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215 Responses

  1. EG
    EG December 31, 2011 at 11:23 am |

    I very much like this post, which is so well thought through and presented, and presented with kindness and calm as well (this is not a tone argument; I just admire people who can keep their cool around enraging issues).

    The only part of your post that gives me pause the idea that if we don’t think abusive men can change, the only hope is a separatist commune. As I do not believe that all, or even most men are abusive–as distinguished from sexist or engaging in thoughtlessly sexist behavior–I must disagree, and respectfully submit that allowing abusers to hide in the general run of men is part of what gives them their power.

    Thank you for writing this.

  2. Rodeo
    Rodeo December 31, 2011 at 11:45 am |

    This entire post was a click for me. Especially this:

    I believe that part of being OK with an abusive man, has to be accepting that other people may not be OK and respecting their boundaries.

    I’m excited to continue thinking and reading about this topic.

  3. Millicent
    Millicent December 31, 2011 at 11:50 am |

    First, thanks for the footnote– “one of the problems with the post I am responding to that other people have discussed is the way it renders invisible the work of WoC dealing with issues that you say feminists don’t deal with.”

    Yes. People are long already digging into this work, and we should engage their real experiences before jumping into brand new expressions of detached musings on the subject. What a disappointment when authors refuse to research their subjects and cite the sources of their ideas and learn the work that’s already been done to answer their questions! And it’s some seriously movement shifting work, even if nothing as yet has created a perfect new paradigm.

    As I wrote when I reviewed The Rev Starts at Home, In the movement striving to create alternative, restorative forms of justice that respect survivors’ needs and wishes while simultaneously respecting and embracing the humanity of aggressors, we are… somewhere muddying and confusing. This book lays out what has been tried and what has been theorized, and while it’s clear that the visions have yet to pan out perfectly in practice, the experiences laid out here are practical enough that you start to see how the paradigm could work, could really manifest itself if we just keep tweaking and trying and honoring mistakes and people. We are almost there some of the time. And yet, our best case scenarios still fall short of justice. There is work to do.

    Why wouldn’t you build on this foundation?

    Other resources on accountability processes:
    - Incite! Women of Color Against Violence toolkit
    - Accountability steps for people working to change patriarchal or abusive behavior
    - Thinking Through Perpetrator Accountability
    - Northeast Anarchist Network resources on Sexual Assault
    - A Guide for Organizers: Creating a culture of accountbaility & survivor support at Mass Mobilizations

  4. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 31, 2011 at 11:54 am |

    Thank you for writing this.

  5. suspect class
    suspect class December 31, 2011 at 11:55 am |

    Thank you for this.

  6. Bridget
    Bridget December 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm |

    Yes, yes, yes. This is such a well-articulated response!

  7. La Lubu
    La Lubu December 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm |

    And yes – I do think people can change. I think feminists have to believe in the possibility of abusive men changing otherwise there’s no hope but a separatist commune.

    Cosign to what EG said—that abusers use their position of power (or relative power) to escape consequences, deny that abuse ever took place, etc. They count on their power and/or resemblance to other people with power in order to perpetuate abuse. I also strongly disagree with any notion of false equivalency (such as “none of us are perfect, therefore we are all abusers or potential abusers/that we haven’t abused is only a sign that we haven’t been given a really good opportunity to do so/we would if we could”, etc.). That attitude absolves actual transgressors from responsiblity for their actions, while simultaneously guilting survivors for not having the “faith” or “courage” for welcoming the abuser back into the fold.

    Can people change? That isn’t really the question in this instance. The question in this instance is far more specific—has *this person* changed? Can *this person* be trusted? *Should* he be trusted, and specifically given the authority to speak for this social justice movement? And the (often unspoken) questions: is this person more important to the movement than nameless, faceless female survivors? Can the movement benefit more from his power and fame than from those nameless, faceless survivors?

    Frankly, I loathe abstractions. “Can people change” is such an abstraction it is literally meaningless. Which people? Change from what? To what? How far is the distance? Why? Y’know?! How about a more broad generality—can people who abuse others, especially when they profit from this abuse…..change into people who do not abuse others, even when they are not held to special scrutiny and/or don’t have real (tangible, not abstract) consequences for engaging in further abuse?

    My general answer is “no”. Abusers rarely change, and the possibility is so limited it is not worth expending energy on. As a survivor, and particularly as a survivor who has not been believed, has not been given the “benefit of the doubt” routinely handed to abusers—my healthy way of dealing is to turn my back upon both abusers and enablers. My unhealthy way of dealing is to distrust in general—but while I know that isn’t healthy, I also see no alternative (situated as/where I am—abstract conversations about “accountability” when there is no tangible, concrete support for me when and where I need it….). When performing triage (and make no mistake, that’s what it is), I have to go with what works.

    As an outsider looking in, Clarisse’s post looked like a circling of the wagons—and I use that term deliberately. Protecting the “one of us” from….those not “us”. In other words, a choice was being made to support this person regardless of other considerations, simply because he was “us”. It reminded me so much of the way people supported my ex-husband (and abuser), because of “he said/she said”. “How can we be sure?” translates to “support the status quo/the higher-status person.” That this power dynamic isn’t recognized to exist within feminism (despite the many examples) floors me (but doesn’t surprise). If feminism isn’t about changing power dynamics, it’s about *nothing*.

  8. saurus
    saurus December 31, 2011 at 12:30 pm |

    As a survivor, speaking only for myself and not other survivors, I appreciate this post and I also appreciate the folks in the last thread who centered survivors in their ideas and words, many of which I know were women of color who intervened to make it less shitty for survivors to read.

    As others have pointed out, we do not have to put Hugo in the stocks, take away his kids or relegate him to life in an underground cave. However, we do not have to encourage or contribute to his profiting from feminism, or his positioning as feminist leader and expert. We do not have to focus conforming our boundaries to his needs. We do not have to be OK with him for any reason, whether that reason is “he’s maybe different now” or “but you don’t know him in person” or “but haven’t we all messed up”. We certainly do not have to make sacrifices or concessions or contribute any of our energy to help facilitate his “recovery”.

    What we do have to do, however, is center survivors in this situation. We do have to understand how white supremacy, capitalism and other problems in our movement can contribute to enabling Hugo to have all the visibility, support and success he desires. We do have to understand how and why we so routinely fail to support survivors in these situations and how to fix that, and what we lose when we are unaware of – or resistant to – the work that oppressed radicals like women of color are doing and saying in this regard. We do have to make sure that survivors don’t continue to be alienated and isolated and utterly alone when their “Hugo” abuses them, for fear that major feminist bigshots will write diatribes defending their abuser and chastising critics, or that their closest feminist friends will let them down.

    Anyway, I strongly recommend that anyone curious about “what to do with abusers in our communities” look up “transformative justice” and the work that many groups are doing in this field, in different cities. The book “The Revolution Starts At Home” is a great start.

    In a nutshell, transformative justice is about “what to do with abusers”, but in a way that is survivor-centred and oppression-conscious. It varies from case to case and it’s still certainly evolving (i.e., mixed results), but generally the abuser receives a sort of radical counseling – understanding why they abused, how to not do it again, and how to accommodate the survivor’s needs and demands (if the survivor voiced any to a third party) and be accountable to the survivor and others.

    The whole thing is richly informed by the ways in which race, class, gender, and other oppressions factor into both parties’ experiences and contribute to the situation; for example that white supremacy can play a role in enabling the abuser, or that racially-charged trauma the abuser experienced can contribute to their violent coping mechanisms. It’s understood that we aren’t just dealing with two individuals; we’re dealing with major systemic shit too, and transformative justice and social justice go hand in hand.

    It’s often an extremely long process – we’re talking months or years, not days. Although it’s expected that the abuser will attempt to manipulate the process (as many humans would) and the justice team is generally prepared for that manipulation, the abuser must come from a relative willingness to commit to the process. Meanwhile, a separate group focuses on the survivor, working directly with them & their needs – even if their needs are to call the police and hire a lawyer, or to withdraw entirely, or whatever.

    Incidentally, lest anyone think that the OP or survivor-centered commenters are operating from self-righteousness or mock outrage for strawman survivors: I was abused by a “Hugo” – a successful left-wing activist. And to deal with the situation I left my radical community. Because I knew that it would be the people who claim to value me most who would fail me the worst. Just like it happened here. It’s why I stopped calling myself a feminist several years ago. And it’s why I am floating around, isolated and alienated, now.

    I stand with the people who prioritize my life, my needs and my experience as a survivor over the hypothetical hurt that “Hugos” will suffer.

    Most of those people won’t call themselves feminists either…

  9. rox
    rox December 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm |

    I have some thoughts and open questions as a survivor and enabler and forgiver of abusers myself. To be honest, I think there are a lot of abuse survivors who think more like the thoughts Clarrisse waas sharing (and that is how I think also) than with the anger than many of us survivors also feel post getting away. People stay with abusers because they want them to ahve chances and they see the good in the person.

    When we slam someone who expresses exactly what Clarisse stated… that abusers might deserve second chances and forgiveness and an opportunity to rebuild trust, are we somewhat slamming all the women who have and and even currently loved and forgiven abusive people in their life? I’m not saying what’s right. A lot of people have to get angry at their former enabling tendancies (which includes forgiveness and second chances) in order to leave and get themselves away from the situation. What is really difficult to hash out though is that a lot of people who have been enablers to abusers have in fact participated in the dynamic. So how hard to we want to judge enablers if we are to be survivor advocates?

    Clearly we don’t think enablers are the same as abusers, but if you leave a physically violent man and get to a place where you know you are genuinely safe, but then you go back with your kids, because you miss him— what sort of accountability needs to happen there?

    Because many survivors have made poor decisions and enabling decisions like this, that put themselves and possible their kids in danger, they identify with being a bad person like their abuser more than being a good person like the general population. Which is why many survivors not only hope the abuser will be forgiven for the sake of the abuser, but because they hope as an enabler they will have a chance at forgiveness and redemption. I’m just sharing thoughts, I honestly don’t have answers to this complex topic.

  10. rox
    rox December 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    “People stay with abusers because they want them to ahve chances and they see the good in the person.” Sorry that should have said, there are SOME people who stay for reasons like this. There are many many many complex reasons people stay and find it hard to leave, or even go back.

  11. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm |

    Clearly we don’t think enablers are the same as abusers, but if you leave a physically violent man and get to a place where you know you are genuinely safe, but then you go back with your kids, because you miss him— what sort of accountability needs to happen there?

    1. IF this was somehow the abuse victim’s fault (not “enabler” – these terms are not interchangeable), I’m pretty sure she gets held accountable all the time by people who ask why she was so stupid as to go back to him.
    2. How is it a victim’s fault that they’re a victim? What do you mean, accountability?

  12. rox
    rox December 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm |

    “I’m pretty sure she gets held accountable all the time by people who ask why she was so stupid as to go back to him.”

    Well this has been my experience. I have be attacked all the time for having stayed and the complicated thought processes involved in that. And what is ironic a lot of the people who hate people like me also hate abusers and believe in harsh punishments for abusers despite also hating people who have made decisions to stay in abuse circumstances.

    I find it confusing myself.

  13. rox
    rox December 31, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    I just recently had someone come to my blog and state that I was a terrible parent for the emotions of wanting to protected a guy who did really abusive things to me when I was young. I wasn’t stating that decisions should me made from that place, but if we can’t have some amount of forgiveness for the fact that it’s very common to be terrified about what will happen to someone who is abusing you if anyone finds out, then how can we better help survivors let the world know they need help sooner? And sometimes the help you need isn’t just the practical help, it’s also help dealing with the sorrow you have over what will happen to the abuser and what to think of yourself for having loved this person or for still caring about what happens to them even though they are terrible.

    How do you live with yourself when you have cared about someone who has done horrible things? It’s a really hard thing to deal with.

  14. saurus
    saurus December 31, 2011 at 1:23 pm |

    When we slam someone who expresses exactly what Clarisse stated… that abusers might deserve second chances and forgiveness and an opportunity to rebuild trust, are we somewhat slamming all the women who have and and even currently loved and forgiven abusive people in their life?

    This thread and this whole situation is not about what a survivor does with their abuser. It’s about what a community does with an abuser. Certainly, a survivor can forgive or absolve their abuser, and many survivors love their abusers.

    That doesn’t mean it’s what a community can or should do.

    We are not slamming the idea that a person might forgive their abuser. We are slamming the idea that a community can and should forgive a survivor’s abuser and allow him to continue to profit from his status in the movement, so long as the abuser is a man like Hugo Schwyzer.

  15. Jessica
    Jessica December 31, 2011 at 1:24 pm |

    I think that while you are a very good writer, you have taken what Clarisse said, and the original interview by Hugo, and stretched it way out of proportion to make the point that you wanted to make. I won’t tell you to “relax”, because that would be patronizing and unfair. However, it seems to me that you have too much of an agenda to make your post anything but unbiased. I have no vested interest in supporting Hugo or Clarrise, but I think that your post, and the claim that Clarisse’s posts and responses by her were the most “anti-feminist” thing you had ever read on Feministe is not merely wrong, but is hypberbolic and hystrionic. I’m wondering how much of your own experience — baggage — that yo brought to your well-written, though deeply suspect post.

  16. LPD
    LPD December 31, 2011 at 1:28 pm |

    I like this post very much.

    I like Clarisse’s work quite a bit, but this is one case where I think she’s missed the mark a little. Nobody has to forgive Hugo. Nobody has to be comfortable with Hugo. If he has truly “transformed” that may seem a little unfair, but too bad. Transformation, absolution, whatever you want to call it – it doesn’t erase history.

    It doesn’t matter how guilty you feel, or how sorry you are, or how much you’ve changed. You still hurt people, and you need to live with those consequences.

    I respect Hugo as a writer and have gotten a lot out of some of his articles, though his tone is a tad paternalistic for my taste. I certainly think it’s fine for him to participate in the feminist spaces where he is welcome. But I do have a big problem with discussions of people who are not okay with him being shut down – really, I think that is the only mistake in this whole discourse. I don’t think it was wrong for Feministe to post the interview, I think Clarrise’s response and Maia’s response were part of a good dialogue on something that really needs to be talked about. But I don’t like this closing of the comments business – it’s not a “flame war,” it’s debate and discussion about a very serious, very emotional issue that needs to be discussed. As long as people are respecting the individual blog’s ground rules for commenting, I don’t think there is any good reason to stop any voice from being heard.

  17. rox
    rox December 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm |

    I want to add, even though I have talked with many counselors about this I feel like I just have endless questions and more than they have answers. So I’m just still trying to figure it all out and always appreciete these discussions.

  18. slashy
    slashy December 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm |

    [As requested by the poster, trigger warning for discussion of rape apologism -mod]

    Maia, this is excellent, thank you. It is a wonderful relief to read such a detailed acknowledgement of the challenges in envisioning any sort of meaningful progress when dealing with manipulative abusers in communities. I’ve been involved in several processes of attempting to challenge abusive behaviour or create justice for victims of abusive behaviour in my real-world communities and have seen extremely clearly that most of the time, a person who is good at manipulating through relationships will be equally good at manipulating an accountability process or structure, given any chance at all to do so. In situations in my community and in my own personal life I feel like in the past seven years I have considered most of the suggested solutions, and been able to envision or actually witnessed ways that the abusers I know could manipulate their way through all of them.

    I mean: once, long after I’d been involved in quite a lot of safer space activism and been exposed to many ideas of restorative justice, a very good friend told me a heartbreaking story of traumatic exclusion from a group of people and a project he’d been really invested in. It was a really sad story, and I was full of sympathy for my very good friend. It took me MONTHS to realise that what he’d actually just done was confess to me that he had raped somebody, and cast himself as the victim of the narrative due to the social exclusion he then faced. In the intervening months between his story and my suddenly getting it, I was full of support and sympathy for him. I was actively enabling his feelings of persecution and wrongedness. I would probably have participated in silencing the people who had chosen to exclude him, if I’d happened upon that conversation (“but he’s a good guy!”, I probably would have said, UGH). And I would have done all of this AS SOMEBODY WHO HAS READ ALL OF THE ABUSE-RECOVERY TEXTS I CAN GET MY HANDS ON AND BEEN IN THE COLLECTIVE MEETINGS AND PONDERED MY OWN POSSIBILITIES OF DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY PROCESSES, because people are social and we are primed to believe well of certain other people and to disbelieve others and for a whole lot of other reasons that mean that there is unfortunately no such thing as a magical “GETTING IT” moment when you will never again become a part of a supportive network propping up the behaviour of a rapist.

    For this reason, and especially since that incident, my rants about experienced and witnessed abuse in communities and relationships usually end, cold, on the ‘what to do about it’ front, because, as I said above, just about every permutation I have read about or been able to come up with seems manipulable by a motivated (ie called-out) abuser. I am inspired by the letter you posted a link to, because that kind of clear collective information dissemination is one that I can see having actual results in reducing someone’s capacity to victimise- which seems like an achievable goal, whereas the goal of ‘assisting in the reformation of abusers’ has come to smell, to my nose, like a bag of prawn heads left in the sun.

  19. saurus
    saurus December 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm |

    How do you live with yourself when you have cared about someone who has done horrible things? It’s a really hard thing to deal with.

    A common transformative justice stance is that all of the survivor’s feelings and reactions are okay, provided they aren’t abusive. That means it’s okay if you love your abuser and want to reconcile. It’s okay if you love your abuser but don’t want to reconcile. It’s okay if you hate your abuser. It’s okay if you want to press charges – or if you don’t. The heart feels what the heart feels and there’s nothing for the survivor to apologize for or justify. It doesn’t mean you’re sick or messed up or a bad person or a weak person or a broken person. There is no right answer to trauma, there is no math we can do to calculate what “person who loves me + person who traumatized me” equals.

    It’s important for us to find a way to deal with abusers that supports survivors and condemns abuse without automatically, incontrovertibly villainizing or absolving every abuser. (As I said upthread, that doesn’t mean abusers should get a free pass to continue their paid work as a feminist “expert” just because “we’re all only human”.)

    It’s also important for survivors to know and be constantly told that the only “right” emotion for them to have towards their abuser is the one that they feel.

  20. slashy
    slashy December 31, 2011 at 2:02 pm |

    I am a terrible & infrequent commenter of blogs and have forgotten my manners. That post by me should be trigger-warninged for rape apologism, but I can’t find the edit button. Sincerest apologies (and request for assistance from moderator, if that is possible).

    [Taken care of! -your friendly mod]

  21. Mark
    Mark December 31, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    Thank you for writing this post Maia, and thank you to Feministe for posting this.

    I don’t believe that Clarisse set out to stir up controversy by interviewing Hugo, and I don’t believe she set out to silence voices when she was surprised by the controversy. But silencing voices she did, and negated the views that others had.

    I was stunned to learn what I did about Hugo in the initial comment thread that got shut down. I knew he had a vaguely skeezy past, but that’s it… I had no idea about the sleeping with students, about the silencing of WOC, and of the attempted murder.

    Finally, this whole incident made me rethink whether it is ever valid for a straight male (including myself) to ever command a leadership role in the feminist community, the way Hugo does. I wonder how much of Hugo’s influence is due to the fact that he is a man (albeit one who says all the right things), and how much we all seek to give more weight to a man’s voice even now, no matter how much feminist theory we’ve read. For instance, why does Hugo have a regular guest column over at Jezebel as opposed to, say, Amanda Marcotte or Melissa McEwan?

    Anyway, lots to think about…

  22. Rodeo
    Rodeo December 31, 2011 at 2:20 pm |

    I love what Saurus is doing with Hugo’s name, co-opting it to mean “feminist man who engages in abuse and manipulation to discredit survivors and their supporters.” (Frankly, I’ve met a few people who call themselves feminist men and to a one, they were all dicks.) This seems a really concrete way to send the message that this particular hugo isn’t welcome, akin to santorum.

  23. sophiefair
    sophiefair December 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm |

    thank you Maia. this is exactly what i needed to read this morning.

  24. kim
    kim December 31, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    Hey Rox,
    It sounds as if you are struggling to forgive yourself for the abuse you’ve suffered. I’ve struggled with this too, even though I’d never judge anyone else the same way. I spent a lot of energy asking myself the sort of unhelpful shaming questions I’d never ask another survivor. It was exhausting and debilitating. I’d made the effort to get out of abusive relationships, but I had internalised the message–it was my fault, I must have been getting something out of it, I was weak to go back, etc. I hope this is not what you are going through.

    I know different stuff helps different people. Group work with other women who had been abused helped me to forgive myself–hearing so many similar and different stories overlapping with different parts of my experience, and knowing that those women were not at all to blame, helped me to see my story as what it was, part of a bigger story. Every time a woman talked about her experience, I felt amazed at her strength for staying, and her strength for getting out–I felt amazed that she was surviving and still fighting, and I gradually came to see that I was too.

    I think it also helped that I didn’t see any reason to continue relationships with people who had hurt me. I think it has been easier to forgive myself because I’m not trying to forgive anyone else.

    I hope you continue to look for what works for you. Most of us who have lived through abusive relationships have shown amazing ability for compassion, love and forgiveness towards people hurting us. I hope you can give yourself the compassion, love and understanding that you deserve.

  25. DonnaL
    DonnaL December 31, 2011 at 3:05 pm |

    Thank you very much for this post, Maia.

    I’ve met a few people who call themselves feminist men and to a one, they were all dicks.

    Rodeo, you’re the generalization person, right? Thank you for limiting your generalization this time to your own personal experience.

  26. samanthab
    samanthab December 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm |

    I love this post, but I feel like what’s been sort of intimated at in the post and comments needs underlining, namely that abuse is cyclical. The majority abusers don’t become abusers in a vacuum; the majority of abuse victims don’t become victims in a vacuum. For the majority of abusers and abuse victims, it’s all they’ve ever known, and it’s how they’ve been taught to live. I was abused at a relatively mild emotional level as a child by my father, and I was taught to enable it by my mother. When in college I dated an abuser who became a lot worse than I’d ever experienced, I put up with far too much for too long. But I could also envision another way to live because I didn’t grow up with the kind of severe abuse that I was living with the time. I knew enough to walk away because I’d experienced something better. That’s hardly true of every victim of abuse.

    That’s where I see the notion of transformative abuse as being so crucial- ending the goddamned cycle. Because it is fundamentally true, to my mind, that is I’m going to say that the abuse I experienced was wrong and evil, then I have to acknowledge that the abuse my ex lived through was equally wrong and evil. I don’t feel sorry for my abuser- he made the choice to perpetuate it- but I do feel that society has to take some collective responsibility for ending that abuse. Why should I judge myself for perpetuating that cycle when our larger society perpetuates it? Why am I more complicit? So yeah, we need to work collectively for that cycle to end, but that isn’t going to happen via the abstractions that Clarisse has emphasized. It need to happen via tangible efforts- hence the brialliance of this post.

  27. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh December 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm |

    I want to add, even though I have talked with many counselors about this I feel like I just have endless questions and more than they have answers. So I’m just still trying to figure it all out and always appreciete these discussions.

    It’s our right as survivors to choose for ourselves whether to forgive or not, and our right to forgive or not for our own reasons. This thread, as has been explained, is not so much about our right to forgive our specific abusers, but rather whether those around us could and should forgive our abusers. I have forgiven some of my abusers, particularly my father (mainly because he died when I was 12 and can’t hurt anyone any longer), yet one of my exes, who is still a very close friend, said that he could not forgive my father what he had done, and I understood that. In fact, I don’t think I would feel very good about it if he had decided he was going to forgive my father’s actions.

