Do I get to have a “pre-sobriety past,” as a victim of abuse (rather than a perpetrator)? No, I don’t. While people like Schwyzer attempt to use their sobriety to evade accountability (while preaching accountability, no less!), I am scarlet-lettered with it forever. Why did that happen to her? Because she was unsafe. Because she was drunk. Because she was a user. Because she was promiscuous. Because she was bad.
Here is my sobriety story, for newer followers. Lots of triggery stuff at that link, so please be careful. I wrote it specifically to COUNTER the redemption narrative that comes with so many sobriety stories, because I do not believe I was to blame for my abuse. I do not believe ANYONE in a similar situation is to blame. EVER.
Do I believe a perpetrator will always be to blame? In some instances, yes, I do. I believe in restorative justice in some situations but I do not believe that events can be erased simply because one has worked through that process. Progress is not linear, and the things we have done that hurt others will ALWAYS be part of who we are. This does not mean that I can never trust someone who has been through the restorative justice process, but it means that I do not HAVE to trust an abuser going through such things.
(and he specifically points to tumblr)
aww, that’s cute.
I like to think that he spends his days obsessively reading this tumblr and hellnohugo, and creeping on the facebook group & twitter pages.
Possibly crysterbating, like that guy from American Pie in American Horror Story.
… ok, no, that’s too skeevy. I apologize. WE’RE SO VIOLENT, HERE AT FUCK NO, HUGO SCHWYZER.
Person who has struggled with addiction checking in to note how extra-horrendous and irresponsible this attitude of HS’s is.
This has been your daily ‘Hugo Schwyzer is the fucking worst’ post on this blog.
BECAUSE YOUR LAWYER DOESN’T LIKE IT WHEN YOU ADMIT THAT YOU TRY TO MURDER PEOPLE
Can you even imagine how this conversation went?
“Hugo this is your lawyer, when you keep talking about how you tried to murder your ex girlfriend and had unethical and possibly illegal sex with your students it opens you up to possible lawsuits”
“WHO WOULD SUE ME?!!?”
“Well any of those people involved?”
Right, this is what I find so hilarious.
The fact that JUST NOW, apparently, it has come to the attention of Hugo and his lawyer that it’s problematic as fuck for them for Hugo to go around flaunting his history of rape, coersion, infidelity, violence against women, attempted murder, and abuse of illicit drugs.
I mean - it was always problematic in that it was always actually harmful to the other people implicated in those things - his victims, their families and loved ones, etc, as well as to the women who he was shouting over, the movements, campaigns, etc he was dominating, and so on. Hugo has always been a destructive presence. But you know, he was always able to make a buck, so why should he care?
Apparently it takes the possibility of legal action to get him to realize that he should, in fact, care. He might not give a fuck about the consequences of his actions for other people, but he SURE as shit gives a fuck about the consequences of his actions for HIMSELF.
To be honest, I’ve been waiting for this more or less since this whole thing started. His main defense against people pointing out how, for example, ”“”“having sex”“”“ with his students was cause for him to be fired, has been, “well, my
friends supervisor and some other profs knew, so it’s okay!” Yeah, uh, guess what, Hugo, universities and colleges are run and influenced by a NUMBER of bodies, including alumni, board of directors, student unions, faculty and staff unions, and so on - whether or not your supervisor is okay with you having used your position of power to sexually coerce young women whose academic futures you controlled is one thing, but it’s not enough to protect you should anyone BEYOND the tiny, tiny, closed circle of people you trusted to grant you absolution and not make too big a deal about it find out.
Which it seems as though they may have.
And that thought makes me happy.
As of this moment, legally gagged from further publicly discussing specifics of my pre-sobriety past.
-Hugo Schwyzer via his Twitter account
Posted: 4:24 EST on Jan 24, 2011
Part 1 of 4
Hugo Schwyzer recently met with Gina Messina-Dysert from The Feminist Theologian to talk about the recent “kerfuffle.”
does anyone have a transcript?
“Does anyone have a transcript.” You know, those words are pretty much my Kryptonite. Yes. I have made a transcript for this video. I put an exclamation point in brackets where it seemed to me that he was blatantly lying or being exceptionally brazen. There’s also a note I want to make, I put an asterisk.
