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Thursday, August 1, 2013

107

Man Quits Internet: Goodbye, Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer quit the Internet yesterday. The self-described male feminist wrote about facials and pulling tampons out of ex-wives. He tried to kill his girlfriend and is on his fourth marriage. He has been published regularly, most recently at The Atlantic and Jezebel. On Twitter, he regularly searched his name and would passive-aggressively favorite unflattering mentions of himself.

No longer. Schwyzer also announced he would cease teaching a class on pornography at Pasadena City College, where he is a tenured instructor. He then immediately took part in an utterly bizarre interview with The Cut's Kat Stoeffel, in which he said things like, “If you look at the men who are writing about feminism, they toe the line very carefully. It’s almost like they take their cues from the women around them” and, “I had an affair, which is very off-brand for me.”

He also singled someone out as the reason he left Twitter. “After I wrote about Manic Pixie Dream Girls, this guy Chris tweeted, 'the number one job of male feminists is to never let Hugo Schwyzer get another freelancing gig.'...it was just really hurtful.” The tweet that made Hugo quit came from another straight white man, because that's who really gets under his skin. He seems to have no concept of the volume or tenor of the invective that women are subjected to online on the regular, either, if that's what he finds “really hurtful.” When he flounced from Twitter, he made sure to alert Randle and longtime antagonist Malcolm Harris, crediting them with his decision to leave. It was also what many women wanted, but he didn't acknowledge any of them.

Randle, a contributing editor at Hazlitt, and Harris, senior editor at The New Inquiry, chatted with me yesterday about how strange it is to be told you've driven someone offline. Full disclosure: we've all socialized IRL, and Malcolm has edited me.

SES: Who is Hugo Schwyzer, and why did you drive him from the Internet?

CR: I guess we need to expand on "a sociopath"?

MH: He's a self-identified male feminist commentator with a well but not well-enough-known history as an abuser and all-around creep. Is that about right?

CR: And part of the reason it's not well-known enough is that he stalked and darkly whispered against many of the women (often women of color) who called him out in years past.

MH: Yeah. I wanna be clear on not claiming credit for driving dude off the internet.

SES: Malcolm, I don't think the credit is yours to claim, but rather freely given.

MH: Yeah but we know the guy has a problem crediting women, so it's no surprise he'd do the same here.

SES: He sounded pretty shaken. You must have really scared him. Did you call him ugly, or threaten him with rape or physical violence?

MH: I probably called him old.

CR: I believe he tried to get Malcolm to have coffee with him at one point, which, lol.

SES: Is it possible that he is actually that unaware of the tone and nature of the comments women receive online on the regular for merely existing?

MH: No, but grown men are fragile.

CR: In this New York interview he says, "If you look at the men who are writing about feminism, they toe the line very carefully. It’s almost like they take their cues from the women around them. Men are afraid of women’s anger. It’s very hard for men to stand up to women’s anger."

MH: No 30- or 40-something man I know could handle half of what young women deal with on a regular basis online. If they tried, they’d quit.

SES: "I did for a long time until finally my mental health had to be a priority." Why are they so fragile?

MH: Society coddles them.

CR: Which, given that Schwzyer tried to murder his ex-girlfriend, is a rather literal demonstration of Margaret Atwood's dictum about men being afraid that women will laugh at them and women being afraid that men will kill them.

SES: And was he being serious, do you think, with the "It’s almost like they take their cues from the women around them" line?

CR: I mean, we're talking about somebody who described his affair with a student as "off-brand," so he may lack even that self-awareness. But taking cues from women is precisely what men should do here. I don't think men should make their living opining about feminism at all.

SES: What prompted the tweet that he cited?

CR: Oh, it was that typically gross piece he wrote about Manic Pixie Dream Girls and some woman he used to know and, most importantly, himself. (My friend Emily wrote a more sustained and damning critique of it that week.) Like I said on Tumblr, it’s so characteristic, not to mention hilarious, that Schwyzer cared only about other straight white men even when deciding to flee from public.

SES: Do you think he feels like he's only talking to men? And therefore it's only their critiques he should be concerned with?

MH: I don't want to attempt to psychoanalyze the dude, but when I read that NY interview, I don't hear a man who takes women very seriously. I think it's clear he views women as a kind of social problem that confronts men. And that's how "male feminist" discourses generally handle gender relations.

CR: He's all about this "patriarchy hurts men, too!" shit

SES: Yeah, the same way racism hurts white people? Classism hurts the wealthy?

CR: And, I mean, it does, in the sense that living in Capitalist Hellworld isn't good for anybody, but the liberation of women will quite rightly involve attacking male power.

MH: Right! He doesn't see it as a class relation.

CR: I feel like I should quote our mutual friend Sarah Nicole Prickett here: "There’s a very particular kind of man who prides himself on telling girls that he’s a feminist, and those are among my least favorite types of men. I don’t give a shit if you’re a feminist. We’re fine, thank you. We’ve got this. I mean, you should be a feminist as part of your larger class politics, but men who tell you that they’re feminist might as well—I mean, they’re the worst."

