Please do not click “More” if you do not want to see Hugo Schwyzer’s reaction to Joe Paterno’s death.
And … you don’t. Not really.
i mean—i wonder if there’s “shades of gray” on how much he loved those kids that he never protected?
why can we always find “shades of gray” when it comes to those in power? but the rest of us are just sad children who complicated an otherwise brilliant man’s career?
[Further And Really Serious Trigger Warning (for child rape, pedophilia & associated apologism)]
I just saw that in November he wrote an article for the Good Men Project headlined “To prevent future Penn States, we need to celebrate the good in male sexuality,” in which almost every single line is vile. I swear I keep thinking it can’t get any worse and it just does.
But we also need to remember that while pedophilia and related disorders are genuine mental illnesses, they are aided and abetted by sexual shame. In a world where the hefty majority of rapists and abusers are men, that means that helping men–all men–overcome that shame is a critical part of the “solution.”
(It’s my understanding that just the opposite is true, and that if you give a pedophile a forum in which to talk with other pedophiles, they will help each other rationalize increasingly overt and harmful abuses against children. Rapists of all types are pretty famous for egging each other on, right?)
That’s his solution, though? That’s where he wants to create lasting change so that no one ever covers up the rape of a child again, so that not one single child is ever sexually abused again? Focusing on the positive aspects of adult male sexuality? What about the shame that Sandusky’s victims felt? What about the shame his victim felt when Joe Paterno saw a rape happening and did nothing? How can freeing the Sanduskys of the world from shame end rape? How can anyone read this and nod along?
I swear I am thinking of the access Hugo has had and still has to young people and I am just sort of seriously freaking out.
This isn’t supposed to be like, ABUSE DYNAMICS SUNDAY or Schywzer Sunday or anything, but the subject has been brought up on my dash and I still have thoughts. Obvious trigger warnings apply. Also this is the excellent comment at feministe that inspired this particular post.
Something that just occured to me is that a lot of the discussion on Feministe etc has focused on the idea of, “Can an abusive/bad person reform to the point where they get to participate in a feminist community?” Which sounds like a valid question, except that Schwyzer is not reformed. He has not taken real responsibility. His entire handling of this situation and the writing he’s been posting as this has gone on is absolute proof of that.
Wanna know what a “reformed abuser” is? It’s an abuser whose victim has finally been able to name what’s going on - who uses the word “abuse” to define their situation, and as such is ready to leave the abuser. The abuser will do anything to keep their victim from leaving, so they will say, “Yes, you’re right. I’ve been abusive to you. I can change. Please don’t leave.” And the victim is shocked and heartened because their abuser has never admitted to his wrongdoing so clearly before, has never validated their perceptions and experiences before. It feels so good to finally hear this. ”He gets it! Finally! There is hope after all!”
But the thing is, the minute an abuser admits their wrongdoing, they become, in their mind, a reformed abuser. They may start therapy, or join a men’s group, and they’re saying they’re doing this so they can stop abusing but really, these avenues just give the abuser yet another form of validation where they can focus on themselves and the wrongs done to them and how hard they have it and totally ignore the hard work they’re supposed to be doing to stop being abusive. And at this point it gets much harder for the victim to name the abuse, because the abuser has a redemption narrative in his head already, can’t you see the hard work he’s been doing? His therapist says this, his group leader says that, now he’s armed with psychobabble and a greater understanding of his own sob story. And now the victim owes it to him to stay, because look at all the work he’s doing. Look at how much he’s changed. Even if he hasn’t changed at all.
So this is obviously my own story, generalized. It doesn’t always work like this or exactly like this. But can you see the parallels between my very personal experience and Schwyzer’s story?
There is nothing in his current writing or behavior that displays true accountability, a real understanding why his presence is actively harmful. Do I believe that people with abusive pasts can change and not become abusive anymore? Well, like, theoretically, I believe it is possible for SOME abusers who aren’t inherently sociopathic or narcissistic with a genuine drive to change their behavior because they are horrified at the harm it has inflicted on their loved ones - in theory that kind of person could sufficiently alter the underlying perceptions and responses to others in such a way that I would feel comfortable saying, “This person isn’t abusive anymore.”
But I have never, ever seen that happen. Because being an abuser isn’t just about hitting somebody or screaming at somebody. It’s rooted in your worldview, your mindset. Non-abusers can behave abusively at times - I bet most of us have. But our underlying sense of how we perceive the world and people around us differs. Hugo may no longer engage in the same kind of obvious abusive behavior that he used to, but the narcissism, the sense of entitlement, the manipulation, the willingness to frame himself as a victim at the expense of actual victims - that’s all still there, loud and clear. And interacting with that person can be extremely toxic regardless of whether or not they are behaving in obviously abusive ways.
