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On Hugo

January 27, 2012

I’ve been reluctant to join the recent conversation about Hugo Schwyzer because, by the time I became aware of it, most of what needed to be said was already being ably said, and, because I didn’t have anything particularly new to say, I didn’t want to contribute oxygen (in the form of attention) to a destructive narcissist. But I’m becoming uncomfortable with my own silence, because I also don’t want to be tacitly endorsing any of Hugo’s past or present behaviors. So I’m going to keep this brief, but (hopefully) clear:

Hugo Schwyzer has proven, far beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he’s not a feminist by any definition I’ve ever used. But that’s much too faint a damning for him. Hugo has shown — through both past and present, ongoing actions — that he is a violent, manipulative, racist, misogynist, dishonest, self-aggrandizing abuser who is uninterested in accountability and doesn’t care who he hurts as long as it serves whatever his purpose is. And those who now continue to publish him, interview him, or otherwise give him a platform, knowing full well what he’s done and continues to do, are choosing to enable his destructive behavior while making their venues hostile to overlapping and intersecting communities of women, people of color, and survivors of sexual violence.

We found only one link to his work in one of our past posts, which we’ve now unlinked (with a note, in the interest of transparency). It’s possible we’ve missed one — if so, please let us know. Regardless, know that he’s no longer welcome here in any way.

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62 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    January 27, 2012 12:20 pm

    Glad to hear it. I go to a school where he teaches, and it is nice to know that SOME people understand what he has done is wrong. Thank you, sincerely.

  2. January 27, 2012 1:52 pm

    I’d say your summation pretty much matches my thinking on the matter. Glad to hear a quick, succinct comment on it from you. Thanks.

  3. January 28, 2012 10:12 am

    Wow. Thank you for taking a strong and unqualified stance. It’s a shame that this should be remarkable in the feminist blogosphere, but it is.

  4. January 28, 2012 7:12 pm

    Thanks for making a strong statement without equivocating or making excuses for Hugo. I’m a survivor who’s found the feminist blogosphere to be a very triggering and alienating place for the last month, and this post is reassuring for me.

  5. Anonymous for obvious reasons permalink
    January 29, 2012 6:01 am

    Hi Jaclyn – I’m a big fan of your work and writing, and genuinely not trolling here.

    But I also genuinely don’t understand what the backlash towards Hugo is all about. I understand that he has done some terrible, terrible things, although I also think he appears to be repentent. I also think that his writing is good, and often insightful – he doesn’t get it right all of the time, but what writer in our sector does?

    I understand that for some people, Hugo’s acts as a former addict outweigh his subsequent repentence – and I also understand that my ability to “forgive him” is contingent on the fact that I am not a victim of abuse myself.

    But “a violent, manipulative, racist, misogynist, dishonest, self-aggrandizing abuser who is uninterested in accountability and doesn’t care who he hurts as long as it serves whatever his purpose is”? I don’t see it.

    I am fully aware of what he’s done in the past, and I can understand why people would want to ban from our part of the blogosphere people whose past actions serve as a trigger to community members.

    But what has he/is he doing in the present that is so damning?

    • February 5, 2012 7:01 pm

      You might not see it. Others—-who he apparently assessed as not having any value to his career or his dick—-got treated very differently. That in itself is anti-feminist.

      He expresses anger and sorrow that….people are being mean to him. It’s all about him. He never suffered any consequences.

      He’s blamed drugs for his acts, not himself, and he has led the charge in using sexist terms on people who criticize him.

  6. jaclynfriedman permalink*
    January 30, 2012 5:09 pm

    Anon, here are just a few examples of what he’s doing in the present that is so damning:

    http://studentactivism.net/2012/01/07/was-hugo-schwyzers-confession-embellished/

    http://studentactivism.net/2012/01/22/hugo-schwyzer-is-still-doing-harm/

    He also has responded to people’s justifiable outrage in learning about his attempted murder of his girlfriend by going on a publicity tour, doing constant interviews and making posts and guest posts everywhere he can, sending minions to stir up comments threads, as well as writing the most controversial male-centered bs he can come up with, at the very time he should, if he truly wanted to make amends, be shutting up and listening. He’s been fanning the flames of this “controversy” at every turn, including in despicable backchannel ways I’m not at liberty to discuss, because they’re not my stories to tell. Jezebel, one of his enablers, is not only continuing to publish him despite his behavior, not only deleting any criticism of him or mention of his past and present anti-feminist behavior in the comments section, but actively banning anyone who dares to bring up the issue. That’s not the behavior of anyone actually interested in accountability to one’s community.

    As for “forgiveness” and “repentance,” it’s not on us to forgive Hugo for what he’s done to other people. It’s on them. And I’ve seen and heard no evidence that any of Hugo’s victims forgive him. Further, the only sign of his repentance I’ve seen is him saying it’s true. His behavior (as linked to and described above, and keep in mind, that’s just a sample), is telling a very different story.

    Obviously, I believe there’s a place for men in feminism — Thomas is the main blogger here and has been for most of this blog’s life. But I also believe that men in feminism should be held to higher standards than women and genderqueer folks. Supporting or enabling Hugo requires exactly the opposite: that we dramatically lower our standards to make him feel welcome, at the cost of many other people who belong in — and do crucial work for — this community.

  7. NovelBee permalink
    January 30, 2012 11:47 pm

    Anon, here’s another great one: http://globalcomment.com/2012/why-do-some-feminist-spaces-tolerate-male-abusers/
    I would never approve of a person who tried to kill a woman taking a position of feminist leadership, but HS’s recent work damns him all by itself, as far as I’m concerned. The facials article, the I-married-a-lesbian article, and the “accidental rapist” article are way offensive, but no one need look further than the one about the attempted murder. Yes, the event was over a decade ago, but he *wrote the piece* only one year back, well after he started advertising himself as an awesome feminist icon. It’s shockingly misogynistic. He describes the murder attempt as an altruistic act, a way of rescuing a woman too fragile to live. He shrugs off the fact that she was raped right before he tried to kill her, expresses surprise that her parents still haven’t forgiven him, and compares the whole incident to accidentally letting a dog outside. He horrifies me, and it’s a huge relief that feminists like Jaclyn are telling it like it is.

  8. Daniel permalink
    January 31, 2012 1:45 pm

    As a white male ally to feminist movement, I have been suspicious of HS since I first stumbled across his work. Because there is so much really good writing by women in the blogisphere, I honestly didn’t go out of my way to read any more about him and his work until the interview. I find his work and perspective to be highly problematic, but what I think of him is not really important. What is important is that feminist movement is not required to give anyone a platform, nor provide an explanation for why we don’t want to associate with people we find problematic; There are enough trolls in comment threads, we don’t need top posters as well. So, thank you for everything, including the above post.

