Author: has written 57 posts for this blog.

Clarisse Thorn is a Chicago-based, feminist, sex-positive activist and educator. Personal blog at clarissethorn.com; follow her on Twitter @clarissethorn; you can also buy her awesome book about pickup artists or her awesome best-of collection, The S&M Feminist.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

77 Responses

  1. PhysioProf
    PhysioProf December 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    Personally, I am very skeptical of any d00d who creates a massive public persona built upon a professorial status focused on preaching and teaching women about feminism, especially one who has admitted to having exploited exactly that status for sex. If he were honest about his motives, wouldn’t he eschew taking an instructive feminist role with respect to women and limit his preaching and teaching to other d00ds?

  2. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists December 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    What a wonderfully optimistic picture of the world this man paints! Men all around him blossoming into their humanity! Sharing their feeling like never before.

    It’s a bright new day for men’s liberation.

  3. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin December 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm |

    Schwyzer’s life asks us to think about forgiveness, or whether there are limits to it. He appears to be contrite about his past behavior. Now it is up to us to believe whether he has truly changed for the better.

    I will say that in my own life, I did go through a period of promiscuity. I wasn’t in an authority role as Schwyzer was, but I did sleep with both men and women to compensate for my own insecurities. That much I can understand. And I had professors, exclusively male professors, who I knew slept with their students or had slept with their students earlier in their careers.

    At the time, when I was 19 or 20, that sort of behavior seemed appealing, but now it seems exploitative. Schwyzer’s story makes me personally uncomfortable, but mostly because I’ve known people like him in my life. I am inclined to forgive him, but I’m left with a kind of lingering suspicion as well. Of course, if any of us had been in similar circumstances, we’d want the opportunity to redeem ourselves as well.

  4. H.D. Lynn
    H.D. Lynn December 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    I’ve really enjoyed some of Schwyzer’s writing I’ve encountered. Having a men speak about feminism and about how sexism hurts men can be a good way for other men to understand sexism. I’ve been debating on introducing some male friends to Schwyzer, but I’ve held back because I’m not sure I’d be comfortable supporting someone with his history. At the same time, I think he explains the ‘sexism hurts men, too’ aspect of feminism very well. His behavior is inline with the horrible stereotype of the man-who-pretends-to-be-feminist-to-sleep-with-feminists.

  5. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua December 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm |

    I think it’s significant that Hugo Schwyker is a Christian, because it’s a fundamental belief of Christians that there’s no unforgiveable sinner or sin. (And if there were, it would be bad strategy, because why would a sinner ever reform?) He’s come to terms with the terrible things he did, he’s apologized to the people he exploited, to the extent he can, and most of all he’s open about it. He’s positively inviting anyone who’s skeptical to look at the way he lives now, and see if he’s acting as if he’s reformed. He says even so, some people don’t trust him, and he doesn’t argue with them.

    Another thing a Christian might say (a street-corner preacher, for instance) would be to ask who knows more about sin than someone who’s been immersed in it.

  6. LotusBen
    LotusBen December 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm |

    I say cut the Professor a break. Since Newt Gingrich is qualified to be our president, Hugo Schwyzer is certainly qualified to teach gender studies at Pasadena City College.

  7. igglanova
    igglanova December 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm |

    Given his history, I feel perfectly comfortable saying that I limit my trust of Hugo Schwyzer to ten-foot-pole-length internet discussions. While I always find his writing interesting, even when I disagree with it, I would never feel comfortable being in a room with him, even if that room was the size of a lecture theatre. There are some things you just can’t come back from. Voluntarily placing myself in a subordinate position (that is, a student role) to someone who has a history of acting like a predator is a bridge too far. I have serious misgivings about the fact that he continues to be a professor at all.

    So, I’m really feeling what the good PhysioProf is saying.

  8. PhysioProf
    PhysioProf December 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    I would suggest that he not profess about feminism to female students. How he might achieve that is not my fucken concern.

  9. rossignol
    rossignol December 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm |

    I love this interview! I also enjoy Schwyzer’s writing and am always disappointed to see some readers dismiss him or his ideas so quickly just because of his past, which he has examined and apologized for.

    If we refuse others the chance to earn forgiveness or redemption, we will forever be preaching to the choir and will not be able to effect change. Isn’t Schwyzer’s personal development an example of what all feminists hope for? Don’t we all hope that people who have engaged in sexist thought and/or behavior will see how problematic it is? Don’t we hope that they will change, and that they will maybe try to inspire others to change too?

  10. mad the swine
    mad the swine December 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm |

    Clarisse, why are you giving this animal a platform?

    There are three and a half billion women on this planet with inspiring, thought-provoking stories and insights to share, and you choose instead to promote the self-serving rhetoric of a narcissistic sexual predator.

    “Isn’t Schwyzer’s personal development an example of what all feminists hope for? ”

    No. If Schwyzer’s come-to-feminist-Jesus moment was even slightly legitimate, he wouldn’t be so eagerly trying to mansplain about feminism and drown out women’s voices.

    That’s what really annoys me. Schwyzer promotes himself as a man speaking to other men about feminism and respecting women; he argues that young men, especially, need to hear these things from older male role models. But one of the great challenges for feminism – for convincing men to treat women as equal – is teaching them to LISTEN TO WOMEN. Schwyzer’s self-serving claim that men have to have male voices to teach them is tremendously damaging to his students. Instead of appropriating and colonizing feminism and gender theory for himself, he should be telling students “These are the people who came up with these theories; go and learn from them; I’ll shut up now.”

    I won’t hold my breath.

  11. Athenia
    Athenia December 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm |

    Nice! Hugo’s history kinda freaks me out, but at the end of the day, his writing has always seem to “get it” so, I see that as a good thing.