SES: Have you ever needed to say "I'm a feminist" to justify anything? Also, are you a feminist?

MH: I think I got drunkenly upset once when a woman at a party said I couldn't be a feminist.

SES: Why did she say that?

MH: Probably because I was being a lout.

CR: It was an explanation rather than a justification, but somebody did recently ask me about my Sailor Moon pin that says "MY BODY, MY CHOICE."

MH: I saw someone say on Twitter recently that being an ally isn't an identity, it's a practice, and that seems right to me.

CR: I know some people who don't think men can/should identify as feminists and I totally understand that, I wouldn't argue with them about it. I'm a supporter of feminism or an ally of feminism or, yeah, a feminist—the precise tag doesn't matter, because it's not about me.

SES: Did you see this dramatic exit coming?

MH: He told me I was going to have to shoot him to get him off the internet, so no. (I said attempted murder was his thing, not mine.)

SES: Do you think that his crediting other men with hurting his feelings is part of a ploy for sympathy?

CR: He sort of oscillates between extreme narcissism and public self-abasement, and like, if women stepping on his dick gets him off, he should really be paying them $300 an hour for it. I worry about his students—the guy has tenure.

SES: Do you feel like you've actually Done Something, or do you feel like you're being blamed?

MH: Well he's right insofar as it is what we wanted, and we said we wouldn't leave him alone till he left.

CR: Oh, it's definitely a convenient pretext to go on refusing to acknowledge non-white-dude critics on his part.

MH: I think his persecution narrative probably has less to do with his career than personal stuff we don't even wanna know about.

SES: Yes, I would say his most vocal Twitter critics were women of color.

CR: But I am happy that my female friends no longer have to worry about him passive-aggressively faving them if they invoke The Name on Twitter.

SES: He was notorious for name-searching.

MH: Sigh, if he were Hugo Smith he might be with us today.

SES: Any other thoughts on why he seems so clueless as to what constitutes a high level of online abuse?

CR: And, you know, what higher calling is there for a male feminist than calling out shitty men. Except "listen to women."

MH: Yeah, I always tried to be driven by my own hatred than any desire to protect women. But like Chris said, it's easy with Hugo because women will email you being like "ewww ewww eww!"

SES: One more thing: Who's next?

MH: Ask Marie Calloway, I hear she has the official hit list.

CR: Wait, I got it. Stephen Marche.

Photo via teflon/flickr.

Susan Elizabeth Shepard has two jobs and lives in Austin, TX.

107 Comments / Post A Comment

Quinn A@twitter

God, I hope that sticks. It absolutely infuriates me that a man with his horrific flaws and failings could make a living writing and teaching about feminism while brilliant women were and are doing it for free.

katiemcgillicuddy

@Quinn A@twitter I so, so, so hope you're right...but I'm kind of assuming he'll be back, and worse than ever : /

Quinn A@twitter

@katiemcgillicuddy Yeah, I do suspect that he'll be back. As long as there are people willing to pay him, I figure it's inevitable.

polka dots vs stripes

@Quinn A@twitter Well and I mean really, who can stay away from THE INTERNEEEEEEEEEET!

/joking
/yeah he'll back

SarcasticFringehead

@Quinn A@twitter Because when you leave, you get sympathy from people who like you for being "driven away" and when you come back, you get props for "standing up" to your critics. Seems like the kind of attention he'd be really into.

City_Dater

@Quinn A@twitter

He'll be back. Most likely with some dumbassness about realizing that "agreeing to be silenced" was a terrible mistake and he needs to Own His Power.

He's the adult version of that collegiate asshole who registers for women's studies classes to meet girls and won't stop yapping about being such a capital F-feminist, yet never actually listens when women are speaking.

bluebears

@Quinn A@twitter He's def coming back. He's not even really gone. When he goes 48 hours without updating his website/talking to reporters I'll believe he might be taking a short sabbatical.

stonefruit

@bluebears Agreed. If I'm reading this correctly, he just - as in a few hours ago - spoke to a reporter from LA Weekly.

LEAVE BETTER, HUGO.

xcbxcbery547

@Quinn A@twitter ~Oh,Unbelievable~~ My best friend Elena has just married to a cool black man. They fall in love through~~ BlackWhītëHub. ℂom ~~ ~ They told me it is one of the top Black White SinglesMatchmaker dating site, Join free to date black women, white men, black men and white women. You can easily find someone real, serious, quality. Meet singles living in your local area or in countries around the world. .)If you are single, worth a try.xczb

mistakeshavebeenmade

@bluebears: Wow did you call it! Here it is 10 days later and he just gave another interview to The Daily Beast...

[sic]

Judith Slutler

@[sic] Also don't read the interview guys, or you will soon find yourself doing this:

some text

at all the ridiculousness

kfizz

Wait... you seriously don't understand how the patriarchy hurts men? I cannot believe I'm reading this on The Hairpin.