“Being an abuser isn’t just about hitting somebody or screaming at somebody. It’s rooted in your worldview, your mindset.” Yep! Love this.
Don’t you even start quoting MLK in defense of a man who led the defense of the racist imagery in Amanda Marcotte’s book “It’s A Jungle Out There”, to the considerable detriment of the women of color bloggers who pointed it out.
You say no one can make one uncomfortable except oneself and no one can silence another. You know what?
That’s BULLY talk.
“I’m not doing anything.”
“Stop hitting yourself!”
If no one can be made to feel uncomfortable or inferior in the face of any kind of social pressure, then what exactly is the problem with people talking about Hugo? Talk about a double standard.
You know what? The moment I stand up and start teaching young people about gender relations and feminism and rape, yes, PLEASE. Pick me apart. Scrutinize me. Put me under the microscope. Nobody should be allowed to do that who won’t withstand the scrutiny, because that scrutiny is necessary.
If I reveal gross crimes in my past and put myself forward as a redeemed figure, you won’t be doing me any favors by nodding and telling me I’m brave for coming forward… if you have any love for me as a fellow human being, you would watch me like a hawk when I think I’m redeemed and would never let me become complacent.
And if my “past mistakes” and present behaviors are incompatible with what I’m doing… yeah, I should probably stop doing it.
Just as an example: I’m personally not capable of safely piloting a motor vehicle for reasons relating to a neuromuscular disorder. Say I caused a terrible accident in the course of discovering this. I didn’t, but say I did. And say I stand up and admit that this happened but it’s in the past and I am redeemed.
Does this mean I’m now a safe driver?
The stuff Hugo rights now is damaging and harmful. You’re imagining that when we say this we’re just being prissy and thin-skinned and hence the bully talk about words never being harmful, but it does harm. It doesn’t “advance the cause”, it teaches men that acquaintance rape (the kind of rape that is most common) is accidental and is the target’s fault as much as the perpetrator’s. Go read the Accidental Rapist, by Hugo Schwyzer. That’s the piece I’m talking about. It was written just this last fall.
His piece on Jezebel about facials centers male sexuality over female’s, pushes forward the idea that men rather than women are the victims of body-image crushing propaganda in our society.
Look, it’s not that he did something wrong one time and thus we don’t care that he’s a great feminist speaker and writer and don’t care about all the good things he’s done.
We’re talking about his whole career, his whole persona, from start to finish. He doesn’t help. He hurts. The things he says that are good and valuable have been said by other people who are ignored in favor of him because the world prizes the voice of the straight white cis male college educated authority figure, and he knows enough about gender relations that he should recognize this and do something about it… but instead he chooses to talk over women, to boost select white women who will boost him in return.
Understatement of the century, but: these aren’t good things that he does. — Commenter Alexandraerin, on Hugo’s own blog.
Are you guys the company he normally keeps? Because I’m starting to understand why his popularity is so reality-resistant. It’s like The Five People You Meet in Heaven married A Million Little Pieces. And had a bunch of ugly, ugly babies. —
-Excerpt a comment (reposted for hilarity) by Feministe commenter piny [Jan 20, 2012]
re: On The Hugo Business
Note: comment was made in response to Hugo’s supporters and has since won the Best Comment Of The Day award (as far as this blog is concerned).
i’m so glad piny is still around.
Blackamazon is too much: My brain isn't COOPERATING #askafeminist -
cause i have this thing in my head about the stuff that’s been happening and it won’t be great. It won’t lead the ADD spinnywheel of my mind to be coherent so in no particular order
- I am so flipping unamused by peoples shock and amazement that folks respond to other women/other black people/etc with vitriol UP the socio economic ladder on the internet. Yes some of it is internet thuggery , yes some of it is “harsh” BUT in communities that often have resources and safety allotted by your ability to speak to hegemonic principles to have them DO YOUR VIOLENCE for you against ” undesirable” members of your community as a forom of COMMUNITY management.So yes when presented with an anonymous/psuedonymous opportunity to vent what is often GENERATIONS of rage in collectives they were previously BANNED from forming, expect some rage . PEOPLE ARE HUMAN
- Don’t make art wanting to Give Voice to “unspoken” things and then be shocked when the unspoken use the voices they got THANK YOU VERY MUCH to be angry with you.