  9. Anonymous for obvious reasons permalink
    January 31, 2012 3:36 pm

    Thank you Jaclyn and Novelbee. The Global Comment article was particularly informative, particularly in relation to the role of white privilege in all of this. My internal response to this chain of events has doubtless been blinded by the fact that I’ve enjoyed a lot of Hugo’s work… much like the women (and men) who leap to the defense of sports stars, politicians and other public figures with histories of abuse and assault.

    Your point about Hugo responding to his calling out by writing about jizzing on women’s faces and going on a speaking tour is also a good one – as you say, not the actions of a repentent human being, and difficult subject matter to handle well at the best of times.

    You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

  10. February 1, 2012 12:23 am

    This is the first thing I’ve read that’s been really helpful to me in deciphering what to think about this particular person, whom I’ve had mixed feelings about for a long time. There are a lot of topics converging here, it seems, tangling things up. This article kept it to the individual in question, which was clarifying.

    One of the reasons I was having complicated feelings about these conversations was that I am friends with a victim of child sex abuse who later committed a rape. My friend is also a recovering drug addict, whose transformation I believe is truly authentic though still very much underway. I am wondering if any of the Yes Means Yes authors would someday write about the complexity of providing safe places for abusers to heal outside of this individual issue, if anyone believes that is even an issue to be addressed, as I do.

    A lot of feminist writers seem to feel that being friends with someone who committed sex abuse is a betrayal to the entire cause and to themselves personally. I think that belies how rampant sex abuse is, especially child sex abuse, and how many abusers we really have to deal with, and how systems generate abusers. It seems commitment to healing abusers is often interpreted as rape apology. But that simply cannot be the case with organizations like GenerationFive. For one thing bringing people out as abusers breaks the greatest strength rape culture has which is invisibility.

    It seems there’s a lot to hash out, and I was hoping one or more of the Yes Means Yes authors might consider writing more on the topic separate from Hugo in the future.

  11. he is dangerous permalink
    February 1, 2012 6:59 am

    I cannot identify myself because I would betray the trust of those who confided in me about the issue at hand. However, I will say this: I have been a very vocal critic of Hugo Schwyzer and for the past few weeks he has been actively working through back channels to silence me and have me removed from the spaces I worked very hard to publish at.

    He has been sending emails suggesting in his usual, manipulative way, that I should not be allowed to publish any more and he has been “suggesting” that other feminists should “denounce” me for being such a divisive figure. I have stopped talking about him not because I do not despise him any more but because I worked damn hard to carve whatever tiny niche I have for myself. But now this one guy sees fit to work his abusive, manipulative ways to have me removed from those. Unlike him, I have zero institutional backing. I am an independent writer and I am not even *that* well known (and certainly not that well known outside of the feminist/ social justice niche I belong to).

    This guy is beyond dangerous. He is an abuser that has been replicating the tactics of abuse within our movement.

  12. Alex permalink
    February 1, 2012 9:00 pm

    Thank you for this, Jaclyn. It’s sad to see some other prominent feminist bloggers defending him, but I’m glad to see that you and others call him exactly what he is.

  13. GFieldC permalink
    February 1, 2012 9:16 pm

    Look, I’m not sure my opinion is welcome- if not, feel free to delete it. But I didn’t think this would be appropriate on some other sites, since they’ve clearly reached a consensus.

    I just don’t see it, Ms. Friedman. Really, I don’t. I am very hesitant to post this because I think there is a lot of legitimate anger, but at this point, it’s been like a month, and it’s just… I don’t know what else to call it but an organized take-down of another human being.

    To be clear- I don’t think it’s anyone’s obligation to forgive him for his past actions. I don’t know Hugo, never met him, but we share mutual acquaintances, and based on his online presence and their words, I have chosen to forgive him. BUT, of course- that’s all very personal, and I would never pressure anyone else to forgive and forget given the things he has done.

    However- what really gets me is that, after the first wave of (entirely valid) outrage over his murder-suicide attempt, there’s been this growing sense that his behavior is exceptionally problematic right now. “A violent, manipulative, racist, misogynist, dishonest, self-aggrandizing abuser”? These days? Now? As someone who has followed his work for quite a while… I think that’s ridiculous. I think that’s so ridiculous I had to read it three times to make sure I understood the words on the screen.

    Sure, he’s been doing interviews- to be frank, if I was under such a sustained attack (again, however legitimate it may be), I don’t know what I’d do. Whether his was an absolutely ideal response to the controversy, I don’t know… but I do know I’d certainly want to get my own voice out there, and I don’t accept that by not sitting around and taking waves and waves of rage from hundreds and hundreds of voices, he’s somehow a destructive misogynist. I’ve seen no evidence that he is not handling what is probably an extremely difficult situation in good faith. If you have information I don’t, fine, but you have really only cited his continued work for Jezebel and two separate interviews that he’s given. Not everyone is against him- and given this conflicted support, I’ve seen no evidence that he is not in the process of dealing with the situation as best he can. He’s resigned from PCC feminist group, and likely will not be teaching women’s studies in the future (and both of these actions were almost certainly of his own volition).

    Again, I’m not saying he’s responded perfectly- that’s really not my call. But to say that continuing to write for one vaguely female-centered publication and not IMMEDIATELY resigning from the job that supplies him with his one source of income makes him- again- “a violent, manipulative, racist, misogynist, dishonest, self-aggrandizing abuser”, well, I can’t accept that.

    I understand the idea that men in feminism should be held to a higher standard than women. But I don’t think this means they need to be flawless. Of course, Hugo’s past is a hell of a lot worse than “not flawless”, but again, I’m speaking more to the assertion that he is a “destructive narcissist” *at this point and time*. I absolutely don’t agree with everything he’s said, and I do think he has given short shift to older women and people of color- but so have many mainstream feminists. I can’t accept that this makes him a racist worthy of being tossed from the movement.

    I just don’t get it.

    • February 5, 2012 7:05 pm

      Once he handwaved peoples’ anger at him trying to kill his ex as ‘something some people would call violence against women’, he revealed himself for what he is. That’s classic abuser minimizer language.

    • wendykh permalink
      April 5, 2013 8:56 am

      It’s sad that even a year after this comment, I’m still bothered by the HS debacle enough to say something. One thing missing from all the debate about HS is the “recovery” perspective, from actual people in recovery, who practice it daily, and keep coming back because it works. Now that brand of recovery is NOT for everyone. There are many “white male patriarchy” problems with that brand of recovery. But HS co-opts that language “sobriety” and such, so he gets to walk with it.

      The thing is, from that perspective, if HS was/is truly sorry and repentant and changing, he would be working with other addicts and abusers. NOT TARGETING WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN ABUSED to share his fabulous wisdom with.

      It’s really not too unlike a pedophile claiming he’s reformed who now wants to counsel children who have been molested. No. You go talk to the molestors.