I'm not here to defend Hugo Schwyzer - far from it. I just cannot believe the whole tone of the section about how he's sensitive. That exact conversation within this post, shaming him for being sensitive to the horrible tone of the internet, is the way in which the patriarchy hurts men. The patriarchy shames everyone for being sensitive. It's seen as feminine, and men are attacked any time they exhibit feminine traits. This isn't to say that they like... deserve any special consideration about it. But rigid gender norms hurt all, because they prevent all people from expressing their authentic identities in safety.

There are TONS of grounds on which to discuss all of the ways in which Schwyzer's position and privileges are hurtful to feminist spaces and feminist projects -- and you guys cover a lot of those in this post. But I am shocked to read this really hurtful interlude in the middle. Hairpin writers should have a better grasp on the complexity of patriarchy and gender norms than this.

katiemcgillicuddy

@kfizz Thank you for pointing this out. This is a very, very valid point.

stonefruit

@kfizz did you have a chance to read his interview? He straight-up said that he was scared of women's anger. I'm in agreement that the patriarchy hurts all of us, but he blames his hurt on women's anger. Women's anger! Now that is some deflection.

polka dots vs stripes

@kfizz This wasn't about him being sensitive to comments on the internet - he's being sensitive only to the criticisms of other white men, completing dismissing the criticisms that come from the very people he claims to be allied with (women, particularly women of color). Women have been criticizing his work for ages, but only when other white dudes say something against him, he cares.

He should be sensitive all he wants, but the point is he's only sensitive to what people like him have to say.

DullHypothesis

Ack I accidentally deleted my comment when I meant to add a comma. I'm just gonna walk away from the internet.

katiemcgillicuddy

@stonefruit I think @kfizz just took issue with the sort of tone that "'patriarchy hurts men, too' shit" took. Calling it "shit", with or without context, sounded pretty flip to me? No question about him being full of bullshit in the interview.

queenofbithynia

@kfizz they have a good understanding of how patriarchy hurts men, I thought. This:

"CR: He's all about this "patriarchy hurts men, too!" shit

SES: Yeah, the same way racism hurts white people? Classism hurts the wealthy?

CR: And, I mean, it does, in the sense that living in Capitalist Hellworld isn't good for anybody, but the liberation of women will quite rightly involve attacking male power.

MH: Right! He doesn't see it as a class relation."

is as clear as it gets outside of essay format. I don't think any of that was rhetorical or just for jokes; classism does hurt rich people too. Power corrupts and it hurts to be corrupted. But neither rich people nor white people nor abled people get the same degree of exquisite care that men do in parallel discussions, although they certainly deserve it at least as much.

TheBourneApproximation

@kfizz Yes, agreed. There are some *incredibly* important conversations society needs to have about how patriarchy hurts men too. Hugo Schwyzer just went about those conversations in pretty much exactly the wrong way.

kfizz

@stonefruit and @polka dots vs stripes I think you have both missed the thrust of my post: I'm not defending him or what he says. I'm really not. I think he fails in pretty much every way at being a feminist.

I'm commenting on the tone that the writers of this post used when discussing the idea that patriarchy hurts men. They dismissed it as ridiculous. Which I think belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the patriarchy. The patriarchy hurts everyone. Shaming men for being sensitive (regardless of who they are) is the major force keeping men from expressing their sensitivity openly.

I really don't give a shit about Hugo Schwyzer. He seems like a dick with a lot of personal shit to work out, and none of it is my business or my concern. @stonefruit, I agree did read the interview, and I agree with you that he needs to engage with women's anger to be a feminist successfully. Absolutely! And @polka dots vs stripes, I absolutely agree that he shuts women out of the discourses on feminism that he participates in. Which is a very obvious way in which he reinforces the structure of patriarchy every time he tries to denounce it. He's oblivious to it, and it's hurtful to the people he engages with - or refuses to engage with. Absolutely agreed.

But I really DO give a shit about the way The Hairpin talks about feminism and the patriarchy. And they dropped the ball here.

Judith Slutler

@TheBourneApproximation agreeeeeeedddd. I actually appreciated some of his writing for this reason before I found out about his creepy history and some of the things that bothered me about his pieces were thrown into very stark relief.

Mira

@kfizz Sensitive? The guy who literally just described cheating on his wife as "very off-brand for me"?

kfizz

@queenofbithynia Interesting. I assumed from their tone when they said "like racism hurts white people," and "like classism hurts the wealthy," that they were sarcastically dismissing all three examples as ridiculous. But you make a good point.

I thought about that before posting, and I honestly believed at first that the damage patriarchy does to men is more directly harmful than what racism does to white people and what classism does to wealthy people. I'm still working this out as I'm writing, and I'm going to try my best with flawed vocabulary, so bear with me....

But I think that there's some very significant sense in which all humans, male and female, cis and trans, exhibit a complex mix of traits understood widely as "masculine" and "feminine." Like, men are not all "masculine" and women are not all "feminine," and we all exhibit all of these behaviors. Which is why gender norms are so hurtful - because they require us to choose between denying parts of ourselves or being shamed and/or ostracized by the culture. But I don't think that, for example, white people are denied any opportunity to express some "POCness" by racism, or wealthy people are denied the ability to express their "poorness." You know? Both of those prospects sound ridiculous to me. Race and class are cultural differences, and they come from cultural context, not from the sheer fact of being human. Whereas all humans exhibit things that the patriarchy calls both "feminine" and "masculine," and they were doing things from both sets of characteristics before there was any patriarchy to put them in boxes and make lots of rules about them. So I think that yes, racism hurts everyone, and so does classism. I guess I think that "patriarchy," broadly defined, encompasses racism and classism too. Which is the same thing they referred to when they mentioned Capitalist Hellworld.