- I love daniellamartins piece a lot. I like it most cause it makes folks and me uncomfortable. I like it because frankly to many women love the idea of accepted respectability not as affirmation of beauty but as affirmation of their own slut shaming , resource hoarding and judgmental policing. That it’s about proving the things that hegemony inflicts on poor, hoodish, slutty women is okay because “good” ( and that can be Michelle Obama,Audre Lourder etc etc ) get rewarded by getting husbands,material goods, fame , peace of mind, transcendence of racism etc.
- Seriously. Seriously for folks who claim to LOVE LOVE LOVE ” good black culture” moos no NOTHINg about it. Josephine Baker danced naked at society parties and slept with women . Blues had verses that would make Janet Jacme run out of the room in tears they were so raunchy . Black women playing with sexuality way outside of ANYBODY’S concept of play is a cornerstone of creative culture. CORNERSTONE.
- What I keep failing t is my inner most rage at the idea that what any of the big feminists do as the proper “feminist” response. That in all of the yelling the idea that somehow they are what internet feminist response will be measured against is BAD , is HORRIFICALLY ATROCIOUSLY bad. That the idea of a NEW oligarchy having the power to smother discussions while STEALING from them is about a new concept of reality bending that LIVES OFF OPPRESSION but doesn’t fight it.
- When you construct politics around consumption, make no mistake you LIKE things that force specific consumption. No response to PIPA or SOPA because well as we know marginalized folks will always be on the wrong side so if it allows us to manage a system WHILE using their shit and allow them to be branded criminal if they point out they used their venues of circumventing oppression . BONUS
- If it ignores that this can be used to further rabuse, harass and expose the ONE THING THAT HAS MADE THINGS POSSIBLE FOR CROSS SOLIDARITY. Expectable modes of privacy or control … EHH.
- But let it f-up their possibility of using wiki to codify their EXPERTISE !!! OH HELL NO
- HUgo isn’t a sad stumble , he was AN INEVITABILITY . You have a group of women who treat this as their career launchpad at a moment where expanding the brand is a necessity. What expands the brand , not long term work which often requires ignoring trends and putting your head down but controversy, theatrics and PUBLICITY. A handsome man got is act right from feminism. WOHOOO . Don’t vet that don’t examine that SELL IT.
- And why the brand furthering ? Well cause to put it bluntly a good lot of em got left holding the bag. Remember when amanda pissed and bitched about who women need to be music writers and how it went away when she got jobs? Or how the media was a large multi conglomerate that they couldn’t be a part until Ripert Murdoch offered money . The schtick is old, the writers aren’t that great but the idea that a small band had their fingers on the pulse IS so what do you do KEEP REINVENTING THE PULSE .
- This stuff is the shit women of color go through with white women in professional VENUES ALL THE TIME . It’s written off as cattiness because that makes hegemony COMFORTABLE. But let us be really awesomely FANTSTICALLY clear here . Jill had in her comments young women talking bout feeling COERCED , at risk and UNSAFE around a PREDATOR. She ignores them she lumps them in with her usual persecutors ( BIG OLE MEAN WOMEN OF COLOR) and behind closed doors with other white women she is complacent and ACTIVE in figuring out a way to DISAPPEAR the complaints as a way of her royal virtue.
- These are the suffragists who heard raped slaves and servants screaming in the background and made sure to chant louder so as not to distract from there march.
- #Betty Davis
- #Michelle Obama
- Nawww homie you don’t get to fetishize their skill and then try and denounce it of it’s power
- I am adding to my list of things to master the booty clap and the arpeggioing while booty clapping
Okay now i think its out
“Hugo isn’t a sad stumble, he was AN INEVITABILITY” is a point that NEEDS NOT TO BE MISSED. And it can’t be missed if one looks at another of your points:
“These are the suffragists who heard raped slaves and servants screaming in the background and made sure to chant louder so as not to distract from there march.”
Center THAT, and all the stuff I keep getting told “doesn’t make sense,” does. It makes all the sense in the world.
jadelyn asked: I realize a (genuine, mature, grownup) statement has been made about the james-bliss mess by now. But I'm going back in my timeline (catching up after work) & I have to say, the level of whiny defensiveness and, yes, passive-aggression Raven (since you say that's who was handling those asks) repeatedly showed - and outright fuck-off condescension when called on it - has turned me off this blog. I have no interest in following a blog run, or even just co-run, by someone like that. It's too bad.
(Can you guess who this is?)
When Jill wrote “Filling the Gaps,” it wasn’t. It was “three people, of which I [Jill] am the only one who has any inclination to write regularly.” When Feministe was being taken to task for being one of MANY, MANY mainstream *F*eminist blogs to pass by Jessica Yee’s anthology, Feminism FOR REAL? Then Feministe was not an institution. It was a project, sustained by very few people who all have real jobs elsewhere. How could anyone even *suggest* that Jill is propping up an Internet *F*eminist institution that devalues the work of WOC and maintains a harmful status quo? She writes this shit on her lunch break, you guys.