      To me, HS’s work in feminism and sexuality is a more advanced phase of his acting out of his issues. Rather than counselling women that it’s loving and beautiful when a man wants to jizz on their faces, he might want to discuss in men’s groups why it’s offensive to many women and maybe something they should consider and not take personally before being all butt hurt when a woman says no. Maybe he should be explaining the concept of Schrodinger’s Rapist to MRA sympathizers and finding language to get through their heads that the predators out there aren’t just raping women, they are also convincing men in the greater community they are “just like them” and “regular nice guys” who would NEVER rape a woman so their “he said/she said” defence when a woman does call them on their BS works and enables them to have a license to operate.

      Writing about his abusive adventures and explaining how it was all the drugs’ fault and not showing how this is a patriarchy problem? Telling stories about his “glory days” as the Sexiest Prof Evah? With what you can feel is a smirk? Egads this is NOT a man in recovery! Hell no. He might not be using illegal substances or alcohol, but the man is in no way shape or form taking an inventory and truly being accountable. He is STILL doing the same crap only now on a mental level rather than physical. And that lack of being experienced in recovery circles? I think that’s why so many in the feminist blogoshpere still to this day need to maybe check out an al-anon meeting before they jump on the SAVE HUGO bandwagon. Transformative justice does not mean enabling abusers.

  14. February 2, 2012 4:22 pm

    What’s is the long-term vision for feminism here?

    I’d be interested to know if people have even thought about how this Hugo catastrophe impacts the face of feminism globally. What if we were to really stay focused on “taking down” the structures of patriarchy rather than taking down those feminists that publish the works of individuals whom we find abhorrent. If we spend months of energy fighting/silencing ourselves then we surely can’t be a threat to those that hold the real structural power.

    Those on the right are most likely peeing in their pants with glee at this rupture with in our movement–or at least they will be now that mainstream media is starting to pick up the story potentially spinning the negative politics within “feminism” based on this spectacle.

    I will not take part in this kind of silencing as a feminist and am creating my own vision of feminism adapted from from Applied Research Center’s Strategic Framework for Advancing Racial Justice. I hope you read it.

    http://www.adiosbarbie.com/2012/01/what-online-feminism-must-learn-from-racial-justice-frameworks/

  15. jaclynfriedman permalink*
    February 2, 2012 5:02 pm

    Pia-

    My long-term vision for feminsim is one in which we don’t tolerate abusers, liars, and manipulators in our midst, just because some of us liked them or their work before these dangerous behaviors and mindsets became apparent. My vision is for a feminism that is willing to air its dirty laundry in public if that’s what it takes to create a community and a movement that centers the voices and needs of those it is meant to be for. That’s more concerned that we live by our own principles and are accountable to each other than whether or not the right wing mocks us.

    I am absolutely focused on taking down the structures of patriarchy. I do that work every day. One of the structures of patriarchy is the tendency for all of us to want to look the other way when someone in our midst is committing emotional, structural and/or physical violence. But Hugo’s gone further than that: he’s lying about those violations, threatening those who criticize him, blithely endangering oranizations like Scarleteen when they distance themselves from him, and trying to profit off the controversy his egregious actions have created. Allowing him to continue his destructive path without speaking up against him sets a precedent which is a much greater danger to our movement than any public criticism of him could be. If you’re worried about the impact of this controversy on global feminism (I’m not, and I have no idea what mainstream media coverage you’re referring to, I couldn’t find any), perhaps start at the person whose actions have caused it: Hugo.

    I don’t think anyone who’s read my work can accuse me of participating in any kind of takedown culture. Nor would anyone accuse me of that if I came out with a statement against, say, Tucker Max. I made this statement because Hugo’s responses to calls for accountability on his violent and disturbing past are beyond the pale, and, as ACT UP used to say, Silence = Death. Or, in this case, Silence = Enabling and Complicity. It’s only because he’s been considered “one of us” that he’s being called off-limits for public criticism. That’s a structural problem right there.

    • February 2, 2012 5:27 pm

      My statement was in no way an indictment of your work or you. You are a huge contribution to the movement. AndI know many feminists feel they have been silenced in this conversation. I have no interest in spending my energy even discussing Hugo. I’m questioning where the movement stands in terms of agreeing to disagree in an open and non-threatening way. Ostracize Hugo or any other man if that’s whats called for but let’s talk about the other, real, threatening that’s happening by feminists to other feminists within this conversation. That is what I’m talking about and would like to have addressed.

      • jaclynfriedman permalink*
        February 3, 2012 11:23 am

        This thread is a discussion about Hugo, so if you don’t want to talk about him, this isn’t the thread for you. As for threats, the only ones I’ve witnessed have com from Hugo and his surrogates — see the commenter above who is too afraid of his real, actual threats to even use hir name. That’s not the only example of Hugo’s real, actual, current threatening behavior I’ve encountered, either. If you want to address real threats, I’d like you to start there.

  16. Anonymouser permalink
    February 2, 2012 5:30 pm

    “If we spend months of energy fighting/silencing ourselves then we surely can’t be a threat to those that hold the real structural power. ”

    A peculiar sentence around this issue and from your perspective with this, Pia. Peculiar because, as he is dangerous noted, some individuals and groups who have gently distanced themselves from Hugo and/or spoken critically but very fairly about his choices, past and present, have experienced attempts to silence and manipulate *from* Hugo and some of the people who are defending him. From someone who has more power and privilege than those he has exploited, done harm to or put in harm’s way, past and present.

    I think it’s also wise to beg the following question: with the fighting or the silencing, who has been making concerted, sustained and manipulative efforts to keep both of those things going and amp them further? Hint: the subject of this post.

    • February 2, 2012 11:51 pm

      I can tell you first hand that this infighting/silencing is real and has harmed the movement throughout feminism and deters people aligning themselves with feminism–even as a word. Again, I’m curious as to why no one is addressing my statement around how this fits into a *long-term* vision for feminism.

      There will always be lightning rods of controversy, and many more are coming in the future to replace Hugo. No one is even considering a framework to move through this now and in the future by taking valuable lessons learned from effective race work. Again, I’ll post it here and welcome people to address my questions around that.

      A Feminist Framework for Trying Times

      (Adapted from Applied Research Center’s Strategic Framework for Advancing Racial Justice)

      1. Focus on structural sexism and systemic inequality rather than simply personal prejudice (and bias).

      2. Focus on impacts rather than intentions…Impacts can be documented, while intentions are debatable and difficult to prove. Rather than dwell on who is sexist, it’s far more useful to focus on the causes and effects of sexism.

      3. Address gender inequality explicitly but not necessarily exclusively. Sexism must be illuminated in order to be eliminated. Often other significant factors are involved that must also be made visible, such as race, class, ethnicity and immigrant status.

      4. Propose solutions that emphasize equity and inclusion. Sexism is pervasive, but it need not be permanent. Offer proactive solutions that are equitable, inclusive, and viable. It is important to distinguish the principle of equity as fairness.

