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Reddit’s TheRedPill, notorious for its misogyny, was founded by a New Hampshire state legislator

A second-term New Hampshire state representative helped turn “the red pill” into a misogynistic code.

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

Since its founding in 2012, the “men’s rights” subreddit r/TheRedPill has become one of the most notorious forums in Reddit’s history, widely known as a misogynistic cesspool in which men deride feminist ideologies and mock rape victims. An appropriation of The Matrix’s concept of “taking the red pill,” members of the forum argue that men need to “wake up” to a reality in which feminism has ruined their lives.

Now it appears the foundational beliefs of TheRedPill could be directly impacting politics in at least one state.

The Daily Beast has uncovered significant evidence that TheRedPill’s founder, a redditor named pk_atheist, is actually a state Republican lawmaker.

According to the Daily Beast’s findings, pk_atheist is one of many internet handles belonging to a 31-year-old Republican lawmaker named Robert Fisher. Fisher created r/TheRedPill near the end of his initial campaign for the New Hampshire state House of Representatives, in which he ran as a Democrat. In 2014, he campaigned as a Republican, won, and maintained his seat in 2016 with a total of 5,700 votes.

Now greeting the accusations — which include a litany of misogynistic comments posted to the forum over the years — with a mix of denial and admission, Fisher is ignoring calls from his fellow state legislators to resign. Instead, he seems to be embracing his role as a de facto leader of the alt-right enclave, and says he will “stand strong for men's rights” in the New Hampshire legislature.

Writing under a number of aliases, Fisher made several dismissive statements about sexual consent and the inferiority of women

Fisher has espoused typical alt-right ideological views online, even though he only served as moderator of TheRedPill for around two months between late 2012 and early 2013. The forum specifically advocates for the so-called “men’s rights” movement, which often bills itself as being about restoring men’s self-esteem after it’s been damaged by the effects of feminism, protecting fathers’ agency in custody battles, and generally restoring their traditional roles as head of the family. In practice, however, men’s rights activists, colloquially known as “MRAs,” often use this agenda to harass women, deny the existence of rape culture, and teach one another how to manipulate women into sleeping with them, often through subtle forms of control.

Though at the time of his departure as a moderator of TheRedPill, Fisher said he would not be participating further in the community, he remained semi-active in the forum until his outing by the Daily Beast. Under various aliases used across the internet, Fisher expressed his belief that women are unintelligent and argued that it’s “necessary to teach women consequence” for leaving their marriages — a statement that reflects his most recent campaign promise to “strengthen the family.”

“I treat women like they're subordinate creatures, and suddenly they respect me,” Fisher wrote in 2013.

The Daily Beast also points out that Fisher frequently posted in TheRedPill about his fear of being falsely accused of rape. This fear ran parallel to his dismissive views of rape and sexual consent; he once argued that rape jokes made by the high schoolers who witnessed the assault of the Steubenville rape victim were not newsworthy, and also suggested that it is “evolutionarily advantageous” for a 40-year-old man to hit on a 15-year-old girl. “Just because there’s a law doesn’t mean 15 year old girls were always considered out of bounds,” he wrote.

Fisher initially denied his connection to the men’s rights forum, then unrepentantly leaned into it

The Daily Beast report spawned outrage from New Hampshire lawmakers. Gov. Chris Sununu stated Wednesday that “Representative Fisher's comments are horrendous and repulsive and his resignation is certainly in order.”

When initially contacted by the Daily Beast, Fisher denied everything and then deleted all of his social media accounts. However, amid considerable backlash from his fellow state lawmakers, Fisher admitted to the local news station WMUR on April 24 that he had said “some injudicious things about the opposite sex following a bad breakup.” He also claimed that most of the Daily Beast’s statements were misstatements or out-of-context allegations.

“Of course rape is a horrible crime,” he said in an email to WMUR. He provided no further elaboration to the station regarding the majority of his misogynistic statements made on Reddit over the past five years. Instead, he said in his emailed statement to WMUR that he would continue to pursue his political agenda.

Here's my message to the public: I am not disappearing. I will continue to stand strong for men's rights and the rights of all, and I intend on introducing new legislation in 2018 to push back in the New Hampshire courts and finally bring relief for New Hampshire parents and citizens who face these very real but under-reported issues.

WMUR notes that Fisher has missed a significant number of legislature votes during his current term, and previously asked to be removed from consideration for serving on any House committees, a condition that has further caused some lawmakers to question his suitability for the office.

Still, Fisher’s willingness to publicly champion his identity as a member of the men’s rights community rather than rejecting it speaks to the growing power of the alt-right movement within politics as a whole. Despite the impact TheRedPill has had within the larger alt-right movement, it’s mostly been thought of as a fringe community; now it seems to be making real political waves.

Fisher previously conducted business with another men’s rights activist who served on a New Hampshire leadership team for President Donald Trump during Trump’s campaign in 2016. In September, Fisher noted at TheRedPill that he was in touch with members of the community in real life.

“I have since come out the other side much stronger and smarter,” he wrote to WMUR regarding the unspecified breakup that he says led him to start TheRedPill, “and am glad that I'm in a position in Concord that can help others who have suffered.”

“I'm disappointed that this sort of attack has replaced real news, but it strengthens my position and resolve that fighting for equal rights is more important today than ever.”

Various lawmakers, however, expressed to WMUR their hope that voters would repudiate Fisher’s views at the ballot box in 2018.

Fisher has not responded to Vox’s request for comment.