  12. Rodeo
    Rodeo December 18, 2011 at 3:54 am |

    Schwyzer’s self-serving claim that men have to have male voices to teach them is tremendously damaging to his students.

    Men don’t and won’t listen to women. In much the same way that white people won’t and don’t listen to people of color. If we want any sort of progress from those who have power, we need other people with similar privileges opening a few of those doors for them. If Hugo is teaching a few Women’s Studies 101 classes and making it easier for male students to take Women’s Studies 201, then he has my full support.

  13. matlun
    matlun December 18, 2011 at 5:34 am |

    igglanova: , even when I disagree with it, I would never feel comfortable being in a room with him, even if that room was the size of a lecture theatre.

    Why? I have never even heard allegations that he has not respected the limits of consent. Do you know something that I do not? I can understand if his history makes you not respect him, but why feel threatened?

    mad the swine: he argues that young men, especially, need to hear these things from older male role models.

    I do not really believe this claim, either, but it is very common. See for example the argument that women need female role models. The idea that [person from group X] will only be able to learn well from [person from group X] is not isolated to Schwyzer.

  14. AMM
    AMM December 18, 2011 at 8:27 am |

    Intellectually, I want to like and approve of Hugh Schwyzer. I’ve read his stuff and agree with a lot of what he says.

    In my gut, though, I find him a bit repellent. His writing sound just too much like all the dudebros I’ve encountered in my life.

    I’m a guy who spent most of his childhood on the receiving end of the tormenting and sadism that was what “masculinity” was all about in that place and time, to the point that I can’t see anything positive at all in “masculinity.” So when I see guys getting all dudebro-ish and chummy, I associate it with guys getting together to share the joy of being mean to people who can’t do anything about it or do anything back.

    In my view, “masculinity” in Western societies is in its essence about training males to be part of the oppressor class, whether it is to be actual oppressors or just to live, work, and think in ways that make oppression and exploitation an integral and inescapable part of those societies.

    Maybe Hugh has, in fact, expunged certain “unethical” behaviors. But he is still holding onto the idea that “masculinity” is a good thing. He’s like a Marxist-Leninist who is happy to condemn Stalin’s “excesses,” but is blind to the ways that Stalinism was simply a logical extension of what Lenin did and Marx preached.

  15. LotusBen
    LotusBen December 18, 2011 at 9:02 am |

    In my opinion, “masculinity” is too disperate and vague of a category to be essentially good or bad, just like “femininity.” As an analogy, I don’t view being “outgoing” or “shy” as inherently good or bad either. Something masculine, like something outgoing, could refer any one of thousands of different specific behaviors or attributes, some of which might be beneficial in some situations, and others of which might be detrimental in other situations.

    That said, I certainly relate to having suspicion of macho men, as a guy who never felt particularly masculine but also often felt an inner and outer pressure to “perform” in a way that was more masculine than I felt inside. I associate being around dudebros with feeling unpleasantly compulsed to suppress my emotions, act competitive, and yes, sometimes, gang up on someone weaker (or watch uncomfortably from the sidelines as others did this). I find it sorta interesting that in my life today as an adult, I’m a hetero cisgendered guy without many remaining hetero cisgendered guy friends (compared to them being almost ALL my friends in childhood). This wasn’t intentional development, it just sorta happened.

  16. Jarrod
    Jarrod December 18, 2011 at 9:07 am |

    AMM:
    He’s like a Marxist-Leninist who is happy to condemn Stalin’s “excesses,” but is blind to the ways that Stalinism was simply a logical extension of what Lenin did and Marx preached.

    Marx: The oppressing class is keeping the oppressed class from speaking. Eventually, the oppressed class will gain consciousness and revolt against the oppressor.

    Stalin: I am the only one with consciousness. Everyone else (especially the oppressed class) is under false consciousness and should therefore shut the fuck up and do as I say.

    Yeah, that sounds like a logical extension to me. While we’re at it lets stop trying to achieve equal economic conditions for women, since that idea is obviously too entrenched in Marxism to be workable.

    Anyway, I would personally be quite uncomfortable with introducing Schwyzer to a man who wasn’t already a feminist, mostly due to the fucked up sexual history. It is unfortunate that someone with such a history is the poster boy for men teaching feminist theory (something I am quite interested in).

  17. Brian
    Brian December 18, 2011 at 9:39 am |

    I’ve been debating on introducing some male friends to Schwyzer, but I’ve held back because I’m not sure I’d be comfortable supporting someone with his history. At the same time, I think he explains the ‘sexism hurts men, too’ aspect of feminism very well.

    In a pragmatic way, Hugo’s a really good introduction because he uses a lot of feminist jargon, but presents mostly patriarchal ideas. Or at the very least, doesn’t really challenge you – he mostly writes about not doing stuff most men wouldn’t do anyways. The second point is a bit of a problem – he’s writing targeted exclusively at women, and has a lot of trouble connecting with a male audience because he makes so many assertions about what it’s like to be a man that aren’t true. Which is very alienating.

    But as an introduction to get comfortable with jargon, he’s very useful. Depends on whether you want someone to learn to swim by putting a toe in the water, or jumping into the deep end. Pragmatically, the former works much better, eh?

  18. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf December 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    [H]e’s writing targeted exclusively at women[.]

    This is exactly what is so full of shitte about Schwyzer, and why I doubt his motives. If he really felt remorse for his past he wouldn’t be shoving his text in women’s faces, just like he used to do with his dicke.

  19. Jadey
    Jadey December 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm |

    I don’t always agree with or like what Schwyzer says, and I definitely don’t think anyone is obligated to forgive him for his seriously skeevy past behaviour (the idea of a professor sleeping with students literally makes me nauseated), but as someone who has also fucked up in my own life and who always feels the potential to fuck up even more, I have to say that I appreciate the way he approaches the whole process. Change your behaviour, don’t try to minimize or justify your past behaviour, don’t demand or expect forgiveness or trust, and find ways to *make* yourself be accountable, including through relationships with people who know to call you on your shit. Beyond even my knowledge of my own capacity to fuck up, as someone who works in corrections, I think it’s important to understand how people manage living with having done unforgivable things in ways that are restorative and reparative rather than self-indulgent or further destructive.