Honestly, I'm rambling now, and I'm afraid I lost track of the initial thing I was trying to reply to. But anyway, you raise a good perspective that I didn't see at first. I still think the gender thing is fundamentally different from race and class (which are also fundamentally different from each other), but it still needs a lot of clarifying in my head. Thanks for that, though, very stimulating!

wallsdonotfall

@kfizz I think I see what you're saying, but: the patriarchy hurts individual dudes. Maybe all of them! Every single man can be hurt by the patriarchy. But the whole class of men, no. The patriarchy only privileges that class.

(which is to say that I feel like it's maybe mostly a problem of terminology)

kfizz

@TheBourneApproximation Agreed. My mind is boggled. I mostly don't read his writing anymore. The shit he said in the interview this links to is staggeringly stupid.

polka dots vs stripes

@kfizz I think you have both missed the thrust of my post...But I really DO give a shit about the way The Hairpin talks about feminism and the patriarchy. And they dropped the ball here.

In all honesty, yeah, I think I did. My apologies.

Better to Eat You With

@kfizz This is a considerable projection on my part, no doubt, but I read that as, "Oh, these dudes who go on and on about how the patriarchy hurts men while failing to acknowledge how it hurts women can fuck off."

Snood Mood

@kfizz I was taken aback by the tone they took there as well, and came here to write the same thing. HS is a tool and that's a whole other ball of wax, but mocking the idea that the patriarchy damages boys and men who have to grow up/navigate/be defined by it? Yikes.

stonefruit

@Better to Eat You With Well, I'll join you in projection-land, if that's the case, because that's how I read it as well. If your only focus w/r/t how patriarchy hurts people is how it affects men, you're missing something.

A very large something.

stonefruit

Hugo is truly the worst, and I have nothing but happiness in my heart that he's not out there polluting The Internets with his vile, mealy-mouthed writing.

Very glad to see the recognition that HS's stalker-ish behavior was alarmingly frequently directed at women of color.

Susanna

@stonefruit Yes. I want to know more about this bit:

"And part of the reason it's not well-known enough is that he stalked and darkly whispered against many of the women (often women of color) who called him out in years past."

[and I think that photo is from a shop on Kastanienallee in Berlin, around the corner from me. Which was weird to see]

Judith Slutler

@stonefruit @Susanna I wish the interviewees had been more specific, and I don't know the whole story, but Black Amazon, Feminist Griote and later on, T.F. Charlton / Grace from Are Women Human did a ton of work publicizing his mistreatment of them and others. In fact it could be awesome and possibly more appropriate to interview any of those women, rather than the men Schwyzer called out as his biggest critics for reasons the men themselves find problematic.

stonefruit

@Judith Slutler I second that. It was particularly striking (read: horrifying) to watch how transparently HS went after Blackamazon and BFP, and I'd be really interested to hear what they have to say.

22582004@twitter

@Judith Slutler thank you for mentioning specific people! the examples I was thinking of all happened a year or two ago (they were mercifully my first exposure to Schwyzer, IIRC) and I couldn't find any posts about them because the tumblr search function is garbage. I'd like to at least have relevant hyperlinks where I brought up him harassing women of color.

p.s. good username also

p.p.s. oops this is Chris I guess the comment system doesn't display my actual twitter name

stonefruit

oh and I want to say he also focused on Flavia Dzodan, who is a Latina woman.

Judith Slutler

@22582004@twitter Yeah one of the weirdest things about this fiasco is simply how little history exists on the internet. I too searched for specific posts and found very little, I eventually found some of Hugo's targets themselves talking about it on Twitter. And in a couple days, those posts will become un-googlable (at least for my google skills) as well.

It's all a really clear case of that thing where activist movements and social circles tend to lack institutional memory, and thus have a very hard time shutting out known abusers / act like people who do have long memories are just bringing up ancient history due to a grudge. For that reason I really won't be surprised if Schwyzer shows up again in a couple years.

cee
cee

@Judith Slutler

"It's all a really clear case of that thing where activist movements and social circles tend to lack institutional memory, and thus have a very hard time shutting out known abusers / act like people who do have long memories are just bringing up ancient history due to a grudge. For that reason I really won't be surprised if Schwyzer shows up again in a couple years."

god, YES. And like you I would have hoped the internet would hold that memory for us! But... it won't, or at least not in a way that we can ever know is reliable.

DullHypothesis

Ding dong the Dingdong's dead.

TheBourneApproximation

Man, between this asshole and Phil Fish, this is apparently the week for unpleasant white dudes to quit the internet / TAKE THEIR BALL AND GO HOME.

