017). Towards the Role of Self, Worth, and Feelings in (Re-)Producing Social Dominance. Explicating Pierre Bourdieu’s Implicit Theory of Affect. Historical Social Research, 42(4), 75–92.

Misogynist incels and male supremacism. New America. (n.d.).

Tolentino, J. (2017, February 8). The case against contemporary feminism. The New Yorker.

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Misogynistic and glorifying violence, the incel movement is a misguided reaction to feminism, and the idea that a loss of privilege is a form of oppression
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