    This is clearly my own personal philosophy, but when it comes to feminism specifically and society in general, if we give up entirely on the idea that people can change or that people who have fucked up have nothing of value to offer and chuck out everyone who seriously fucks up on that criterion alone, I think we’re going to be a hell of a lot more lonely. I’d probably be out of the door pretty quick myself. I think we should analyze, criticize, and be skeptical about what Schwyzer says because I think we should analyze, criticize, and be skeptical about what anyone says, and I think he should be accountable for his behaviour, which is partly what his openness about it does. But I’m not so convinced he has nothing to offer and should leave the game entirely, although I don’t consider him a staple of my feminist must-read list.

  20. SmJ
    SmJ December 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm |

    As someone who identifies male, I have two problems with Schwyzer. The first is that he sometimes comes across as a braggart. He can read as saying “look how many women you can sleep with if you’re prepared to behave unethically! It was great! Don’t do what I did. (Wink, wink.)” My second problem is the way he sometimes dismisses men’s issues completely, like the essay he wrote basically dismissing any man’s pain who feels a sense of betrayal (with the mother) if they found out the child they thought was biologically theirs turned out not to be.

    I have sometimes agreed with his writing, but that usually turns out to be on occasions when he is discussing things he’s learned from other writers I respect (often Clarisse Thorn). I think it has become worse now that he’s basically turned his online presence into a revenue stream, rather than trying to construct a conversation which seemed to be the case before.

  21. ILikeTea
    ILikeTea December 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm |

    This is interesting reading (the comment section, I mean) since my issues with Hugo are quite different: his history of dismissing critiques by women of colour, being called on it, admitting he was maybe wrong to do so (complete with overdone performance), and then doing exactly the same thing not one month later. Although the final straw for me was when he decided to publicly chide Amanda Marcotte and demand that she answer to him for her behaviour after having spent several days telling women of colour to stop assuming anything bad about Amanda. But once he had judged her… well, then it was bad.

    I mean, I can put aside the “I work every day in the trenches of sexism in the classroom, not like you” thing he pulled because that was really a very long time ago and before he even moved to his wordpress blog, but way he decides that dissenting voices in feminism pretty actively need to be ignored for the good of the movement turns my stomach.

    It’s not Hugo in the classroom I worry about, it’s the way that Hugo has become, in many online spaces, the male face of feminism. That ignores a lot of men who actively try to listen & learn from women of colour rather than shut them down.

  22. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon December 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    SmJ:
    The first is that he sometimes comes across as a braggart. He can read as saying “look how many women you can sleep with if you’re prepared to behave unethically! It was great! Don’t do what I did. (Wink, wink.)”

    Word.

  23. Charlotte
    Charlotte December 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |

    I tried to like him a number of times but for some reason I was always sort of turned off by something. What a lot of the commenters are saying makes sense to me.

  24. chipchop
    chipchop December 18, 2011 at 4:15 pm |

    From the “about” page on his website:

    In 2008, Schwyzer was named the “hottest professor in America” by the MTV-owned site, Ratemyprofessors.com.

    Tasteful!

  25. Nanette
    Nanette December 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm |

    My distrust and dislike of Schwyzer is entirely independent of his sexual and predatory history–mainly because I was unaware of it at the time of my interactions with him, many years ago.

    Like the poster above, I tried and tried to like him, particularly because white Feminists were often linking him because of this or that thing he said. Like some other women of color, though, I quickly found out that he not only cannot hear and refuses to listen to women (of color, particularly), he insists that his base of knowledge supersedes the lived experiences of women of color. His base of knowledge being an education in sexism and gender, and a quote by Shirley Chisholm that he, in his social, racial, and economically privileged position as a well-off white male, did not understand in the least.

    As you can imagine, I (and others) found this a bit off putting. When I learned that (at that time) his classes were primarily made up of young women of color and that he also dismissed their lived experiences as not only women, but women of color, I mourned. Reading all this now, about his history, I am just sick.

    I believe people can change, can redeem themselves, can become new and improved. I don’t think they can necessarily do that by surrounding themselves, in positions of power and influence, with some of the most vulnerable of populations.

  26. AMM
    AMM December 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    LotusBen @15:

    In my opinion, “masculinity” is too disperate and vague of a category to be essentially good or bad, just like “femininity.”

    I knew someone was going to trot this out. Do I have bingo yet? “But honesty is masculine! Rationality is masculine!” Etc.

    By “masculinity,” I mean any (non-anatomical) characteristic that is commonly called “masculine” that I would not consider equally appropriate for someone if they were female. (I put in the “I would consider” because a lot of people consider rationality, intelligence, competence, etc., inappropriate for women.) So far, I haven’t found one “masculine” characteristic (by this definition) that isn’t ultimately about domination. And when people talk about men “losing their masculinity,” it’s always dominance that they’re really talking about (no matter how it’s couched.)

    BTW, I have the same reaction to the Good Men Project website that I do to Hugh Schyzer. The fear of falling out of the screwing-over class (which is considered equivalent to ending up being in the screwed-over class) permeates the articles there.

  27. Hugh
    Hugh December 18, 2011 at 6:59 pm |

    “As someone who identifies male, I have two problems with Schwyzer….”

    This kind of encapsulates it for me, Schwyzer is simultaneously quite anti-female with his thinly concealed bragging about his fucking his students, and anti-male in writing off male emotions.