    In the case of a community, the survivor must always be centered, as well as anyone who may be victimized if a perpetrator is centered. I suffered through a years long stalking situation by someone who shared a lot of my politics and at the time my religion (or at least he had spent time in my former religion and knew the lingo and culture inside out), and who used the fact that I felt lonely and alienated as a feminist and leftist within my former faith as a way to get close to me, and make me feel like I was the one in the wrong when he began to abuse my boundaries and sense of safety (which he began immediately). I would NOT want leftist communities to forgive him because he may still hurt others. As for myself and forgiveness, that would be my personal right and decision. I will never forgive him because what he did was especially manipulative, and that’s OK. If I felt compassion for him and wanted to forgive him, that would be OK too.

  28. cryingMushroom
    cryingMushroom December 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm |

    question for survivors: In the same vein of never having to be ok with an abuser regardless of their level of recovery, is it mandatory for abusers to volunteer knowledge of what they have done to new people they meet in order to be recovered as an abuser? If so, are there mile stones in a relationship that dictate when such things should be disclosed? and is leaving town to not be forced to disclose such things considered avoidance and a sign or relapse or a gap in recovery? If so, at what point is suicide an acceptable response? (honest question, I know some survivors consider that the only option for redemption in some cases)

  29. EG
    EG December 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm |

    if we can’t have some amount of forgiveness for the fact that it’s very common to be terrified about what will happen to someone who is abusing you if anyone finds out, then how can we better help survivors let the world know they need help sooner?

    Nobody needs to be forgiven for their feelings, particularly not victims of abuse. No feelings, however a person is made to think they are shameful, are the equivalent of abuse.

  30. rox
    rox December 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm |

    “yet one of my exes, who is still a very close friend, said that he could not forgive my father what he had done, and I understood that. In fact, I don’t think I would feel very good about it if he had decided he was going to forgive my father’s actions.”

    I understand what you’re saying so much. My grandfather was a child abuser and it’s so hard to describe I can relate to my mothers feelings of wanting the good parts of him to be seen by the community, and of not wanting to see him suffer persecution from the cmomunity for his actions— and yet I can’t imagine a community that WOULDN’T be pissed off at him for his actions toward children.

    It’s understandable if someone you loved did something wrong you don’t want to see them hurt even if they did something wrong. But yet, for the sake of how much suffering a buse causes I WANT there to be some form of anger, some form of “DUDE?! WHAT THE HELL?!! HOW DID YOU DO THIS? WHY? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?! I AM SO PISSED OFF THAT YOU CAUSED THIS PAIN FOR ANOTHER HUMAN!”
    And I can’t even imagine completely resolving that. “Ok now that I said I was angry now I’m at peace with you and forgive you”

    My grandfather died when my mother was in middle school also (you’re not my mom are you? lol)
    I was adopted but I have researched epigenetics a lot because my interactions with people were eerily similar to what was happening in her childhood despite that I had never met her and knew nothing about her life. I always started relationships from, “Anything you do is ok, I will forgive anything, I understand anything” and I think part of that was a lingering survival mechanism to get love from a scary world, and to void being harmed by a scary person who needs to be told their scary behavior is ok over and over.

    These behavior patterns can be so deeply rooted, but that’s also why I feel like
    maybe abusers themselves have some deep rooted behavior issues and I want advances in science, epigenetics, and therapeutic interventions to hurry up and find better ways to help people identify they may be at risk of being an abuser and address it in healthy ways BEFORE they abuse people.

    I know… it’s very far from being posisble right now, but I can’t stop hoping. Any method of ending abuse that stats with criminal convictions is always talking about what to do AFTER abuse happens, I want to stop it BEFORE it happens. I dream.

  31. Jane
    Jane December 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm |

    Thank you for this post Maia.

    saurus – It has been wonderful to read your comments in these posts.

  32. EG
    EG December 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm |

    My grandfather was a child abuser and it’s so hard to describe I can relate to my mothers feelings of wanting the good parts of him to be seen by the community, and of not wanting to see him suffer persecution from the cmomunity for his actions

    That’s really interesting to me, if only because I feel exactly the opposite way about my grandmother. I will never, ever, ever forgive her for what she did to my mother, and to this day, several years after her death, I hate her in a way I hate very few other people.

  33. rox
    rox December 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm |

    EG– Just to say I feel the same way about my grandfather but I never met him so I only have heard the “good things” about him my mother has said, and I didn’t even meet her until I was 18 and was currently being abused by a guy who was apparently much like my grandfather. So the emotions are largely the emotions she herself experienced that I was experiencing with the guy I was with.

    When I think about my grandfather himself I feel anger, but when I think about the way my mother feels about it I understand why she defends the “good things” about him. Overall I feel so overwhelmed that I don’t know what to feel and I feel like anger on behalf of survivors who are so overwhelmed and feeling so many mixed emotions of loyalty and sorrow for their abusers emotional state and guilt and shame— I feel like anger on their behalf when they are just drowing in a sea of coclicting emotions— is a good thing.

    But I say that from my sea of emotions so i don’t even know if it makes sense.

  34. Rachel
    Rachel December 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm |

    Trigger Warning for a frank discussion of abuse.

    Thank you for writing this. I was enraged by Clarisse’s post, for various reasons. I

    —————-To pressure women to be OK, act OK, or pretend to be or act OK around a man who has been abusive towards woman, is a profoundly anti-feminist act. That pressure cannot be part of anything that is truly justice, or truly transformative.———

    Does Clarisse fail to understand that for those who’ve suffered abuse this is a super common tactic? Why not sit at the dinner table with your abuser for Thanksgiving? What, is there some problem? Don’t talk back to your uncle, dear. Good times.

    Clarisse is ok with HS, great. I’m not.

  35. EG
    EG December 31, 2011 at 4:31 pm |

    It makes perfect sense to me; I know my mother’s feelings about her mother are significantly more complex than mine are, even though in my memory, she has only ever said two good things about her on one occasion. In some ways, that makes me loathe her (my grandmother) all the more, and makes me feel like I’m doing it for my mother, on her behalf, sort of, because my mom couldn’t do herself whole-heartedly. She only cut off contact with her when her she flipped out on me in the same way she had on my mother, and my mother found the strength to protect me when she couldn’t do it for herself. That makes me sad. Grateful, but also sad.

  36. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn December 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm | *

    I’ve already talked a bit about what I’m thinking and my experience of this situation in the comments at Alas. But I do want to say two things here:

    Firstly, I agree that I seriously messed up in how I wrote “Change and Accountability” in terms of failing to center the needs of survivors. I’m really sorry about that.

    Secondly, Maia, I am very grateful to you for writing such a measured, personal, thorough post. I am grateful to you for allowing us to cross-post it here to Feministe and I am grateful for how you’ve engaged me personally on this topic. It’s been very helpful for me. Thank you.

  37. ginmar
    ginmar December 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm |

    People need to keep in mind just how much pressure there is on victims to just let it go and smooth it over so everybody can go back to pretending stuff is fine. The hostility is always directed at the victim, not at the attacker. How many times have people heard, “Oh, I don’t want to be put in the middle,” ? People love to equalize the attacker and the victim, as if attack and response are equal? Once that happens, the victim is toast.

    I can’t generalize about forgiveness, because every situation is different. And frankly, if I were a victim and the community was ‘forgiving’—meaning forgetting—–without me, I’d be justifiably pissed.

  38. sockmonkey
    sockmonkey December 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm |

    Maia, thank you for this excellent post.

    I’m relatively new to the feminist community and have been hesitant to post while I get myself more up to speed, but I’ve been following this story closely and want to share my thoughts.

    I stumbled upon Hugo Schwyzer’s work fairly early on in my research on feminism, and my creep-meter was registering off the charts before I ever even learned about his past. I’m at a loss for *succinctly* articulating the reasons behind my reaction other than to acknowledge that I’ve spent the last six months researching abusive men, domestic violence, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder after ending an abusive relationship. Anecdotally, Hugo’s posts also read very much like my abusive ex’s style of writing and way of reasoning, which also sets off red flags for me. Anyway, I’d like to share a few thoughts that I think are relevant and may also be helpful to the other commenters.

    Saurus –
    Thank you for mentioning “transformative justice” and offering a related book recommendation. I don’t know anything about this concept, but I look forward to learning more. In my experience as a victim of relationship abuse, my ex walked away completely unscathed – not only that, but he convinced some of the people in his life that *I* have a few screws loose, making sure they were prejudiced against me if I were ever to attempt to expose the truth about him. It makes me sick that he “got away with it,” and I know he’ll treat the next woman similarly. I’m intensely frustrated that there’s no socially sanctioned way for survivors like myself to expose their abusers – not as an act of vengeance, but to hold the abuser accountable and warn other women.

    ~~~

    As for the matter of abusers changing for the better, here’s what Lundy Bancroft – the former director of Emerge, the first program in the U.S. for abusive men; a counselor who has spent 17 years specializing in domestic abuse and the behavior of abusive men; and someone who has counseled over 2000 abusive men – has to say on the matter:

    “..the majority of abusive men do not make deep and lasting changes even in a high-quality abuser program.” He goes on to say, “For an abusive man to make genuine progress, he needs to go through a complex and critical set of steps.” Also: “My 15 years of working day in and day out with abusive men have left me certain of one thing: There are no shortcuts to change, no magical overnight transformations, no easy ways out. Change is difficult, uncomfortable work.” And he goes on to warn that: “Abusers can turn their manipulative skills to creating the appearance of change.” (Emphasis mine, and sorry for the extensive quoting, but I’d rather quote an expert than share my laywoman’s take on what I’ve learned.)

    Has Schwyzer ever mentioned partaking in a program for abusers? Or does he merely claim to have magically awoken one day with the realization that his entitled, abusive behavior was wrong? Also, someone mentioned that Schwyzer claimed to have been diagnosed as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. As the daughter of someone with NPD, and having read a lot about it, I can tell you that, much like abusers, people with NPD are HIGHLY unlikely to change for the better, even if they seek treatment.

    None of us can be sure of what’s really going on inside of Hugo Schwyzer’s head, but given his past, and given what I know about abusive men and their con-artist-like ways, I am not at all comfortable with his holding the teaching position that he has, and even less comfortable with the extensive public platform he’s been given to speak on social justice issues.

    ~~~

    Rox –
    Though this discussion is a bit of a derail, may I recommend Lundy Bancroft’s work to you? Specifically, his book “Why Does He Do That?” It very thoroughly addresses the concerns and questions you have raised, including many of society’s misguided stereotypes/notions about the perpetrators and victims of abuse. Unfortunately, many of the common societal misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions lead to victim-blaming and victims not getting the support they need to get out of their abusive situations.

    It is not an uncommon reaction for bystanders to blame a victim for going back to their abuser. (Statistically speaking, victims go back to their abusers, on average, SEVEN times.) I’ve seen this frustrated reaction from others firsthand, and I know enough to recognize that it’s based on misinformation / a lack of information, otherwise your comments would have angered me. Bancroft discusses the phenomenon of victims going back in his book, explaining why victims do this, and what can be done to help them. If you genuinely care about the matter*, and if you’d like to be able to offer more support to victims of abuse, I ask you to please read Bancroft’s work, or someone else’s similar work.

    *Sadly, I ended a friendship with a friend who refused to learn more and instead insisted on telling me that I must have ENJOYED being abused, and that I was partially to blame since I didn’t leave sooner. :( Thankfully, other friends who had similar concerns were open to learning more so that they could understand.

    That’s all for my inaugural feminist commenting effort. Sorry for the long post, but hopefully it’s at least somewhat helpful to someone!

  39. Emily O
    Emily O December 31, 2011 at 6:00 pm |

    I don’t think I can add on to what you or all the other amazing people have said in the comments, but I just want to say thank you for writing this post. You put into words all the discomfort that I felt about this whole situation. I know from experience that people use forgiveness as a tool for manipulation. Things like “Can’t you just forgive him? Look, he’s changed. Can’t we all just be friends again?” very often really means, “Can’t you just forget your own feelings and let everything go back to the way it was?” It’s like they’re telling you that your discomfort and pain don’t matter, because everyone else is over it, so you should be too. And I think that’s the worst thing of all, being made to feel like your pain doesn’t matter as much as everyone else’s status quo.
    Thank you for writing such a well written, well though-out, well-argued, perfectly civil and respectful post.

  40. sockmonkey
    sockmonkey December 31, 2011 at 6:06 pm |

    ginmar at 36 – As a child abuse and relationship abuse survivor who has experienced all of that, THANK YOU.

  41. robotile
    robotile December 31, 2011 at 6:51 pm |

    I think this post is spot-on: we need to center survivors. I also generally am leery of the idea that a community should forgive someone just because they have changed. My own sense is that when a community shows that protecting and supporting a survivor is their priority, it not only does the right thing by standing behind the survivor, it also makes it easier for abusers who want to change to do so.

    Change is possible, but hard, and people are creatures of habit and environment. They are also rational on some level: When the environment makes abuse harder to perpetrate, some proportion of abusers will change their behavior (just like upping the price of cigarettes or banning indoor smoking will prompt some proportion of people to quit). Anthropologists have noted that there are rape-prone and rape-free cultures, for instance, and differences in communal attitudes hugely influence how many perpetrators resort to sexual violence.

    For those who have changed their behavior, part of that transformation should be an awareness that their freedom to act in that space may always be circumscribed or curtailed by their past choices. That is life, and not just for abusers–I will never be an astronaut, a ballerina, or a millionaire, because of past life choices, and I’m okay with that because I am an adult who takes responsibility for my choices. I have to live with and make peace with my own regrets, privately, but I don’t expect the world to bend over backwards to help me resolve them.

    That doesn’t mean I support the prison-industrial complex or a punishment centered response to abusers, but I do think a community should have the right to set their own boundaries, and that for many women and for many feminist spaces, that means not letting someone who has been an abuser in the past have a voice in their space.

  42. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin December 31, 2011 at 7:20 pm |

    On the question of forgiveness, I recognize that the phrase has a religious context. However, I would hope that people recognize that the concept has application beyond religion and the religious. It doesn’t mean that violence perpetrated against women is justified.

    I have a difficult time forgiving the man who molested me when I was a kid. Oddly enough, I don’t feel anger or hostility towards him. Instead, all I feel is numb. Numb is a particular coping mechanism the body can use in response to trauma. Part of therapy has been for me to bring that anger to the forefront, then find a successful way to channel it.

    I’m a religious person, so I try to seek that of God in everyone. As a theological exercise, it’s helpful. For those who are not people of faith, it might be worthwhile trying to see that which is inherently good in everyone, even men who abuse. But it’s not easy, and I’m not pretending it is.

    I think abusing men ought to make peace with their victims. If alcoholics and drug addicts should, according to a 12-step program, apologize to those they harmed during active addiction, I think the physically abusive should do the same. I think that should they feel genuine contrition and remorse, it might make sense for their victims to forgiven them. But I think the forgiveness process is just that, a process. My abuser is dead now, so I’ll never have that possibility in my life.

    It’s a challenge to not write people off forever or separate ourselves from those who have done terrible things. My faith insists that all people are welcome in Quaker spaces. Once, a man attended a gathering who was a registered sex offender. He was allowed to attend, but closely supervised by a team of adults, and not allowed within a certain number of yards within a child.

    I would have felt personally uncomfortable, had I been there, and on one level that discomfort would come from him simply being a ex-con. But if you’d added such an emotionally intense context, my reservations would have been fifty times more. Still, I think I’d still try to be forgiving.

  43. xenu01
    xenu01 December 31, 2011 at 7:31 pm |

    I cannot tell you how much your words here mean to me. My abuser stopped drinking for a few days after he tried to kill me (and I finally said enough is enough), and our housemates spent a lot of time telling me “He’s changed! He’s trying!” because they didn’t want to be bothered with kicking him out. Because I was the one causing trouble asking them to back me up and ask him to leave.

    His insisting he had changed every time I walked in the house, showing up at places where he knew I’d be to reinforce that message, and using every medium possible- phone, social media, mutual acquaintances- to harass me into forgiving him and taking him back was, to me, the same thing as his banging the floor and pounding my door drunkenly to try and get me to come out on that awful night when I almost died, after I retreated to my bedroom and blocked the door. It was unwanted, it was harassment, and it was designed to get me to do what he wanted me to do, regardless of my feelings about the matter.

    That is why when someone says to me, “I am not ready to forgive or forget,” I listen. Even if it is about me, and I really wish that they would say something different. Because it is not about the abuser. It is about the person who has been abused getting to delineate their OWN damned boundaries, regardless of how inconvenient it is to other people. Because healing is not always convenient.

  44. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer December 31, 2011 at 7:44 pm |

    Thank you for this post, Maia. Good work.

    For instance, why does Hugo have a regular guest column over at Jezebel as opposed to, say, Amanda Marcotte or Melissa McEwan?

    Er, you do realize that Marcotte, at least, has just as bad a history of silencing WOC as Schwyzer does? And, indeed, that one of the bigger incidents of him silencing WOC was in Marcotte’s defense?

    McEwan silences an awful lot of people, too, although I’m not up on her track record with WOC.

    If Jezebel were actually a feminist site — which it’s not, and I don’t get why anybody acts as if it were — then a better choice would be more marginalized women writing regular guest columns, women of color, trans women, disabled women, and not another white feminist with a big platform who says the same things, and ignores and shuts down criticism from people who aren’t straight white TAB cis women. There are quite enough of those there already.

    I think abusing men ought to make peace with their victims. If alcoholics and drug addicts should, according to a 12-step program, apologize to those they harmed during active addiction, I think the physically abusive should do the same. I think that should they feel genuine contrition and remorse, it might make sense for their victims to forgiven them. But I think the forgiveness process is just that, a process.

    The 12 Step programs don’t require that addicts apologize, they require that they make amends (or attempt to), which is very different.

    Abusers don’t get to “make peace with” their victims. They can offer to attempt it, but that “with” indicates that it’s a cooperative process, and therefor not something that the abuser simply does. And the victim has every right to refuse to cooperate, and to decline to forgive. And forgiveness may be a process, but it’s not one any victim has to engage in. You may find value in it, but many of us do not.

    One of my abusers, my grandmother, died this month. I have never forgiven her, and I never will. I feel no desire or need to do so, and would not have even if she had been willing to admit to what she had done to me. I find the constant pressure to forgive one’s abusers, especially on the grounds that it would be good for me, to be really fucking offensive.

    It’s a challenge to not write people off forever or separate ourselves from those who have done terrible things.

    Then why do so many people seem to have no trouble doing so? I find that the much greater challenge has been to write off those who have abused me, and that I am under a great deal of pressure not to do so. My religion holds that I should only share sacred space with those for whom I feel perfect love and perfect trust, and I have found that a much harder thing to achieve than to include those for whom I do not feel that.

    *****

    People keep bringing up that this discussion keeps ignoring the work WOC have done on transformative justice (only one example of how white feminists regularly ignore the work of WOC on nearly every issue), but I never see anyone else engage with that.

    WHY are we ignoring the work of women of color? Why do we continue to ignore it even when it’s pointed out to us? Why don’t we go read some of these resources when they’re linked to? Why do we continue to speak as if the work of white women is the only important work? Why do we continue to support feminists who shut down and silence women of color?

    Feministe actually has a terrible reputation among many feminist WOC and womanists, for precisely this kind of behavior. By not honestly confronting this and talking about it, we are perpetuating that.

  45. DonnaL
    DonnaL December 31, 2011 at 7:46 pm |

    I have a difficult time forgiving the man who molested me when I was a kid

    Perhaps the difference in our religious backgrounds accounts for it, but forgiving the man who sexually molested me on a number of occasions when I was a child is not something it ever occurred to me even to attempt to do. Why would I? After all, I have no reason to believe he ever acknowledged or atoned for what he did to me or anyone else (he was a doctor, and I don’t think I could possibly have been his only victim). In fact, I felt guilty for many years for not having reported him to anyone, and was relieved — not that I was proud of the feeling — when I saw his obituary in the newspaper decades later.

  46. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 31, 2011 at 8:01 pm |

    I think abusing men ought to make peace with their victims. If alcoholics and drug addicts should, according to a 12-step program, apologize to those they harmed during active addiction, I think the physically abusive should do the same.

    That’s centering the perpetrator, right there. No way would I want the person responsible for sexually inappropriate comments and action against my sons to EVER talk to, or be around, my son again. If my son reaches adulthood and feels differently, that’s his business at that point. But it’s up to the SURVIVOR to decide if she or he WANTS to deal with the perpetrator. Not up to the perp to go through some “amends” step for the purposes of his or her own recovery. F- that.

  47. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 31, 2011 at 8:02 pm |

    Also, Ma’ia, thanks for the post. So many, many thanks.

  48. Jadey
    Jadey December 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm |

    Just as a heads-up, because I’ve seen this confusion happen several times before, but Maia, the New Zealand-based author of this particular post, is not the same person as Mai’a, of guerrilla mama medicine and author of some very controversial Feministe summer guest articles (which have been mentioned a couple of times in the current imbroglio in relation to the historical treatment of POC bloggers in this space). Two different, though excellent and interesting, bloggers.

    Maia, I already left my specific response on the Alas version of this post, but I just wanted to reiterate my support for it and express my gladness that it was cross-posted here as well. Thanks.

  49. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 31, 2011 at 8:32 pm |

    Sorry! Thanks for the correction! MAIA! I think both Maia and Ma’ia came up in recent threads. I’m sorry for the error!

  50. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer December 31, 2011 at 8:38 pm |

    And just to elaborate: I’d be a lot more ok with Christians of various stripes turning up to talk about the Joys of Forgiveness, even only in the context of their own lives, if a) this exact rhetoric hadn’t been used to hurt, silence and coerce so very many victims for so very long; and b) if so many Christians weren’t proselytizers, both about their religion and about this concept in specific, so much so that any discussion on this topic has overtones of This Is The One True Way, Christianity Is Always Right, So You Should Do This Even If You’re Not Christian.

  51. nathan
    nathan December 31, 2011 at 8:48 pm |

    There are a lot of excellent comments here. First off, I want to second this comment from saurus:

    “It’s important for us to find a way to deal with abusers that supports survivors and condemns abuse without automatically, incontrovertibly villainizing or absolving every abuser.”

    It seems to me that at least some of Clarisse’s more sympathetic take on HS was coming from a desire to end the kind of reflexive villain making that keeps people mired in hatred and division. However, I firmly believe that things like forgiveness and reconciliation come on their own terms, if they come at all. There are plenty of things folks can do to aid forgiveness and reconciliation, but in the end, we have to find ways to support the actual unfolding each person – and really each community – does, regardless of the outcome.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that the stakes are even higher with a pubic figure like Hugo, especially because he’s chosen to call himself a feminist, and speak from that platform. What I have read of his writing has left me with a mostly sour taste. Multiple times, I have come away from one of his pieces with the sense that men in general are warped creatures not to be trusted, but that Hugo himself is “reformed,” and represents what “good men” should be. And on the flip side, women in his world seem to “need protection” from “bad men,” and/or somehow more “pure” than men. Overall, his whole take on gender feels muddled, and I simply don’t trust it.

    But the bigger issue to me, and what this post pertains to, is that someone with a history like HS, who also is a public figure, must be scrutinized more thoroughly precisely because of the power his voice has. Given the nature of his past offenses, it’s unrealistic to expect that this man would ever receive a full pass from the widely diverse feminist community. The stories from Hugo’s past will continue to trigger people possibly long after he’s dead. He’s got to understand that, and so does anyone who supports him.

    I fully believe people can transform themselves, and yet that transformation does not eliminate the past. How to work with all of complexities this brings about, in a compassionate way for everyone, is a major challenge. But conversations like this maybe make it more possible.

  52. oldfeminist
    oldfeminist December 31, 2011 at 9:00 pm |

    There is no right to be forgiven by an individual or by a group. There is no right to be allowed into any particular society.