Mira

Good riddance. That guy is the worst.

aphrabean

@Mira The WOOOOOOOOOORST.

Mira

@aphrabean

:D

LacunaKale

Don't let the door try to kill in your sleep on the way out.

hallelujah

@LacunaKale WELL DONE

Mae
Mae

Oh, the "yo ladies I tried to murder my wife but it's fine because I am a Christian now and also the King of Feminism" guy is leaving the internet? Cool.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Mae I always think of him as the "Hey everybody read this excruciatingly detailed piece about me pulling out my third wife's stuck tampon the day after she said she wants a divorce" guy, or whatever that shit was. I think I've blocked most of it out but it was actually the weirdest thing I ever read up till that point.

dj pomegranate

Which, given that Schwzyer tried to murder his ex-girlfriend, is a rather literal demonstration of Margaret Atwood's dictum about men being afraid that women will laugh at them and women being afraid that men will kill them.

DING DING DING! I just cannot even with this guy.

Honestly, the first few things I read from him were like, ok, fine, interesting. But then I read about his past and was like, uhhhh, what? Are there are no, idk, WOMEN, that we could maybe be talking to about this? REALLY? NO WOMEN ON THE WHOLE INTERNET TALKING ABOUT FEMINISM? No women talking eloquently about, oh, idk, A MAN USING VIOLENCE AGAINST THEM BECAUSE: PATRIARCHY? None?

Cry me a river, Hugo.

bellekaren

"I think we need good, brave, male voices who can take criticism and aren’t simply parroting the party line. I took Feminism 101. I know how to use all the big words. Look, intersectionality, I used it correctly in a sentence. I mean, fuck that. We need better than that."
Oh my god.

Rhode Island Red

Since this is my burner account created specifically so I could say what a creep Hugo was (and is), I can't help but sign back in with a little comment jig of delight about this. I actually squealed loudly when I saw this post because it's like my two worlds have collided: my favorite site meets someone I knew as a teenager and who certainly changed the way I looked at authority figures.
This post is mostly just me venting about him. He's rank; you all know that, and so do I, but I knew him when I was a teenager, and it was very real what he was doing with my friend- feminism was far from our minds. At the time, he was married to the woman whose tampon he famously pulled out, and whom he cheated on with my 17-year-old (at the time) friend while he was in a leadership position. His mental illness became evident then, and as their relationship progressed, it became obvious that he had abused his position of trust (honestly, we may have been stupid and naive, but he was suave, and smooth and convincing as a friend and leader when we were kids). She told me intimate details about their thing and it went from being funny and risqué to being scary for her. She broke things off, and years after their relationship ended, he friended me on facebook. I accepted, mostly out of morbid curiosity as to what he was up to. I know this is hypocritical in a lot of ways, but to me, he was just my friend's crazy ex-boyfriend- I was interested and she asked me for updates on him. His avid defenders boggle me to an extent, but as one of several people who were taken in by his personal charm at one time or another, I can sort of believe it. It makes sense. He reaches so many people with his courses, and he is (or, was) charming in person, as sociopaths are wont to be. I do feel sorry for his wife and children, and sorry for all of the women he's been involved with over the years. Like others have said here, I'm sure he'll be back.
At any rate, I realize that sharing this here has little to do with his place in feminism (aside from how egregious he is) and reiterates what a lot of people already know about him. However, I will never forget how he abused his power with young people, and has continued to lie about it for years. I wondered for a moment if, when he said he had an affair in the interview, he was referring to my friend, but she's probably just one of many. Basically, this vignette is just indicative of how deceptive he is and was, to himself and others.

maybe partying will help

The #ProfessorFeminism tag on Twitter yesterday was a thing of glory. Fucking Schwyzer. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

jenjenboben

From an update on his website:

"As a personal update and partial explanation, I am out of the hospital after a psychiatric hold and I’m on a cluster of drugs that affect my mood, my judgment, and my capacity to engage. While I stand by the interview, those drugs (including heavy doses of Lithium, Klonopin and so forth) played a part in the poor way I framed things. Nonetheless, I take full responsibility for every word I said, save for the unkind remark about XoJane publisher Jane Pratt. I’d also like to clarify that the Good Men Project has changed substantially since Tom Matlack left, and has become a more feminist-friendly site than when I was forced out.

Through all this public career, I have carefully (or not so) concealed a serious mental illness that has once again come to the fore. If nothing else, I ask for prayers for my wife Eira, my daughter Heloise, and my son David. They are innocents in this story."