    My suspicion is that the excesses of the latter is a way to conceal the former, that his flights of rhetorical androphobia are really just a way to try to establish his feminist credentials.

  28. AMM
    AMM December 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm |

    Jarrod @16:

    Marx: The oppressing class is keeping the oppressed class from speaking. Eventually, the oppressed class will gain consciousness and revolt against the oppressor.

    Stalin: I am the only one with consciousness. Everyone else (especially the oppressed class) is under false consciousness and should therefore shut the fuck up and do as I say.

    I’m not sure what your point is. If you’re trying to disagree with me, it’s like saying I’m wrong because I used the wrong type face.

    I was using an analogy to make clear my objection to Hugh Schwyzer’s writings. The analogy was based on the IMHO widely-accepted point of view that Marx preached ruthless dictatorship (in pursuit of a Worker’s Paradise) and Lenin used lies, murder, and terror to implement what he claimed was Marx’s proposal; as such, Stailin’s reign of terror (which was the essence of Stalinism) was simply an extension of Lenin’s practice.

    You don’t have to agree with that point of view of Marx/Lenin/Stalin, but disagreeing with it doesn’t invalidate my point about Hugh Schwyzer, any more than agreeing with it validates my point about HS.

  29. saurus
    saurus December 18, 2011 at 7:47 pm |

    Like some others in this thread, I feel rather uncomfortable with him. I read his stuff years ago with some enthusiasm because I was on the prowl for male feminist work, but was too turned off to connect with it. My reasons:

    1. I believe that part of being an “ally” is knowing that, if you’re in a privileged position, people are going to throw leadership and book deals and posterboy visibility at you. You’ll also be more inclined to pursue these things, consciously or not…even though you aren’t a member of the oppressed group, even though there are ample people in that oppressed group who can represent themselves. I believe part of being an ally is resisting and subverting that dynamic at every opportunity. So when I see “male feminists” who have professional websites and appear in the book and lecture circuit, I cringe. Because if you’re such an amazing feminist ally, I should never have heard of you. I find white feminists who career-ize their feminism problematic enough, given their history of doing it on the backs of radical women of color – for a white dude to do it is just too much for me to swallow. And he consistently writes from an expert / pundit / academic perspective, not an ally “I defer to you regarding analysis of your own oppression” one.

    2. I have found that many “male feminists” have are so devoted to the idea of themselves as “not like other men” or “one of the good guys” that they’re actually just as ignorant – if not moreso! – than those “other men” about their own capacity to be misogynist, abusive or oppressive. Because they have a sound understanding of feminist principles and try to live as “good feminists”, suggesting that they behave in a way that’s Not Cool is met with an incredible amount of skepticism and resistance, either privately or publicly. And because they’re usually surrounded by supportive fans who believe just as strongly in their good-guyness, they can pull many “yeah well the women around me still think I’m awesome and that it wasn’t such a big deal” cards. To that end, I’m curious how his accountability group works, how diverse they are, and he how ensures they won’t cut him more slack than he deserves, particularly when it comes to his self-positioning as an expert.

    3. This whole “I’ve reformed!” story – as an extension of my point #2, I feel a bit weird about characterizing someone as “recovered” from being abusive or misogynistic. I believe that sexism (and other isms) is like a lightswitch that always defaults to “on” – you have to keep manually switching it to “off” throughout your life. There’s no magical way to permanently become a Good Person or permanently purge all the sexism from your behavior and psyche. It worries me when people behave as though you can, as though someone will never fuck up again. Because we all have the capacity in us to oppress, and frankly I don’t find feminists – male or female or other – any less likely to oppress than non-feminists. I think it’s healthy being acutely aware that you’re never too awesome to fuck up, too insightful to abuse someone, or too compassionate to let your ego and other shit get in the way of your ethics. And I don’t mean being aware in a comfortably distanced, hypothetical, “we’re all sexist” way – I mean getting up close and personal with your own ugliness. In his case, I always feel like…I dunno, it’s a bit detached.

    4. I find his writing consistently lacks any deep awareness of race, class, and other forms of oppression, particularly in how they relate to women. For me that is a total dealbreaker, given how one’s feminist faculties are severely limited without this. When he does engage with these subjects, it’s usually messy – take his response to one of the shitstorms a few years ago around Amanda Marcotte, involving several radical women of color feminists, in which he chastised them for potentially hurting her career (ha! when have radical women of color every managed to hurt a white feminist’s career, even accidentally) for accusing Marcotte of appropriating, informing them that such claims are “very serious” as though they weren’t acutely, painfully aware of that, and glazing over / simplifying their arguments as “worthwhile discussions for another time” while patently avoiding engaging with them, and implying they ought to be grateful to Amanda for discussing issues they were passionate about. Or his writing about Planned Parenthood’s history of racism, and his lack of analysis around “population control” and “birth rates”. And so forth.

    5. There’s something about his writing that I just can’t latch onto. The feminist writing I love is driven by an extremely potent sense of urgency and practicality. Like, my electricity is getting shut off so I’ll have to finish this post in a couple days practicality. Like, this member my community was just murdered by the police urgency. Like, we are being raped and abused and oppressed and told we’re ugly and monstrous. Like, we are forcing out these words at emotional gunpoint, we are transforming ourselves with these ideas, we are building new ways of living by building new ways of understanding ourselves and building new ways of relating to each other. With his writing, it feels so utterly third-person, so distant and academic…like it’s more about negotiating with abstract ideas in an artful way than actual people. And his responses to women of color seem to assume they’re coming from the same distant place. I dunno. I get this from a lot of mainstream feminist work, and Hugo’s is no exception.

    Before anyone says, “But haven’t you read X post of his where he addresses exactly that!” – I have read a huge chunk of his work since 2008, and these five things are still the taste that’s left in my mouth, occasional exceptions notwithstanding. I don’t think he’s Satan, I don’t think he “shouldn’t be allowed” (whatever that means) to do what he does, and I think that some of the efforts he’s made are great, blah blah blah. But no, he’s not on my mandatory reading list.

