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.”
1. I don’t think people need to be non-anon to post or contribute to the discussion, it’s a bit disingenous to pretend we don’t understand why people might want to stay anon when there are people like hugo out there, whatever means people need to feel safe is ok by me.
2. I believe I’ve found some problematic entries of james bliss, I can’t be sure if this is what the anon people are referencing, doubly so because I’m white like james, but see for yourself:
Here’s an entry where he criticizes South Asians:
This sounds a lot like someone going down the path of Tim Wise:
He entitles this entry “Just to be clear on my position….” but wouldn’t that be appropriating a position he cannot claim as a white guy?
Sets himself as different from other white people:
“Ever wish you were a pretty white lady?”
Criticism of second-wave feminism
Tagged “nana nana boo boo”
Alright, THANK YOU for these links.
Whatever personal conclusion I come to about James Bliss, I can’t tell WOC how to feel about him. So I’m just going to publish this and let people do their own reading/thinking on the matter.
When I was a kid, I went to the Unitarian Universalist church here in Nashville. At the time it’s minister was a fairly charismatic, smiling, smooth man named David. I don’t know his last name and I don’t really want too. Y’see, David was a sex addict. He used his position as minister to prey on women, lots of women. While he did this, he used his charm to build support from lots of congregation members, and was generally thought very highly of.
When this came to light, my mom happened to be on the church council. She was one of several that pushed for David’s removal, and the resulting fight split the church in two. She wasn’t even one of the people who came forward and she was called all kinds of nasty names by his defenders, who yelled about how she and the others were just trying to be divisive and that they had something personally against David, that it was just a power grab.
Eventually David was ousted. He didn’t go willingly, and the fight left deep scars in the congregation that still have not healed today. Many of those who were his supporters left the church and there is still tension between the two. New members are told about the history, and more than 15 years later it is painful to those who were involved.
From everything I can tell, my mom loved that congregation, and felt like it was her home. It was one of the first spiritual homes she had since leaving the Catholic faith she’d been raised in.
After the pain of this fight, she never stepped foot in that building again. She’s never found another spiritual home.
But she says it was worth it. David couldn’t use his power to hurt anyone else, and as far as I know, he was barred from any power within UU churches.
To those of you who are holding Schwyzer to his actions, and trying to stay whole, my heart goes out to you. You are doing this with significantly less backing than my mom had, and have significantly nastier shit being thrown at you.
To those of you who are defending him, I’m not angry at you, or at least no more than I was angry at those hurting my mom. From everything I’ve seen and heard, this guy is a slimeball of epic proportions who uses emotional manipulation and abuse to control those around him and protect himself from the consequences of what he’s done, and to keep hurting others. I do ask you, however, to ask yourself if that even if he IS “reformed” is the supposed good that he *MIGHT* be doing as a male feminist leader (mmmph.) worth the pain and suffering he is causing women? In a movement that is supposed to be about women?
To Schwyzer? If you are anything close to the person you claim to be, you’ll realizing that shutting the fuck up is the best thing you can do for those you’ve hurt. You know why? Because your actions have consequences, and one of those is that you will hurt people with your very presence. There is nothing in the world that will change that.
Bolded for emphatic agreement.
I’ve gotten a lot of messages on my personal Tumblr about the post I reblogged earlier today.
I seriously wasn’t aware of any controversy surrounding james-bliss. I don’t know the guy at all and haven’t really read his blog in-depth. I’m sorry if reblogging his post bothered anyone, I really am.
For the record, I’m not really sure what to do about it, because I’ve gotten messages from people who support him and people who despise him. If anyone wants to share more info on the guy/discuss this further, feel free to message me here, but pleeeease not on my personal Tumblr; I get enough messages there already, and then if I want to publish them, I don’t have the option to publish them here.