      5. Develop strategies to empower stakeholders and target institutional powerholders. Build inclusive and cohesive alliances that prioritize the full engagement of women and girls as leaders. Make the powerholders with decision-making authority enact changes that target institutional sexism.

      6. Make gender justice a high priority in all social justice efforts. A successful progressive movement must recognize gender justice as a central component of social justice. The struggle for gender justice is not a zero sum game. Instead of allowing sexism to drive social division and disparities, we must make gender equity the driving force for uniting and benefiting all people.

      • February 3, 2012 3:26 pm

        Pia, you have your own space to have a conversation about broader movement progress, and clearly you’ve written on it and you can write whatever you want there. But saying, “stop talking about X, when Y is the bigger/more important issue” is straight out of Derailing for Dummies. If you believe that not criticizing Hugo is necessary to move forward, then you’re wasting your time here, because Jaclyn and I both believe that criticizing Hugo is absolutely something that needs to happen in order to move forward. When Hugo doesn’t have an audience larger than his living room for his thoughts on sex and gender, then that business is closed. Until then, lots of people are going to make sure that whenever he tries to speak about gender and sexuality, people know the backstory: whether Jezebel is okay with that or not.

  17. GFieldC permalink
    February 2, 2012 6:19 pm

    Well, I don’t think that Hugo is by any means being considered “off-limits”. With a few exceptions, pretty much every feminist in the blogosphere is taking aim at him with both barrels. And furthermore, this has gone way, way, WAY beyond criticism- which would be fine, and I’d have some to add myself. But the man has gotten hate mail, borderline death threats, wildly hyperbolic accusations- such as yours- and so on. He’s essentially been kicked out of the movement. Whether this is fair or not, I’m willing to debate, but let’s not pretend any of this about constructive criticism, because it’s not. It’s about removing and permanently excommunicating someone from the movement, with no hope of reconciliation. If that’s what you think, fine- but own it.

    I don’t think you can draw a comparison between Max and Hugo with any degree of credibility. Tucker Max has expressed and continues to express contempt for women, non-traditional men, and basic human decency. He is not interested in atoning for his actions- because of course, he doesn’t believe there’s anything to atone for. Regardless of the severity of Hugo’s crime(s), it’s not something that he continues to perpetrate at this point and time- it’s been over a decade, in fact. He’s shown, in my opinion, a sincere desire to make amends for a very extended period of time. Again- whether others are willing to overlook his past actions is entirely their prerogative. But regardless, he’s still not objectively comparable to someone who continues their destructive behavior with no signs of stopping.

    You, and others, continue to talk about Hugo’s despicable behavior in light of the recent criticism, but I don’t see anything of the sort. I see someone who responded within days and made changes in his personal life to accomodate the criticism, and has basically said he will be removing himself from female-centered spaces and focusing his writings on men. That is precisely what most of his detractors want, but then when he writes about men- the “jizzing” article- people began bashing him for, really, I don’t know why. If he had written “female-centered bs”, you’d be angry at him for presuming to speak for women during this intense controversy.

    • jaclynfriedman permalink*
      February 3, 2012 11:34 am

      Please don’t presume to know what would or wouldn’t anger me if it hasn’t happened, nor make generalizations about me based on everyone who’s ever criticized Hugo. We’re all individual people, with individual perspectives.

      Tucker Max has, in fact, stopped. He has also not, as far as I’m aware, ever tried to murder someone, and then lie about the crime, and then threaten people who want to criticize him for it. But look, if you can read everything that’s said in the comments above, and the articles I and others have linked to, and still conclude that he’s shown “a sincere desire to make amends,” I really don’t know what to say to you. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

      • GFieldC permalink
        February 3, 2012 3:11 pm

        Well, are you saying you wouldn’t be? You’d be okay with, well, the person you say he is (violent, misogynistic, etc.) continuing to pontificate on women’s issues? Look, if I’m wrong, I apologize, but I didn’t think it was much of an assumption.

        If Hugo really has been threatening people, that’s serious, and it’s also something I would not expect of him. But again, unless you have some real extensive backdoor information (which I acknowledge as entirely possible) I just don’t see it. I suppose we will indeed have to agree to disagree, because none of the articles above cite behavior that I would consider egregious. Certainly not enough to warrant the behavior of a lot of the anti-Schwyzer people- some of whom ARE making very public and very vicious threats. I’ve read a few comments that come very close to literally expressing a desire to kill him, and while I’m sure they are empty words, I find that disgusting. The man has a daughter.

        But I’ve expressed my feelings, and I don’t want to browbeat anyone, so I’ll back off. I just look at this situation and I’m very very taken aback. I don’t think it’s right.

      • jaclynfriedman permalink*
        February 3, 2012 3:56 pm

        I’m saying that a Hugo who was writing a different kind of article would be a different kind of Hugo, so who’s to say what I’d think? Maybe he would be the kind of Hugo who was showing genuine interest in accountability for his actions. Maybe he would be the kind of Hugo who didn’t threaten or lie or manipulate. Who knows? Would that be enough for me so that I was OK with him making a career influencing young women about feminism? I genuinely don’t know. It’s not really the point here, because he’s done what he’s done, and not other things.

        And the behavior of other people toward Hugo is not my behavior. I am not those other people, which was my larger point. I also haven’t seen anyone threaten him, in public or private. Can you share even one or two examples?

      • GFieldC permalink
        February 3, 2012 7:55 pm

        I’m not saying there have been any prominent bloggers that have advocated violence toward Hugo, or that it’s been a pattern- but there’s been a few. I’d have to trawl some of the tumblr sites to find them- I don’t have time for that at the moment- but I don’t know why you’d be surprised, given the extent of the whole thing.

        I mean, Ms. Friedman, look- this isn’t personal for me. Mutual acquaintances have all spoken very highly of him, but I don’t know Hugo myself. So I’d like to think I’m not blinded by his alleged charisma, or whatever. But I’m reading all these anti-Schwyzer articles, I’m following their links and trying to see if I’ve got it wrong… but the misrepresentation is just mind-boggling. I could write two essays worth of words on the topic, but I have things to do. So to illustrate, I’ll just address the charge that I find most problematic: that he’s racist. To be honest, I could do much the same with most of the other charges- not all, because again, some are legitimate (I was in agreement with Angus Johnston’s assessment of Hugo as paternalistic, for example). But most.

