If you're at all familiar with the online culture of "men's rights activists," then you're probably familiar with just how retrograde, misogynistic, and depressing they can be. And a recent investigation by the Daily Beast seems to have exposed the identity of the founder of one of the foremost such groups out there. Robert Fisher, a Republican lawmaker from New Hampshire, has reportedly been outed as the founder of "The Red Pill" subreddit. Bustle has reached out to Fisher for comment, and will update the story if he replies.
According to the Daily Beast's Bonnie Bacarisse, Fisher apparently didn't do nearly enough due diligence to ensure that his online persona wasn't traceable back to him. Specifically, a message board comment Fisher posted under an alias promoting his one-man band reportedly revealed him to be the Reddit user "pk_atheist," which, in addition to having a long history of leaving sexist comments on the website, allegedly created the wildly misogynistic subreddit.
For anyone unfamiliar with the lingo, the term "red pill" is popular among misogynistic and racist online forums. It derives from a scene in The Matrix in which protagonist Neo is offered a choice: take a blue pill and continue living in an artificial reality, or take a red pill and awaken to the world as it truly is. Men on these forums will often use "taking the red pill" or "red-pilled" as shorthand for when they first saw the world "clearly" ― that is to say, as controlled by women ― and embraced a reductionist, angry, radically misogynist vision of social and sexual relationships.
According to the Daily Beast's investigation, Fisher ― a New Hampshire state representative ― is the man at the center of one of Reddit's big destinations for this subculture. And just as you'd expect from someone up to his neck in this kind of community, his various online personas have reportedly expressed a great number of jarring views throughout the years.
In one particularly garish example, the Daily Beast reports that using one of his online message board handles, he argued that "rape isn't an absolute bad" because of how much the rapist enjoys it. Furthermore, the report alleges that Fisher (posting as pk_atheist) defended the notion of a 40-year-old man asking a 15-year-old girl for topless photos, although he also said he "didn't advocate breaking the law."
According to the Daily Beast, Fisher's last comment on r/theredpill was in October 2016. As the time of writing, the account has been deleted.
The Red Pill subreddit itself — predictably enough for these kinds of forums — is chock-full of rape apologia, dehumanizing attitudes toward women, profound male insecurity, and pervasive panic about false rape accusations. It's all a bit too grotesque to directly link to here, but it's easy enough to find on the internet — if you've got a strong enough stomach.
Needless to say, for Fisher's constituents, the knowledge that their state representative could be the founder of a virulently misogynistic message board is relevant. After all, such representatives are charged with crafting state laws, which makes rape culture denial and apologia even more concerning. One example, as the New Hampshire Democrats noted in a statement calling for Fisher's resignation, is the the rape-shield bill currently moving through the legislature.
This is particularly disturbing given the fact that legislation to strengthen the rape-shield law is working its way through the legislature. We hope and expect his Republican colleagues to call for [Fisher's] resignation, particularly given their support of a rape-shield and in clear contrast, Representative Fisher's clear predatory and misogynistic behavior as well as creating a permission structure for disrespect and abuse.
In short, while personal misogyny and rape culture denial are awful enough, when paired with the power to dictate public policy, it's a whole new level of awful. And if Democrats in the state get their way, Fisher could be out sooner, rather than later.