    All this discussion reminds me of when certain men want to know exactly what they’re supposed to do to be able to get a girlfriend or wife as if there’s a cheat code or series of quests that will get them there.

    There isn’t always a way to make things really okay again even if you’re really sorry or even if you’re really innocent.

    And even if there is a way, why would the perpetrator, who presumably had an abusive mindset as an adult, want to change? They chose exploitation over empathy because they liked it better. They’re not ignorant of what they were doing and chances are they didn’t do it just because they were drunk or high and temporarily not being empathetic as usual.

    Getting to empathy from selfishness is a long and painful process and the rewards, to a selfish person, are not really understandable. Changing your life is very difficult. Our patriarchal misogynist culture makes it much easier for him to make sad noises and continue with his life.

  53. K
    K December 31, 2011 at 9:22 pm |

    Does anyone know what has happened with Midwest Mountain Mama? I clicked the link in this article and got a Not Found message. Looks like the whole tumblr blog is gone. I’m disappointed not to be able to read the piece, but I’m also concerned. This sounds like it has been an intense issue, and I’m worried she might have gotten overwhelmed by trolls, or seriously threatened. Maybe she just got swamped with traffic, but if possible can someone check in with her?

  54. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf December 31, 2011 at 9:23 pm |

    I have been reading a lot about forgiveness — For me it’s more about healing than releasing the other from their actions. I don’t think it’s necessary to forgive or even to forget. Even in Feminist ideas of forgiveness don’t sit right for me.

    The victim shouldn’t have to forgive, forget, or to even release anger toward her wrong doer. It should be her choice how she wants to handle her healing from a trauma, even if it includes anger, resentment and rage.

    Talking about the abuser and his concerns is not important to me, what matters to me is her recovery, her ability to heal, and her ability to move on from abuse. Men have the suport, the agencies around him in order to “transform” while victims do not. They are left holding the bag, holding the medical bills for physical as well as emotional healing. She has to live in a community that might dispise her if the man who abused her has a following like Hugo — or any other “Nice guy” —

    I am a rape and abuse survivor and I don’t feel the need to forgive the men who abused me — I could care less about them. One is a so called Nice Man a Teacher who supposedly wouldn’t hurt anyone, but in secret has a bad tamper and who has abused me.

    Healing and moving on, and being able to be happy is more important for me than forgiveness.

    Hugo has never transformed because he wanted to = Addiction doesn’t change who you are as a person it amplifies the inner you the you under the skin. I just saw a documentary on the Green River Serial Killer — he blamed his second wife, he was simply able to kill her he wouldn’t have needed to kill 48 (possibly 61) women, but he was afraid to get caught. So he killed prostitutes by luring some with his 7 year old son in the car, who he admits he would have killed if the son became a witness. He said that he didn’t want women controlling him.

    See I don’t buy Hugo’s explanations of events, he lies. He delibrately walked in the house and decided to take a woman’s life. He decided with detail, this doesn’t sound like a man drugged out. This sounds like he was determined to kill a women because he wanted to control her, just like the Green River killer, because she what didn’t respond to him in the way he wanted to? How do we know he didn’t abuse her in other ways, an abuser doesn’t just for shits and giggles decide that he is only going to abuse in one way, he will abuse and manipulate in many ways to get his point.

    Abusers will only admit to his crimes in a way that makes him look good. Where is Hugo’s redemption, did he get counseling, did he go to a minster, what did he do to reedeem himself.

    Just because he claimed redemption doesn’t mean that “I” or any other person has to accept his word and believe him, in fact I choose not to believe him.

  55. orangedesperado
    orangedesperado December 31, 2011 at 9:24 pm |

    Comrade Kevin (# 38): I think that in framing the topic of abuse that it is extremely important to acknowledge that emotional or psychological abuse causes as much, if not more damage than physical abuse. Abuse is abuse is abuse — and one form of abusive behavior is not less bad than another.

  56. Bijan Parsia
    Bijan Parsia December 31, 2011 at 10:02 pm |

    Wonderful post and comments.

    When i think of “What does an abuser have to do” it seems trivially obvious (though, in practice, it’s often ignored) that “stop being abusive” is a critical step. “Respect the feelings and wishes of those you’ve harmed and people with analogous experiences” seems to be another, completely obvious, completely basic, step.

    These steps, however, can be extremely difficult. They might require you to give things up, even things that are precious to you. It might mean that you can’t go somewhere you want to go or participate in something you want to participate it. It might mean that you need to change your career, or not see your children, or deal with people hating you. It probably means that you cannot fix what you’ve done.

    But that’s where you are. You did something horrible and you now have to live with the consequences. If you want to disavow that action, you have to be ready to give up quite a lot. If you want to be taken seriously, then you need to be serious: you should be quick to back off, quick to accept lack of forgiveness, quick to give space, etc.

    You can hope for forgiveness, but you should never demand or even expect it. You hope should be what drives you to do better, not a tool for making other people feel worse.

    Compared to what the criminal justice system often demands, these things are hardly life destroying. Lots of people are not gender studies professors, or don’t go to a conference, or don’t enter a certain space. Lots of people don’t have contact with specific people or the regard of certain communities. It may be painful, but if people tell you that you are doing or risk doing harm then given your history of harming your first move should be to follow their requests. In general, you should tread gently, be generous with your concessions, and be hesitant with your self-aggrandizement.

  57. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf December 31, 2011 at 10:02 pm |

    orangedesperado there is a study that I just read that shows that emotional abuse is more damaging for some than physical abuse.

  58. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh December 31, 2011 at 10:07 pm |

    I understand what you’re saying so much. My grandfather was a child abuser and it’s so hard to describe I can relate to my mothers feelings of wanting the good parts of him to be seen by the community, and of not wanting to see him suffer persecution from the cmomunity for his actions— and yet I can’t imagine a community that WOULDN’T be pissed off at him for his actions toward children.

    Oh yes, I understand you very much too. For people without similar experiences, it can be hard to understand that many survivors can even feel protective of some of their abusers and genuinely wish that the abuser not suffer very, very heavy consequences for their actions. Those feelings are understandable, and they should never be condemned.

    The surrounding community of course, should make the survivor the first priority, as well as anyone else who might be hurt if the abuser is allowed to continue on unchecked.

  59. Bijan Parsia
    Bijan Parsia December 31, 2011 at 10:07 pm |

    (I should note that I learned much of this from reading feminists and people of color, particularly separatists. Malcolm X comes to mind, especially, but so too Marilyn Frye, Audre Lourde, brownfemipower, and many many others. I’ve found it useful from both sides, i.e., wronger and wronged, though I’m thankful that, to my knowledge, my wrongings have never been anywhere near as bad as to have abused anyone. I’m conscious, however, of the great luck involved with that. And grateful.)

  60. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh December 31, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    On the question of forgiveness, I recognize that the phrase has a religious context. However, I would hope that people recognize that the concept has application beyond religion and the religious. It doesn’t mean that violence perpetrated against women is justified.

    I think it’s important to remember though, that some people who detect a whiff of the religious context too in Hugo’s case, and it’s also important to remember for many people throughout various Christian settings, forgiveness is frequently pushed as being effectively compulsory. I see that you are a Quaker, and I can’t speak to that, but I came from a charismatic evangelical background where people who really feel unwilling to offer forgiveness to someone who’s hurt them are threatened with an anvil over their heads of “if you withhold forgiveness from someone, God will withhold forgiveness from you.”

    And admitting an abuser to a religious congregation is one thing, it’s another thing if the abuser has a leadership position. Something slightly more closer to Hugo’s situation is one I heard about where a man who raped and murdered his former partner, with the help of another former partner of his, “found” God in prison and began pastoring a church upon his release. When I heard about this, and saw the clip of that man being confronted by reporters near his church, my blood ran cold because I *don’t* think that man had honestly repented, *and* as a pastor he would likely wind up in a position to “counsel” women and girls in his congregation who had been raped, and unlike his poor ex, had lived to tell about it.

    To put it another way, the absolution that Hugo has received from some feminists has placed him in a position like that of the fox guarding the chicken coop.

  61. ginmar
    ginmar December 31, 2011 at 11:05 pm |

    And yes – I do think people can change. I think feminists have to believe in the possibility of abusive men changing otherwise there’s no hope but a separatist commune.

    I think this is missing something very serious. Are these guys emotionally abusive, or physically abusive, or both? That’s a long way to come back, even if it’s true, which is hard to prove. How do we tell?

    And the fact is, I don’t think a whole lot of abusers do change. They learn how to manipulate, how to twist words, how to be more subtle. They learn how to pick the victims nobody wants to listen to. But change? How are we supposed to tell? Because he says so? Because he hasn’t raped anybody in a year? That we know of, that is.

    Maybe I’d be a little more convinced that this is possible if I hadn’t just witnessed a bunch of people argue that Schwyzer was high, omg, or that he’d reformed.

    And if it comes down to being safe and not trusting guys with heinous acts in their past, I”m fine with that. I do know that one sign of a total lack of reform is whining about how mean people are to him, though, and Schwyzer’s displayed that to the exclusion of anything else.

  62. ginmar
    ginmar December 31, 2011 at 11:05 pm |

    Aw, crap, the blockquote was supposed to end after the first paragraph. Can mod correct that?

    [got it. -mod]

  63. bailey
    bailey January 1, 2012 at 1:14 am |

    ” I’m incredibly wary of the idea that abusers should be working on stopping hurting people, for any kind of reward, including changing the way people think of them.”

    “what I really disagree with is the idea that abusive men should be working for forgiveness”

    I find this perspective somewhat disturbing, especially if extending the logical implications to a radical society’s justice system. Don’t we want abusers to stop abusing people….especially so that they can “fit in”? In a more ethical or more feminist society, wouldn’t “fitting in” mean NOT being a misogynist or abuser? It seems that having friends, family, work, access to resources and community in general, is a pretty good incentive for behaving in a non-abusive way within a non-patriarchal just society. So yeah, working on stopping hurting people, even if for the reward of having people think better of you is a good thing.

    That said, I appreciated many of the other observations and points made in this piece.

  64. Quixotess
    Quixotess January 1, 2012 at 1:32 am |

    @K

    Does anyone know what has happened with Midwest Mountain Mama? I clicked the link in this article and got a Not Found message. Looks like the whole tumblr blog is gone. I’m disappointed not to be able to read the piece, but I’m also concerned. This sounds like it has been an intense issue, and I’m worried she might have gotten overwhelmed by trolls, or seriously threatened. Maybe she just got swamped with traffic, but if possible can someone check in with her?

    Let’s just assume she’s set a boundary and respect that. Let’s just leave it at that. Please.

  65. George
    George January 1, 2012 at 1:42 am |

    I agree with what you are saying here.

    I would add that accountability should (also) include accountability to one’s peer group in addition to “the other”. To the degree that men are Apologists for Male Misogynst and Assaultive Behavior (or relating to Racism where White People Justify and support the Racist Actions of other White People) it makes it increasingly Important for Serious dialog among our Peers – who Can be both Extremely Confrontative and Directly Honest where real accountability exists.

    Obviously – peer Accountability – will be shown to be total b.s. – where “the Other” can’t see anything substantive(ly different).

    Men – who expend most of their energy cozying up to Women and don’t focus serious energy upon working with Men and Our Issues (in addition to supporting Women) continue to leave Sexism Issues as “Women’s Issues” – where the Women must not only do the necessary work with Women – but also with Men and Boys.

  66. Flavia
    Flavia January 1, 2012 at 7:25 am |

    You know, Clarisse, I would be with you in terms of not promoting hatred towards one specific individual if you were consistent in that position. A few months ago, when, in a post, Feministe quoted something I wrote, I was called all kinds of names. The shit I write was called “unreadable” and the entire thread degenerated on name calling Sady Doyle (because of course, since I am friends with Sady Doyle and I write at Tiger Beatdown it is totally legitimate to apply transitive relation and use my words as an excuse to insult her). Not only did you not say a word to stop that nonsense but you had the gall to come over at Tiger Beatdown and paste comments from that awful thread to “inform” us that this discussion was happening. Your words were “We are discussing your piece at Feministe”. At the time that came across as very invasive and a way to remove all autonomy from me to force me to engage in a discussion some place else where I have absolutely no way to moderate or deal with the ensuing hostility. You saw no problem with that, moreover, you actively promoted it and participated in it.

    Cue in a couple of months later and you go out of your way to not just protect but actively shield an abuser from insults. This one man, such an important “feminist” that you go out of your way to ensure that no “hate” is allowed in the comments.

    To be honest, I couldn’t give a damn that people insult me or call the “stuff I write on the internet” names. It’s bound to happen. However, your double standards are staggering. Obviously, some people, for some reason we cannot possibly know, are worth defending and closing threads for. Others are to be taunted and baited for further “polemic”. So please, at least do not try to take us for fools who just forget how you have acted in the past and pretend that the only reason you closed those threads is because you wanted to protect someone from hate. You certainly had no troubles when the hate was directed at me or Sady Doyle.

  67. Maia
    Maia January 1, 2012 at 7:28 am |

    Thanks so much for the responses to this post. I’m really glad it struck a chord with some people. I wrote it very much from my own experiences, and it helped me make sense of them. It is really powerful to read other people’s experiences in that context.

    Also thank Jadey for clearing up who I am.

    Saurus: ” I was abused by a “Hugo” – a successful left-wing activist. And to deal with the situation I left my radical community.”

    I’m so sorry – a lot of the women who were abused in the stories I told in this post left the country, which is I think a really profound sign of how much the responses failed them.

    Roz –

    Well this has been my experience. I have be attacked all the time for having stayed and the complicated thought processes involved in that. And what is ironic a lot of the people who hate people like me also hate abusers and believe in harsh punishments for abusers despite also hating people who have made decisions to stay in abuse circumstances.

    I’m so sorry that you had to deal with this. To demand that anyone respond in a certain way to abuse (except as someone said by not passing on that abuse) is abusive.

    I think it’s really important that saying ‘survivors are entitled to their own boundaries’ includes respecting survivors who do not leave, or do not break off contact. People are the best decision makers in their own lives. To be specific, I think allowing people to create meaningful boundaries for themselves means allowing that some people will be OK with Hugo (although I think the more important question is what do we do faced with these different boundaries). I hope I didn’t give a different impression.

    As I probably made clear in this post, I don’t have much faith about a way forward. And part of that is limits that I have experienced with being survivor-centred. For example, to make a response ‘survivor centred’ can put a lot of pressure on a survivor to know where she stands and what she wants – which can be entirely inappropriate. If the survivor is seen by the perpretrator as the person making decisions it makes it very easy for him to punish her for any boundaries he experiences. Basically being survivor-centred can create a lot of work and pressure on the survivor. So I think what you’re talking about here is really important – and I think the best response is just to articulate over and over again that survivors can have whatever response that they like. That it is legitimate for them to be OK with their perpetrator. But I think that that has to exist in the same space as allowing people to be angry at perpetrators.

    Slashy:

    I’ve been involved in several processes of attempting to challenge abusive behaviour or create justice for victims of abusive behaviour in my real-world communities and have seen extremely clearly that most of the time, a person who is good at manipulating through relationships will be equally good at manipulating an accountability process or structure, given any chance at all to do so.

    Thanks so much for this – that’s a real click moment for me about exactly why I’m so wary of ‘processes’. Your experience matches mine almost entirely. (I’m assuming you don’t live in NZ – it’s a strange feeling to find out that other people are as dispirited – I do sometimes wonder if it’s just that we were doing things wrong).

    One of the reasons I want to read ‘The Revolution Starts at Home’ in book form is because I only have grim stories of experience – I am hoping to read some accounts of more successful responses. I think context matters here – when reading Saurus’s description of transformative justice (which sounded amazing) one thing I thought was: “Wow imagine having multiple people that a perpetrator was willing to deal with, who were willing to deal with him and that had a resilient enough bullshit detector and a fundamental understanding of abuse.” I think what works in some environments won’t in others, and I’m really keen to read accounts of responses that were less than a complete disaster to see if I can figure out more about what those contexts are.

    EG:

    The only part of your post that gives me pause the idea that if we don’t think abusive men can change, the only hope is a separatist commune. As I do not believe that all, or even most men are abusive–as distinguished from sexist or engaging in thoughtlessly sexist behavior–I must disagree, and respectfully submit that allowing abusers to hide in the general run of men is part of what gives them their power.

    When I was most surrounded by this stuff, one of the men (who had taken up this work because he had htought a lot about these issues and was supposed to be more on to it) objected to an action a group took excluding a man who had raped a passed out woman with “But he hasn’t done anything every man in our community hasn’t done.”

    I’d like to believe what you believe. Possibly I do now that I’m not so deeply mired in it as I was.

    In general, I don’t think it matters, and I agree with what ginmar and La Lubu said in response to this. I don’t really think what you think abstractly about change matters all that much. What’s important is not pressuring survivors – whether or not you believe that someone has changed.

    My fault entirely about the dead link. I don’t understand tumblr, and given that I shouldn’t have linked to it. I have removed the links from my posts and asked Clarisse to remove this one (I don’t have editing access). I’m really sorry that this linking brought attention to a tumlbr that the author would rather not have.

  68. Glass
    Glass January 1, 2012 at 8:17 am |

    Forgive me for probably sounding somewhat dense. I’ve had to read this thread in pieces on short breaks at work.

    Maia, are you speaking about allowing the survivor to set their own boundaries and respecting their decision to stay only within the context of past abuse that has stopped?

    If we are speaking about ongoing abuse then I can’t agree with respecting the victim/survivor’s decision to stay. We are talking about a person who often has been groomed and manipulated by the abuser to the point where the decisions they make aren’t what they’d truly want if they were viewing it objectively. That’s part of the cycle of abuse.

  69. La Lubu
    La Lubu January 1, 2012 at 8:48 am |

    We are talking about a person who often has been groomed and manipulated by the abuser to the point where the decisions they make aren’t what they’d truly want if they were viewing it objectively.

    Or, we’re talking about a person who has already formulated an escape plan and is putting it into action—-except you don’t know that because you’re not a mindreader. “What abuse is” (or worse, what “real” abuse is)…what it looks like, doesn’t always follow lockstep with media imagery.

    It wasn’t my abuser who “groomed” me. It was the society and culture around me that did. His abuse always felt like abuse to me. I always experienced it as abuse. It was the rest of the world that conspired to tell me that it wasn’t abuse, or wasn’t “real” abuse. “Real” abuse was like “The Burning Bed”—if you haven’t been to the hospital, if nothing is broken….it isn’t “real” abuse. It’s just “getting physical”, and ‘everybody’ does that. “Real” abusers are assholes all the time, and since mine was handsome and charming and known for his politeness to others—he couldn’t be an abuser. And since the abuse always took place in private, it couldn’t be real—-no witnesses means it didn’t happen. And besides, he only abused when he was drunk—so it wasn’t him doing it, but the alcohol….right? Right? “Real” abusers do it when they’re sober.

    In short, gaslighting. I don’t want to get too far offline on a derail, but your comment on when/how it’s “appropriate” for a survivor to leave is part of the dynamic that makes it incredibly difficult for survivors to both leave and find support. Where I live, the template is “Burning Bed” style—the support systems are designed for and offered to women who have no personal resources. If you have personal resources (like a job), you can get counseling but not safe housing—you’re on your own there. And that’s from the people who automatically believe you if you say you’re being abused.

    So—keep in mind the sheer number of obstacles that are in front of people who are being abused. Including the vast number of mutual friends and acquaintances that are already saying some version of “abuse? what abuse?” or “abuse? but that was just a mistake!” or “abuse? but that’s all in the past; he’s changed” or “abuse? but that’s just the booze/drugs; he’s not really abusive…” And the other obstacle—folks assuming that because you’ve been abused, that you no longer have your own mind; that they know better than you (despite their failure to recognize or speak out against the abuse, or evidence of abuse, or testimony of abuse). Fun times.

  70. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 1, 2012 at 9:39 am |

    I really don’t care if people can change. Perhaps they can. But I don’t think the feminist movement is a space for us to make room for abusers or misogynists, reformed or not.

    In fact, I’m going to go one step further and say that while I welcome men who join us as honest allies, I do not think that men should be taking a leadership position in this movement. I do not think men should be lecturing women on what feminism is, what misogyny is, or what living as a woman is like. I think if you are truly an ally, your actions should be to do the grunt work (not take the leadership roles) and to shut the fuck up and listen. And, you know, not make it all about you.

    I also give the stink eye to anyone who makes room in a movement for someone who’s hurt marginalized people in that movement. People who do that bark about how divisive it is; apparently, marginalized people being driven out of movements because of this shit is not at all divisive. Apparently, marginalized people just do not rate. I expect this in fauxgressive communities but I am disgusted that within the online feminist community, a bunch of White women are rushing to the defense of a White man who has a history of abusing women. Who has tried to kill a woman, and who let the cops think she was “crazy” and suicidal (because, hey, women don’t ever have to deal with “bitches are crazy” amirite).

    And at this point, I don’t care if Hugo’s changed. (Considering that his post was about HIM and he yet again used this woman for his own goddamn ends without her knowledge or consent–and without wondering at how she would feel if she read this–I would bet my next paycheck that he hasn’t.) What I care about is that he’s been taking a leadership position within this movement, and that it’s been handed to him by syncophantic feminists, that he’s been speaking for us, that he’s been lecturing to us, instead of showing a shred of humility and learning and trying to take his new-found empathy and knowledge to the people he’s in touch with in everyday life.

    Someone who’s truly changed, someone who gets it, would not only not be surprised by the blowback he’s gotten over the past week or so, but would not even be trying to take a leadership role in the first place. They would understand why it’s so important for them to maybe not try to ingratiate themselves in a community where they could ultimately alienate many of the very people they claim to give a shit about. If Hugo gave two shits, and knowing what he claims to know, he’d think about the woman he tried to kill and maybe consider the fact that she may not regard feminism as a movement that speaks or fights for her if he was a part of tht movement.

    But this is why I give privileged “allies” who lead, speak, and reaps tons of unearned gratitude the stink-eye. I am not fucking grateful to you. My movement for liberation is not a career path, it’s not a tool for your personal transformation, and we are not your fucking therapists. Allies who take leadership roles and claim they just aren’t good at (but really are just too good for) the grunt work, shutting the fuck up and listening, etc., are in it for their own damn ego.

  71. Shelly
    Shelly January 1, 2012 at 9:51 am |

    I don’t want to derail w this, so feel free to ignore….but I just want to point out that a lot of the justice models cited on this thread and the other one are not something solely the province of modern WOCs in the US. I’ve no doubt that American WOC grous are independently rediscovering ancient concepts and creating new ones based on shared principles. This is a great thing and should be fully supported by anyone, anywhere who cares about justice.

    Just wanted to say that there were a lot of these in practice in America before the white man showed up. I don’t blame anyone for not knowing that. So much of NA history (and indigenous history all over the world) has been erased. What is known is not taught….or taught poorly. So many NA nations and tribes and bands have had their cultures totally warped over the past 400-500 years or so…so the tribes that used to practice these principles don’t even know it themselves. The view of most non NAs is so shaped by the Dime Novel to Buffalo Bill to Hollywood view of NA groups. Their real voices haven’t been silenced by modern feminists bc they were never heard to begin with…this is such a shame bc there’s so much that could be gained.