But when Feministe is criticized for giving a platform to Hugo Schwyzer, a known and un-accountable abuser, Jill doesn’t need to step in because Feministe is bigger than her. She is just one of many talented bloggers who have made Feministe what it is today. Other people have posted about it. Her health concerns (unlike those of certain other people) and personal life prevented her from participating in an institution-wide discussion, not a personal outlet.
And I’m not saying that online discourse—even online enabling and online abuse culture—need to take precedence over everything else, even for *F*eminists. But I am saying that it’s very interesting to see who controls the language that we’re using. And I find it very interesting that the language being used right now, to describe pushback against a Noted Male Feminist who tried to murder his sleeping ex-girlfriend, is “internet blow-up” and not “racism” or “enabling” or “abuse culture.”
So, the other day unknowablewoman asked for help administrating this blog, and I said I’d give her a hand, because I have some experience facilitating campaigns and whatnot. The post by james-bliss went up that night, as I was fussing around with how to actually join and contribute to this blog.
Raven (unknowablewoman) has been handling all the james-bliss-related asks up until now. Which isn’t entirely fair to her, even if I am new to the blog. So after some discussion with Raven, here’s where we’re at with this:
As white women, neither of us feel at all okay with being the facilitators of a discussion about james-bliss and his writings/contributions on the subject of racism and misogyny against women of colour. We really, really, REALLY appreciate all of the feedback we’ve received - and people who’ve written in to us about this deserve massive props, especially the women of colour, so a huge and sincere thank you to so-treu, leonineantiheroine, et al, for all your super-valuable input. Both Raven and myself are, I think, inclined to just post every ask we get about james-bliss with minimal/no commentary.
But we’re concerned about a couple of things - one, that we’re (indirectly or otherwise) being placed in the position of gatekeepers over what gets said about james-bliss, and two, that this isn’t a blog about james-bliss. The obvious solution would be to move the conversation about james-bliss to another blog, but no such blog is available (as far as we know, no one’s made a letstalkaboutjamesbliss tumblr) and for Raven and myself to continue facilitating this discussion is not cool. NOT because it’s ~so hard~ for us or anything, but just because, frankly, if we saw two other white women facilitating a discussion like this, we’d think they were out of line. The LAST THING we want to do is silence anyone. But our intentions can take us so far in this situation. So we’re respectfully asking that this conversation be moved out of the fucknohugoschwyzer inbox.
Some housekeeping notes: It was Raven who reblogged james-bliss’s original post about Schwyzer and his history of racism. She’s spoken already about why she reblogged it, and for transparency’s sake, we are not going to take it down. We will also leave up all the commentary we received on it. We really strongly encourage everyone to read that commentary, especially the commentary of the women of colour who wrote in.
It is important, when we talk about Hugo Schwyzer, to talk about his racism, and specifically to talk about his anti-blackness and how he has treated Black women. Too often, when a prominent “F”eminist/feminist voice - almost always a white voice - attacks, demeans, dehumanizes, and villifies women of colour, white “allies” are silent. There is a long and specific history of women of colour, and especially Black women, being expected to have their own backs. The idea that Black women are “strong” and therefor that they don’t need and/or aren’t worth sticking up for in the face of racism and misogyny, is a pervasive facet of racism and anti-blackness. I say this not for “ally points” or whatever, but because, as someone who has certainly been guilty of such unchecked white bullshit before, I think it’s an important point for the white folks reading this blog to remember. Black women have been targeted for shitty treatment by Hugo Schwyzer in ways that white women just never were. Whether or not james-bliss is a viable ally to women of colour is not up to me or Raven to decide – but what IS up to us, what IS our responsibility, is making a clear, firm, and transparent commitment to centre the voices of women of colour on this blog.
If anything, that is what I want to come out of this whole james-bliss thing – a clearer understanding of my and Raven’s roles as administrators and curators of this space and the fact that we do, HIGHLY, prioritize the work, thoughts, etc of women of colour.
And we want to bring down Hugo Schwyzer. Because he is racist, because he is cissexist, because he is a misogynist.
Finally, we are still looking for co-administrators. Raven and myself are both very busy ladies, in addition the myriad limitations of being, you know, human beings, and therefore prone to fucking up on occasion. I realize that inviting people to co-administer the blog after a recent drama is somewhat, uh, unappealing, probably, but hey. We love you guys. We’d love a new co-admin or five. Hit us up if you’re interested.