        The charges of racism seem to mostly stem from his defense of Marcotte’s book and certain other charges of plagiarism. All right, I’m willing to listen- I know the history behind that. But all I ever get linked to is this post:

        http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/2008/04/09/if-its-stealing-youd-better-prove-it-on-amanda-marcotte-bfp-and-alternet/

        …in which he’s entirely correct. It’s not a matter of gender or race- it’s a matter of a serious criminal accusation. Now, there’s a lot of be said to the effect that the individual speaker can affect how the words are perceived- and that is tied up with a lot of racism. But accusing someone- without hard evidence to back it up- of stealing material, even if it’s not malicious, even if you just “think” they did, is a big deal, and it is wrong, and I don’t care who you are. (I should mention, I have no idea how this whole thing turned out, I’m just speaking to the situation at that point and time). He doesn’t presume to make a judgment on the situation- but as an academic, I would imagine he understands the severity. That’s all it’s about, in my opinion. The fact that this is being cited as an example of his flamingly racist behavior is, well, insane.

        Others cite his recommendation for Marcotte’s book:

        http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/2008/04/24/on-lorna-the-jungle-girl-and-the-dark-skinned-natives-a-reluctant-challenge-to-amanda-marcotte/

        …never mind that he edited the post, explicitly pulling his recommendation for the book due to the racist images when they were brought to his attention. And of course- where’s Amanda in all this? She’s the one who wrote the damn book, not Hugo, and she’s the one who allegedly plagiarized material, not Hugo. I’ll tell you- she’s not involved (or only tangentially involved) because this controversy isn’t about racism in the feminist movement- most of the anti-Schwyzer people could give a rat’s ass about that. It’s about tearing down one particular individual, and the accusation of racism is just a convenient rhetorical weapon for the anti-Schwyzer crew.

      • February 6, 2012 2:52 pm

        I don’t want to get into a whole huge parsing of Schwyzer’s record on racial issues, but since the subject has come up it’s worth noting a few things in passing.

        First, the criticism raised of his role in the two Amanda Marcotte controversies extended beyond his own blog, to his interventions other places. That whole thing was a huge sprawling mess, and linking to two blogposts that may or may not have been surreptitiously edited in the interim doesn’t begin to capture the scope of it.

        Second, a lot of folks have pointed to other stuff he’s written as troubling. (A post about the supposed WASP affectations of some of his Asian male students is a prominent example, though by no means the only one.)

        One more thing on the Marcotte business. In the first blogpost you linked, GFC, he construed a complaint about stealing ideas as a charge of plagiarism. The two are not remotely the same.

  18. February 2, 2012 6:28 pm

    “It’s about removing and permanently excommunicating someone from the movement, with no hope of reconciliation” And I’d argue anyone who dares publish his past, present or future work. I won’t be censored and am at choice to publish whomever I want and still be a feminist.

    • GFieldC permalink
      February 2, 2012 10:17 pm

      Look, I think that were Hugo to be the person that so many are painting him out to be- someone like Kyle Payne, for example, who was recently arrested again- than I would have no problem denouncing those who gave him a platform. I do think that holding allies accountable is important, and such people are often given a lot of leeway they don’t deserve. But that is, to say the least, not the case here.

      • February 3, 2012 3:13 pm

        I don’t agree with that. If the argument is that Hugo is different from Kyle Payne because his past conduct is different, then I would say that trying to kill one’s sex partner is really, really bad. The worst kind of intimate partner violence is that which is intended to kill, an intent which he has conceded. If the argument is that he has reformed, his attempts to arm-twist and manipulate and his efforts to alter the written record put the lie to that.

    • jaclynfriedman permalink*
      February 3, 2012 11:27 am

      Who is censoring you? Of course you’re free to publish whomever you want. As I am free to criticize whomever/whatever I want. And you are free to agree or disagree with those critiques.

      • February 3, 2012 3:30 pm

        “And those who now continue to publish him, interview him, or otherwise give him a platform, knowing full well what he’s done and continues to do, are choosing to enable his destructive behavior while making their venues hostile to overlapping and intersecting communities of women, people of color, and survivors of sexual violence.”

        Please consider the exclusionary (and silencing) impact of such statements for I am a survivor and a Mexican and still disagree with the *way* in which this has been handled; and will continue to assert that I can publish him or anyone else should I choose without enabling anyone’s destructive behavior.

    • jaclynfriedman permalink*
      February 3, 2012 3:50 pm

      I apologize, genuinely, if it read that way, but I certainly didn’t say or mean that ALL women, people of color and/or survivors experience venues that promote Hugo as hostile. That would be a ridiculous generalization — you can’t say ANYTHING would be true for every member of even one of those groups. I said that there are overlapping communities of people who identify in some or all of these ways who do. And certainly, irrefutably, there are such communities.

      And of course, as I’ve said, you’re free to assert what you like. And I continue to be free to disagree with you.

      • February 3, 2012 4:13 pm

        Thank you Jaclyn. I sincerely appreciate that clarification and the fact that you have been clear that you are cool with agreeing to disagree. That’s the spirit and context that I have been calling for in the discussions around Hugo.

  19. Anonymouser permalink
    February 2, 2012 6:36 pm

    “and has basically said he will be removing himself from female-centered spaces and focusing his writings on men.”

    I’ve heard that, too. When do you think he’ll do that instead of just saying he will?

    • GFieldC permalink
      February 2, 2012 11:36 pm

      He’s resigned/was fired from Healthy is the New Skinny and that other thing he was doing, something about unplanned parenthood.

      He’s resigned from the PCC feminist group.

      He will no longer be teaching women’s studies.

      I checked his site, and from what I can tell, he has written exclusively about men or relationships in general since the controversy (though the attacks continue unabated, with the detractors often cherry-picking quotes out of context).

      I don’t know what else you want. Jezebel is not an explicitly feminist site, and regardless the editors have specifically requested that he stay. That’s their right, and it’s Hugo’s right to take them up on that offer. I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to issue universal proclamations on who is and isn’t Allowed In Feminist Spaces (and again, calling Jezebel feminist in the first place is a real stretch).

  20. February 3, 2012 11:11 am

    GFieldC, while Jezebel and Role/Reboot are not explicltly feminist, they both court feminist and feminist-sympathetic audiences. And he’s not going to write about medieval history there, which is his academic training. Those places give him a forum to say things, mostly to young women, that they might do well to be critical of, but Jezebel is actually actively trying to prevent its readers from finding out the background, and by scrubbing his past inconsistent accounts of what happened, Hugo is complicit in that.

    Someone who is serious about recovery and change is not simultaneously trying to change the story about what happened in the past. One cannot both work on accountability and work to minimize and mislead at the same time, they are mutually exclusive processes.

  21. February 3, 2012 4:05 pm

    Thomas, so funny to see your attempts to quiet me down, sending me to my corner of the web and put words in my mouth simply because I don’t want to join the bashing bandwagon. I never told anyone to stop talking about him.

    I said I am choosing not to. I’m addressing a legitimate question that no one seems to want to answer. How does this fit into a long-term vision for feminism? How this Hugo situation has devolved is very troubling. Alternative approaches to asking him to step away were never put forth. Just hate mongering.