    I can’t tell you what nation, tribe, or band it was….but a NA feminst activist who studied justice models once met once told me about one group that was matriarchal that practiced a lot of the principles I have seen mentioned wrt victims of gender based crimes. For example, in one band,the female victim and her family discussed how to deal w offenses ranging from groping to what we would call date rape to severe beatings w sexual violence….and the larger units backed up their right to choose and whatever they chose…from ignoring the crime to reparations to banishment. In one case, a man who had beaten and raped a young woman was to serve the family as a worker for three times as long as the woman was out of commission bc of her injuries. He was then banned from ever being alone (to prevent further victims). He was not allowed to marry until the girl and her family deemed him redeemed. The last element was the harshest of the ” punishments”. The family made him see the tribal spiritual leader daily for a few years before “releasing” him. (closest thing to a psych they would have had)

    So I’d urge the WOC feminists and anyone else interested in alt. models to read about indigenous cultures in the US and elsewhere. Lots of good ideas. I’m sure so many out there I don’t know of myself.

    Sorry for the aside, but I often feel WOC, indigenous women, poor women, non-US women, rural women, noneducated women, etc are ignored by educated white urban/suburban feminists. Be this intentional or unintentional. As they have led the public face for so long, there has been little chance for other groups to publicly dialog with each other and learn from it. And this relates to why everyone is so justifiably angry that we were not allowed to dialog re HS.

  72. number9
    number9 January 1, 2012 at 9:53 am |

    To pressure women to be OK, act OK, or pretend to be or act OK around a man who has been abusive towards woman, is a profoundly anti-feminist act. That pressure cannot be part of anything that is truly justice, or truly transformative.

    Thank you for the post and for stressing this particularly, Maia. And thank you, also, to everyone centering survivors and debunking the forgiveness concept and talking about what transformative justice could look like.

    I’m a survivor too. I never told, but I sure as fuck did not forgive. I’m mostly ok with my anger, and I’m not a christian, so there’s never really been any internal pressure to forgive. but none of us live in a vacuum and those toxic dominant cultural narratives of redemtion/forgiveness can’t be ignored, even if you don’t embrace them. Seeing all you folks call these narratives out for the bullshit they are has been…just really good. It has been good to see survivors and women centered. For me, in the end, a lot of good came out of what started out so painfully – this post, the comments on this and the other post, finally downloading The Revolution Starts at Home (which I’ve been meaning to read, but have been putting off because I knew it would be painful, and now I got the push I needed). Just. Thank you, all.

  73. Shelly
    Shelly January 1, 2012 at 10:01 am |

    This is great.

    My only quibble is that only one other blogger addressed this issue on the site. Am I the only one who thinks that Jill and the core group need to make a statement on all this themselves or there will be permanent damage to the blog? That C must address it again if she is to continue posting here? I don’t think the damage is permanent, but it will be if this is the only response.

    I’m not trying to diminish anything said by anyone in this post or comments…just arguing we might need more from the core group.

  74. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie January 1, 2012 at 10:51 am |

    And once again, sheelzebub nails it for me.

  75. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie January 1, 2012 at 10:52 am |

    Also, Flavia: Yes. Excellent points.

  76. catfood
    catfood January 1, 2012 at 11:51 am |

    Totally what Sheelzebub said.

    The role of men in feminism is to stay out of the way, pay attention, listen, and act in support. Not to lead, teach women, or make grand statements.

    I can’t believe this is such a difficult concept.

  77. saurus
    saurus January 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm |

    If we are speaking about ongoing abuse then I can’t agree with respecting the victim/survivor’s decision to stay. We are talking about a person who often has been groomed and manipulated by the abuser to the point where the decisions they make aren’t what they’d truly want if they were viewing it objectively. That’s part of the cycle of abuse.

    Yes, the survivor’s decision should be respected – the alternative, to convey “disrespect” for their decision, horrifies me – disrespect is a strong word and I’m sure most survivors get enough disrespect already.

    One should support the survivor through their decisions and throughout the outcome of those decisions, whatever those decisions may be, provided the decisions are not abusive to others.

    If one can’t resist getting judgy or telling the survivor they’re a brainwashed victim with no capacity to make a good call, consider staying away. It reminds me of people who “donate” a dollar to a panhandler and then demand some power over how it’s spent. If one’s help and support comes with conditions like that, don’t offer it in the first place.

    If the survivor decides to stay, some of the things they might benefit from hearing are reiterations that they’re a good person and don’t deserve abuse, that if they feel abused – or even just unhappy, low, frightened, or crappy about themselves (since many people who are abused don’t recognize it as such) you’re a phone call away, and that you’re here for them no matter what.

    If someone is still in the psychological grip of an abuser, which does happen sometimes, you can’t loosen that grip for them. But you can help express to them all the non-abusive love, respect, consideration and caring that they may not be getting from their partner or themselves. And that can help them identify that psychological grip for what it is and liberate themselves.

  78. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

    So many wonderful posts!

    It wasn’t my abuser who “groomed” me. It was the society and culture around me that did. His abuse always felt like abuse to me. I always experienced it as abuse. It was the rest of the world that conspired to tell me that it wasn’t abuse, or wasn’t “real” abuse. “Real” abuse was like “The Burning Bed”—if you haven’t been to the hospital, if nothing is broken….it isn’t “real” abuse. It’s just “getting physical”, and ‘everybody’ does that. “Real” abusers are assholes all the time, and since mine was handsome and charming and known for his politeness to others—he couldn’t be an abuser. And since the abuse always took place in private, it couldn’t be real—-no witnesses means it didn’t happen. And besides, he only abused when he was drunk—so it wasn’t him doing it, but the alcohol….right? Right? “Real” abusers do it when they’re sober.

    This is what happened to me too – I was married, he was a “nice guy” — My mother’s third husband was a so called “nice-guy” who many times after his death people would come up to me saying what a nice guy he was, I disagreed and told him what he had done to me and my mother for 10 years – They said that I was a liar and a troublemaker.

    It’s itched into society if it’s not on you physically and you don’t go to the doctor or fight to get out of the abuse, it can’t be abuse. Because after all who would spend years with someone who has abused them! It’s an odd dynamic.

    I don’t have the need to give these men who have abused me or the others who have abuse me absolution for their abuse to heal and move on. Breaking the cycle of abuse is long and hard and different for everyone.

    A women has a right to decide what is right for her.

    Sheelzebub

    I really don’t care if people can change. Perhaps they can. But I don’t think the feminist movement is a space for us to make room for abusers or misogynists, reformed or not.

    In fact, I’m going to go one step further and say that while I welcome men who join us as honest allies, I do not think that men should be taking a leadership position in this movement. I do not think men should be lecturing women on what feminism is, what misogyny is, or what living as a woman is like. I think if you are truly an ally, your actions should be to do the grunt work (not take the leadership roles) and to shut the fuck up and listen. And, you know, not make it all about you.

    Standing applause!

    If Hugo has changed, which doesn’t seem likely to me, he would not seek leadership, shouldn’t mansplane to women what they should do. He shouldn’t be it’s about ME ME ME – and profit off of his so called misdeeds.

    Catfood

    The role of men in feminism is to stay out of the way, pay attention, listen, and act in support. Not to lead, teach women, or make grand statements.

    I can’t believe this is such a difficult concept.

    Yup– YUP

    I don’t mind men being allies, but to take leadership roles, to teach women, goes against everything I think feminism is.

  79. Fauxminists, Season 3. « stop! talking.

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  80. accalmie
    accalmie January 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm |

    Sheelzebub: I really don’t care if people can change. Perhaps they can. But I don’t think the feminist movement is a space for us to make room for abusers or misogynists, reformed or not.

    In fact, I’m going to go one step further and say that while I welcome men who join us as honest allies, I do not think that men should be taking a leadership position in this movement. I do not think men should be lecturing women on what feminism is, what misogyny is, or what living as a woman is like. I think if you are truly an ally, your actions should be to do the grunt work (not take the leadership roles) and to shut the fuck up and listen. And, you know, not make it all about you.

    I also give the stink eye to anyone who makes room in a movement for someone who’s hurt marginalized people in that movement. People who do that bark about how divisive it is; apparently, marginalized people being driven out of movements because of this shit is not at all divisive. Apparently, marginalized people just do not rate. I expect this in fauxgressive communities but I am disgusted that within the online feminist community, a bunch of White women are rushing to the defense of a White man who has a history of abusing women. Who has tried to kill a woman, and who let the cops think she was “crazy” and suicidal (because, hey, women don’t ever have to deal with “bitches are crazy” amirite).

    And at this point, I don’t care if Hugo’s changed. (Considering that his post was about HIM and he yet again used this woman for his own goddamn ends without her knowledge or consent–and without wondering at how she would feel if she read this–I would bet my next paycheck that he hasn’t.) What I care about is that he’s been taking a leadership position within this movement, and that it’s been handed to him by syncophantic feminists, that he’s been speaking for us, that he’s been lecturing to us, instead of showing a shred of humility and learning and trying to take his new-found empathy and knowledge to the people he’s in touch with in everyday life.

    Someone who’s truly changed, someone who gets it, would not only not be surprised by the blowback he’s gotten over the past week or so, but would not even be trying to take a leadership role in the first place. They would understand why it’s so important for them to maybe not try to ingratiate themselves in a community where they could ultimately alienate many of the very people they claim to give a shit about. If Hugo gave two shits, and knowing what he claims to know, he’d think about the woman he tried to kill and maybe consider the fact that she may not regard feminism as a movement that speaks or fights for her if he was a part of tht movement.

    But this is why I give privileged “allies” who lead, speak, and reaps tons of unearned gratitude the stink-eye. I am not fucking grateful to you. My movement for liberation is not a career path, it’s not a tool for your personal transformation, and we are not your fucking therapists. Allies who take leadership roles and claim they just aren’t good at (but really are just too good for) the grunt work, shutting the fuck up and listening, etc., are in it for their own damn ego.

    THIS! Oh, so much! Thank you!

    FFS, how does Hugo Schwyzer’s whining about the evil criticizers ever make me sick. Funny: he’s still here, bright and shiny, still being able to count on someone defending him. T’is a scratch.

  81. ginmar
    ginmar January 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm |

    I really don’t care if men can change or not. It’s my job. And frankly, there’s so much victim-blaming, victim-accusing, and victim-attacking going on in the world that if men change, that’s great but I don’t care. I’m not going to work for it, either, because just taking care of mens’ victims is enough to keep feminists busy for centuries, and furthermore, it’s not my job to hold their hands. Just taking care of their victims is a full-time job. I’d say this is a case for men to clean up their own house, but I’m pretty sure they either don’t care about the mess or they resent the implication that they’re not perfect.

    Can people change? I do know this: men have absolutely no reason to, because being a victimizer gets them everything they want.

    If men have changed, then they can hold other men accountable, they can go after them, they can back up feminists without seeking a cookie, they can fight on our side, and they can question the patriarchy when it comes down on women. There’s not an awful lot of that going on.

    And Hugo did absolutely none of that. Instead, he bashed feminists when feminists called him out on his cozy relationship with the most woman-hating of MRAs, he placed a huge emphasis on civility—-for women only, of course—-and he made feminism all about him. He’s never displayed any consciousness of guilt. Instead he’s used our struggle for his career. There are lots of guys like him, and he and other so-called male feminists have done nothing for us but give us lectures on tone while they profited. The slightest shade of self-reported remorse, and he looks like Ghandi compared to the rest of the crap we have to deal with.

    So can ‘people’ change? Women have had to change in incredible ways to survive. People of color have had to go through incredible changes to survive. But men? They don’t face any punishment at all. They resent it when they’re called on it. And if they want incentive beyond the whole, “It’s the right thing to do,” then they’re asking for a cookie.

    Allies offer without being asked, and they prove it. Kyle Payne’s was an instructive story. He was re-arrested last year.

  82. EG
    EG January 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm |

    When I was most surrounded by this stuff, one of the men (who had taken up this work because he had htought a lot about these issues and was supposed to be more on to it) objected to an action a group took excluding a man who had raped a passed out woman with “But he hasn’t done anything every man in our community hasn’t done.”

    Yes…but every douchey misogynistic abuser has a real stake in believing that he’s not doing anything out of the ordinary; I mean, hey, this just what guys do, am I right? I’m just a regular guy. Rapists, those are those dudes who hide in bushes and are probably black. Not me.

    That guy outed himself, but I’m not sure what makes him more believable than any of the men I know who would be totally on board with excluding rapists of passed-out women.

    Regardless, I am also on board with not caring much whether or not abusers can change. I certainly hope that somebody cares enough to find out, so we as a society know how to handle them, but personally? Couldn’t care less.

  83. rox
    rox January 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm |

    “Yes…but every douchey misogynistic abuser has a real stake in believing that he’s not doing anything out of the ordinary; I mean, hey, this just what guys do, am I right? I’m just a regular guy. Rapists, those are those dudes who hide in bushes and are probably black. Not me. ”

    My experiences with being abused or having sexual boundaries deliberately pushed in hurtful ways have all been with liberal men. I really wonder, when men avoid the conversations about enthusiastic consent and boundary violations, how many liberal men actually are on board with enthusiastic consent and ensuring a partner is enganging in the sexual experience in an ongoing way. I would be willing to bet a huge portion of men that claim in surveys they treat women well, have rearranged some of their passed actions in their minds to being “consenting” when there were some problematic elements to what was going on. I think women do this do, and decide that if they were aroused and didn’t turn out with PTSD after they must have liked it and women who make a big deal over this stuff are just women with personal boundary issues who need to take responsability for their own behaviors and arousal in the face of dominant/domineering/forceful sexual advances and ignorance of verbal or physical signs of a woman retreating from the experience. It can also be confusing because what if a woman at first protests but then submits and then engages? The woman will walk away feeling like it must have been consensual and the man will too.

    I get worried that in general, these types of violations happen very often and that men and women who don’t spend time thinking about issues of consent, even among liberals, may be surprised when they look back on their pasts. Acceptance of these types of situations leads everyone to be a little more protective of abusers because they think, “Well occasionally some of my really good partners pushed a little bit beyond what I said, but I liked it and was ok with it, so we really shouldn’t come down too hard about that.”

    I personally have had a partner who was definately not a very kind partner continue to have sex with me after I passed out. I had no idea how to think about it because it had been consensual sex, but then it’s weird to think someone was having sex with you after you were totally passed out? I recognize that I have interacted with a lot of people who do these kinds of things, but what I find is that a lot of people tend to tell me I come from a different world than they do, and I’m like… I hang out with liberals who say they are into human rights. Yes many of them came from abusive backgrounds, but these are outspoken liberals and activists. What’s more people usually follow that with, “Well you just don’t have your boundaries sorted out.”

    Meaning that these people would not have treated me badly if I had just been better at negotiating with them? Meaning that the fact that I have been easy to violate makes it ok for people to do so, and the people who do so don’t count as abusers? It’s confusing and public beliefs about all this and how to treat someone who has comitted abusive behaviors in a relationship is such a confusing issue. To be honest though, I’m glad it’s being talked about.

  84. Branwen
    Branwen January 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm |

    I agree with Shelley, there needs to be a unified response, including from Jill and Clarisse.

  85. Xeginy
    Xeginy January 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm |

    At the risk of going off topic – this has probably been the most civil and respectful disagreement I’ve ever seen on the internet. Especially in a feminist space, it’s so inspiring to see bloggers have a respectful discourse, and from what I’ve seen the commenters have largely followed that example.

    (I just re-read this paragraph, and in my head it sounded sarcastic. It’s not.)

    And for me personally, this has been one of the most enlightening discussions I’ve ever followed. As a domestic violence advocate, I’ve heard the “can abusers change?” question countless times, and I’ve also participated in discussions questioning how involved we, as advocates, should be in “rehabilitating” abusers (if that is even possible.) Both Maia and Clarisse have shown me perspectives that I really haven’t seen before, so I’d like to thank both of you for that.

  86. samanthab
    samanthab January 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

    While I don’t ultimately disagree with the points being made about forgiveness in this thread, I’m squirmy and uncomfortable with how Schwyzer and his enablers seem to have been allowed to define the notion of forgiveness. Firstly, the concept is hardly unique to Christianity- it’s present in all of the major world religions and no small amount of secular texts. Secondly, it’s been defined in the many variant texts I’ve read on the subject as deeply personal. Just because Hugo and his enablers have tried to bully us all into their vapid definition of forgiveness DOES not mean there aren’t more complex applications of the term. And, yes, I absolutely want to validate every woman’s choice to decide what works for them as a survival method. But, as someone who found a much more complex notion of forgiveness valuable to her survival, I also resent the implication of many on this thread that forgiveness is innately flawed as a survival mechanism. It fucking helped me a lot, and I refuse to let abusers and their enablers define dumb-ass conditions for what the concept entails to me and the many other survivors for whom it has been helpful.

  87. ginmar
    ginmar January 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

    Well, there’s an elephant in the room that nobody’s really tackling head on?

    How about atonement?

    Forgiveness requires something of the victim. Atonement requires something of the attacker, and it’s up to the victim to decide whether it’s enough. The thing is, a lot of abusers don’t think they’re abusers or think that the victim asked for it, so you’re never going to see atonement, period. I can’t help but wonder if that’s why we’re talking about forgiveness. In the absence of men changing, we’re left with ourselves.

    There’s a large part of me that thinks that forgiveness sans atonement is surrendering before the battle’s even fought. It seems like we’re admitting defeat…and accepting it. We might not get atonement, but I say we don’t give up that particular battle, otherwise we lose the whole war.

    Forgiveness is the last stage of the game, not the first.

  88. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf January 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

    Hellz to the motherfucken yeah re: atonement. Atonement requires actions, not just words.

  89. Branwen
    Branwen January 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm |

    Ginmar, I talked about the atonement and repentance side of things in my comment on the other blog that never to my knowledge even made it through moderation. Funny, that. But yes, he and his cronies want to co-opt the Christian language about forgiveness in order to bully those who would call him out, but he’s not demonstrating the required steps of atonement and penance in the slightest, even though those are very much a part of the same framework his defenders want to force us to adopt.

  90. ginmar
    ginmar January 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

    Gee, your comment never made it through, either? (Bats eyelashes innocently. Why, neither did mine, either. What a coincidence!)

    All this talk about forgiveness is like giving advice about masturbation. Sorry, that’s the only really private thing I can come up under pressure. But, yeah, forgiveness, it’s a private thing that can’t be forced, and all this talk about it makes me nervous, because with it there’s talk of changing abusers and crap like that. Everybody here knows how many abusers go free—and Schwyzer’s a good example of that.

    Forgiveness may do some victims some good—-but I wonder how many are being pressured to knuckle under. I’ve had a few too many experiences with people where ‘just let it go’ was used to pressure people into silence—–and it was never the offender!—-but the end result is that the offender got let off the hook and the victim got pressured to shut up for the benefit of other people who didn’t want to consider that their buddy was a shit.

    We live in a society that values womens’ compliance and silence most of all, and unless forgiveness occurs against a background of what it offers the victim, not against one about the offender changing, we’re going to get sucked into pressuring ourselves into doing something the offender hasn’t earned.

    And, yes, I think the offender better earn it.

    Lots of them won’t try. And some of our friends won’t care or will be made so uncomfortable that we’re the ones who have to be forced to take the fall for their comfort, when they’re faced with somebody they value more refusing to change or admit fault.

    And, yes, we are the least valued of people amongst many of our friends.

  91. Helen Huntingdon
    Helen Huntingdon January 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm |

    Thank you, Maia, for such a great post.

  92. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm |

    Atonement is a personal thing – it’s done when one has taken responsibility for there actions and has accepted the consequences of those action. Once the responsibility has been owned, he then must show active change. This doesn’t happen over night or at a flip of a switch. It happens over time.

    Forgiveness for most women is a trap that cyclical, meaning, that a women should forgive (and possibly forget) her abuser because he has atoned — with in Christianity- to a male god and most-likely a male clergy – to community that is patriarchal . A women may forgive not because she feels that the abuser has atoned but most likely because she has no place to go, no job to help support her children or herself (if she has kids), she has no support (because lets face it most parents don’t believe a women if she doesn’t have the ‘marks’ to prove it.), — If it’s a cycle it’s hard to break, it’s hard to escape from so it’s easy to forgive the abuser rather than believe that he has changed.

    Forgiveness puts undue pressure on a women, because not only is she supposed to get over it quick, but to be a better person and forgive her abuser. If she doesn’t she is labeled angry, nasty, and horrible.

    The abuser doesn’t have to go through this process he just has to wait until he is forgiven – and pronounce that he has changed – while not having to.

  93. NakedCrip
    NakedCrip January 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

    (When I say “duty”, I mean responsibilities I have assigned myself.)

    My duty as a survivor is not to those who have abused. My duty as a survivor is to those who have also survived.

    My duty as a feminist is not to rehabilitate people who have abused me or others. My duty as a feminist is to address the abuse, speak truth to their power and privilege, and refuse to compromise with a society that normalizes and excuses abuse.

    People cannot be rehabilitated externally. If they wish for change, it must – like the joke about the monk and the hot dog – come from within. At the same time, if they are genuine in their regret about their actions in the past, they need to fucking accept that some people aren’t going to forgive them, and that it’s not their job to forgive someone.

    It’s no one’s duty to forgive Hugo. It’s no one’s duty to accept him as a teacher of feminist mores. It’s certainly not my job to accept his claims that he’s rehabilitated – sorry, been there, done that, have the dental work.

    To demand that people accept Hugo as an authority is grotesque. To demand that people overlook his truly awful past is grotesque. To pooh-pooh people’s genuine and heartfelt worry that it’s not just in the past? Grotesque.

    A lot of women in progressive and radical movements have been abused by men who think lip-service is sufficient to demonstrate their dedication to the cause. A lot of these men are defended by women who should know better.

    If this blog wants to be inclusively feminist – not just for a certain type of feminist willing to ignore issues that impact many – then maybe some “sitting the hell down and thinking” time is merited. And then, perhaps, a real stand taken, some real apologies made, and some real standards stated and kept.

  94. AMM
    AMM January 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm |

    rox 1.1.2012 at 4:38 pmrox 1.1.2012 at 4:38 pm:

    I really wonder, when men avoid the conversations about enthusiastic consent and boundary violations, how many liberal men actually are on board with enthusiastic consent and ensuring a partner is engaging in the sexual experience in an ongoing way. I would be willing to bet a huge portion of men that claim in surveys they treat women well, have rearranged some of their passed actions in their minds to being “consenting” when there were some problematic elements to what was going on.

    Not to get all Andrea Dworkin on everybody, but the dominant model of sex in Western society is awfully non-consensual. A man doesn’t have to actually intend to be abusive to act in some pretty abusive ways, he just has to do what “all the guys” do, and not think too much about it.

    What this means is that when men are asked to judge sexually abusive men — and treating sexually abusive men as abusive is judgement — they are forced to face the similarities between the abusers’ behavior and their own. No surprise that, like most humans in similar situations, they usually choose to weasel out.

    I agree that we men need to do some serious, honest discussing of this. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found any space — on-line or in real life — where this is going on or even seems possible. When the topic does come up, the men just end up trading BS, or worse. I have never, ever heard a remotely honest conversation about this among men. My suspicion is that most men don’t find the current situation painful enough to actually want to change it, so they’d rather just choose some form of defensiveness.

  95. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm |

    I just wanted to add a quote from something I have been reading on forgiveness:

    For women, refusing to be angry historically has kept them in a position of subordination; realizing and acting on anger has led to greater rights and freedoms.

    Sharon Lamb;Jeffrie G. Murphy. Before Forgiving: Cautionary Views of Forgiveness in Psychotherapy (p. 165). Kindle Edition.

  96. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn January 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm | *

    Hi Flavia,

    To be honest, I couldn’t give a damn that people insult me or call the “stuff I write on the internet” names. It’s bound to happen. However, your double standards are staggering. Obviously, some people, for some reason we cannot possibly know, are worth defending and closing threads for. Others are to be taunted and baited for further “polemic”. So please, at least do not try to take us for fools who just forget how you have acted in the past and pretend that the only reason you closed those threads is because you wanted to protect someone from hate. You certainly had no troubles when the hate was directed at me or Sady Doyle.