All I do here is reblog anything I see that’s relevant to the Hugo Schwyzer issue specifically. I will be more careful in the future to do a little research on whoever I’m reblogging. That’s the best I can do! There should be a new contributor here shortly so that will help.
just read new post at feministe where the editor pretends to say something and doesn’t. or she says the sentence “i don’t support hugo” about 100 times even as it’s surrounded by a complete non-addressing of anything. i guess that says something.
but one commenter (94) hit something on the head that i don’t think i’ve read anyone say and has kind of been floating around in me felt but not articulated.
which is: just the way he writes is triggering. like, seriously so. and i do not mean that in a joking “ughhhhh just your face is a trigger” way. and this poster very explicitly and accurately described that way of speaking. it’s actually physically revolting and there must be many people who it really viscerally effects because it reminds them of something.
and it is revolting to see “feminism” which supposedly knows so much about gender violence to not *see* that the fucking very style of his writing is exactly what it is.
Participating in a coordinated take-down is not something I am going to do. And if that’s interpreted as a lack of commitment to feminism, or taking Hugo’s “side,” I personally think that’s ridiculous but so be it. There is a tension here between embracing the possibility of radical personal change and also centering victims of violence. As the moderator of a feminist community, I choose to weigh the needs of victims of violence more heavily. But I don’t think it’s up to me to decide for the entire feminist internet that Hugo is entirely irredeemable and deserves to be permanently blacklisted everywhere forever and if you disagree you are bad for feminism. I think it is up to individual bloggers and commenters and whoever else to decide if they will read or link to Hugo in the future and to decide if they’re comfortable reading a website that links or discusses Hugo. The community here at Feministe has been pretty clear that Hugo’s work shouldn’t be posted here; I agree, and it’s not going to be posted. Other bloggers and editors at other sites might feel differently; I don’t think that makes them anti-feminist or terrible or deserving of being blacklisted themselves. At the end of the day, online feminism doesn’t have a clubhouse, and I can’t take away Hugo’s keys. I am also concerned about the precedent this sets. I think that most of the critiques of Hugo are fair, as are the concerns about a former abuser rising to a level of prominence in feminist spaces — especially given his ongoing issues with women of color and his treatment of younger women. But the reality of the feminist internet is that there is a corner of it that plays the take-down game for sport, and that sees any mistake or imperfection or disagreement as evidence that one is Bad For Feminism and should be permanently sidelined. It’s destructive. It’s something I believe is incredibly bad for feminism as a movement and as an idea, and that’s bad for community-building, and that serves to silence more people than it empowers. It’s something I’ve also been a part of, so I’m not suggesting that it’s an act by a group of Bad People; it’s a dynamic that is awfully easy to get sucked in to, and that I’ve participated in myself. And while I think the Hugo situation is in a whole ‘nother sphere as the usual feminist blog-wars in terms of the sheer horror of the acts involved, I avoid internet take-downs as a general rule because they are so often so poisonous, and because I frankly don’t trust a group of people on the internet to always choose the right person from whom to demand blood. Which, again, isn’t to say that I think the focus on Hugo here is misdirected. It is to say that I have a real hesitance to participate, because I dislike take-down culture generally and because I’m not convinced that next time we’ll all be setting our sights on a worthy target.
The idea that the only truly feminist way forward is a coordinated take-down also doesn’t center or help victims of violence. It doesn’t keep this community focused on positive change. I’m not sure what it does other than say that a few of us get to decide who is redeemable and worthy and who is not — and that we don’t just get to decide it for ourselves and the spaces we run, but we decide it for everyone.
Yep. Calling for the removal of an admitted attempted murderer and rapist from feminist spaces is a “coordinated take-down.” It’s just a petty disagreement. Nothing to see here, move along, quit it with the take-down culture, everybody! You internet meanies!
Yes, you are taking Hugo’s side. Yes, you are refusing to explicitly condemn an abuser who has made a shiny little career for himself out of silencing women. You should be ashamed of yourself. Feministe is a cesspool anyway and we all know that, but it just got even scummier. Congratulations.
There’s more at the article if you want to click through, but it’s mostly just a load of self-indulgent crap. She says they’re not going to ban him but they’re not going to promote his work. She also says this, which made me want to scream:
And I don’t want a progressive movement that doesn’t leave room for people to change — even people who have done the most reprehensible things. I want a movement that is open to those people, and that believes in redemption and radical change. Without the belief in the capacity for true change, what’s the point of progressivism? How do we have feminism without believing that people can radically alter their actions and their views?