    That is what I reject as do my colleagues who don’t feel safe saying so. You’ve proven my point about silencing. Thank you. I’m off to my corner of the web where discussions and solutions beyond bashing are welcome.

  22. February 7, 2012 1:45 pm

    GFieldC: I don’t know, and don’t want to know, what Hugo has in his heart. I therefore don’t define him as a racist. I can tell you he has asserted “white” privilege and refused to make any kind of amends for it: not when he did it and people called him on it, and not recently. People identified as “white” do often have privileged access to channels of publication, and some do use that access to appropriate the work of others. And to tell the people who have had their work appropriated they have no recourse if they cannot “prove” to legal standards that the person doing the appropriating committed the legal offence of theft: that counts as an oppressive act. And that reasonably disqualifies Hugo from doing anti-oppression work.

  23. AMM permalink
    February 7, 2012 7:54 pm

    What I have never, ever understood is: what has this HS guy got that anybody — especially anybody with an ounce of feminist consciousness — would want to waste their time with him? He’s like the guy who invites himself over to your house for dinner, brings nothing, spends the whole time talking about how great he is and you aren’t, pockets your best silver, and later turns out to have stolen your credit card number and run up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges. But, hey, he’s a swell guy, how could you not want him in your house again?

    When I first ran across his web site, my impression was that he was just one of the millions of egocentric males who see women not as human but solely as a way to satisfy their urges (like a lot of the guys I knew in college), just a bit more articulate than most, and what I read left me with no stomach for reading anything more by him.

    It has just blown me away to see him getting the full Oprah Winfrey Book Club treatment from people who I always thought were feminist. And the comments and posts by people defending have been, if anything, even creepier than the guy himself, especially after the stuff that’s come out about him (and that he’s been doing) since this s***storm started. One of the more popular defenses of him seems to be that we should love and accept him precisely because of how awful he is, and if he turns out to be worse than we thought, well, that is all the more reason to love him. What can I say to that but WTF?

    I just can’t understand how it wouldn’t be obvious to just about anybody — especially women, most of whom AFAIK have been on the receiving end of this sort of treatement — just how sexist and self-serving he is. Are people so enchanted by his smooth talk that they don’t listen to the content of what he says and does? Or do the MRAs and PUAs and Nice Guys(tm) have the right idea after all: that a lot of women (including feminist women) in their heart of hearts really don’t want to be treated like human beings, what they really want is a God-like male being who will reduce them to robotic subservience?

    • February 8, 2012 7:54 pm

      Nice sexist trope there, dude.

      What HAS been explained repeatedly is that in being a classic abuser, Hugo compartmentalized women. Those that could aid his career got treated differently from those who posed a danger or a difficulty to him.

      • AMM permalink
        February 10, 2012 11:09 pm

        Nice sexist trope there, dude.
        You’re right. For some reason I hadn’t put that term to it, and now that you have, I realize that the term “internalized sexism” would have put it better (and less provocatively.)

        Those that could aid his career got treated differently from those who posed a danger or a difficulty to him.

        I’m still unclear what sort of “different treatment” he has been able to offer that would induce people (other than students where he teaches) to overlook his general MCP-ness, especially since his really skeevy stuff has become so public. Does he have concrete benefits (bribes) to offer? Does he have fellow MCPs who have significant power he can call on to threaten people?

        What I’ve heard so far sounds like the traditional con-man stuff (which is, I grant you, amazingly effective even among people who think they know better.) Except that most people, once they find out how the con man has been misrepresenting himself, will stop supporting him.

        Here, the more dirt we find out about HS, the more his defenders defend him. It actually sounds more like a cult (Scientology, anyone?), which would mean that his flavor of MCP-ness is in some way fills some need in his defenders. Which is why “internalized sexism”, or internalized versions of any of a number of sexist tropes, come to mind. Twilight, anyone?

    • Ian Wright permalink
      December 14, 2012 11:44 am

      AMM, one of the classic ways to manipulate people is to get them to invest in you. HS identifies people who could be useful to him, plays nice with them and agrees with them in a few superficial ways, and then starts to change the terms of the conversation so that it’s about him. If people try to fight that change of conversation he either ignores them or attacks them (‘Bullying’ seems to be a favourite accusation of his). If people accept the terms of the change, HS dispenses awards of praise and reinforcement from an authority figure. Eventually you end up with people who are invested in HS’s conversation, which is all about him and the way he chooses to define himself.

  24. February 8, 2012 10:05 pm

    This is very difficult for me as I have a great deal of respect for both Hugo Schwyzer and Jaclyn Friedman. I was genuinely taken aback, as others have been, at Jaclyn’s clearly stated position on the situation. It went far beyond what I thought would be said, if she wrote on it at all.
    I’ve hesitated to say much for two reasons; 1) as a white, cis male, I didn’t really feel I had a place at this table, 2) I continue to read, re-read and think about the multitude of posts and comments. Clearly, there are other pro-feminist males weighing in and I made some attempts at discussing this in other venues, but it was still too raw and hot and the comments were lost in the sea of very genuine anger at the time.

    I made the following comment at Feminism and Religion which, after continuing to review everything, still seems very relevant. I’m cross-posting a piece of it with permission:

    “Hugo’s acts were both prior to and very early in his “gender issues” career, which he addressed personally and in ways many in our culture continue to look upon with disdain (I’m referring to 12 Step programs), so those people discount his reporting of change and growth. He then went on to write, speak and build the base he now has. I say again, that it is we who are playing catch-up and now scrutinizing everything he has done SINCE those acts through the lens OF those acts. (bold added)

    And, honestly, I come away from most of the critics hearing that they just didn’t like his feminist stance, philosophy and writing style to begin with. I respect that. Not to say that there aren’t some legitimate challenges and questions that Hugo needs to consider.

    But I do ask the critics to examine the wide wide world of feminist/gender writing and acknowledge that there are ongoing writers espousing versions of feminism that I think, side by side, they would agree are far more “toxic” than anything Hugo has ever written.
    That isn’t a “he’s not as bad, so you should like him” argument. It’s a “clearly there is room for a wide range of divergent opinions within feminism” argument. I don’t see organized campaigns looking to sideline those voices.

    So, read who fits and/or challenges your views in the way you like.”

    Which is what I plan to do.

    • jaclynfriedman permalink*
      February 9, 2012 12:33 am

      This is hardly reducible to whether or not one likes the tone or content of his writing. His “acts” include attempted murder and manipulating students into sex. His “acts” also include such present-tense things such as threatening his critics’ livelihood (see anonymous comment much earlier in the thread for just one example), lying about the attempted murder and editing the record to cover up those lies (see studentactivism link posted above), dragging necessary but economically fragile feminist institutions like Scarleteen through his mud with no concern for the wellbeing of the institution, its employees, or the tens of thousands of people who rely on it, and more. I am not biased against 12-step programs — I worked the steps myself for years. This is about much more than his writing. It’s about his history and present-tense track record of being toxic, abusive, manipulative, and uninterested in accountability.