    A few things:

    1) I’m sorry that I invaded your space in that way. I didn’t mean to.

    2) The thread you are referring to was not my thread, and I had no moderation power over it.

    3) My participation at Feministe has been a bit of an evolution. My experience moderating threads on the Internet has also been a bit of an evolution. This controversy brought with it several surprises about my role at this site, for example. There was a long time where I was not 100% clear on what actions were reasonable to take while moderating threads. I only started closing threads here relatively recently, based on observation of moderation tactics used by other mods and in other venues. I started closing threads earlier on my personal blog, although I have not done it consistently throughout my years of blogging, because I used to have more time to spend moderating discussions that struck me as hostile and unproductive.

    4) As I have already stated, repeatedly and in several venues including my original “On Change And Accountability” post, my primary motivator in closing the Hugo thread was that I was receiving feedback that other people were reading Feministe and choosing not to comment because they found the thread so hostile. It was not to “protect Hugo”, although I did feel uncomfortable with some of the things that were being said about him, and I probably would have stepped in to ask people to tone down things like “sociopath” diagnoses if the thread had remained open.

    I hope this clarifies my motives. And again, I’m sorry for my previous invasive actions. My intent was to bring the conversations together a bit more.

  97. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn January 1, 2012 at 7:45 pm | *

    I removed the link at the base of the post. I think that was the link I was being asked to remove — correct me if I’m wrong.

  98. rox
    rox January 1, 2012 at 8:05 pm |

    “A man doesn’t have to actually intend to be abusive to act in some pretty abusive ways, he just has to do what “all the guys” do, and not think too much about it.

    What this means is that when men are asked to judge sexually abusive men — and treating sexually abusive men as abusive is judgement — they are forced to face the similarities between the abusers’ behavior and their own. No surprise that, like most humans in similar situations, they usually choose to weasel out.”

    This is part of why I guess I hope for the maybe impossible to achieve, space where people could admit to have not quite managed to follow the higher standards of consent and treatment of partners that we are trying to make the societal standard— and say “Hey maybe that was really uncool, we should all work toward shifting our thinking about this”. I have heard women admit they verbally pressured partners into sex before they thought about what all that meant, and I think it’s important to see that if we up the standards to include very confusing boundary violations that happen maybe while people are laughing? Maybe while mixed messages are going on? That we could encourage each other to own up, “Wow, I really messed up the cues on that, I really should have confirmed how my partner was feeling better” without thinking anyone who messes this up needs to go to jail for 20 years.

    I feel like I am lucky that I am a female, if it was really confusing to me, I don’t know how I would have automatically understood the right thing if I was male. Maybe I would have, but I don’t know. I don’t understand wanting to push partners into things or not being attentive to what they might be feeling, but women are generally encouraged to be attentive to feelings and submissive and men are generally encouraged the opposite, so how do I know I am not just a product of my environment? Hmmm. I find all of this very confusing.

  99. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable January 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm |

    “my primary motivator in closing the Hugo thread was that I was receiving feedback that other people were reading Feministe and choosing not to comment because they found the thread so hostile.”

    Some people won’t comment so nobody can comment? You’ve said this before, and this makes no sense to me whatsoever. Also, without context, that statement is meaningless. Who (i.e. what sorts of people) found the thread hostile? Why did they find it hostile?

  100. Helen Huntingdon
    Helen Huntingdon January 1, 2012 at 8:37 pm |

    As I have already stated, repeatedly and in several venues including my original “On Change And Accountability” post, my primary motivator in closing the Hugo thread was that I was receiving feedback that other people were reading Feministe and choosing not to comment because they found the thread so hostile. It was not to “protect Hugo”,

    Sorry, that doesn’t quite match up with what you said:

    Pretty soon, the comments had nothing to do with the interview at all. Some commenters were making amateur psychological diagnoses of Hugo, and other readers were emailing me privately to express shock at how ugly the discussion had gotten. So I closed down the discussion, making it impossible to continue commenting in that particular forum.

  101. Branwen
    Branwen January 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm |

    I call bullshit, Clarisse. My comment on the other blog that never made it through moderation used no hateful words, no profanity, no threats, no legal allegations. It simply was critical of Hugo. And thus it was declined for publishing. I don’t buy this idea that you’re some fragile flower who had to shrink away from the “ugliness” because it was so wounding or scary. I think you shut down the discussion simply to silence anyone who criticized your friend or drew attention to his criminal actions.

  102. Esti
    Esti January 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm |

    Maia, this was fantastic, thank you.

    Clarisse, I find the responses you’ve made here and on the post you linked to so deeply disappointing. I know that the firestorm of criticism you’ve faced in the past week or so has probably been pretty tough to take, and that the natural response is to double down and get defensive. But although you’re making some small noises about understanding some of why people were upset, I don’t think you’ve really tried to grapple with the central issues people have raised.

    For example, one of the few mistakes you’ve said you recognized making was not centering survivors in your follow-up post. But you haven’t, as far as I’ve seen, explained what you think that means (other than making reference to one public comment and some emails you received from survivors saying they agreed with you, without giving similar attention in your comments to the many, many survivors who criticized your approach). The problem with your post, as Maia and others have so thoroughly discussed, was that it’s whole premise — that what mattered was whether Hugo had changed, that people should take your word that he had, that forgiveness was ours to give, that discussions of Hugo’s attempt to murder his ex (which many of us heard about for the first time on your first post) were a distraction from more important issues, that as long as Hugo was reformed it was fine to give him a central role in feminist spaces and discussions, that there was a duty to forgive perpetrators trying to reform or they would have no incentive to change, etc. — was inconsistent with centering survivors. Simply saying you should have paid more attention to survivors doesn’t explain how you think that goal fits into what you explained your primary purpose in writing to be — to have a discussion about when perpetrators should be forgiven and how to give them a place in the community.

    I’d suggest you take the advice that you handed out to the community at large in your follow-up post: really think about what Maia and others are saying, concretely and with respect to your own views and words, because in the heat of the moment I think you may have been overwhelmed by questions you could have thought your way around if you had addressed them beforehand.

  103. EG
    EG January 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm |

    rox:

    Meaning that these people would not have treated me badly if I had just been better at negotiating with them? Meaning that the fact that I have been easy to violate makes it ok for people to do so, and the people who do so don’t count as abusers?

    That does seem to be the implication–it’s just another form of bullshit victim-blaming to make themselves feel safe. I’m very, very sorry that people keep laying this kind of crap on you.

    And I’m sorry that I implied that liberal-left men are somehow more reliable in their respect for women’s rights and autonomy. That was not at all my intention. Certainly, I know for a fact that left/liberalism alone does not mean that we, as feminists, can let down our guard for one minute (hence the discussion I had with Josh on the other thread about whether or not anarchism necessarily includes feminism). Of course leftism in other areas of thought and practice does not by any means guarantee non-abusive behavior and non-misogynistic thought in men. Alas.

  104. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn January 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm | *

    Branwen: Once again, I don’t moderate the comments at Role/Reboot. I work regularly for that site but I am not in charge of comment moderation. I originally directed comments to that site because I didn’t want to deal with moderating them. In retrospect, that was a mistake, but it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have any power over Role/Reboot comments.

    Esti: I have been responding only to a few shallow, immediate points partly because I need to do a lot of processing and thinking before I could possibly pull together my thoughts on any of the deeper points.

  105. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 1, 2012 at 11:31 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn
    I really don’t know where to start—I can start by my own reaction. I was disappointed. I do believe that people can change, be redeemed, I do believe that there can be forgiveness, although, I don’t believe it’s automatic, nor is it given just because some says they are sorry for their actions.
    When you tell people that “we should just forgive him?” It reminds me of how women have been kept in their places, how society devalues women’s right to choose the way she heals. Forcing women into forgiving before they are ready (if ever). It also puts the added pressure of somehow placing women in a position of not only having to “de-anger” themselves, because society disdain for an angry women, but the added bourdon of being the bigger person and forgiving (and reconciling) their abuser, when they are not ready to do so.
    Each person should have a right to choose how they want to heal from a trauma, how they handle anger, and if and when they should/could/would forgive their abuser. Not everyone follows the Christian/Jewish/Western standard of forgiveness, not everyone believes that their should be forgiveness.
    Hugo, is an attempted murderer (self-proclaimed) who has not served any sentence, penalty, paid a consequence for his actions, nor has he lost anything from his crime. His admitting that he was an addict doesn’t get him a get out of jail free card. Drug Addiction and getting high doesn’t not change your personality it amplifies it. (look it up—it’s science) What troubles me is that if he was high at the time of the attempted murder he wouldn’t remember in such vivid detail what he did, most people who are high that do such a thing will not remember the details and only after with the help of therapy will they understand what went wrong.
    In his “confession” he made sure that there would be no potential harm to him by calling his attorney. In his “confession” he didn’t do it to help understand the crime but rather to show how he has changed – I was about him. He used it to bash the victim’s family, how they don’t forgive him. It was a woe- is me – Then we are expected that this women has suffered no issues and that she is living a wonderful life, when we know that domestic violence victims take a long time to recover and the majority of them suffer from PTSD. Where was the victim’s story? What was it like for her to recover, according to Hugo she didn’t suffer at all. Only he suffered because her family was angry at him, and of course he had to change.
    What was his redemption? What did he do to redeem himself? What did he do to change? Simply finding (g)od is not the cure-all, what did he do to make amends? Again, all we see is what Hugo is telling us that he is done.

    For me, I can’t believe a man who has inflated his credentials. He says that he is a professor of Women’s Studies at PCC – he isn’t, he is an instructor of History. There is no Women’s Studies at PCC there are only two classes that involve women at PCC. A professor of Women’s Studies would teach many different classes in women’s studies, not just history of women.

  106. maja
    maja January 1, 2012 at 11:58 pm |

    Such a great point about forgiveness. It’s not something that one has to do. I’ve always felt that if you forgive someone for something, you’re saying that it was okay to do it in the first place. I don’t care what the definition of forgiveness is, that’s just how it feels.

  107. ripley
    ripley January 2, 2012 at 12:06 am |

    Thank you Maia. Thank you Tinfoil Hattie. Thank you Sheelzebub. Thank you Ginmar.

    And thank you Flavia, for also highlighting some really important points about how commenting and varying levels or circles of internet fame or audiences (of commenters) grant different kinds of power – posting links can invoke power in different ways depending on where your site is at.

  108. EG
    EG January 2, 2012 at 12:11 am |

    I’ve always felt that forgiveness implied that I wouldn’t hold the action against the person who committed it.

    And I would like to note that Jews are not known for our notions of forgiveness, thank you very much–one of our best qualities is our ability to hold grudges.

  109. DonnaL
    DonnaL January 2, 2012 at 12:24 am |

    the Christian/Jewish/Western standard of forgiveness

    Yes, please leave Jews out of it. (There was a lengthy discussion some time ago here about how misleading and appropriative the term “Judeo-Christian tradition” usually is.)

  110. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer January 2, 2012 at 12:38 am |

    I have to say, Clarisse, I didn’t have any respect for you before — as a kinkster and a poly person, I have found your piece on kink and poly to be more than a little icky, and claiming that calling predatory men “creepy” shamed male sexuality is completely ridiculous and entirely anti-feminist — and you closing down the thread didn’t even make me think worse of you. Even your second post didn’t make me think worse of you.

    But your comments here and on Alas have caused me to actively feel contempt for you. They’ve been nothing but fauxpologies* and defensiveness. It’s utter bullshit. Take some responsibility for your failure and your own education.

    *Pro tip: If it contains the word “but” or any attempt to justify or defend yourself, it’s not an apology. A real apology is, “I’m sorry, I won’t do that again.” For bonus points, you can add what you’re going to do to make sure you don’t do it again, like educate yourself on certain topics, but you shouldn’t say anything else.

  111. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 2, 2012 at 12:43 am |

    Sorry Donnal —

    I only meant that forgiveness is compulsory — Not that it’s the same thing as the Christian concept of Forgiveness. I got this impression from reading an article on Forgiveness from the Jewish prospective – If I am wrong, then I am sorry. I wasn’t equating one with the other.

  112. ginmar
    ginmar January 2, 2012 at 1:53 am |

    The thing about abuse is that a guy doesn’t even have to intend to do it—jumping off another commenter’s words. It’s in the culture. Just by being slightly less abusive than other men get away with, he can appeal to women.

    And I’ve said it before: if he was so impaired that he’s not responsible, how did he manage to plan and execute such a complicated ploy around such an abstract concept and damned near do it perfectly? How on earth can he not see how horrifying that is?

    He acts like being a feminist is some hobby, some pleasant little exercise. For him, maybe it is. For women, as Flavia’s comment hints at, it’s a means of ensuring that one endures more abuse than the norm. Forgiveness is just one more thing that men get from women, especially forgiveness they haven’t earned—and I do think forgiveness needs to be earned.

    This is not to say we can’t recognize the humanity of prisoners. If we spent as much money on rehab and voc rehab as we do on falsely imprisoning innocent people or overcharging minor offenders, we’d do immeasurably more good. The problem, of course, is that offenders who attack women do so knowing that women are treated like and viewed like shit, so that the problem there is putting them enough of them in jail in the first place. Men who offend against real people—-you know, male people—-get prison sentences. Men who attack women—-you know, those things that have to apologize for taking up space—–they get slaps on the wrist at best.

  113. ginmar
    ginmar January 2, 2012 at 1:54 am |

    Hit “comment” too soon. Adding forgiveness on top of all that they already get away with with regards to women—-that’s another insult.

  114. Shoshie
    Shoshie January 2, 2012 at 2:24 am |

    I sort of posted this in another thread, but thought it might be useful here too.

    Forgiveness in Judaism is a super personal thing. The only person who can forgive is the person who was harmed. And that person is totally not required to forgive, though being compassionate and understanding when others screw up is encouraged. But, y’know, there are degrees of screwing up and things like murder can never be formally forgiven because the person who can forgive is not alive. That seems to be similar in this case, actually, since the person harmed seems to not want contact with the harmer, therefore forgiveness couldn’t actually be achieved.

    Also, Judaism places a much larger emphasis on repentance (teshuvah), and seeking forgiveness is just a small part of the process of repentance– a process which involves a ton of hard work, both active and internal.

    It’s confusing, because the same words are being used, but they’re subtly different concepts. Anyways, just FYI.

  115. Shoshie
    Shoshie January 2, 2012 at 2:26 am |

    Oh, and Maia, thank you for this post.

  116. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn January 2, 2012 at 2:42 am | *

    I thought I had said that. But I’m happy to say it again:

    I’m sorry I didn’t work harder to respect the boundaries of abuse survivors in my posts.

    I’m sorry I closed down comments.

    I have been doing my best to learn from the mistake. Part of that learning process included reposting Maia’s post above to Feministe, and I’m very grateful to her for allowing that.

    I will continue to research transformative justice and other work that women of color in particular have done in this arena.

  117. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley January 2, 2012 at 3:18 am |

    I think that while you are a very good writer, you have taken what Clarisse said, and the original interview by Hugo, and stretched it way out of proportion to make the point that you wanted to make. I won’t tell you to “relax”, because that would be patronizing and unfair. However, it seems to me that you have too much of an agenda to make your post anything but unbiased. I have no vested interest in supporting Hugo or Clarrise, but I think that your post, and the claim that Clarisse’s posts and responses by her were the most “anti-feminist” thing you had ever read on Feministe is not merely wrong, but is hypberbolic and hystrionic. I’m wondering how much of your own experience — baggage — that yo brought to your well-written, though deeply suspect post.

    So you won’t tell her to relax but you’ll accuse her of being a histrionic which btw is a very gendered term, though I imagine you used it for that very purpose

  118. Flavia
    Flavia January 2, 2012 at 4:14 am |

    ripley:

    And thank you Flavia, for also highlighting some really important points about how commenting and varying levels or circles of internet fame or audiences (of commenters) grant different kinds of power – posting links can invoke power in different ways depending on where your site is at.

    I am not going to say anything new here but in many circles, Feministe is perceived as a very hostile place for WoC feminist bloggers. I am only going to use myself as an example not because I am particularly offended or aggravated by the events that transpired in the thread Clarisse linked to (I have pretty thick skin) but because I hesitate to use any other example rather than my own (especially if I run the risk of linking to someone who is not actively participating in the discussions here). In the thread in question, I had to put up with racist overtones that questioned my abilities and intellectual capacity on the basis that I am South American and as such, I couldn’t possibly be any good at writing. I don’t think I need to stress how off putting and yes, hurting, such commentary can be. By now I have been published at sufficient spaces that I can eventually get over such remarks (needless to say, they hurt but at least I have a number of editors who have deemed my work at least not as repulsive as some of the commenters had made it to be).

    The incident with Schwyzer reeked of double standards for me. Clarisse went out on a limb (and it pains me to say this but she has put her reputation on the line to defend this one guy) while she saw no problem with the comments I mentioned above directed at me, to the point that she saw fit to uncritically inform me that this commentary was taking place, seeing no harm in those words. Again, I do not want to make this personal and turn it into a late Festivus, airing my grievances, which is not the intention here, but this is the only example I have at hand to illustrate why many of us are so dumbfounded by the defense of Schwyzer.

    Why is this one guy granted so much power within mainstream, English speaking feminism? Why are so many non White women sidelined and ignored or even subjected to hostilities on this very site while Schwyzer was presented as “untouchable”? THAT, to me, is a power deferential worth addressing as well (on top of the abusive past and forgiveness that everyone else has been discussing).

  119. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer January 2, 2012 at 5:10 am |

    What Flavia said. I’m white, but I can see how fucked up it is that this guy gets so many people excusing him and making space for him — particularly when he dismisses and silences WOC, and defends Marcotte — in a space that is so infamously unsafe for WOC. It makes Feministe look really bad. Really racist, in that passive, deniable way. Seriously, I had heard WOC say how bad this place was, over and over again, and I believed them, but I had never genuinely seen it myself (not that I spend a lot of time in the comments here). I’ve certainly seen it this time. I’ve also seen more than one person bring up the racial dynamics in all of this, only to be completely and utterly ignored. I even tried it myself, in this very thread, just to see what happened. And what happened was . . . nothing at all. It’s awful.

    And Clarisse? You do keep apologizing. And then you keep “explaining” yourself, which is really trying to defend yourself. That’s what I’m objecting to. I’d give some quotes, but it looks like most of them are over on Alas, and it’s down right this minute. When you start trying to defend yourself in your next comment, you undo any good will the apology might have created.

  120. samanthab
    samanthab January 2, 2012 at 5:18 am |

    Witch Wolf, the quote on anger you yourself put forth emphasizes that it’s not necessarily disconnected from forgiveness. Your notion of forgiveness is incredibly simplistic, and I’m actually pretty fucking pissed off that I’m being told by a self-identified feminist that what helped me move beyond abuse in my life is wrong.

    Also, wtf? “Western” notions of forgiveness? Forgiveness is central tenet of Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, and other non-Western faiths. Your perception is completely Western-centric, and yet you want to tell other people their trapped in a narrow lens?

    And, if we were so fucking forgiving in this country, how did our death penalty rate so goddamned high? Look at our incarceration rates. Why is our first response after a violence committed against Americans to bomb the fuck out of any country we can vaguely associate with the original violent act? It’s goddamned flat out dishonest to say that we’re surrounded by notions of forgiveness in this society.

    Judaism doesn’t have a lock on having complex views of forgiveness. None of the Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Hindi, or secular texts I’ve read on forgiveness say it ought to entail a repression of anger. That’s a completely shallow definition of what forgiveness might be. There is a whole world of difference between denying anger and transcending an all-consuming anger. Furthermore, I’ve really only transcended all-consuming anger, in my own life, by believing that those that have abused me and raped me live in hells of their own making. That conception absolutely allows for anger to exist; that much should be dead obvious.

    What’s being denied in these shallow definitions of forgiveness is that it’s quite common for there to be a co-dependency in abusive relationships, and that the abuse victim is allowing the abuser to express their own internalized anger. That’s part of my lived experience, anyway, and I have every goddamned right to say that it was only when I moved past that anger that I had been clinging to very tightly that I was able to move beyond toxic relationships. It’s great that you’ve read a book and all, Witch Wolf, but that doesn’t give you the right to negate my own lived experiences. You can throw around generic abstractions just as Clarisse did, but that doesn’t fucking give you license to judge my life with those abstractions. And you absolutely are judging the particulars of *my* life when you argue that what worked for me isn’t the goddamned right way to respond and to heal. Fuck that bullshit.

  121. Jarrod
    Jarrod January 2, 2012 at 5:19 am |

    The role of men in feminism is to stay out of the way, pay attention, listen, and act in support. Not to lead, teach women, or make grand statements.

    I can’t believe this is such a difficult concept.

    It is probably a “difficult concept” because prominent feminist theorists have put forth compelling arguments to the contrary. See for example Sally Haslanger’s oft-cited Paper, Changing Ideology and Culture of Philosophy, in which she recommends that feminists ought to “Encourage men to teach and write on feminism” in order to help “Disrupt the bias against feminism [in philosophy departments]“. Whether or not these arguments have any merit is something that I myself am currently struggling with, but to pretend that it is just obvious that men shouldn’t be in feminist classrooms is a bit intellectually dishonest, I think.

    As I said, I am personally working through this question myself, and I was wondering if those people who think it is inappropriate for men to teach feminist theory would help me by answering a question. Basically, in mainstream philosophy, especially in small community college departments (with 3 of fewer faculty), there is usually nobody interested in feminist philosophy among the faculty (especially true given the terrible male/female ratio in philosophy in general). In this scenario, assuming there are no female faculty who want to teach feminist philosophy, I feel like it would be appropriate for a male faculty to do so instead. I guess the question I want to ask is that given the circumstances, would you still prefer that a male not be teaching feminism, even if the only alternative was that it not be taught at all? I certainly wouldn’t intend to posit any “grand statements” or do any writing in the field of feminist philosophy at all, but I think that having it as part of my competent teaching areas would be instructive in sharing feminist philosophy with students who would otherwise be entirely ignorant of its existence.

    feel free to email me at jarrodschool@gmail.com if you want to reply privately.

    Sorry for the “What About the Menz”; I hope this was an appropriate venue to bring this up.

  122. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley January 2, 2012 at 6:56 am |

    What’s being denied in these shallow definitions of forgiveness is that it’s quite common for there to be a co-dependency in abusive relationships, and that the abuse victim is allowing the abuser to express their own internalized anger. That’s part of my lived experience, anyway, and I have every goddamned right to say that it was only when I moved past that anger that I had been clinging to very tightly that I was able to move beyond toxic relationships. It’s great that you’ve read a book and all, Witch Wolf, but that doesn’t give you the right to negate my own lived experiences. You can throw around generic abstractions just as Clarisse did, but that doesn’t fucking give you license to judge my life with those abstractions. And you absolutely are judging the particulars of *my* life when you argue that what worked for me isn’t the goddamned right way to respond and to heal. Fuck that bullshit.

    Ummm what?

    WitchWolf said this

    Each person should have a right to choose how they want to heal from a trauma, how they handle anger, and if and when they should/could/would forgive their abuser.

    How does that translate to telling you that what worked for you is wrong. Look what works for you, works for you, and I am beyond happy that it worked for you. We touched on this in the other thread where I explained what I’ve gotten out of this (vis a vis forgiveness) and you explained your experiences but I will rehash a little bit, for me, letting go of the anger and forgiving (even in the way you described it) has not worked (I’d also note that I don’t believe the people who abused me live in any sort of hell and that seems kinda key to approach that has been successful for you) . Learning that I don’t have to forgive, if I don’t want to, that being angry and staying angry at the people who have hurt me, is OK, that is working for me. Not forgiving/staying angry isn’t for me giving them power, quite the opposite, it’s giving me power.