  30. igglanova
    igglanova December 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm |

    Nanette: I believe people can change, can redeem themselves, can become new and improved. I don’t think they can necessarily do that by surrounding themselves, in positions of power and influence, with some of the most vulnerable of populations.

    Word.

    I will believe that Schwyzer has changed when he decides to relinquish that power over his overwhelmingly female students voluntarily. I’m even going to go out on a limb here and say this…

    Male feminists – good!

    Male ‘feminists’ who deliberately seek positions of power over women and ultimate authority on whether their opinions are strong and valid – no thanks. I sense something deeply cynical at work here. People choose the careers they do for a reason. Hmm, I wonder what could possibly be appealing about the prospect of surrounding yourself with auditoriums full of fresh-faced, impressionable, powerless young women, and rewording much of what they already fucking know in academic jargon and testing them on it, to see if they understand their own oppression in terms he alone deems satisfactory.

    If Schwyzer really wants to atone for his nasty-ass betrayal, he will step down from that oh-so-delicious position at the podium and support us side by side. But damn, real activism just doesn’t earn you any money, does it?

  31. Jarrod
    Jarrod December 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm |

    Your claim that Stalin=Marx is silly. That was the only thing I was trying to say.

    You were trying to use a widely-accepted case (Marx example) to illuminate the situation at hand (Schwyzer) by way of analogy to prove the two cases are alike. Since we already believe certain things about the first case, and the second case is the same as the first, it should hold that the second case should be treated like the first case. However, if the first case is not actually widely-accepted then the analogy does not hold and has little argumentative power because it is based on a false foundation. I believe you did that here, and explained why. I feel as though you have provided a very poor reading of Marx that is not conductive to proving your analogy as true (because Marx did not believe the things you are attributing to him).

    Just to clarify though, I do agree with you about Schwyzer.

    But on that note, this is a feminst blog, so I won’t clog it up with arguments about what Marx believed. Hope that is acceptable.

  32. Jarrod
    Jarrod December 18, 2011 at 8:22 pm |

    Having read Saurus’s awesome post about how fraught it is to be a teacher of feminist theory as a man, I am reminded of a similar article, written by Michael Flood (a male) who tries to deal with these questions in a similar way. I don’t have time to re-read the article right now, but if anyone is interested I suggest that they check it out; I remember it being very good.

    http://www.xyonline.net/sites/default/files/Flood,%20Men%20as%20Students%20and%20Teachers%20of%20Feminist%20Scholarship%202011.pdf

  33. Kayla
    Kayla December 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm |

    His name is Hugo, not “Hugh”.

    It’s stupid to accuse him of sel-promotion when a writer for Feministe interviewed him. Clearly, a lot of respected feminist women like him and his work.
    And no one could hire him to speak or pay him to write against their will. He’s actually taken a huge risk by being so open about his past. That would seem to jeopardize rather than enhance his marketing potential.

    I like some of his writing and don’t care about his sexual past. I’d rather he talked about it less and was asked about it less frequently. It gets old.

    If you get mad at anyone, blame Clarisse.

  34. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf December 18, 2011 at 8:55 pm |

    Hmm, I wonder what could possibly be appealing about the prospect of surrounding yourself with auditoriums full of fresh-faced, impressionable, powerless young women, and rewording much of what they already fucking know in academic jargon and testing them on it, to see if they understand their own oppression in terms he alone deems satisfactory.

    The same thing that was appealing when he was sticking his dicke in them.

  35. Hugh
    Hugh December 18, 2011 at 8:55 pm |

    Word, Saurus

    I’ve often felt that a lot of male feminists seem to be driven by a desire to earn a metaphorical ticket to the Feminist Club, where they will gain permanent immunity from being criticised by feminists as sexist. In other words, they want to go back to where they were before they became aware of gender inequality, when it was just something they didn’t have to worry about in their personal lives, but they aren’t able to delete their awareness so instead they try to join the Official Club of Permanent Feminist Allies who are On Your Side and Doing Good Work. They will sometimes go to quite extraordinary lengths to get there.

  36. MozInOz
    MozInOz December 18, 2011 at 11:51 pm |

    I suspect I have the common reaction to Schwyzer – skepticism.

    I think I disagree with Hugh, though. He seems to be writing those men off, where my reaction is more utilitarian: I’m less concerned with motivation and more with effect. Questions about whether a given person is actually helping are too often ignored in favour of questioning whether the offer comes from someone sufficiently pure of heart.

    The Bloom article was more interesting to me, specifically in addressing the tension between men being rejected by/rejecting feminism as inappropriate for men, and the desirability of men becoming at least knowlegable about feminism. I’ve experienced a small amount of resistance from women to the idea of male feminists, and more to the idea of male experts on feminism. More often, though, it leads to more interesting discussions because of the ability to skip the “feminism 101″ part of the discussion.

  37. LotusBen
    LotusBen December 19, 2011 at 4:25 am |

    AMM: By “masculinity,” I mean any (non-anatomical) characteristic that is commonly called “masculine” that I would not consider equally appropriate for someone if they were female.

    I’m a little confused by this comment. Do you mean “appropriate” in a prescriptive or descriptive sense? I mean, for example, I don’t like that people torture insects, and most people who torture insects are male. So “torturer of insects” is a characteristic that is descripitively more appropriate for men, in that it applies more to men. But perscipictively (good vs. bad), it’s just as inappropriate whether a male does it or a non-male does it.