I am not really in a place to write a coherent response right now, but I encourage you, Tumblr, to respond to this garbage if you can.
So Marcotte’s a big ole Internet Atheist and “feminist” celebrity, but she’s got her lips firmly affixed to the rear end of Hugo Schwyzer—“born again” evangelical and woman-hater. She hates snuggies, crocs, Olive Garden, and other things that remind her of the fact that the country is mostly composed of “icky” lower middle class people in flyover states, and somehow thinks this is relevant to her “feminist” scrawlings. The only time she approaches feminism seems to be to rant about “right wingers,” mostly in the context of abortion or like, the Duggars or something. She brags about being a hipster (thus breaking the first rule of hipsterdom, which is that you must make fun of hipsters to maintain plausible deniability). She published a book with racist illustrations even my grandmother (b. Idaho, 1910) would have recognized as embarrassing and inappropriate, then got mad that anyone had the gall to get mad at her about it. She works for Slate, which proves nothing, really, though I’ll note that so does Katie Roiphe. What does she stand for? I mean, other than making money? Am I really supposed to buy that she’s a feminist figurehead, that what she preaches has anything to do with women’s rights? That it really boils down to keeping abortion legal and being a cool coastal city person?
But what pisses me off the most is how she and her associates cannot be pained to give WOMEN of faith the smallest token acknowledgment that we are actual human beings—she talks about us like we are brainwashed pawns, generally speaking. She will not listen when lesbians of faith tell her that uh yeah, there are too ways to be gay and religious. She will not listen when women of color tell her about the role faith plays in their communities. She mocks us all and dismisses us as crazy, stupid, nothing but walking clown car vaginas.
But she has respect for evangelical Christian Hugo Schwyzer, who tried to kill his girlfriend, who admits to “sort of” rape, who demeans women of color and spouts hateful classist crap all over the place. Well there’s your answer—their common interest isn’t feminism. It’s hating and belittling the same kinds of people. “Commoners” and those who lack their “sophistication,” women of color, etc.
I will NOT “quit feminism” over these fools. I am kicking them out. They are not feminists, they are essentially social conservatives who coopt the language of women’s rights to advance their selfish personal causes.
Quoted for so much truth.
Context: one of Hugo’s fans attacked me on Twitter, calling me a teenage radfem, told me to go back to my slumber party, insinuated that I was only doing this because I’m crazy (I’m pretty open about my struggles with mental illness). Just lots of personal attacks, basically.
Hugo’s response? Why, a fauxpology, of course!
“Don’t bring mental illness into this, but what they’re saying is totally crazy!”
as pleased as I am that Hugo Schwyzer is no longer going to be teaching Women in American Society after the fall, I am way unsettled by the fact that he will still be teaching ‘Men and Masculinity’.
Granted, it’s harder to find academics working in the masculinity-focused arm of gender studies, but, seriously. I think, alongside the racism and the humblebragging and the history of violence, one of the intensely disturbing aspects of the Schwyzer affair is not only that he is taken as an authority on feminism who outweighs women in the discussion, but also that he holds his opinions up as ‘how to do masculinity right’.
Um, no. You are failing miserably at that. The idea of you positing yourself as a role model for non-threatening, pro-feminist masculinity is an insult to actual non-threatening, pro-feminist men, who are not racist, hetero-centric, self-obsessed creepazoids who pedestalise women or denigrate them.
If you have a history- and problematic present- like HS’s, you shouldn’t just stay the fuck away from women, you should *not* be a mentor to young men, or treated as an authority on how to do masculinity without being toxic to oneself or others. The fact that people are missing this disturbs me. One part of dismantling the patriarchy means not only protecting women (and others) from predatory dudebro creeps, but also making sure that men don’t get the idea that being a predatory creep is a good idea- in fact, it’s key. HS has been using men’s-issues as a platform for perpetuating a lot of gross shit, and I think the fact that scummy creepy dudes are so prominent in a lot of internet good-masculinity discussions is part of why it’s hard to take that project seriously.
Also: the fact that a responsible discussion of gender in any regard has to take into account multiple gender identities and expressions, and Schwyzer has a shitty track record there, too.
Sorry for spamming y’all with so many posts but I just love everyone in this bar.