    But again I have my experience and you have yours. Neither of us are wrong and I really don’t feel WitchWolf implied in any sort of way that your exeperiences are wrong.

  123. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer January 2, 2012 at 7:05 am |

    Ah, here we go. Things like this, Clarisse:

    Is there a way that I can say, “Clearly I am partly responsible for this problem, and I will try to do better, but simultaneously I would like to discuss the reasons why I didn’t feel like I had access to this work when I needed it, and look for ways to fix those reasons”? Or is that just not a possible statement in your world?

    source

    No, actually, there’s not a way to say that in this discussion and have it be anything other than you a) making excuses for yourself, and b) derailing the conversation. It’s not “partly” your responsibility, it is entirely your responsibility. And the resources were entirely available to you. You being unaware of them is not the same thing. You not looking is not the same thing.

    If you wanted to work on making these resources more widely known as part of your atonement, then that would be appropriate. But you’re not. You’re saying that your lack of awareness makes your lack of awareness less your fault, and then trying to shift the topic of conversation away from the actual issue at hand.

  124. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 2, 2012 at 8:09 am |

    samanthab -

    The whole point to my post — if you actually read it — Is that everyone has a right determine what the definition of forgiveness is,. They get to determine if, when, how, and why to forgive, if it’s their choice. They get to choose how to act on it or not act on it. Only they have a right to let go of the anger. Forgiveness, IMHO, should never be compulsory(again, my opinion, yours may be different). IMHO, once it becomes compulsory, it means nothing,

    No one has the right to tell us, including, Clarisse, that we have to forgive someone, just because the abuser passes Clarisse’s specialness test, because no one should be told we have to forgive.

    I do believe: — quoting this again -

    For women, refusing to be angry historically has kept them in a position of subordination; realizing and acting on anger has led to greater rights and freedoms.

    Sharon Lamb;Jeffrie G. Murphy. Before Forgiving: Cautionary Views of Forgiveness in Psychotherapy (p. 165). Kindle Edition.

    Lara Emily Foley

    Thanks you for your post.

    Jarrod

    That’s tough to answer – The whole point of Feminism is for women to have a space where they can think for themselves, have the ability without the ties of men (who take a leadership role in mostly everything else) find their own voice, develop leadership roles, and find definitions without the need for men to develop them for them.

    For me, Hugo, Mansplaning while he tries to take an active role in Feminism, makes my head hurt. One of the things that I dislike about him, is that he took over slut walk, while he paraded around in a Suit and a tie, he acted like a traditional man “protecting” “his” “sluts” – Instead of being a helper and ally. He was telling women what they should do, instead of allowing them to do it for themselves. Not only did he strut around like a well “pimp” he became a mouth piece for the group. The movement became “his” movement – Not “HER” movement.

    His attempted murder of a women because he determined that “SHE” needed to die, should disqualify him from having a voice in the Feminist movement, IMHO, because it no longer provides a safe place for some women who have been victims of abuse and who are still recovering. Is it good that he has repented — or found his salvation – Sure, but it doesn’t mean that he gets the right to speak for women, be in a leadership role of women, teach women how to be feminists. Especially when he didn’t pay for the attempted murder, especailly when he didn’t show women that he was willing to pay, that he doesn’t have a specail card. If he paid a price, he could show women that he takes responsiblity of what he did.

    I understand that him and other people think he is a new man, but the statistics show and as many women experience everyday, that men don’t pay, they get to go on living while the women who is abused is left in the dark, and the last thing that they need is a man who has never paid for his crime(s?) (and only on his word) to tell them what to do.

    Many say that they feel safe with Hugo- Good on them, but they shouldn’t speak for everyone. They have the right to associate with him, be his cheerleaders, believe him. Just as I have a right not to trust him, not want him to speak for Feminism — Not want him to teach me.

    I know that’s getting around your question. First, PCC doesn’t have a women’s studies program, they have two classes that are on women. There are women who teach History of Women at PCC – Hugo only teaches one section. I don’t think he should be teaching period. Not after self proclaimed sex with students 10 years younger than he was (he admitted that he had sex with students until he was 31) — I am not assuming that the women needed to be protected — But he preyed on women, he wanted to get his kicks out – We don’t know if he coerced students (although some reports he did) or not, but when you are a professional teaching you don’t have sex with your students – Period, it’s bad practice. It’s the standard.

    The answer to your question is yes, a man, if there is no women available to teach the class, but the man shouldn’t be like Hugo. I personally don’t think he should be teaching men or women.

    But that’s just me.

  125. Tony
    Tony January 2, 2012 at 10:15 am |

    “Many say that they feel safe with Hugo- Good on them, but they shouldn’t speak for everyone. They have the right to associate with him, be his cheerleaders, believe him.”

    And be his students? I don’t see the logic of this statement, with

    “I don’t think he should be teaching period.”

    Obviously sex with students is a no-no, if he’s abusing his power to get it, but he doesn’t do it any more, and hasn’t for a long time. The guy’s spend ten years of his life changing and he teaches womens’ history. Even now, there’s no evidence that the firestorm he’s received has caused him to question his principles in the slightest. I saw one comment to the effect that, his comment on Feministe wasn’t sufficient because he didn’t acknowledge that he tried to kill his girlfriend– except that his acknowledgement of that very fact was what started this whole thing.

    It’s obvious that some people don’t feel comfortable with Hugo on Feministe. It’s been well acknowledged that he’ll no longer be promoted here. There are also wider issues at work with regard to men in liberal-left circles who still have privilege and abuse their position. But for some people this is also a Hugo-slap contest (and Clarisse-slap contest). For example, now he’s apparently made slutwalk “Hugo’s movement” and strutted around like a pimp? Did you say this at the time? Or is it just a part of the get-Hugo pile on that’s happening? And what exactly does that mean to strut around like a pimp? Can you provide the specific evidence of what he did and exactly why it is problematic? It just astonishes me how ugly the Feministe commentariat can be. It’s not just ‘tone’, a lot of things I just don’t agree with. Just for example, he “never displayed any consciousness of guilt” and he “He used it to bash the victim’s family, how they don’t forgive him. It was a woe- is me…she didn’t suffer at all” just don’t ring true. In fact, he acknowleged that what he did was a “serious crime” and a horror, and he would have deserved the legal penalty of attempted murder. The victim’s family came off as forgiving in the story, not as vindictive. Nor did I get the sense the ex “didn’t suffer at all.” Of course, her story wasn’t there because I assume that she and Hugo no longer have contact, but the suffering was definitely implied. Even the criticisms of how Hugo is using this to further his career… last time I heard, womens’ history professor isn’t exactly the most lucrative career in the universe. No one is obligated to support his career, and perhaps Feministe shouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have the right to speak to those who are willing to listen and find his voice valuable, even if it furthers his career in some way. It doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have the right to a career writing and saying what he chooses to. Frankly, the recent round of Hugo-bashing brings to mind stories that I read and heard about growing up about the Cultural Revolution. The frenzy-like atmosphere to bring down an individual as not progressive enough, the constant demanded self-criticisms, the digging up of things long known or long past to be thrown in a person’s face, the crude and base remarks, and the threats. In the end, it results in a poisonous atmosphere for everyone, most of whom I believe are really trying to change and be better people.

  126. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable January 2, 2012 at 10:40 am |

    Cool story, bro. You think maybe the way you view Hugo’s misogynistic bullshit might be different than the way a woman sees it?

    Let’s center more dudes who dismiss everything women have said in this thread.

  127. Fang
    Fang January 2, 2012 at 11:05 am |

    Most of what I’d like to say about Hugo has been said very well by others.

    But what I find striking and telling at the moment is how his defenders routinely characterize the rest of us as emotional, reactive, unjust, immature, or worse. I don’t recall a single statement that acknowledged that anger and hurt at discovering a self-professed and self-promoting leader in the feminist movement has had a past filled with abuse of women is understandable.

    Not one of his defenders can simply say “this response makes sense but I think he’s changed and has something worthwhile to contribute.”

    They all instead have to attack the women who feel repulsed by an attempted murder of a woman, by abuse of power as a professor. That they cannot acknowledge that this is not just reasonable but the only proper response for a feminist is very troubling.

  128. saurus
    saurus January 2, 2012 at 11:15 am |

    There’s no point in demanding a certain kind of apology from Clarisse – one that satisfies us that she has, largely, traded in her original viewpoints regarding this situation, Hugo’s role in feminism, and her actions, for our own. I don’t think it’s realistic.

    She’ll probably walk away feeling like yes, she did make some mistakes, but nothing to warrant to backlash here. She’ll probably, to some degree, collapse the many legitimate criticisms and concerns with the few that were misogynistic, slut-shaming and pointless. She’ll probably think of us, in her head, to some extent, as a pack of hyenas tearing away in mindless attack mode at her, a mob of self-righteous flamewar drones who care more about getting blood than liberation. She’ll probably read over the comments that have sided with her, reassuring herself of their rightness and their absolution. She’ll tell herself we’re being simplistic, unrealistic, too idealistic, too “black and white” – whatever it takes to get herself off the hook, emotionally speaking. She’ll think she should have “centered survivors more” – in some way that would still allow her to defend Hugo as she did (there is no such way). Some of her beliefs (about Hugo, about her actions, about this situation) will now have question marks, but some will only be more deeply wired because now her self-esteem may depend on their rightness. In other words, defensiveness.

    I say this not because I think Clarisse is a bad person or that Clarisse is a crappy feminist, but because I think this is what has happened, over and over, with white female feminists in the past and I have no reason to believe it won’t play out like this again. Maybe it will be different this time – but it’s so, so hard to not be defensive. Even harder when there are always a few people piping up, “Don’t listen to all those angry people. You didn’t do anything wrong. They’re just out for blood now.” Even harder when we’re used to categorizing ourselves squarely as “the good guy”. Even harder when some of your critics behave poorly and your supporters behave well.

    I think part of the problem is how we commenters behave – in which the problem is about priorities, not tone – and part of it is how she behaves, no doubt – and part of it is how feminism, especially the mainstream and online version – is structured.

    I think it’s good to remind ourselves of our priorities. In this situation’s case, my priority is to make this world better for survivors. That means understanding and unwrapping how feminism often fails to, what to do instead, and, certainly, dealing with abusers in a way that’s both sensitive to survivors and doesn’t contribute to the hegemonic trend of letting abusers off the hook.

    If that priority is in place, we do not need an apology from Clarisse, particularly one that’s probably coming a very defensive place right now. It won’t really help anything, however gratifying it might feel. (If she wants to write an apology to survivors, that’s might be another thing.) Likewise, we certainly don’t need to waste energy pursuing any action from Hugo, as I’m sure we all know already (if anyone follows his Twitter and has seen him refer to us as “haters” spewing “haterade”) that he’s going to continue his role until we force him not to. (That’s where we come in.)

  129. EG
    EG January 2, 2012 at 11:27 am |

    Frankly, the recent round of Hugo-bashing brings to mind stories that I read and heard about growing up about the Cultural Revolution.

    Anger on the internet–it’s just like the Cultural Revolution with its abuses of human rights, destruction of art, and mass population displacement!

  130. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 2, 2012 at 11:30 am |

    Tony

    In fact, he acknowleged that what he did was a “serious crime” and a horror, and he would have deserved the legal penalty of attempted murder.

    umm, dude, and the reason why he didn’t get the full penalty? Because he tried to cover it up, he lied, manipulated, and once he checked with his lawyer to make sure it was okay for him to admit it, he admits it. HE NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER said I need to pay the legal penalty of attempted murder.

    Yes, I did say when I saw his abominable appearance on CNN to me he was acting like a pimp rather than an ally, friend, and helper to the feminist movement- If fact many feminist spoke out against his involvement at slut walk — Not to mention his tweets comparing “his” sluts to property.

    Women didn’t run Slut Walk Hugo did, it was his own self promotion to show the world that he was truly a feminist. who is ready to take your money and tell women how to act, how to place themselves at a dinner party, how to train their girls to take gratification of being objectified by adult men.

    I am not going to bow down to you or Hugo- He has no right to take a leadership role in the Feminist movement, nor does he have a right to teach because of his past actions, because he never stood accountable for.

    He is nothing more than an Instructor of History, not of women’s studies, gender studies — There is nothing wrong with being an instructor of History (unless you uses your female and male students as sex toys– Oh yeah, he says he no longer does that – I guess we have to take his word for it. Geeeezeee ) at a Community Colleges there are many fine people who do so. The point is that Hugo is lying. He isn’t a professor of Women Studies (no women studies at PCV or gender studies at PCC)

    He has lied and lied and lied and lied — Yet we are supposed to take his word on things because he says I lied about that, but not this.

  131. number9
    number9 January 2, 2012 at 11:43 am |

    I’ve actually taken classes with male profs in social psychology, anthropology, and sociology (in both undergrad and grad school) in which feminist perspectives and research methodologies were covered as part of the course. I really can’t see how it would even be possible to competently speak about, for example, queer theory or qualitative research or intersectional analysis without covering the foundational work of feminists and especially woc in these areas. So, to me, an instructor of any gender just would not be qualified to teach in the social sciences (and that includes history) without being well-versed in feminist works. I think Jarrod’s question brings up for me a bigger issue than “should men be allowed to teach feminism?” The issue is that for a woman to be considered a competent, tenure-track teacher in social sciences, she has to be well-versed in theories and methodologies that were traditionally male-dominated. By comparison, a male instructor like Hugo need only have a very basic, hobby-level familiarity with feminist theories and methodologies to be seen as qualified.

    In my experience, my three male profs who covered feminist theiry as part of their courses were nothing like Hugo – they had a good grasp of feminist works relevant to their areas of expertise, they presented the material without making it about themselves, they did not mansplain, they could be challenged to think about their own biases. They weren’t amazing or anything, they did not integrate feminist analysis completely into all aspects of the course and I doubt they’d call themselves feminists, but they had genuine respect for these works and authors. I was lucky in that my grad program was very feminist and that most profs were women, so whatever I didn’t get from these male teachers, I got elsewhere. This is, of course, not the case at PCC where Hugo teaches. But in my personal experience, men absolutely have a place in teaching feminist theory, as long as they don’t assume leadership roles and open the floor for the women in the class to challenge their theoretical knowledge from the standpoint of women’s lived experiences.

    Jarrod, not sure if you asking hypothetically, or if that’s the real situation you find yourself in. I’d say, teach it, if you must and if you truly feel that you’re qualified, but at the same time advocate with your department to find a qualified woman to take the leadership role in teaching feminist philosophy.

  132. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf January 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm |

    Cool story, bro. You think maybe the way you view Hugo’s misogynistic bullshit might be different than the way a woman sees it?

    Not only that, but the whole thing is based on a strawman. Nobody is claiming that Schwyzer hasn’t *said* the right things about “remorse”, “accountability”, “recovery”, etc. The issue is that his actions–summed up as continuing to place himself in a position of authority and power of young women wearing the mantle of a feminism expert–are completely inconsistent with his claims.

  133. orangedesperado
    orangedesperado January 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm |

    Samanthab, # 120:

    What’s being denied in these shallow definitions of forgiveness is that it’s quite common for there to be a co-dependency in abusive relationships, and that the abuse victim is allowing the abuser to express their own internalized anger.

    I don’t want to derail you, or this topic, but the concept of co-dependency and abusive relationships is an uncomfortable pairing , in my opinion. I found this paper (written by a male author, certainly not a mansplaination) that outlines one perspective why this is problematic :

    http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/narcissism/Codependent.html

    This excerpt spoke to me personally:

    ” The use of the co-dependency model in the are of domestic violence is of considerable concern. The notion that all women who have difficulty leaving violent and abusive men have some form of personality disturbance is dangerous because it blames the victim for not being able to prevent, avoid or cope with the violence…Moreover, blaming the the victim further undermines her ability to take action against the violence.”

    and ” The codependency literature, however, comprehensively fails to examine sociocultural processes and gender related power issues and hence leads to an incomplete understanding of the dynamics of family violence.”

    Disclaimer: I know nothing about the author, but have certainly felt the sting of former friends making assumptions and judgements about the abuse happening in my relationship, coming from non-feminist perspectives. The concept of co-dependency is deeply problematic, as far as I am concerned, and is frequently misapplied.

  134. Jasmin
    Jasmin January 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

    Flavia,

    Thanks for referencing the elephant in the room (again, because as usual the words of WOC are ignored). To put it bluntly, yes white privilege unites white men and women, even within feminism; yes, many of Hugo’s supporters have employed white solidarity in a way that actively harms women of color, and yes, as a black woman I agree that Feministe is, at best, severely neglectful of the feminist concerns of women of color. The only thing that keeps me coming back here are the handful of incredible commenters who get it.

    On Jezebel and in the first accountability thread, I asked how HS differs from Chris Brown. I don’t see how “remorse” with no accountability (HS) is any different from accountability with no remorse (CB), and since both sites highlight CB’s continued asshattery, I don’t know why doing the same with HS is considered out of the question. Both times it was a serious question (still is), but no one responded. So, again, what’s the difference?

    I don’t see Feministe as a community (perhaps because if there is one, I’m not a part of it), but if this site aims to be one, you need to start calling this shit out now. I and countless other WOC have already done the “teaching”, now it’s on you to either do something about it or keep giving lip service to HS’s mistreatment of WOC while ignoring the glaring problems on this very site. Right now, my money’s on the latter.

  135. Elfity
    Elfity January 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm |

    [TRIGGER WARNING for discussion of sexual assault and misogynist and ableist language]

    I just wanted to pop in and say thank you for the post, and also thank you to many of the commenters here. I know I’m a little late to the game, but it’s taken me awhile to make it through the post. I’m still healing from numerous sexual assaults by my ex, who set himself up to be a feminist man while all the while emotionally tormenting and manipulating me into giving him sex. It’s very comforting to see many of these comments and the OP condemning those sorts of behaviors and the communities that shelter abusers. It was very difficult for me to hear him tell me that his supposedly feminist friends/family thought I was just “a crazy bitch” and that “I could spin it all I wanted” but he never raped me. Reading many of the things here are very helpful to me, and I just wanted to say thanks to y’all for being such awesome feminists!

  136. Shelly
    Shelly January 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

    Jasmin,

    I wouldn’t look for any improvement on this site WRT WOC or poverty issues or the intersection of the two.

    It seems this site is a community only for educated, white, urban, coastal women in the USA and a handful of women in other countries who are similarly situated. Also they have to know feminist theory and the proper lingo. If not, their voices don’t matter.

    Even the blogs about poverty are very race/class/culturally skewed. The core can’t even see their own class privilege and how they often do the equivalent of mansplaining wrt to class. (Is there a term for that?). Given that myopia wrt their own race, I think it will be a cold day in hell before they put the voices of WOC first.

    I really felt like responding to the article on the growing wealth gap, but I’m not going to bother, because I don’t think that the voices of either WOC or the white poor with lived experience would be heard, much less welcomed.

    I don’t think the PTBs at this site really understand that they’ve created a hostile environment for a lot of women who might like to join the dialogue. A lot of women who may have something important to gain by interacting here…and valuable contributions to make.

    So, tell us mere commenters, is this a blog for the core to post their views and publicize themselves, or is it a community where bloggers raise issues and the commenters discuss them further? Something else?

    Right now it seems like the readership wants it to be a community, but feel like at least some of the bloggers are treating it like a pet project where they can publish w/o having to dialogue.

    I realize how hard it is to strike a balance. I used to be a mod at one of the most important message board sites in the late 90s/early 00s. It’s hard….even harder if you haven’t dealt w what you want to be and who your community embraces. It takes a lot of work. But if you don’t do it, you eventually implode bc the readers/commenting community feel betrayed over things like the HS issue and it kills the site.

  137. LC
    LC January 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm |

    The core can’t even see their own class privilege and how they often do the equivalent of mansplaining wrt to class. (Is there a term for that?).

    I’ve heard “richsplaining” used.

  138. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston January 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm |

    After Ginmar mentioned Kyle Payne earlier in the thread, I Googled him to reacquaint myself with the details of that story. And the fourth hit on Payne’s name, it turned out, was something written by Hugo.

    Here it is. “An open letter to Kyle Payne,” by Hugo Schwyzer:

    http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/2009/03/19/an-open-letter-to-kyle-payne/

    Anyone who’s wondering why some of us have such big problems with Hugo should take a look at this, and ask yourself — has he done what he counseled Payne to do? Has he taken the steps he counseled Payne to take, and made his peace with the harsh realities he counseled Payne to confront?

    As you’re considering those questions, consider this: Hugo Schwyzer attempted to murder a woman he was in an ongoing sexual relationship with. Hugo Schwyzer is, by any coherent definition, a perpetrator of domestic violence. But does that phrase, that analysis, appear anywhere in the account of his actions offered by this “feminist” writer?

    It does not.

  139. Kat
    Kat January 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

    Men who offend against real people—-you know, male people—-get prison sentences. Men who attack women—-you know, those things that have to apologize for taking up space—–they get slaps on the wrist at best.

    This is a bit of derail, but I want to note that there are some racial dynamics at play here as well. Men of color who attack white women in the U.S. have historically been (and are currently) severely punished even when the evidence linking them to these crimes is scant or nonexistent. When WOC are attacked however, by white men or men of color, the repercussions are generally far less severe (if there are any repercussions at all).

    I wanted to point this out because I find that ignoring race when talking about our prison system is just as unhelpful as ignoring gender. Hugo’s crime got swept under the rug because he’s a cisgendered man AND white.

  140. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. January 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

    Hugo’s crime got swept under the rug because he’s a cisgendered man AND white.

    Definitely. Way back in the day my crim prof explained it in a way that really clarified things for me. When a rich, white dude is on trial, the question is whether the prosecution proved their case beyond a doubt. When a person of color is on trial the question is whether the doubt people have are really all that reasonable.

  141. Fang
    Fang January 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm |

    From Hugo’s post on Kyle Payne:

    Very few people really change. You want to take the less-traveled path, understand that it’s the one of radical honesty, radical penance, and a radical willingness to give up everything. And that starts with the blogging.

    What a hypocrite. He didn’t even give up profiting off feminism.

  142. Mona
    Mona January 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm |

    Thanks for writing this post.

  143. Li
    Li January 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm |

    On men teaching feminism:

    I think it’s important to remember that there isn’t actually a universal experience of womanhood under kyriarchy. Competently arrange courses on feminism should at some point touch on things like post-colonial feminisms, womanism, queer theory, disabled feminisms, etc. At some point any one teacher isn’t going to be able to speak to all of those from an area of lived experience.

    This isn’t to elide gender, or to dismiss lived experience as an important facet of academia, but it is to point out that those things are highly complex in their relationship to feminism within academia (and are made complex by a bunch of additional systems of power and corresponding critical fields).

  144. Claire K.
    Claire K. January 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm |

    Li: yes. I think the problem is that sometimes the question “Are men automatically disqualified from teaching feminism?” (when the person asking assumes the answer to that question is “no”) becomes a cover for a tendency to actually favor male applicants even over more-qualified female ones, out of a desire to build more mainstream appeal for feminism, or to prove that we aren’t “essentialists.” I don’t know how often that happens w/r/t academic positions, but it certainly seems to happen a lot in the worlds of activism and blogging. (Similar to the way that Hugo’s supporters are more interested in asking “Is he really pure evil?” than in asking “Does he really deserve to be a feminist spokesman?”) I think it would be better to frame our arguments in a way that emphasizes that all we’re doing is trying to override the usual privileging of male voices, rather than relying on the idea of “women’s experience” which usually turns out to mean the experience of straight, white, wealthy cis-women.