Those poor kids.

stuffisthings

I hate Hugo Schwyzer as much as the next person, but you know the Fascists won the Spanish Civil War because the other side spent all their time fighting over who was allowed to wear the "This Is What A Communist Looks Like" T-shirts.

stonefruit

@stuffisthings If we can't all get together and agree that no, it is not feminist behavior to attempt to murder your ex and then downplay that incident when it comes up later; that no, it is not feminist to abuse your position of power over young female students; that no, it is not feminist to have affairs with your young female students; and that no, it is not feminist to repeatedly silence women's voices in discussions about feminism, with special emphasis on silencing the voices of women of color - well, I don't know what, but it doesn't leave me very hopeful about what feminism is.

stuffisthings

@stonefruit Sorry, that was unclear: what I meant was I am all for Hugo Schwyzer being driven off the internet and his awful behavior being called out. But the more general "who can be a feminist" stuff, yeah.

stonefruit

@stuffisthings Ah, I see. I definitely think it's possible to be a dude and also a feminist! That's not a barrier to entry in my mind. But the thing is, I don't think Hugo was someone who did a good job of being a feminist, or even being feminist-adjacent, primarily because his attempt at being an ally, such as it was, centered himself and not women. It seemed like it was all about how he could get the most brownie points for saying the most radical (I mean, "radical") things.

stuffisthings

@stonefruit That said, I could easily change a few keywords in what you wrote and it could be a POUM communique about the Popular Front.

Maybe if Schwyzer were more representative of a broader trend I could see a little more value in his exuberant and extended public shaming? I don't know. It does feel so RIGHT, because he is so terrible in so many ways, and it's appalling when his name is attached to ideas I care about. But it also feels like it's always easier for the Left to go after wayward "allies" who sully the name of The Movement (whichever one we're referring to) than to make real progress on the issues they care about, and that's been true since 1848 AT LEAST.

I mean Republicans freely tolerate all sorts of destructive lunacy within the conservative movement, and look where it's gotten them! I guess that's not the sort of "winning" we want to achieve. Or maybe I'm grumpy because I stayed up too late last night watching a news story about Mississippi's last abortion clinic and it's hard for me to wake up today and put "Hugo leaves the Internet" in the success column, IDK.

stuffisthings

Also I kind of just want to make Spanish Civil War jokes whenever the opportunity arises.

stonefruit

@stuffisthings by all means, Spanish Civil War jokes are rad as can be.

but ...

I could easily change a few keywords in what you wrote and it could be a POUM communique about the Popular Front.

(which for the record is how I read your first comment, and why I responded the way I did, so having already said what I did say, I will just go with:)

... so what? I mean, feminism is an ideology, and if you actively engage in behavior that directly contradicts that ideology, then I don't think it's fair to claim it as your own.

I'm totally comfortable saying that words have meanings, is what I'm trying to say.

stuffisthings

@stonefruit I guess sometimes I feel like feminism wants to be an aesthetic tendency or a lifestyle, like punk rock, and not a social and political movement with goals and a strategy?

Schwyzer is a shithead and not a real feminist but does he materially set back feminist political goals by calling himself one? Are there documented examples of people going "well yeah I figured it was OK to abuse my wife because Schwyzer did it and he's a feminist?"

It wouldn't take too much to convince me he has caused some legitimate harms outside his immediate circle (his hounding of his critics springs to mind, and hopefully his "leaving the internet" includes laying off that shit). But I don't count "publicly speaking as a feminist when you're not really a feminist" as one of them. The Right has more than its fair share of whackjobs plus all kinds of people that others on the Right would say are DEFINITELY "not real conservatives" but it hasn't stopped them from winning elections, rolling back Roe v. Wade, restricting voting, cutting taxes, slashing benefits, etc. etc.

I dunno. Maybe I'm just fantasizing that there could be a left-wing movement that was as disciplined and effective as the U.S. conservative movement c. 1980-2006, without being, like, Stalinists?

AW@twitter

@stuffisthings About the Spanish civil war? Yeah, No.

The fascists had the backing of Germany and "il duce" a large section of the Spanish elite, and the non interference of the rest of the west. The republicans had Hemingway and Stalin. A mismatched duet at the best of times.

We can debate the causes and reasons for the republican defeat, but suffice it to say to point to ever finer dialectical debates as the cause is pretty

There is always a tendency in every movement for ever finer Trotskyist revisions of dialectic (watching the republicans in Wyoming is quite a good example) . As a male I don't worry about whether I am an ally, or enemy or am "allowed". I just do the next ethical thing which generally aligns very closely with the goals of feminism.

AW@twitter

@stuffisthings you mean like the Maoists circa 1948?

stonefruit

@stuffisthings I ... think you just called me a Stalinist?

I am pretty sure that word does not mean what you think it means, but sure, whatever.

Mira

@stuffisthings He actually is representative of a broader trend. Or, maybe not "trend" exactly, but tendency - the tendency that some men have to make every conversation All About Them, even when their perspectives aren't needed, wanted, or useful. Perhaps especially then. That's important and when one of the most high-profile practitioners of his extra-gross brand of exploitation leaves the Internet, we're allowed to celebrate it. Publicly speaking as a feminist when you aren't actually a feminist really is a serious problem for feminism, especially when the speaker is a dude, because by virtue of his gender he will be taken more seriously by more people who are more willing to listen to him than will any dozen actual feminists who happen to be women. It's naive at best to pretend that this doesn't happen.

I think most of us have met that guy City_Dater mentions at the top of the comments, capital-F Feminists who can't stop talking about their own feelings and thoughts and can't be bothered to listen to women or give a shit about any of us, in particular. They're constantly trying to redirect conversations to center themselves, or the Extremely Clever Points they want to make at the expense of listening or engaging on anything that might make them uncomfortable, or might mean that they have to acknowledge that a woman might know more about a particular subject than they do.