    Now I just don’t agree that every characteristic or behavior that is more commonly manifested by men than women is bad. For example, men are more likely to do physical strength training than women, so in a sense, descriptively, doing strength training is more “masculine” than “feminine.” And strength training is beneficial to health, and if more women did it, at the frequency that men do, they would be less at risk overall for diesases like osteoporosis. (I feel uncomfortable talking like this because there’s a lot of misogynistic implications but it was the least likely to be offensive example that came to my mind).

    Now, in terms of prescriptive appropriateness, there are some things that I would prefer other people don’t do. But this has nothing to do with whether they are men or women. I think all behaviors and characteristics are (prescriptively) are equally appropriate for men and women.

    Now I do agree that when people talk about “losing their masculinity” that is generally about losing dominance. “Losing your masculinity” is generally supposed to be bad, so the implication there is that masculinity is better than femininity or androgyny. And I definitely think a belief that masculinity is better than femininity is going to imply that the domination of men over women is good.

    I’m not sure if all this parsing of terms is even helpful. My general belief is just that “masculinity” and “femininity” are very broad umbrella concepts, and that any given individual should feel free to adopt whatever non-abusive traits and behaviors they feel best suit their needs and interests, whether those traits are commonly called “masculine” or “feminine.” For example, during the past year I’ve started weight lifting and at the same time I’ve start paining my fingernails. So I’m simultaneously expanding my repetoire of masculine and feminine behaviors. And I think that’s great! Personal autonomy is what I support.

  38. Jen in Ohio
    Jen in Ohio December 19, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    My distrust and dislike of Schwyzer is entirely independent of his sexual and predatory history–mainly because I was unaware of it

    Me too. I had no information about any of that until I read this OP.

    Prior to this, however, everything I’d read by Hugo Schwyzer himself (which was maybe as many as a dozen essays plus comments on other blogs) gave me a similar vibe as I used to get while listening to John Edwards give those speeches about Two Americas that made so many lefty-type folk fall in love with him. I didn’t know what it was about Edwards at the time, but the man just skeeved me out on that gut level in a major way, and then once all that personal crap came rolling out, it became apparent to pretty much everyone that Edwards’ better judgment as well as the bulk/entirety of his ethics had been on the lam for quite some time.

    Decades of experience taught me to trust my gut (even when my brain — which likes to think it’s much smarter than it actually is — tries to talk me out of it), and w/r/t Schwyzer, my brain merely disagrees with much of what he writes, but my gut consistently says something like, “Do not engage, stay the hell away from that dude.”

  39. Hugh
    Hugh December 19, 2011 at 11:02 am |

    I think I disagree with Hugh, though. He seems to be writing those men off, where my reaction is more utilitarian:

    Well, I’m not writing those men off in that they might change their minds, but I think their “feminism” is basically a dead end that is of little use to anybody other than their own egos. Even other men don’t really benefit from it. Anybody has the potential to stop being an arsehole but me pointing out that at this point in time they’re an arsehole and show no signs of changing that doesn’t detract from that.

  40. chipchop
    chipchop December 19, 2011 at 11:39 am |

    I have a comment lost in moderation, so I’m repeating it because I think it’s important. The following totally classy point is listed on his “about” page on his website:

    In 2008, Schwyzer was named the “hottest professor in America” by the MTV-owned site, Ratemyprofessors.com.

  41. Nanette
    Nanette December 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm |

    Jen in Ohio: w/r/t Schwyzer, my brain merely disagrees with much of what he writes, but my gut consistently says something like, “Do not engage, stay the hell away from that dude.”

    Yep.

    Also, too, the Edwards thing.

  42. magdelyn
    magdelyn December 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm |

    Hugo Schwyzer is disgusting:

  43. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm |

    Damn, Physio, you are so on-target.

  44. Sex, Drugs, Theology, Men & Feminism: Interview with Hugo Schwyzer - Feministe (blog) | Gender issues | Scoop.it

    […] Sex, Drugs, Theology, Men & Feminism: Interview with Hugo Schwyzer – Feministe (blog) Sex, Drugs, Theology, Men & Feminism: Interview with Hugo SchwyzerFeministe (blog)Role/Reboot regular contributor Hugo Schwyzer is a male feminist writer and professor of gender studies living in Los Angeles; he's also the Sex + Relationships… Source: http://www.feministe.us […]

  45. Mayotte
    Mayotte December 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm |

    Hugo Schwyzer not only preyed on his students, he tried to murder a woman and former lover.

    http://hugoschwyzer.net/2011/01/03/what-you-need-to-remember-what-you-need-to-forget-on-self-acceptance-after-doing-something-truly-awful/

    “I walked into the little kitchen only steps from where my ex lay. I blew out the pilot lights on our gas oven and on the burners, and turned the dials on everything up to maximum. I pulled the oven away from the wall, leaving the gas line intact, positioning it so that the gas was blowing directly at the passed-out young woman on the floor.”

    He went on to lie while taking advantage of every opportunity as a white man to get away with it (“The sheriff’s department didn’t arrest me because they assumed that the two of us were in a suicide pact. But I knew differently”)

    And this is just the stuff he has admitted to, which frightens me to the core about how narcissistic and manipulative he is when no one’s watching.

  46. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    O.o

    Someone feeling guilty about accidentally letting a dog out in a dangerous environment reminds him of the guilt he feels over nearly intentionally killed someone?

    …backing…away…slowly…

  47. Brendan
    Brendan December 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm |

    The strongest message I get from Schwyzer’s writing is that he thinks of women as children. It comes through loud and clear in everything of his I’ve read, drowning out everything else.

  48. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm |

    Schwyzer is a dangerous man, faux-amends crap notwithstanding. His writing shows a huge streak of sociopathy, with a hefty bit of narcissism just to spice things up.

    HE TRIED TO MURDER HIS EX-GIRLFRIEND. And he’s all casual about disclosing it.

    Anyone still think he’s the bestest man-feminist ever?

