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Reject the poison pill; embrace each other
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Reject the poison pill; embrace each other

If you lurk for any amount of time in broadly right-wing online spaces, you will inevitably bump up against “the wall.” I don’t mean that feeling when your mind goes numb, having been colonized by memes. Nor do I mean the familiar moment when you realize you’re arguing with someone who has no interest in the truth. Those are real, too, and potentially even more inescapable. But no.

The concept of “the wall” is a relic of the manosphere, and it is perhaps its most potent and movement-defining meme. It is used to refer to the time in a woman’s life when her youthful beauty begins to fade. The story goes that in that change, she loses her value to men and thus her value to society. She “hits the wall” on the day she walks into her favorite bar and, suddenly, mysteriously, familiar lustful glances are being directed at other, younger women just behind her at the door.

Suddenly, after years of presumably wild and indiscriminate sex with faceless bar patrons, she has an epiphany. She must act fast to secure a husband! She will resort to desperate measures, manipulating the nearest “beta” sucker, whose ineptitude she resents but whose wallet she envies, into marriage – an institution built for the financial and emotional rape of men.

The wall frames a woman’s life as a linear “before” and “after,” built inexorably around the moment she becomes worthless to the world. It is the concept by which women are categorically reduced to passive objects made for use and disposal by men.

In the red-pill cinematic universe, the wall doesn’t apply to men, who have all the time in the world to consume life’s diversionary pleasures, including of course women, who should be consumed while they’re young — because females as commodities expire, and the acquisition of females as commodities adds to male “sexual market value.”

Despite any Sisyphean endeavor made toward keeping their own sexual market value high, women are destined for failure. Even a woman who abstains from detriments (sex, tattoos, higher education) will hit the wall just the same, becoming at once the whore and the harridan of meninist wet nightmares.

The wall remains undefeated, and its benchmark age has been steadily moving down since the concept was put to phrase. It used to be 35. Now, apparently, it’s 23.

Letting fantasy trump reality

Every effective lie wraps itself around a kernel of truth. The truth in the case of “the wall” is that people age. It hardly needs to be said that for the lucky living, visible biological markers of virility and fertility diminish over time. Further, there is a strictly biologically ideal time to conceive children, for the health of the mother and the child (mid-20s to early 30s). So if marriage and children are her goal, there is also prudence in the advice that a girl should “gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” in order to avoid disappointment.

More truths: The people who are having premarital sex report a greater variety of partners. Tattoos are more popular than ever. Debt is too. There is an anecdotal familiarity about the middle-aged woman of red-pill fantasy. Many of us have known some women to take advantage of some men, before, during, and after marriages made in haste. Many of us know some woman at work or on the homeowners' association board who uses her position to control details utterly beyond her station.

These are all basic categories of reality, which combine with certain categories of the imagination in order to produce a narrative.

  • Reality: Women lose collagen in their skin as they age. Fantasy: Skin elasticity corresponds to human “worth.” Narrative: Older women have nothing to offer society.
  • Reality: Women are getting married later in life, if at all. Fantasy: They are being rejected by glowed-up nerds whom they at one point rejected. Narrative: To die alone in a pile of cat s**t and empty boxes of wine is the grand comeuppance of the modern woman, whose demise we haters can relish because it is just.
  • Reality: Women legally initiate most divorces. Fantasy: All of these women financially benefit from divorce. Narrative: Women in general are scheming users who are incentivized to use marriage to financially abuse men and should thus be regarded with cynical skepticism, always at arm’s length.

When searching for the truth in the wild, failing to carefully parse these categories of reality and fantasy means unwittingly making oneself a foot soldier of an ideological narrative. However appealing narratives may be by offering a myopic explanation for one’s suffering, they colonize the spirit, making their foot soldiers into shells of people, shooting their prefabricated talking points into comments sections like an algorithm. Red-pill bros have not only become the anti-marriage feminists that were the original object of critique; they’ve become NPCs with a software update.

Why the red pill is so tempting

I want to be maximally charitable toward men, especially those who have been discriminated against and demonized from a very young age by loudmouthed liberal feminism, which encouraged the real hard-hearted materialism and libertinism that became the source of the manosphere’s initial complaints.

I think many men have been using pornography since they were children, and the reasons they struggle with the idea of metaphysical dignity are much deeper than this narrative. I imagine it’s hard to live in a male body with a male libido in a world where virtual whores feel familiar but real-life women feel foreign. And as a woman who has judged one man by the actions of their worst peers, I get that temptation, too.

What’s become of the red-pill narrative is tempting precisely because it feeds on deeper fear and loathing, placed in men’s hearts long before they had a choice in the matter, degrading the mind for long after.

Mental clarity is one casualty. Real men and real women — and the real relationships they form or forgo — are another. Men who take this frame of mind as their own enslave themselves to a philosophy of resentment in which their own value is ultimately, ironically, contingent on the acceptance of people they consider less than human. It offers a cheap confidence by reasoning their loneliness away as an externality of hypergamy and casting women, who inevitably hit the wall, as undesirable anyway.

On the other hand, women who take on this frame of mind similarly become slaves to the false god of male approval, giving themselves over to obsessive vanity in an unwinnable and unending intrasexual competition for attention. For all the manosphere complaints about female narcissism, insisting their worth is tied to their beauty wouldn’t make anyone less concerned about what they see in the mirror. If women cannot compete on that front, they compete as Pearl Davis does: by rehashing red-pill talking points ad nauseam on X.

If the manosphere’s initial complaint was a Good Woman shortage, its inhabitants achieved nothing by taunting strangers online about waning fertility. Discourse about “the wall” simply does not encourage young women to settle down in marriage. Instead, observers learn that they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Red-pill bros’ praise of “traditional marriage” is revealed as utterly superficial as they simultaneously hold that male sexual infidelity is licit once wives lose the aesthetic advantage of youth.

A possible truce?

This is the state of the gender wars, and nothing about it is pretty. In the words of Nancy Pearcey, we are too often not careful enough to “distinguish between the opposite sex’s moral failings and their intrinsic identity.” Venom abounds.

I asked my X following: What does truce look like? I’m still considering this. You tell me.

Dean Abbott has a suggestion, which he published in his latest Substack: “Christians who want to heal the divide between the sexes (or at least to make it hurt a little less) must begin listening to the truths each side is calling the other to hear.”

Above all, an argument that ends well requires humility of both sides. It requires mutual respect. It requires both sides to approach in good faith, abandoning any hope of dominating or humiliating the other. It requires an acknowledgement that both sides are rightfully aggrieved. It requires both parties to dress down their complaints to their core, dispensing with any sort of indulgent embellishment about the intrinsic worth of the opposite sex, and then in turn receive respectful criticism without squirming.

It’s unlikely that we ever see an argument like this, though it’s not a bad idea for a podcast. As for our real lives, change begins within.

Humanity isn’t so easily degraded in the eyes of someone who spends more time being human, so my impulse is once again to suggest we all log off and live a little. Doing something in the real world to cultivate virtue — be it hobbies, philanthropy, or athletics — in addition to making you better places you in the position to meet other people doing the same. To know a virtuous person — or at least one who struggles against vice — is to respect him. If the gender wars serve misanthropy, maybe this is a sufficient start.

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