I don't mean to be a jerk, because I like your comments and think you're generally a thoughtful and interesting dude, but making jokes comparing feminists who don't like male faux-feminists who cheat on their wives, try to kill their girlfriends, and attack women of color to intraparty anti-fascist fights in the Spanish Civil War (because you...like making Spanish Civil War jokes? Even when they have nothing at all to do with the subject at hand?) is in my view not a bad illustration of that dynamic, actually.

AW@twitter

@AW@twitter huh? The pin ate a word.

"finer dialectical debates as the cause is pretty facile".

stuffisthings

all: Well I just read a bit more about him, starting with the MPDG thing, and I guess I hadn't realized how widespread his influence was? I literally have only ever seen him presented as a pathetic joke. That changes my thoughts on this considerably!

(@stonefruit I wasn't calling you a Stalinist btw, I was speculating on whether a mythical, ruthlessly effective leftist movement could exist without being basically stalinist? i.e. that maybe having internal divisions and spending a lot of time hashing them out is not a weakness of leftist movements but part of what they are about?)

PistolPackinMama

@stuffisthings Yeah, I don't think all those women on the internet discussed by the interviewees saying HS is the worst were off the mark there, with their intimate experiences of his misogynist appropriative exploitative behavior and the pointing out of his gig as a widely published tenured professor dealing in gender studies. And also a pathetic joke. That too. But least important.

Slutface

@stuffisthings "I just read a bit more about him"
Probably should've started there.

@Mira ALL OF WHAT YOU SAY. Stuffisthings, I recommend reading what Mira wrote, again and again, over and over. And, like, internalizing it. (Hint: you are being one of Those Guys.)

stonefruit

@stuffisthings yeah, I do think it would have been to your benefit to do more reading about him before you came to the discussion to lodge complaints of Stalinism and ideological nitpicking. Hugo's actions had very real and painful effects on the folks he targeted, and I don't think we do anyone - or this discussion - any favors by minimizing that.

Mae
Mae

@stuffisthings Dude, next time you have an impulse to charge in and tell the ladies they're doing feminism/progressivism wrong*, maybe try checking that impulse and reading up on the situation first?

*As I recall, this is not the first time you've done this.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Mira Oh man. I think I love you.

simone eastbro

@stuffisthings feminism doesn't "want" anything. feminism is not a sentient being. feminism is an overlapping series of ideologies espoused by people with sometimes-differing objectives and differing levels of power and influence. if anyone here is into feminism as punk rock lifestyle, it's you. i see you step into a mansplaining role in comments a lot, bro. sometimes whitemansplaining. knock it off.

9478302@twitter

There's been SO MUCH DISCUSSION on twitter the last few days about him, and part of the reason there's so much is because the dude is a predator who harasses women (especially WOC) who critique him. He's really really good at spinning himself (being ON BRAND), deflecting, and playing the victim. Meanwhile, women who are actual voices with audiences don't speak up about him unless something specific comes up because they don't want to deal with the fall out. It's a really sick dynamic. I'm sorry he's mentally ill and dealing with serious mental health issues, but that's ultimately beside the point. Most people who are mentally ill don't try to kill their girlfriends, don't stalk and abuse women, don't actively work to silence Women of Color. Ugh ugh ugh. Thanks for sharing this. The dude is a blight to feminism.

citoyennebrett

You know, for the longest time, I really wanted to give Schwyzer the benefit of the doubt. Even with the attempted-murder thing. Not that I had any particular attachment to him - I'd read a few of his blog posts and thought they were pretty good, I guess? - I think I just really wanted to believe that people do change, and I know that addicts do fucked up things. I never actively defended him, (though that Feministe blow-up a couple of years ago was pretty much what made me leave the feminist blogosphere, more or less permanently) but I guess I really wanted to believe the redemption narrative or something.

But after all of this? Yeah, I'm done. The whole redemption story, which I apparently fell for, is obviously bullshit and this guy is an asshole, or worse (probably worse). I really want to believe that people can change, and that men critically examining masculinity can play an important role in feminism, and I'm... profoundly disappointed, I guess, but mostly at myself for refusing to see what a piece of shit this guy is.

PistolPackinMama

@citoyennebrett it truly fucking sucks when that happens. I feel you.

bluebears

You MUST read his good bye part 2 on his website.

1. LOL @ goodbye part 2
2. He somehow feels like now is a good time to re-tell the tale of attempting to kill his girlfriend. By which I mean he wrote a borderline porn story about attempting to kill his girlfriend. The level of (truly unnecessary) sexual detail and purple prose is unbelievable.

Mira

@bluebears OH MY GOD.

1. Flouncers who don't actually go away are the best flouncers, I think we can all agree on that.
2. Why did he do that?! It doesn't add anything to the story except extra layers of near-pornographic detail and wallowing. It actually makes me less sympathetic to him, which I did not know was even possible.