Title Card: The Feminist Theologian / Gina Messina-Dysert, Ph.D
GMD: Hi, I’m Gina Messina-Dysert, the Feminist Theologian. Welcome, it’s great to be here today with Professor Hugo Schwyzer, who teaches gender studies and history at Pasadena City College. Professor Schwyzer earned his Ph.D. from UCLA and has spent over a decade working to shatter gender myths through his research [!], teaching and activism. Professor Schwyzer also writes for multiple media outlets, including Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian, and he writes the Genderal Interest column for Jezebel. So welcome, Hugo, thank you for being here.
HS: I’m so glad to be here, Gina, thank you.
GMD: Yes, terrific. So when we originally talked about scheduling this interview, our hope was to talk about lots of issues revolving around feminism, your own identification as feminist ally, and since then, a lot of things have come up, right? That have impacted your career, we’ve seen lots of things happening via the internet, Twitter, these kinds of things, and I’d certainly love to talk to you about these kinds of things. It’s been called, I guess, a bit of a controversy, some things that have come up from your past?
GMD: So I’d like to open it up to you and ask if you’d like to share some of these things that have happened, and how you’re responding to some of your critics.
HS: I’d be happy to, Gina, thank you.
GMD: Thank you.
HS: I started out calling it a kerfuffle, myself, but I think we’ve moved past kerfuffle. I don’t know what—today on Feministe, it was called a debacle—I don’t know where it goes from there. And I will preface this by saying that to be in the midst of it you have to have a certain amount of humor, in order to get through it. Basically, over more than eight years of blogging—and I began my writing career in feminism really as a blogger—in over eight years of blogging I’ve often written about my personal life, and sometimes shared stories about my past.
I have a little over thirteen and a half years sober from drugs and alcohol. And when I was an active alcoholic and drug user, which I was from the time I was fourteen until I was 31—when I was an alcholic and a drug addict I did many of the things that alcoholics and drug addicts do. Which can include some incredibly self-centered, self-destructive behavior. And I’ve written several times about two things:
One, when I was first a professor at Pasadena City College, in the 1990s, I had a series of sexual relationships with students. They were consensual sexual relationships in terms of—from a legal, if not from a feminist standpoint. They were with adults who were essentially my chronological peers—and in at least one instance with a student who was actually older than I was—but they were also unethical, profound violations, immoral violations of what the teacher-student relationship ought to be. And I’ve written about that, and I’ve written about the amends process that I’ve made for that, which included writing the college’s consensual relationships policy. In the very beginning of this century, it banned the practice that I had been engaged in, when it was actually a legal one.
The other issue that I had written about more recently, and maybe really sparked all this off, was retelling a story of my last drink and drug episode. Where, after a three day long binge of using, I attempted a murder-suicide with my ex-girlfriend. We had been doing drugs together and drinking together, we were both in a very very dark and bad space. And after she passed out, and while I was conscious—not, you know, sane, but certainly conscious—I made the decision that we should both die. I didn’t want to die alone. I was scared, I was depressed, I knew she was miserable. We’d both attempted suicide before. And I turned on the gas on my apartment and blew out the pilot lights, and expected to die.
As it turned out, we didn’t, obviously. And our lives were saved, and I was never arrested. Even though I told a hospital psychiatrist what had happened, the sheriff’s deputies were informed, they made a decision not to press charges, the ex-girlfriend and her family made a decision not to press charges. And that was that.
But I wrote this story over a year ago. And a few weeks ago, in an interview on Feministe—a very well-known website—this story came back up.
HS: And while it had largely been ignored the first time I’d told it—I’d even made reference to it more obliquely [!] in past years—now, it became a big story. And all of a sudden there was this reaction of shock and revulsion to the story of this man who’s, I suppose a fairly well-known feminist figure, certainly in the very small world of male feminists, relatively well known. Having this man disclose this thing about his past. An act which struck many people as an act of violence against a woman. [!] What does it mean to have a male feminist leader who, in his past, even if it was a long time ago and even if that past was compromised by addiction—what does it mean to have a feminist leader who once tried to kill a woman? And himself—!* But still tried to kill another person. And who had a sexual history of acting out with women who were in a subordinate position to him.