  145. Drew
    Drew January 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm |

    I did not read the entire comment thread, I apologize if it has been discussed already. But, my thoughts in response to this post mostly deal with questions surrounding respecting the forgiveness/being OK with (or lack thereof) of different members of the community, including the victim.

    Maia writes: “One of the arguments of the safer spaces team, which included people who claimed that they were feminists, was that they had talked to Ira and were convinced that he had changed. They believed, or at least acted as if it was true, that it was their belief about him was important. They ignored the view of one of the people he had abused, and many other women who felt unsafe around him.”

    The case Maia seems to be making is that the opinions of the safer spaces team were not important, especially when compared to his victim and the other women who did not feel safe around him. I certainly don’t disagree with her point, but I can see, also, the argument that, if they are the people setting up and running the event, their judgement on who is welcome and who is not is more important.

    I can also see how them allowing Ira (despite the opposition from many women, including a victim) would be a form of victim silencing.

    Feministe, if I remember a recent comment I read, has decided to stop giving HS any publicity, due (I’m sure in some part) to the reaction many of its readers have shown.

    Should the model be to always err on the side of supporting the wishes of victims, regardless of social or professional ties? Is it disrespectful, to the person who does forgive, to tell them that they cannot show their forgiveness in a meaningful way (such as, telling them that remaining friends with an abuser is victim silencing)?

    If the victim does forgive – how should it be handled if some close to the victim do not? Is it disrespectful to them for anyone (including the victim) to not respect the boundaries they create?

  146. ginmar
    ginmar January 2, 2012 at 10:06 pm |

    Everybody sets their own boundaries. Period. Nobody can take that away from you.

    Kat, I’ve read that cross-racial eyewitness ID—-like we’re different races—-are the shakiest of all shaky IDs and eyewitness ID is just about worthless to begin with. Nobody should go to jail on eyewitness ID alone, which would eliminate some of the problems.

    Of course, rich guys get away with a lot of stuff. The thing that scares me is that too many men seem to view this and the ability to abuse any woman they want to as an entitlement they’ve been unfairly denied by fate. You can see this in liberal guys who make rape jokes and then don’t understand why they can’t get away with it because haven’t they, you know, earned it with all that feminist dogma they give lip service to? No rape case should be based on eyewitness ID alone, period, nor should any capital case. Women are just the other guy’s car that you key to get back at him.

    What always surprises me is that people will accept that cops are racist—duh—–but the idea that they’re sexist as hell is not something they’re prepared to accept. Sorry. Rambling. Whee, medication.

  147. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable January 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm |

    Drew, what do you think the role of the safer spaces team is intended to be?

  148. Drew
    Drew January 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm |

    Drew, what do you think the role of the safer spaces team is intended to be?

    I don’t know exactly the logistics and limitations of what they do, but I would think it would be, simply, to create a safe space.

    And I agree with what I think you’re getting at, that it doesn’t make sense for a team whose job it is to create a safe space to do something which makes some people feel unsafe within that space.

  149. Angel H.
    Angel H. January 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm |

    What always surprises me is that people will accept that cops are racist—duh—–but the idea that they’re sexist as hell is not something they’re prepared to accept.

    I have never heard of this. Not that cops aren’t sexist, but that there are people denying it. I’ve heard too many stories about cis-sexism, racialized sexism, and elitist sexism. Maybe it’s just middle-class, cisgender White women who are just finding this out?

  150. Li
    Li January 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm |

    Maia writes: “One of the arguments of the safer spaces team, which included people who claimed that they were feminists, was that they had talked to Ira and were convinced that he had changed. They believed, or at least acted as if it was true, that it was their belief about him was important. They ignored the view of one of the people he had abused, and many other women who felt unsafe around him.”

    The case Maia seems to be making is that the opinions of the safer spaces team were not important, especially when compared to his victim and the other women who did not feel safe around him. I certainly don’t disagree with her point, but I can see, also, the argument that, if they are the people setting up and running the event, their judgement on who is welcome and who is not is more important.

    As someone who has spent a substantial portion of the last four-and-a-half years developing and implementing safer spaces policies: Ugh.

    I don’t know exactly how the safer spaces policy for the climate camp Maia talks about was written. But what should have happened was that the safer spaces team should have acted as a go between in finding a solution for Anne. They should have initially asked Anne what solution she was looking for and offered a series of solutions as people with experience in conflict resolution. Some, such asking Ira to avoid any parts of the camp (workshops, events) that Anne was attending would have been relatively low level and Anne may or may not have found those solution acceptable. Assuming Anne would only be comfortable attending the camp if Ira was not there at all, the safer spaces crew should have, regardless of their personal opinion on whether Ira had changed, prioritised Anne’s safety by asking Ira not to attend. If Ira had legitimately changed, then he should understand the need for Anne to feel safe, and accepted the consequences of his previous actions.

    I’m outlining this hypothetical process because I want to make it clear that a safer spaces crew is not an arbitration body: their role is fundamentally to protect other people’s safety through mediation and facilitation, which involves avoiding making assessments of their own. Explaining to the complaining party that the person they feel unsafe around “has changed” is such a major violation of proper safer spaces principles that I can’t even.

  151. Drew
    Drew January 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm |

    Thank you, Li. I didn’t mean to suggest that I thought the safer spaces team had a right to decide if Ira should attend or not – just that I could see where there would be some debate (especially if we recalibrate to talk about an event without a safer spaces team, for example).

    More generally, though, ginmar said:

    Everybody sets their own boundaries. Period. Nobody can take that away from you.

    What I’m grappling with is the problem that one persons boundaries so often overlap onto others – and looking for thoughts on how to best navigate those intersections.

  152. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 2, 2012 at 11:14 pm |

    Drew Said:

    Should the model be to always err on the side of supporting the wishes of victims, regardless of social or professional ties? Is it disrespectful, to the person who does forgive, to tell them that they cannot show their forgiveness in a meaningful way (such as, telling them that remaining friends with an abuser is victim silencing)?

    If the victim does forgive – how should it be handled if some close to the victim do not? Is it disrespectful to them for anyone (including the victim) to not respect the boundaries they create?

    I don’t think anyone says that Clarisse shouldn’t forgive Hugo, or even be friends with him, her right, to do so, but her (and his) insistence that we should all forgive him because he is a changed man, no matter what how we feel, because he is her personal friends, and she would know, because of that personalness

    (actually this is not necessarily true – Abusers look for sympathizers within groups, convince them of their redemption and continue to abuse in private – Not saying that is what Hugo is doing, but it’s what abusers do, when they have a history of abuser– in some cases one public outburst of abuse — or when a battered women is forced in a corner and kills her abuser — because he is such a nice guy that no one believes that he can abuse. There is an excellent book on this called the Abusive Personality Disorder which talks about IPV — )

    Forgiveness is a personal thing. And there can be multiple victims, does one trump another? Who is right and who is wrong? Just because one person forgives, doesn’t mean another has to or even will.

    There are many hard feelings about Hugo, and people have a right to those feelings. Women should have a right to decide who they and they don’t feel safe with, for many women here, they don’t feel safe that Hugo speaks for them, that teaches them, — Many feel that they cannot listen to a man who has never paid for his actions that require people to forgive him and require people to believe that he is a changed man.

    So if there are so many people here that are saying that they don’t want Hugo here, then he shouldn’t be here. He should be advertised here, nor promoted here.

    The simple fact is that Hugo is privileged – He used his role as an Instructor (possibly) to get out of a crime of attempted murder, he has abused his position by being drunk on the job, by having sex with students (whether it was consensual or not), he has continued to speak about women as property, he has devalued WOC, he has used his position for personal gain, and he has lied time and time again — Why should I trust him?

  153. Joanna
    Joanna January 2, 2012 at 11:20 pm |

    As a former student of Hugo Schwyzer (I took his Women’s History class in 2005) and now a graduate student in history with an interest in feminism, I am deeply torn by this discussion.

    Prof. Schwyzer was my introduction to feminism. I took his class as a 19 year-old who was suspicious of feminism to the point that I took it with him because I didn’t want to take it with a female professor. Internalized misogyny is a thing that’s very real, and it was in my case. I believed a man would be less biased, and so I took Schwyzer’s class. He was a great professor, an electrifying lecturer. (I note I only visited him once in office hours, where he was courteous and professional and devoid of creepiness. I never found him “hot” as some of my classmates evidently did. The cult around him creeped me out, but it didn’t seem to me that he was encouraging it.)

    It was because of this male teacher that I ended up taking many Women’s Studies classes at UCLA. I found that Schwyzer (in retrospect) taught a very middle-class, white liberal version of feminism. His focus was on autonomy and self-determination as the highest goods; it was only when I took other classes that I learned about radical feminist ideas around community. He was, and from what I can tell still is, fascinated with the history of eating disorders and body image. If I had one complaint about the women’s history class he taught it was that it was almost a “body history” course that focused heavily on the inner lives of privileged women.

    I knew about his reputation as a reformed womanizer. That didn’t and doesn’t bother me. But this story of attempted murder does trouble me, especially as I was stalked by an ex-boyfriend who threatened many times to kill me.

    I would hate to see him leave teaching because for all his faults, Schwyzer is an incredible teacher. He’s a inspirer who turns so many young people on to new ideas. On the other hand, I might never have taken his class had I known beforehand what I know about him now.

    I’m really conflicted.

  154. » On Change and Accountability Clarisse Thorn

    [...] My favorite response to this piece around the internet was posted by Maia at Alas, A Blog. It’s really good and I later requested that we be permitted to cross-post it to Feministe, a request that Maia gracefully granted. [...]

  155. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer January 3, 2012 at 2:19 am |

    Drew, seriously, are you reading what you’re saying? Should safer spaces teams completely violate the principles of safer spaces? Should we start from a comment that was specifically about a problem with a safer space team and reframe it to be about events without safer space teams?

    Do you have any understanding of what safer space even is? Or are you just out to derail?

  156. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 3, 2012 at 5:24 am |

    I believed a man would be less biased, and so I took Schwyzer’s class.

    I am not sure I see the logic of this?

    Also if the class is a

    History of Women

    , why does it have body image stuff in it? That’s not what the class implies – It implies that it will review the History of Women, not a history of her body.

    But that’s just me, having a man, for me, teach me about my body would be just damn creepy, especially if you knew about his creepy predatory past.

    Did you disallow women professors for other classes as well? Just wow –

    When I went to the University back in the late 80′s I was excited to just be able to take any class with a women professor… And was determined that any class that I took in women studies was going to be taught by a women.

  157. Deepika
    Deepika January 3, 2012 at 6:32 am |

    @witchwolf – i have really really appreciated many of your comments here, because what you say makes sense. this last comment where you respond to joanna just felt a little unfair.

    joanna specifically states before the quote you highlighted about bias (and what you mention about not “allowing” women professors):

    “Internalized misogyny is a thing that’s very real, and it was in my case.”

    misogyny is in the air, it affects all of us, and it takes some serious rethinking to get it out of our systems. that’s the logic of it, so to speak.

    further – she says she DIDN’T know about his creepy past, and that if she did:

    … I might never have taken his class had I known beforehand what I know about him now.

    and that she is

    …really conflicted

    about the whole thing.

    let’s cut the women here some slack yeah? put ourselves first, together, appreciate and be compassionate about the trouble we face in a hugely misogynistic world, kind of thing… okay.

  158. Drew
    Drew January 3, 2012 at 8:09 am |

    Drew, seriously, are you reading what you’re saying? Should safer spaces teams completely violate the principles of safer spaces? Should we start from a comment that was specifically about a problem with a safer space team and reframe it to be about events without safer space teams?

    Do you have any understanding of what safer space even is? Or are you just out to derail?

    Yes, I am. No, they shouldn’t. I don’t think it’s hurtful to broaden the scope of the conversation beyond the first specific comment, because it allows us to talk about these issues in different contexts.

    I have a much better understanding of what safer space is, now.

    No, I’m not out to derail.

  159. Flavia
    Flavia January 3, 2012 at 8:35 am |

    Creepy online survey creeps me out.

    Here are *some* more details, though not a word about confidentiality or further use of this information. To be honest, my head hurts at the mere thought of this guy conducting such research.

  160. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer January 3, 2012 at 8:37 am |

    Drew, the questions, other than the one about whether or not you were out to derail, were rephrasings of what you were saying. Because that is exactly what you were suggesting. And what you’re doing is derailing. The conversation is about specific instances, from beginning to end. Trying to “broaden” it to be about hypotheticals is derailing, and erasing of actual experience. It’s one of the things people are criticizing Clarisse for, in fact.

    If you don’t understand such basic concepts as “safer space,” then very likely you don’t know enough to participate productively or meaningfully in feminist discourse, and you should, as they say, shut up, sit down, and listen, until you DO know enough. Go do some basic reading on the topic. Lack of doing your homework is another thing people are criticizing Clarisse for.

  161. Helen Huntingdon
    Helen Huntingdon January 3, 2012 at 8:57 am |

    I’m pretty much at a loss for any way to look positively at Feministe’s current handling of Hugo Schwyzer.

    What with his long history of treating WOC feminists like crap and Feministe’s less than stellar history with them on top of all the other information, I’m at a loss as to why something so simple as banning the dude is so utterly impossible.

    I wonder if I’m seeing the standard pattern of dismissing WOC feminists concerns here unfold. On the, “Why has he not already been banned,” question, we’ve seen evasions, misrepresentations, bizarrely nonsensical excuses, and long patches of silence. That sounds a lot like what various WOC feminists have been coming here and saying is how their concerns are normally treated at Feministe. So when they say this will no doubt be swept under the rug and the status quo restored, I have to suppose they’re probably right.

  162. Drew
    Drew January 3, 2012 at 8:58 am |

    Madgastronomer – I feel you’ve read me unfairly and are bordering on rudeness. But, since this is your space and not mine, I’ll shut up, as you suggest.

  163. Lyanna
    Lyanna January 3, 2012 at 9:45 am |

    The case Maia seems to be making is that the opinions of the safer spaces team were not important, especially when compared to his victim and the other women who did not feel safe around him. I certainly don’t disagree with her point, but I can see, also, the argument that, if they are the people setting up and running the event, their judgement on who is welcome and who is not is more important.

    I can “see” that argument as well, in the same way I can “see” a trainwreck. “My event, my rules” doesn’t cut it when the purpose of your organization is to help others. The entire point of having a safer spaces team is to make things safer FOR VICTIMS. It’s not a social club.

    If a safer spaces team prioritizes their judgment over victims’ judgment, they should not be surprised when they get called a miserable excuse for a safer spaces team.

  164. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie January 3, 2012 at 10:12 am |

    We (Hugo Schwyzer and Jamye Waxman) want to learn more about women’s porn habits online.

    I’ll just bet you do, Hugo.

    Waxman, with the world-weary wisdom of her 30 years, had this to say in an interview by The Gothamist:

    “I hate the word feminist. I keep looking for another word for it. I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, because I don’t think I’ve ever been a feminist. I don‘t want to use an ‘-ist’ word to define myself either because it puts an air of superiority somewhere. I’m a liberator, I’m a free thinker. I’m a person who expresses themselves.”

  165. B.
    B. January 3, 2012 at 11:18 am |

    From the survey: “Is there anything else you’d like to add about your porn viewing habits and self-pleasure? Feel free to share here”.

    What an unrepentant sleaze! No, Hugo, I don’t think I will write you a Penthouse letter about my masturbation habits, but thanks for asking.

  166. Matt
    Matt January 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

    Joanna 1.2.2012 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    As a former student of Hugo Schwyzer (I took his Women’s History class in 2005) and now a graduate student in history with an interest in feminism, I am deeply torn by this discussion.

    Prof. Schwyzer was my introduction to feminism. I took his class as a 19 year-old who was suspicious of feminism to the point that I took it with him because I didn’t want to take it with a female professor. Internalized misogyny is a thing that’s very real, and it was in my case. I believed a man would be less biased, and so I took Schwyzer’s class.
    This is perfectly understandable. A lot of the time if you don’t grow up in a community with a strong feminist bent, its portrayed in very negative ways. If you are used to that oh so common feminazi man hating depiction of feminism it makes complete sense to perceive a man as less biased and more likely to provide a balanced view. Its not true necessarily but, logic only works with a proper starting point. The logic from Joanna’s perspective constitutes a valid conclusions.

    He was a great professor, an electrifying lecturer. (I note I only visited him once in office hours, where he was courteous and professional and devoid of creepiness. I never found him “hot” as some of my classmates evidently did. The cult around him creeped me out, but it didn’t seem to me that he was encouraging it.)


    As a person with NPD it would make sense for him to be electrifying. As someone trying to blend in and present a view as a good male feminist, within his limited ability imo, it would make sense to attempt to appear the way you described, especially if he picked up on the fact that you had that sort of cult of personality view of him that many do.

    It was because of this male teacher that I ended up taking many Women’s Studies classes at UCLA.

    Given the beginning circumstances you describe, it could be beneficial to start with a male prof if you have that sense of it being less biased. I think most people are just disagreeing that Schwizzy should be that male prof.

    I found that Schwyzer (in retrospect) taught a very middle-class, white liberal version of feminism. His focus was on autonomy and self-determination as the highest goods; it was only when I took other classes that I learned about radical feminist ideas around community. He was, and from what I can tell still is, fascinated with the history of eating disorders and body image. If I had one complaint about the women’s history class he taught it was that it was almost a “body history” course that focused heavily on the inner lives of privileged women.


    The body obsession seems pretty creepy, but it may be hard to notice if you have no previous experience with academic feminism.

    I knew about his reputation as a reformed womanizer. That didn’t and doesn’t bother me. But this story of attempted murder does trouble me, especially as I was stalked by an ex-boyfriend who threatened many times to kill me.

    I would hate to see him leave teaching because for all his faults, Schwyzer is an incredible teacher.


    One would hope so, otherwise his position as a popular male feminist would make even less sense given his other circumstances.

    He’s a inspirer who turns so many young people on to new ideas. On the other hand, I might never have taken his class had I known beforehand what I know about him now.

    I’m really conflicted.

    It is in Schwizzy’s best interests to produce that sort of conflict. That is what insulates him from criticism. As an atheist I think that measuring a person’s good vs their bad is highly problematic, this on of the 3 legs of the Catholic tripod. Another one is the oft mentioned forgiveness obsession of many religions.
    Its entirely possible that Hugo no longer gains his validation from sex with students and given his new circumstances he is unlikely to commit attempted murder again. Given the spotlight on him its much too dangerous to his present position to commit any but the most subtle abuses of his position. He may not even be committing an amount of abuse above the norm for the mainstream, excepting the aspects where his harm is amplified by his power in the world.

  167. AMM
    AMM January 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm |

    This may be a bit of a tangent, but: is there any evidence — other than HS’s own account — that he did, in fact, try to murder his girlfriend? I skimmed through the comments and didn’t see anyone mentioning any corroboration.

    I ask because, this morning for some reason I started to wonder if maybe the whole story was just something he made up as a kind of macho posturing, a kind of “I can top that” thing. If that were true, it would explain why he doesn’t worry about getting into trouble with the law.

    (This is not to excuse him. Bragging about attempted murder is pretty awful, even if it’s a lie.)

  168. Glass
    Glass January 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm |

    @AMM

    Absent a victim filing a complaint or willing to cooperate with an investigation, the case likely wouldn’t get very far. I don’t know if that’s what the deal is here though.

    As for your “I can top that” theory, I think that is certainly a possibility. My partner and I use the term ‘Jesus Lie’ whenever we hear someone who’s made some life change expounding on just how awful they were before their change as part of their testimony.

    Before I walked away from religion and the church it was quite common for someone to talk about how they were some kind of feared drug dealer or satanist or whatever before they found religion. This somehow led credibility and authority to their changed position.

    The people in the church I saw almost always bought it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Warnke .

    I personally know several people who did this as part of their testimony which later found on my own was drastically exaggerated. But it’s okay because it was a lie to save souls… [/sarcasm]

  169. Matt
    Matt January 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm |

    @Glass:
    When I was a student at mizzou we had a lot of jesus freaks come to speak at speaker’s circle and do that. They often brought their wives and kids in too. One guy had his daughter come and talk about how happy she was in a traditional jesus freak family. His wife talked about how she “was such a slut/party girl/sorority girl.” His argument was that because his daughter, afawk because we never talked to her out of his and his wife’s psycho presence, was okay with his denominations role for women that it wasn’t problematic.

  170. themmases
    themmases January 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm |

    I’m about to go run off some of the *feelings* this issue has given me, so I apologize if something similar has already been said in the time since I last reloaded this thread. But I’ve seen several people try to bring up Hugo’s problems with women of color, the awesome work done by women of color on transformative justice and other issues relevant to this conversation, and the hostility of white feminists and Feministe specifically to women of color who try to speak here. Despite well over 1000 comments on Feministe alone, these discussions really haven’t been as deep as the ones about the various other ways Hugo is terrible (which I don’t want to minimize– they actually overlap), and whether and how to rehabilitate/forgive male abusers regardless of their race or the race of their victims.

    This sucks. And as a white feminist who has been following these conversations, I am personally really sorry that I didn’t help direct part of the conversation back to these issues when they were raised and then mostly ignored. I’ve read some things– not enough– that I could link to, including examples of Hugo’s shitty treatment of women of color which is not hard to find. I have a couple of examples in mind which I will happily track down when I return if people are interested. In the meantime, I think many of us– including me– could stand to do some soul-searching about which of Hugo’s evil behaviors we find most worthy of discussion and why, as well as why so many women of color have said in this very thread that they don’t consider Feministe a safe space for them.

    As long as we’re thinking about forgiveness and atonement, I think it’s worth asking ourselves whether our community and our movement can change, because it is obvious from the hurt felt by so many women of color that they need to. Women of color clearly need their own communities apart from white feminists, which are created by them and center their perspectives (and are also, from what little research I have done so far, incredible in their own right). But they deserve to feel welcome when they come here, and without their voices and respect our movement will never– never– be a moral one.

  171. themmases
    themmases January 3, 2012 at 9:29 pm |

    I just found the particular link I had in mind and wanted to share. Coincidentally, last month before this all blew up I was wandering around Hugo’s archives. I didn’t really know much about Hugo’s past besides the addiction, but I did know that he’d written a couple of moderately interesting posts and had years of archives at a time of year when I have a lot of free time and posts at the places I usually read are light. So I wasn’t reading him very critically, and it was still easy to find post like this.

    For people not willing to go to Hugo’s blog, the post above shares two of his female students’ stories (without noting whether they knew they would be written about) about controlling behavior by boyfriends, the “myth of male weakness,” and the idea that jealousy and controlling behavior from men signal love. Oh, and Hugo wants you to know that “it’s clear that certain ethnic groups — in this case, Armenians and Salvadorans — are more willing than others to associate male jealousy with evidence of love and care”. But Hugo’s second female student isn’t even Salvadoran; she’s from an unnamed “Hispanic” culture and her boyfriend is Salvadoran. It’s not clear why her boyfriend’s specific culture is relevant when it’s this student’s family and friends who think he’s a great guy.

    Hugo also has some choice posts about class and clothing choices at PCC; apparently lower-class women wear sexier clothes to school because they see other women as competition and fail at feminism. In a related post, he takes the time to make fun of his students’– particularly “young Chinese from Hong Kong”– clothes and names:

    Many first-generation male students, particularly but not exclusively East Asian (PCC is over 33% Asian), are ostentatiously fond of labels, particularly those that they associate with the “establishment.” Every year, even on hot summer days, my classes will be filled with remarkably neat young men in pressed khakis wearing Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, A&F, or even — oh, flashbacks to ’80s preppydom! — Brooks Brothers polo shirts. The labels are always conspicuous. Reading Glendenb’s comments, it occurs to me that these young upwardly mobile fellows are indeed mimicking what they imagine to be the appropriate attire of the privileged. (Only later will some of them transfer to Cal, Stanford, and Georgetown and discover that the real privileged tend to be far more unkempt.)