Hugo: I know you're reading this. Stop.

stonefruit

@bluebears @Mira oh my good lord. LEAVE IF YOU'RE LEAVING, BUDDY. We can't miss you if you won't stay away.

And I don't know why he re-published his "I used to love her / but I had to attempt to kill her and myself b/c reasons" screed; the loving detail he provides is sickening. Near-pornographic, indeed.

HydrogenJukebox

@bluebears Oh god, it's like bad fanfiction (fan-nonfiction?) about himself. Good riddance, pal.

Mira

@stonefruit He had to kill her because of Tenderness! "Misplaced" tenderness, of course. He is very sensitive.

Did you notice one of the Big Questions it raised?: "How do we deal with the dark pasts of people whom we admire?"

PEOPLE WHOM WE ADMIRE. Just, dude. Come on.

stonefruit

@Mira Yeah, I'm sorry, were we unclear? WE DO NOT ADMIRE YOU. Your words and actions are not admirable! Gah!

Mira

@HydrogenJukebox I hope "Kerith" is doing well these days. Poor woman clearly had a lot of serious problems and now gets to see the douchebag ex who tried to kill her rehash gross, porny, self-aggrandizing, thinly anonymized versions of it all over the Internet for fun and profit. Uggghhhh he sucks so much.

Fingers crossed that she managed to make a good, healthy, fulfilling life for herself and is now laughing at how awful he is.

Judith Slutler

@bluebears oh my god what the fuck. what. the. fuck.

Mingus_Thurber

@bluebears Coming in late to this whole thing feels sort of like walking into a room where you expect a party and instead find a fire, filled with sharks and jellyfish and enthusiastic insurance salesmen. You want to run away, but instead you dig around, because you can't figure out how the hell all this stuff got into the living room.

How did this guy get a job, is my first question. And how did he start getting published in popular magazines and online? And WTF did Jezebel really hire him, and oh well, I guess that's why I quit reading Jezebel a couple-three-four years ago?

Having now read his goodbye, parts one and two, I hope that he gets a good therapist, gets his meds straight, and breaks all his fingers in a tragic accident. By the time they've all healed enough for him to type, maybe everybody will be ready to ignore him, because holy shit what a weirdo.

eli manning

@bluebears Good lord. And what's with the quotes? Did he write this shit down in his diary back then? Are we supposed to think he remembers conversations word-for-word from 15 years ago? Ugh @ this weird, lurid fanfic about his life.

Springtime for Voldemort

And, now, he's tried to kill himself: http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2013/08/porn_professor_hugo_schwyzer_suicide_attempt.php

Cawendaw

@bluebears It's like some bizarre chocolate swirl of all flavors of terrible things. I feel like one thing that's gotten lost in this is how utterly terrible a writer he is (stiflingly sanctimonious, narcissistic, and with no grasp of anything broadly approaching subtlety either in his worldview or in his arguments), and then he goes and posts something to remind us both that he's a horrible person, AND a completely terrible writer.
AND HE STILL GOT TENURE. But I probably shouldn't think about that too hard.

stonefruit

@Springtime for Voldemort Well, sure, because I know my first instinct after attempting suicide would be to call a reporter and give an interview.

SERIOUSLY THOUGH WHAT IS THIS.

Springtime for Voldemort

@stonefruit I dunno, but I'm having to do a lot of deep breathing and reminding myself that mental illness is a serious issue to keep from giggling over the absurdity.

Mae
Mae

@bluebears WHAT. BRB TAKING A DOZEN SHOWERS.

What the fuck is wrong with him? I keep thinking about the woman he tried to kill, and how she must feel about him writing luridly sexualized accounts of her attempted murder, full of identifying details about her and her family.

bluebears

@Mingus_Thurber

Re Jez: It's funny you mention that. Some of the last comments I bothered to leave on that site were on his absolutely atrocious articles. One were he basically outed one of his ex wives. Who, even if she was out to her friends and family, may not have wanted all that other detail of her struggles with her personal sexuality made public. We knew he didn't get her ok because he admitted in the article they hadn't spoken in 15 years. How do you publish something like that and have the BALLS to pretend to be even a nominal quasi feminist site?

bluebears

@eli manning He's the James Frey of bloggers

bluebears

@Mae RIGHT??? And he included juuuuuuuuust enough detail that if you were around/knew the right people you could figure out who it was.

VBonner

I keep thinking of his wife.
I wish her the best in moving on after this horrible episode w Hugo and his unforgivable behavior. He said so himself: He's a fraud.
He should never be trusted again.

Miss Maszkerádi

This couldn't be less on-topic, but sometimes I wonder how many of the people who use phrases like "Capitalist Hellworld" have actually lived under full-on communism.

52253024@twitter

The linked Atlantic thing is a parody of a first high school short story, right?

"On our first date, we went to see La Cage aux Folles with German subtitles; on our second, we went skinny-dipping in the Old Danube; on our third, we smoked hash, listened to the Sex Pistols, and read Paul Celan aloud with her friends from an anarchist youth collective."

Oh, gawd.

Gulfie

He's baaaaack

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