  49. igglanova
    igglanova December 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm |

    Mayotte: “I walked into the little kitchen only steps from where my ex lay. I blew out the pilot lights on our gas oven and on the burners, and turned the dials on everything up to maximum. I pulled the oven away from the wall, leaving the gas line intact, positioning it so that the gas was blowing directly at the passed-out young woman on the floor.”

    WHOA, what!? Holy cow.

  50. Harald
    Harald December 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm |

    tinfoil hattie:

    HE TRIED TO MURDER HI SEX-GIRLFRIEND. And he’s all casual about disclosingit.

    Nono, he’s not at all casual. He checked with his lawyers first to see if it would get him in trouble. And then he clearly stated that what he did was “horrible and inexcusable.” Are you sanctimonious feminists never satisfied!?!

    On a more serious note: I had never heard about this dude before and while reading some of the above comments I every once in a while thought “Hm, that maybe was a bit harsh. (Some) people do change indeed.” But attempting to murder a person who trusted him? Wow. Just wow. The comments on the linked blog post, telling him how brave and awesome he is, just make me angryangryangry.

  51. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

    You’re right, Harald. And seeing that she had been brutally raped and tied up (marks on her wrist) by her drug dealer, he comforted her with the “desperately hot, desperately heartbreaking sex we had had so often” as soon as they got back to his apartment.

    Not that he’s writing a Penthouse Forum letter, or anything. Nope. He’s just stating the sad, sad facts. Of how trying to kill “the passed-out young woman on the floor” (note the passive, objective language there) is just like forgetting and leaving the doggie door open. And how he’s all redeemed now, and a great feminist.

  52. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm |

    Fucking hell, just…I don’t even…I’m so confused and angry and flabbergasted by that article. I mean, seriously? “Past is just the past, oh wells!”

  53. LotusBen
    LotusBen December 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm |

    I just read, “What you need to remember, what you need to forget: on self-acceptance after doing something truly awful” by Hugo Schwyzer

    Holy, holy, holy, holy FUCK. Yes, I am definitely seeing the sociopathy and/or narcissism that other people have mentioned.

    You know, I think that everything is relative and even murderers can redeem themselves. But this man has NOT redeemed himself. He has willingly been sucked into a cult (12 step) that tells him he couldn’t help trying to murder somebody he allegedly loved because he was the VICTIM of a “disease.” And you can still see how he wallows in the self-pity now. That he’s still hung up over the fact he can’t talk to his ex-girlfriend and have her forgive him, although he won’t come out and say it.

    Is his piss poor framing job of this issue supposed to be the handiwork of a contrite man? The title of his blog post should have been: “I tried to murder my girlfriend.” There should be AT LEAST one sentence in the post to the effect of how “it’s wrong to murder people, even if supposedly out of compassion, because it’s an infringement on their autonomy and prevents them from being able to choose for themselves whether they want to live or not.” Didn’t see that sentence in there, did you? He seems acutely aware of how trying to murder someone was stupid because it could have landed him in jail, but less cognizant of how it could have stolen decades of life from a person who most likely would have worked through her addiction just as he has.

    What a narcissistic piece of shit. You know, as angry as I am, at some level I do feel sorry from him. All humans share 99.9% of the same DNA, at some level he has the same potential as anyone. It must suck to be so fucked up for whatever reasons that you are incapable of seeing others as fully human, and therefore never experience a real relationship and all the joy it brings.

  54. Brian
    Brian December 19, 2011 at 5:44 pm |

    Brendan – Yes, I get the same very strongly. It’s weird, because I want to push back at him from a very different direction than most of the commenters here. He always comes across as “Women are flawless angels who could never do anything wrong and should certainly never be held responsible for anything they’ve done. If anything bad ever happens to a woman, then you’ve failed her as a guardian.” to me, but I’ve never thought him phony on the “I’ve done bad stuff, and I regret it.” – I’ve had the strong impression he does feel bad, and he wants to suck up so he can be forgiven. Maybe I’ve been hoodwinked, though.

    Although when I think about it, he does a lot of the “all men are abusive and disingenuous, all the time” thing, which could certainly be projection.

  55. Donna L
    Donna L December 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm |

    “My ex’s parents, who were prominent and powerful, were furious. They had known me, and for a time, liked me. They certainly never imagined I would try and kill their daughter.”

    What does their being prominent and powerful have to do with anything? He tried to kill their daughter, and they were “furious.” Gee, imagine that. And they still hold a grudge — what a shock!

    This reminds me a little bit of something that once happened in a support group I belonged to, quite a few years ago now. One of the other trans women, in an attempt, I suppose, to demonstrate the depths of self-loathing to which she had descended when she lived as a guy (and from which she had since recovered — she was now a college professor!), told a story about how she (then living as he) had once, in her 20’s I think, engaged in a serious gay-bashing, kicking and beating a teenage gay kid. (She had recently told the same story in a newspaper column, so I’m not betraying a confidence.) I thought there was almost a self-congratulatory air to the relish with which she told the story and condemned her past self. And she got a lot of congratulations from others for her bravery in telling the story, and her redemption, and so on. There were similar responses, as I remember it, to her newspaper column.

    The whole thing gave me, and one other person in the group I was close to, the creeps. I had a lot of self-hatred and shame going on before my transition, too. But it never would have led me to hurting another human being. All I could think of was that if this gay-bashing had been going on then (and who’s to say that the occasion she confessed to was the only time?), her victim could easily have been my son — himself then a teenage gay kid who was occasionally harassed on the street.

    And perhaps it made me an unkind, uncharitable person, but I was left cold. Completely. And rejected all friendly overtures thereafter.

    I have the same reaction to this story.