    • February 9, 2012 9:57 am

      Jaclyn has answered the important point, but in addition, I don’t think these acts were “prior to” his gender issues career. His website lists him as teaching about enthusiastic consent since the 80s, which means these things were 10 years after that, at least. The redemption story seems to be “hit bottom, found Christianity and Feminism, was saved”, but that doesn’t seem to actually match up with the story he tells elsewhere, which involves him being interested in feminism and teaching feminism since the beginning of his career.

      • February 9, 2012 10:19 am

        He claims to be a cradle feminist, raised by a feminist mom.

  25. February 9, 2012 5:41 pm

    I didn’t mean to imply that my comment was directed at Jaclyn. It’s more my overall thoughts about the situation to his critics generally. You (and others) raise very good points, but I still think we know pieces of those points and not the whole picture.

    One example is the removing references/changing the record charges. I don’t think he’s made this as clear as he could, but it’s been mentioned in several places that he was ordered by attorney’s to do so and to refrain from speaking on this. Why that is, I don’t know, and he is unable to speak to it, but I don’t think he can be held accountable for that.

    Another is the Scarleteen separation. He parted from the site as professionally as I think he could, he was complimentary about them and encouraged people to go to the site regardless of how they feel about him. This has somehow gotten turned around to the idea that he is deliberately trying to drag Scarleteen down and is working behind the scenes to do this. I have no idea where that came from.

    I don’t pretend to know when he stepped into teaching on feminist issues or how poorly he practiced them initially. I’m looking at the total history as he and others have presented it. (or as much as any of us can know without direct experience)

    I sincerely am not trying to be an apologist here. What will happen, will happen.
    He needs to find an accountability process that will be accepted by his critics, if that can happen at all.
    I believe anyone who is uncomfortable/harmed by his presence must separate themselves, and the rest of us must respect that. I’m also saying that tracking him down wherever he goes to denounce him doesn’t serve that purpose.
    He’s stated clearly that, anyone/group who wishes to associate with him professionally will do so knowing this situation so that they can make their own determination about working with him. Other than refusing to write/speak, even when explicitely invited to by people who know his history, I don’t see what other professional stance he can take.
    It’s certainly more than what the vast majority of speakers/writers in social justice do. If I had to air my entire history each time I went on the air or took a gig, I’d have to think twice about what that meant for my privacy and personal life.

    He is, in great part, being criticized for being open about his past. That’s the part that continues to stick with me. Nobody outed him. He put all this out there himself.

    If the charge is simply that he is one face in public and another in private, obviously no one can comment on that except through direct experience, as Anon did above. I do not deny that experience; I fold it in with everything else I’ve read. It does cross my mind though, and I say this with respect, that with the sockpuppeting and angry statements that have been made in multiple arenas, it would be easy enough for someone with an agenda to lobby charges. If Jaclyn and others here are assured that Anon speaks from truth, then that will be enough for me and I apologize for questioning it.

    I’m just examining the information available and, as GFieldC and the other Anon said, it doesn’t add up to what I hear/read others saying. Thank you for allowing me to air my thoughts here.

    As a sidenote, that frustrates me in not being more central to this whole thing, is the way that those of us on the same side of the fence have been willing to harm each other for not holding the same viewpoint on this. In most of the areas, talk descended into personal attacks about supporting/not supporting versus airing views.
    In other words, thank you for holding a conversation here that has been lacking in a lot of other places.

    • February 9, 2012 6:46 pm

      ” those of us on the same side of the fence have been willing to harm each other for not holding the same viewpoint…”

      To be clear, I don’t mean physical harm, of course. Just the name-calling and verbal attacks that take away from the real discussion.

    • jaclynfriedman permalink*
      February 9, 2012 9:31 pm

      “One example is the removing references/changing the record charges. I don’t think he’s made this as clear as he could, but it’s been mentioned in several places that he was ordered by attorney’s to do so and to refrain from speaking on this. Why that is, I don’t know, and he is unable to speak to it, but I don’t think he can be held accountable for that.”

      He changed his story from “if not for the neighbors who smelled gas we’d be dead” to “part of me wanted us to live so I made a call” long before any lawyers were even alleged to be involved.

      “Another is the Scarleteen separation. He parted from the site as professionally as I think he could, he was complimentary about them and encouraged people to go to the site regardless of how they feel about him. This has somehow gotten turned around to the idea that he is deliberately trying to drag Scarleteen down and is working behind the scenes to do this. I have no idea where that came from.” I didn’t say he’s deliberately trying to bring them down, I said he doesn’t seem to care if they go down with him. And I got that impression directly from Heather Corinna. Check it out.

      “If I had to air my entire history each time I went on the air or took a gig, I’d have to think twice about what that meant for my privacy and personal life.”

      You’re not, I certainly hope, an attempted murderer and abuser of women. It’s a material difference.

      “He is, in great part, being criticized for being open about his past. That’s the part that continues to stick with me. Nobody outed him. He put all this out there himself.”

      This is untrue, plain and simple. He is being criticized for MUCH MORE SERIOUS behavior, past and present, than “being open.” Just because he told his own story doesn’t change that, and suggesting that he’s being criticized for “openness” and not attempted murder, manipulation, abusive behavior, lying, threats, etc. is unbelievably minimizing.

      “If the charge is simply that he is one face in public and another in private, obviously no one can comment on that except through direct experience, as Anon did above. I do not deny that experience; I fold it in with everything else I’ve read. It does cross my mind though, and I say this with respect, that with the sockpuppeting and angry statements that have been made in multiple arenas, it would be easy enough for someone with an agenda to lobby charges. If Jaclyn and others here are assured that Anon speaks from truth, then that will be enough for me and I apologize for questioning it.”

      I don’t know Anon, so I can’t vouch for hir personally, but I can assure you that hir account is much like others I’ve heard from very trusted sources about Hugo’s ongoing backchannel threats and manipulation.

      But more than that, this is a warning for everyone here: do not throw around suggestions of sockpuppeting unless you’re prepared to back them up. This is not a place where you can casually undermine the credibility of other commenters just because you don’t want to deal with what they’re saying.

      • February 9, 2012 11:00 pm

        I apologize to Anon and anyone else I may have unintentionally hurt from my “sockpuppeting” comment. I tried to make it clear that I was questioning from ignorance and seeking info, not to disrespect someone.

        I’ll follow up on Heather re: Scarleteen. Thanks for that.
        The “taking them down” concept I picked up from a few other sites; it just sounded as if you had the same idea.

        “This is untrue, plain and simple. He is being criticized for MUCH MORE SERIOUS behavior, past and present, than “being open.””