HS: Is there a comeback from that? Or should that be a sort of permanent ban from feminist spaces, because having someone who was so abusive, and I think we can stipulate that maybe that behavior was abusive—forget the maybe, we can stipulate that it was abusive—having that person be a feminist teacher, or a feminist writer, someone that people link to and respect and ask to speak—that can be very triggering and painful for survivors of violence.
HS: And this thing has snowballed ever since. It snowballed into an active campaign to get me out of feminist spaces. To get colleges that had offered me teaching gigs—sorry, speaking gigs, to rescind those offers, which has happened. A number of colleges have withdrawn their speaking gigs just in the last two weeks. Harvard and Evergreen State, who had offered to pay me to come and speak have asked me not to come.
HS: Other sites have asked me to be dissociated with them. I wrote many pieces for Scarleteen.com [!], the well-known—wonderful site that teaches young people about sex ed. I think it’s the best sex ed site for teens there is. Scarleteen dissociated itself with me—from me—and actually took down many of the pieces that I had written. Acknowledging that the pieces themselves were valuable, but that my past so thoroughly compromised those pieces that they could not stand behind them. And I resigned from other organizations as well, to protect those organizations. And I’m as we speak today, on—what is it—the seventeenth of January, I’m very much in the middle of trying to decide what my career is going to look like, going forward.
HS: And there are a lot of decisions, final decisions that haven’t been made.
GMD: That haven’t been made.
Card: Don’t forget to watch parts 2, 3, & 4! Thanks! The Feminist Theologian.
has spent over a decade working to shatter gender myths through his research [!], teaching and activism.
But Hugo has not had a single publication since his Ph.D. dissertation, which was on medieval history. He has not done any research. Even his lone book was a ghostwritten memoir.
I’d even made reference to it more obliquely [!] in past years
In the one reference I know of, in 2007, “obliquely” means “lying.” He wrote:
I blew out the pilot lights on the stove in my old apartment and turned on the gas, trying to kill myself. I not only nearly took my own life, I came close to accidentally taking the life of my girlfriend as well.
But this is a lie because we now know that he was deliberately attempting to murder his ex-girlfriend. No one reading this post in 2007 could have taken away that this was a murder-suicide because he explicitly says that the attempt on his girlfriend’s life was an accident.
An act which struck many people as an act of violence against a woman. [!]
Because it was.
I wrote many pieces for Scarleteen.com [!], the well-known—wonderful site that teaches young people about sex ed. I think it’s the best sex ed site for teens there is. Scarleteen dissociated itself with me—from me—and actually took down many of the pieces that I had written.
This is very different from what Heather Corinna, director of Scarleteen, has said. Scroll to the bottom of this piece for an official statement and also check out this thread on sf-drama. According to Heather, Hugo contributed to three pieces total on Scarleteen (the most recent one being two years ago). Only one of the pieces was entirely Hugo’s writing; one was mostly Hugo, and the third was mostly Heather. In all cases, all of his content has been removed. So Hugo’s lying at least twice here.
And I just wanted to note:
What does it mean to have a male feminist leader who, in his past, even if it was a long time ago and even if that past was compromised by addiction—what does it mean to have a feminist leader who once tried to kill a woman? And himself—!* But still tried to kill another person.
I obviously think that his switch to third-person pronouns is an act of self-distancing. But if you watch the video, what I noticed here (5:55) was that he gestures compulsively to himself when he says “And himself—!” That’s the only part in the whole third-person-pronoun speech where he actually really identifies with the “he” as “me”—he could have died. That’s where he really feels it.
Obviously there’s a zillion other things here that are repulsive, such as his extended bafflement and sense of unfairness at this all coming up a year after he wrote about it.
The most upsetting part of the whole video for me though is that Gina Messina-Dysert just sat there and calmly listened to all of it. I kept wanting her to jump and scream “WHAT THE FUCK? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? THIS IS BULLSHIT!!” and run away, but she never did. That’s a real mindfuck for me.
I might/might not do the rest of it/it might take a while.
Hugo Schwyzer recently met with Gina Messina-Dysert from The Feminist Theologian to talk about the recent “kerfuffle.”
This is part 1 of 4.
OH MY GOD YOU ARE THE SCUM OF THE FUCKING EARTH
WHYYY do people keep giving him a platform from which to run his mouth?
Crawl back into your hole and stay there.
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.