  56. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf December 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm |

    Jeezus motherfucke, I have been skeeved out by the fucker and his “I’m such a wonderful feminist d00d” for years, but only now do I find out that he tried to murder his ex-girlfriend. If this lying sacke of shitte really wanted to somehow “make amends” for his unimaginably grotesque past violent behavior towards women, the way he’d do it would be to stay as far the fucke away from any women as humanly possible.

    Schwyzer making amends for his woman-hating violent past by teaching feminsm to young women is like a child molester making amends for his child-molesting past by teaching little children how to protect their bodily integrity.

  57. LotusBen
    LotusBen December 19, 2011 at 5:50 pm |

    Brian. . .I think he does feel legitimately bad, but it seems to be mainly self-pity. . .”it’s so horrible I have to deal with having this ugly past,” etc.

  58. Donna L
    Donna L December 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm |

    LotusBen: And you can still see how he wallows in the self-pity now. That he’s still hung up over the fact he can’t talk to his ex-girlfriend and have her forgive him, although he won’t come out and say it.

    This was the feeling I got from it, too.

  59. number9
    number9 December 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm |

    HOLY FUCK. I don’t even have words. What an utterly narcissistic piece of work this man is. I’ve always been majorly creeped out by him, but this goes just way beyond anything I ever could have imagined.

  60. DP
    DP December 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm |

    Mayotte:
    Hugo Schwyzer not only preyed on his students, he tried to murder a woman and former lover.

    http://hugoschwyzer.net/2011/01/03/what-you-need-to-remember-what-you-need-to-forget-on-self-acceptance-after-doing-something-truly-awful/

    “I walked into the little kitchen only steps from where my ex lay. I blew out the pilot lights on our gas oven and on the burners, and turned the dials on everything up to maximum. I pulled the oven away from the wall, leaving the gas line intact, positioning it so that the gas was blowing directly at the passed-out young woman on the floor.”

    He went on to lie while taking advantage of every opportunity as a white man to get away with it (“The sheriff’s department didn’t arrest me because they assumed that the two of us were in a suicide pact. But I knew differently”)

    And this is just the stuff he has admitted to, which frightens me to the core about how narcissistic and manipulative he is when no one’s watching.

    You know, I was all set to come in and try to defend some of Hugo’s stuff, and then I read your article, and now I just can’t even…

    What the actual fuck.

    I am never taking a single thing this man says seriously again, and I’m bookmarking this to repost every single time I see one of his articles.

    This is what comment sections on sites are for. Thank you, Mayotte.

  61. Sex + Relationships
    Sex + Relationships December 23, 2011 at 12:12 am |

    […] don’t like him. When I posted the interview at Feministe, one of the top feminist blogs, the comments exploded. Pretty soon, the comments had nothing to do with the interview at all. Some […]

  62. » On Change and Accountability Clarisse Thorn

    […] don’t like him. When I posted the interview at Feministe, one of the top feminist blogs, the comments exploded. Pretty soon, the comments had nothing to do with the interview at all. Some commenters […]

  63. Sharing the love on Christmas Eve « The Lady Garden

    […] (Though, it’s worth pointing out, Hugo Schwyzer himself is not exactly uncontroversial, as can be seen on the comments of this Feministe post.) […]

  64. Who Has the Right to Forgive? « Clarissa's Blog

    […] “redeem,” etc. used by many of the participants. (Just do the context search of the thread and you’ll see for yourself.) It feels like the entire Michele Bachmann camp of supporters […]

  65. Fauxminists, Season 3. « stop! talking.
    Fauxminists, Season 3. « stop! talking. December 28, 2011 at 5:01 am |

    […] Schwyzer (yet again) – and if you’d like to read about it: see Feministe discussions here and here. From my point of view, this is what basically […]

  66. Out With the Old, In With the New | Polimicks

    […] staring, cat-calling…  However, that aside, she interviewed self-declared male feminist Hugo Schwyzer and posted the interview at Feministe.  This stirred up quite a shitstorm, as Schwyzer has admitted to sleeping with female students of […]

  67. Hugo Schwyzer! | No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?

    […] for those of us who don’t follow giant Internet slapfights while giggling: it started with Feministe, where the fabulous Clarisse Thorn cross-posted her interview with Hugo Schwyzer from Role/Reboot. […]

  68. A Response | Hugo Schwyzer
    A Response | Hugo Schwyzer January 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm |

    […] Clarisse Thorn’s interview with me appeared at Feministe less than two weeks ago, there’s been a huge outpouring of shock and anger surrounding […]

  69. About Hugo Schwyzer « blue milk
    About Hugo Schwyzer « blue milk January 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm |

    […] Sex, Drugs, Theology, Men and Feminism: Interview with Hugo Schwyzer by Clarisse Thorn. […]

  70. Was Hugo Schwyzer’s Confession Embellished? « Student Activism

    […] in the course of a 1998 suicide attempt. That admission first attracted broad attention a few weeks ago, and has since sparked considerable controversy regarding Schwyzer’s position in the feminist […]

  71. People can be so ineffable | Butterflies and Wheels

    […] read Comrade Physioprof’s post on him the other day, and startled by what it told me. Now I find out for the first time (also see the comments) (although this is not newly public information, just new to me) that over a decade ago the […]

  72. People can be so ineffable | Butterflies and Wheels

    […] read Comrade Physioprof’s post on him the other day, and startled by what it told me. Now I find out for the first time (also see the comments) (although this is not newly public information, just new to me) that over a decade ago the […]

  73. Making Amends and Moving Forward by Hugo Schwyzer « Feminism and Religion

    […] Clarisse Thorn’s interview with me appeared at Feministe about two weeks ago, there’s been a huge outpouring of shock and anger surrounding revelations […]

  74. Come again? « The Lady Garden
    Come again? « The Lady Garden January 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |

    […] when the furor at Feministe (one of my favourite feminist places) happened, I was a little nonplussed. Here was this guy, who […]

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.