        You’re right, that was minimizing of me and badly worded.
        My point was that none of us would know any of this were it not for him coming forward about it. This could easily have been a part of his past that he did his best to learn from, move forward and never spoken about publically. The fact that he did so in the way that he did tells me he had no clue there would be the reaction there has been. Not that we do/don’t do something out of fear of the reaction, but to be as manipulative as many say he is, it doesn’t make sense WHY he would do that. Why deliberately set himself up in that way?

        I do wonder if he had started his online career by stating, “Hey everyone, here are some horrific things I’ve done in my life and it’s important you know this history. I am doing my best to move forward and I hope you think it doesn’t take away from what I hope to create here.” or some such, if now, a decade+ later, there wouldn’t be a different attitude about him. Pure speculation, I know, but I do think a lot of the outrage was inflamed by the timing.
        None of us can deny that he put that history out there in various measures for at least a year for everyone to see. It was only when it was recently repeated in the Thorn interview that it gained momentum.

        I’m not trying to convince anyone; there’s just a lot about this that doesn’t fit together for me.

      • jaclynfriedman permalink*
        February 10, 2012 11:02 am

        Look, none of us can truly know why any individual does anything. But Hugo’s behavior is consistent, in my eyes, with the behavior of a narcissist. (A diagnosis I believe — though this is second-hand, haven’t read Hugo on it directly — that Hugo has publicly stated he has or has had in the past.) It’s easy for me to imagine, given the context, that he wrote that piece because it fit with the redemption narrative he likes to cast himself in — I Was So Lost, And Now I Am Found. Look How Far I’ve Come. All about him! And because he’s (imho) a narcissist, he genuinely didn’t think about how the story would sound to others, or the impact it would have. He thought we would all hear it exactly as he did, because, to a narcissist, no one else really exists, not as fully separate individuals with our own needs and perspectives. He thought we would all say, how brave of you, Hugo, to tell us your sad story, and to have overcome it as you so clearly have! The girlfriend he tried to kill? She was just a prop in his personal psychodrama. As are we all. Which is why, when it wasn’t received as he expected, he started lashing out in all kinds of ways, changing his story, manipulating, threatening, etc.

        This is all my theory, of course. I don’t pretend to be psychic. But you said it doesn’t “fit together” for you, so I wanted to share how it clearly does from where I sit.

        As for whether or not this all would have gone down differently if he’d disclosed many years ago? We’ll never know, because he’s not that guy. He didn’t even see fit to disclose when he was hired by Scarleteen — to give advice to young people who might be in abusive, manipulative or violent relationships — that he himself has been a violent, manipulative abuser. Not when it would have actually helped anyone else, at potential cost to him. He only saw fit to mention this stuff when it worked for his own narrative. Not when it would have been the right thing to do. I agree he had no clue it would cost him anything when he told that story, which is part of the point. If he were actually changed, “redeemed,” sorry, etc., he would know that his actions have consequences and welcome the chance to pay the price for them.

  26. February 9, 2012 7:18 pm

    Jacklyn, in one of your replies to Pia you wrote that you didn’t think anyone who had read your work would accuse you of participating in a “takedown culture”. I don’t know if or how you make the distinction, but joining the wave of voices denouncing Hugo Schwyzer, and denouncing him in such clear terms, means you have joined an Internet takedown.

    I don’t deny that Hugo’s behaviour makes him an extreme case, and I believe he does not belong in anti-oppression spaces. At the same time, more than a few of the people denouncing him have made their case in extreme personal terms, not merely criticizing behaviour but expressing hatred for a person. The tactics used also set a questionable precedent: activities such as putting up sites and a Facebook group dedicated to denouncing an individual.

    If you consider Hugo’s behaviour so dangerous that it requires an Internet takedown, then you consider Internet takedowns necessary in some cases. Personally, I believe it makes sense to exclude Hugo from anti-oppression spaces, to identify the harms he has done and the way he has show an reluctance to acknowledge or take responsibility for them. And I believe I can do that while still saying that I consider him a human being, and that I do not agree with or accept some of the more extreme statements made against him.

    • jaclynfriedman permalink*
      February 9, 2012 9:08 pm

      John, I fail to see how expressing an opinion makes me esponsible for the behavior of all people with whom I share that one opinion. I still consider him a human being, too. Humans are capable of awful things.

      • February 10, 2012 12:31 pm

        Either you agree with everything people have said an done to denounce Hugo Schwyzer, or you do not. If you consider him such a danger, so toxic, that you agree with statements such as he “isn’t human”, that people “hate him so very very much”, or else you find statements like that excessive and unnecessary. And either way, you have the right and the ability to say so. I just don’t think you can expect people to guess what culture you would take part in.

      • jaclynfriedman permalink*
        February 10, 2012 1:32 pm

        Do you really imagine I have the time to a) read and know EVERYTHING anyone has done or said to denounce Hugo, and b) become psychic enough to know which bits trouble you enough that you want my opinion on them? Honestly, John, your attitude is more than a bit narcissistic. I’m sure I haven’t read half of what people have said or done in re: Hugo, and I certainly don’t have the time to make specific statements about every single comment I’ve read. So you’re going to have to ask questions more specifically if you don’t want to guess my answers. I’ll also say that this isn’t a thread about what I think about every single thing that’s ever been said or done in re: Hugo, so I won’t be entertaining these questions indefinitely.

        In specific, I’ve already responded in the comment directly above yours to the question of his humanity. I’ve also heard the suggestion (in a comment above) that there have been threats against him. I haven’t seen evidence of a single one, honestly, but if people *are* threatening him with violence, I’d condemn that clearly and beseech them to stop. As for whether or not I hate him? I find that question kind of uninteresting/irrelevant. How I personally feel about Hugo is as immaterial as how he personally feels about me. We don’t even know each other. What matters to me is that I deplore his actions and his impact on communities I care about. But I certainly support the right of people to express (quite justified, imho) anger in untidy and impolitic ways. I hope you weren’t looking for a tone argument here, because you won’t find this a welcoming venue.

      • February 10, 2012 4:22 pm

        Jaclyn, you’ve made your position clear, thank you.

    • jaclynfriedman permalink*
      February 9, 2012 10:07 pm

      Also? Why is calling out someone’s dangerous behavior an “internet takedown” in this case, but not, say, when I speak out against the boys who assaulted & abused Amber Cole, or DSK, or Tucker Max, or Assange (and his fanboys Olbermann and Moore), or Chris Brown or, for that matter, Rick Santorum?

    • February 9, 2012 11:05 pm

      As to “internet takedowns,” John, I don’t see Jaclyn and Yes’s editorial stance as being anything close to that.
      She and Thomas are stating their opinion and beliefs clearly and making their own choice not to associate with Hugo. I don’t read anyone here advocating following him around and pressuring other sites to dissassociate from him.

      This is Yes’s site and they can choose write about and associate with whoever they wish.
      Very different to me from what I see happening in other netborhoods.

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