    The names of many young men — particularly young Chinese from Hong Kong — are often rather touchingly quaint. This summer, I have — these are first names, mind you — a “Fitzgerald”; a “Woodrow”; three “Benedicts” (my middle name); two “Henrys”; one “Maxwell”; and, my favorite, one “Colfax.” It sounds like a parody of the membership roster of my grandfather’s fraternity, circa 1926! And at the risk of sounding horribly classist, it strikes me as a rather naive attempt to deliberately appropriate WASP cache [sic]. Imagine all of these parents, newly immigrated, working long hours to clothe young “Winston Wilberforce Chan” in what television has led them to believe is the outfit of success: polo shirts and chinos with shiny penny loafers. From the perspective of someone who grew up in WASP country-club culture, this sincere attempt at imitation strikes me as, at the least, oddly misplaced!

    Finally, not related to race but interesting in light of the posts here about Hugo’s credentials, he claims to have been “giving papers at medieval history conferences” when he accepted a tenure-track position at PCC, and to have “developed courses in “men and masculinity” and “American Lesbian and Gay history”” which people here couldn’t actually find in PCC’s catalog.

    The racism in Hugo’s blog is unfortunately very easy to find, and sadly, the posts I found the most easily were about his students.

  172. Nanette
    Nanette January 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm |

    Wow, themmases. “Look at all the cute little wogs trying to be just like us” in other words. I am so, so not surprised. That sort of amused and condescending contempt for non-white people just radiates from that guy. (When he’s not trying to stomp on us for having the temerity to speak up against white women, that is.) And, as evidenced by his reaction to the comments when people attempted to educate him (and his other commenters) on actual cultural matters and why some people dress the way they do, so on, nothing–and I mean nothing–poc say gets through to him.

    I told someone years ago that his name brought up an image in my mind of someone encased in one of those thick, white Jack-in-the-Box smiley heads. Still does.

    Sad thing about it is, should those students ever think about trying to tell someone… say, someone like some of his other commenters… about this sort of thing, they would be made to feel like they are wrong or crazy. Or “just looking for something to be offended by”.

    “Oh, he’s a nice guy, an engaging teacher, all his students love him, why don’t you? Why, I’ve known him for years and he’s nice to me, so that settles it, right?”

  173. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm |

    AMM

    I had thought about whether he could have made up the story, and I forced myself to go back and read his “Blog” Entry – In which he describes his attempted murder/suicide.

    1. It was all about him – Him Him Him…
    2. He only admitted in 2011 according to him the events happened in 1998 — and of course calling lawyers to make sure that no one could come after him for his admissions.
    3. A disturbing account – he admitted all of this to the college — not only his direct report but the president – And paid no consequences for his actions — And he was still allowed to teach??????? This is beyond amazing. -
    4. Here is where it get’s tricky – He admitted to the psychiatrist (because he was put into a lock down unit after the events) that was treating him… WAIT.. This is very problematic, because the psychiatrist is supposed have reported to the authorities. It’s mandatory — PERIOD — No get out of jail card –
    5. The Sheriff did nothing — nothing at all, believing that it was a suicide pack???? I can believe it – but, still there is a nagging… lingering — feeling that something isn’t right here.

    In 1998 he would have received tenure at the university – but his accounts he was in and out of drug rehab, had several affairs with students. He calls these affairs consensual — and in approximate age — Not sure about how a 30 year old can be approximate age of a 2 year college student who is about 18 to 21/22 years old?

    In his confession he talks about being upset that the her family wouldn’t let him see her anymore, nor forgive or forget, like it was owed to him, because after all – He transformed after that event — Of course he gives lip service to the fact that he knows he can’t see her any more — And he says — Oh she is okay now.

    In his rambling it wasn’t about the victim, it was about poor him, lying to everyone, and getting away with attempted murder, but … wait.. it’s okay, because now Feminist community has him to rescue them from men like him.

    What for me was the most revolting part of this - Is that this women, called him because she needed a safe place from being abused by a lover or boyfriend. She was calling him for help. She trusted and loved him— He picked her up drunk they went back to his place drugging and drinking and — he doesn’t mention it, but she is passed out — “did he have non-consensual sex with her?” (and do we take his word for it, I mean he made the decision that she didn’t have the right to live anymore) He skips over that part, but remembers in detail that he thought it was safer if they just died.

    I guess I am at a lose for words – We are supposed to not only be happy that he told us, believe his incredible story, believe that every official that should have reported and investigate (and knew it wasn’t a suicide pack) gave him a pass, and allowed him get away with attempted murder? We are supposed to believe that everyone failed this women, — NOT HIM– Failed the women he preyed on YET AGAIN.

    I can believe the part of the university and the the Sheriff’s office, but I can’t believe that the psychiatrist that was treating him didn’t report.. by law, on his license to practice he was compelled to report.

    I got the impression from the article that he didn’t change out of want to change, but rather he had to change or he would face prison time.

    His story might tug at heart strings – but I can’t feel for him – I can only feel for the women who he decided wasn’t good enough to live, that she needed to die. That is a mark of an abuser —

    In his article it never stated what he did do to transform, after all he was supposed to be this so called “feminist” self appointed leader before he attempted to murder a women, what did he do to transform – Why should we believe that he transformed at all.

    Because the way I see it — His transformation is still the same, he still surrounds himself by these impressionable co-eds and still hints at sexuality for winning what was it — Hottest Professor award — Wouldn’t he want to stair clear of that type of award? Wouldn’t he stay clear of impressionable young co-ed (because from his confessions he said that he abused his position as Instructor to seduce both male and female students?)

    We have to take his word that these sexual romps were consensual, that he didn’t coerce or incourage his students in anyway to have sex with him>?

    We have to take his word because he was honest? About what — He says that he lies, so we have to take his word for it just because it sounds good? Because he does so with a handsome face as he comes on his trusty stead waiting to rescue women from themselves?

    The whole point is this– If accountability is the issue, and if Hugo really wants to truly wants to put words into action, he will stop, just stop, just go back to being an INSTRUCTOR of History at his two year college and stop teaching women how to be feminists.

    Something is not right with his story -

  174. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm |

    themmases

    wow — I just read your post — AMAZING — I didn’t see that — That makes me sick —

    are often rather touchingly quaint

    EPIC FAIL

  175. Claire K.
    Claire K. January 4, 2012 at 1:24 am |

    But it’s clear that certain ethnic groups — in this case, Armenians and Salvadorans — are more willing than others to associate male jealousy with evidence of love and care.

    WHAT?! He then goes on to say:

    It seems clear that those cultures most accomodating of male jealousy are those cultures most likely to buy into the “myth of male weakness.” This is the myth that claims that men lack the same capacity for self-restraint that women possess; the myth suggests that all men are “dogs”

    By saying that Armenians and Salvadorans are more likely to buy into the “myth of male weakness,” and then defining the “myth of male weakness” as the idea that all men are dogs, he seems to be suggesting that Armenian and Salvadoran men are dogs. Except that it’s not that they’re naturally dogs, of course, just that their whole culture buys into the idea of men being dogs, so they end up as dogs… That’s great, Hugo. Between this and his comparison of his unconscious ex-girlfriend to a missing dog, we can conclude that the only people who are not dogs, for Hugo, are male WASPs. And La Lubu called him on it a bunch of times in the comments, and he just kept refusing to listen to her.

    It seems weird that his students are coming to him for the ‘feminist perspective’ on issues as personal as their boyfriends asking them not to wear short skirts. I’ve had some great feminist professors, with whom I still keep in touch, but it would never have occurred to me to talk to them about my relationship with my girlfriend. For Hugo to have so many of these informal counseling sessions, he must be doing something to invite students to confess to him. That’s creepy because it’s not the job of a professor. On the other thread I mentioned that, given Hugo’s emphasis on weaving Christianity into feminism, his involvement in his students’ personal lives indicates that he’s setting himself up more as some sort of pastor figure than as a professor. In light of his ‘bringing WASP-y feminist enlightenment to the savage cultures’ attitude though, I’d revise this to say he’s positioning himself as a missionary.

  176. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh January 4, 2012 at 1:41 am |

    OMG, Hugo’s descriptions of his students makes him remind me of many professors and instructors at my college campus who we (the student body) have loathed over the years. My community college campus is overwhelmingly comprised of POC (including me), 90% students of color and 10% white students, and yet for a very long time our professors and instructors were very privileged white people brought in from larger towns and cities, including many who perpetrated appalling displays of racism, and sometimes sexism…some of these I had witnessed myself, others I had been told about (as in being warned not to attempt a course with those professors).

    It’s not comforting that a more urban California community college has similar problems with appallingly racist faculty as my little rural California community college.

  177. Natalia
    Natalia January 4, 2012 at 6:06 am |

    Many first-generation male students, particularly but not exclusively East Asian (PCC is over 33% Asian), are ostentatiously fond of labels, particularly those that they associate with the “establishment.” Every year, even on hot summer days, my classes will be filled with remarkably neat young men in pressed khakis wearing Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, A&F, or even — oh, flashbacks to ’80s preppydom! — Brooks Brothers polo shirts. The labels are always conspicuous. Reading Glendenb’s comments, it occurs to me that these young upwardly mobile fellows are indeed mimicking what they imagine to be the appropriate attire of the privileged. (Only later will some of them transfer to Cal, Stanford, and Georgetown and discover that the real privileged tend to be far more unkempt.)

    The names of many young men — particularly young Chinese from Hong Kong — are often rather touchingly quaint. This summer, I have — these are first names, mind you — a “Fitzgerald”; a “Woodrow”; three “Benedicts” (my middle name); two “Henrys”; one “Maxwell”; and, my favorite, one “Colfax.” It sounds like a parody of the membership roster of my grandfather’s fraternity, circa 1926! And at the risk of sounding horribly classist, it strikes me as a rather naive attempt to deliberately appropriate WASP cache [sic]. Imagine all of these parents, newly immigrated, working long hours to clothe young “Winston Wilberforce Chan” in what television has led them to believe is the outfit of success: polo shirts and chinos with shiny penny loafers. From the perspective of someone who grew up in WASP country-club culture, this sincere attempt at imitation strikes me as, at the least, oddly misplaced!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAH.

    Yep – the poor darlings are desperate to be as WASPy as possible. They couldn’t possibly have any other reason for dressing this way – such as prevailing fashion trends or, indeed, the fact that the 80′s decided they were back a couple of years ago – no, it all comes down to an aspiration to be More Like Hugo. But only Hugo can be Hugo – as Hugo knows! Still, it’s amusing to observe those members of the more “colourful” races scrambling up the ladder to Hugo-ness.

    What can I say? Mind. Blown.

  178. saurus
    saurus January 4, 2012 at 7:56 am |

    Hugo has written a response on a his blog. Suffice it to say that it’s not laudable. Don’t read the comments, in which he gets more praise than Mother Theresa.

    I recommend that we not indulge his offer to turn this into a two-way conversation (debate), as I believe it’s a transparent tactic to make this about “ideas” and “issues” and set himself on equal footing as women re: feminism, instead of behavioral changes.

  179. Helen Huntingdon
    Helen Huntingdon January 4, 2012 at 8:40 am |

    There’s nothing to discuss. He knows exactly what to do: Follow his own advice to Kyle Payne.

    He wants a great big long discussion to:

    1. Feed his ego

    2. Do what’s being done here — great big long discussion in lieu of actually taking positive action. Keep the “discussion” going until everyone gets tired of it, then go back to the status quo, nothing changed.

  180. Helen Huntingdon
    Helen Huntingdon January 4, 2012 at 8:48 am |

    Oh ew. From Hugo’s response:

    Exactly a year ago, I wrote a post about the last time I used drugs and alcohol, a binge episode that ended with my attempt to kill myself and my ex-girlfriend with gas. The post was written in haste as a response to a friend’s query about forgiving oneself for a terrible error.

    How lovely for the victim to be made not just into self-aggrandizing blog fodder, but casual self-aggrandizing blog fodder.

    The whole rest of the post is one long whiny series of excuses as to why he should not follow his own advice to Kyle Payne.

    So the tl;dr for Hugo’s post is “I’m a raging hypocrite, and no, I will not do what I know is right you big meanies.”

  181. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 4, 2012 at 9:11 am |

    saurus

    LOL to his response, now he is “modifying the story” he now says the psychiatrist did report but the Sheriff (of course after it was pointed out that the psychiatrist had to), did nothing, because the victim’s family, (who very handy decided for a women, because you know her choices wasn’t already stomped on by Hugo who was a man) declined to prosecute – I know it’s terrible difficult for a Sheriff’s office without the help of the victim to prosecute, but if their was multiple agencies involved then I am not sure how it could be simply brushed under the rug as if nothing happened. Something isn’t right here.

    So, he was going, laugh, resign, but you knows those men, they wanted him to stay and write policy, for men like him — GREAT Punishment…. This is epic fail – Why on earth would they keep a man like this? Something doesn’t smell right here – People have lost (even with so called tenure) for much less.

    He still doesn’t get it. He never paid for his action. Not an inch, nothing, absolutely NOTHING —

    In 2011, when he wrote his confession– not upteen years before –2011, he compares animal neglect which is very horrible it’s self, to attempted murder of a women who went to him for help! Then wiggles out of it saying well, he knows the comparison was wrong and shouldn’t have compared to two, fail. Then goes on to explain how the men saved his job, so he can do good.

    Again, it was all about poor Hugo, how he suffered, how he really changed, how he can’t help it, just trust him, because he really changed….

    He doesn’t show how a string of males failed not only this poor women he attempted to murder, but how men who continued to fail the system helped him to reestablish himself.

    His post was about his ego, it wasn’t genuine…. Sigh…

  182. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 4, 2012 at 9:47 am |

    My issue is less with Hugo and more with the so-called feminists who continue to give him a platform and credibility, and who continue to privilege his voice over the voices of women, including women of color. I cannot imagine how demoralizing it would be for the woman he tried to kill to see so-called feminists rushing to give him support and to give him a platform and credibility.

    It’s telling how, in all of the self-righteous new-agey bullshit rhetoric about forgiveness and change that’s been flung about how she’s been so handily erased. How women who’ve been through similar things have been erased. All of the whining on the part of his fans about how mean the commenters here and in other places are being to him never really touches on that. Apparently, the WOMEN who have been hurt by men only to see them get credibility and community acceptance don’t mean shit, even in the feminist movement. I don’t give a fuck if he’s changed–you don’t deserve cookies or a goddamn position of leadership in this movement when you’ve fucked over women. You know, when you tried to kill a woman. WHY ARE THEY CONTINUING TO GIVE HIM LEADERSHIP ROLES, CREDIBILITY, AND WRITING GIGS?

    I’m less concerned with Hugo specifically–there will always be men like him. I’m more pissed off at the “feminists” who continue to give him credibility and leadership in our movement, who shame and erase and ignore the women who have very reasonable concerns about this. Thanks, sisters. In the next Assange or Polanski debacle, you can look at your own reflection when you ask what kind of person would accept someone like that back into the fold at the expense of women.

  183. Megalodon
    Megalodon January 4, 2012 at 9:53 am |

    Well, Schwyzer took his time over the holidays to respectfully consider and absorb the outrage and what was said. And after this waiting period of reflection, he has now excreted another maudlin and cloying essay that tries to be faux confessional but also exculpatory.

  184. Li
    Li January 4, 2012 at 10:35 am |

    It’s telling that Hugo’s response doesn’t actually refer to domestic violence, the ableism of deciding that his girlfriend should be killed to save her from her experiences of trauma, or indeed systemic violence of any kind. Hugo seems insistent that his actions should be judged independently of systems of power; he was just self-destructive, just an addict, just driven by individual failings.

    Every part of Hugo’s response reeks of self-centered exceptionalism. Hugo is still positioning himself the male feminist who stands outside situation, pontificating to all of those still bound by our relation to kyriarchy.

  185. AMM
    AMM January 4, 2012 at 10:50 am |

    WitchWolf @173

    In case it wasn’t clear from my post, I agree with your reaction to HS. I haven’t read HS’s post because the summaries in the threads here have been revolting enough.

    The question of whether HS actually did what he said or only made it up (for “street cred” or whatever) is IMO off-topic, though I would still kind of like to know if anyone has any source other than HS (or that comes from HS’s report) that even suggests that it actually happened.

    At first, I figured, either way is equally revolting, but now I think that it might actually be worse if he did make it up, and I think that that _is_ on-topic.

    In my view, (almost) anyone is “capable” of murder (and other awful things.) That most of us don’t is not due to any genetic trait or intrinsic nobility. It’s because most of us have internalized the rule that it is wrong, wrong, wrong. If we even think about it (and the thought occurs to us all every now and then, I believe), most of us immediately go, “OMG, what am I thinking!?” We actively avoid getting started down that road. I’m a great believer that shame is good and appropriate — when we do (or contemplate) shameful things. We don’t kill for much the same reason we don’t drive our cars into a tree — some part of our attention is always devoted to staying _well_away_ from killing/hitting a tree.

    Those who have done awful things (or even just been going down the road that leads to doing them) can’t just say, I won’t do those awful things again. They have to go back to where they went off the path that stayed away from it. They have to actively expunge any of the things that led them to go down the wrong road. And they have to devote some part of their attention and will for the rest of their lives to staying on the right path. (Not: don’t hit a tree, but: stay in your lane.) And before you can even start doing this, you have to get to the point that you don’t want to be that kind of person and you don’t find anything gratifying about having done those things. (I think this is sort of like what the AA folks mean by “hitting bottom.”)

    If HS made the story up, it means he has some need to see himself as the kind of person who _could_ murder someone. Which is just setting himself up to actually do it, if the occasion presents itself. It’s sort of like a driver who likes to aim at the trees, and thinks that running into a tree actually sounds pretty cool.

  186. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl January 4, 2012 at 10:54 am |

    I cannot imagine how demoralizing it would be for the woman he tried to kill to see so-called feminists rushing to give him support and to give him a platform and credibility.

    You know who has really been erased? The woman he was married to at the time he was attempting to murder his girlfriend. She must have gone through a mind-fuck and I think that she, too, would be horrified/demoralized to know that Hugo is pimping his DV in order to gain in popularity.

  187. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl January 4, 2012 at 11:03 am |

    I think there is a good possibility that he made this story up — it’s not an unfamiliar feeling I get when I read some of his other stories. When I ponder if this story is made up or not, I feel that it would be almost worse if it were b/c then his damage isn’t just to a few unfortunate souls, but to many women (potentially all the women with whom he interacts).

    It’s downright pornographic, if this story is something he pulled out of his imagination for young women to consume.

  188. Nanette
    Nanette January 4, 2012 at 11:04 am |

    The thing is, if we take his saying that his classes are mostly minority women (and some men), and his other postings about how lower class women dress in a more sexy way and feel that they need to be validated by sex and not their brains, his obvious contempt for the “lower classes’ and people of color, and couple that with the fact that he was sleeping with (apparently) said low class minority women who dressed in a sexy way and needed sex to feel complete and validated, what we have, then, is…

    a sort of sideways, slithery, retro justification for his sleeping with his students. Same stuff white men have been saying for ages about those hot and spicy Latinas, slutty and slatternly Negroes, demure but hot Asians deliberately tempted them–they obviously wanted it, don’t ya know. Walking by with their short skirts and heels, tight shirts, hips twitching and, well, you know how those types of women are, and no doubt their biggest dreams involve getting a rich white dude into bed. Who can blame him for taking them up on their offers?

    Isn’t that how the story goes? Has gone for centuries?

    Maybe some have read far enough into his archives (and psyche) to know this is not what he is, coded and indirectly, saying. I haven’t, but then I’ve ignored him for years because I knew what he was. Folks with relationships with this guy, though, and those that consider him an asset to Feminism, really might want to consider digging a bit deeper.

  189. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl January 4, 2012 at 11:38 am |

    Interestingly enough, in reading his latest post, it is very clear that PCC did not have a policy in place banning or restricting relationships between faculty and students. After his “admission”, however, the college outright banned these relationships. Of course, Schwyzer was on the committee that wrote the new policy! Barf.

  190. La Lubu
    La Lubu January 4, 2012 at 11:41 am |

    Good point, Nanette. It fits right in with his portrayal of how “advanced” or “progressive” his people (in his words, “OKOPs” as opposed to “NOKOPs”—which is everyone else) are. Same ol’ schtick—’sleep with me; I’ll treat you so much better because I’m *enlightened*, unlike…..*you people*.

    Also, cosign to Sheelzebub.

  191. Donna L
    Donna L January 4, 2012 at 11:45 am |

    I think that to say that it’s “worse” or “almost worse” if he made it up borders on being offensive, because it dismisses as less bad, and as relatively unimportant, the suffering — both at the time and in the 13 years since then — of the woman he tried to kill (assuming the story is true), as compared to the general damage of having made it up. As far as I’m concerned, it’s infinitely better if he made it up, whatever it says about him, because it means that the attempted murder of that woman and her consequent suffering didn’t actually happen. In fact, I changed my mind: it doesn’t just border on offensive, it is offensive, to say that it’s worse if he didn’t try to murder someone. So I wish people would stop.

    Hugo says:

    The post was written in haste

    Really? Remarkable, isn’t it, that despite his “haste” he took the time to check with a lawyer first to make sure his confession didn’t place him in any legal jeopardy?

    Finally, his disgustingly racist and classist garbage about those poor pathetic Asian men trying to imitate their betters by adopting what they think are WASPY names and clothing is strikingly similar to the rhetoric used a century ago to ridicule immigrant Jews for their vulgar attempts to blend in with Gentile society by adopting names like Morris (for Moishe), Sidney (for Sol or Sam), Irving (for Israel and Isaac), and so on — names which were once considered ultra-Anglo but, ironically enough, ended up being associated with pushy, grasping Jews because so many of them adopted them. Some history “professor” he is if he doesn’t recognize that. Of course, his “at the risk of sounding horribly classist” comment strongly suggests that he knows damn well he’s being horribly classist (even if he’s oblivious to his racism); people who preface their comments with statements like that (or “no offense, but,” etc.) usually know exactly what they’re doing.

  192. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl January 4, 2012 at 11:58 am |

    DonnaL: I get what you’re saying and I thought long and hard about how to express what I am feeling. I didn’t mean to offend.

    There is something about the potential of this being a fabrication that mirrors the emotional abuse I’ve lived through. I will try to be more accurate when I attempt to name this in the future.

  193. Nanette
    Nanette January 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

    La Lubu, yes, and now that I think about it that sort of thing has been used against, or to justify treating like crap, all sorts of “lower class” women. The whole “ladies vs whores” thing, where white women of a certain class (or any class white woman in comparison to any non-white woman) are always the “ladies” and lower class or non-white women are always the “whores”, and their girl children just basically “whores-in-waiting.”

  194. Norma
    Norma January 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm |

    I hope HS reads this post. Really well-said, Maia.

    Hugo’s latest blog post is such self-serving BS– paraphrasing: “No matter what I did, they wouldn’t make me accountable for my crime! So I became a feminist teacher, the only appropriate option. Also, I’m starting a dialogue about this now. Come join my dialogue (as long as I keep the comments open).”

  195. Shelly
    Shelly January 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm |

    In my view, (almost) anyone is “capable” of murder (and other awful things.) That most of us don’t is not due to any genetic trait or intrinsic nobility. It’s because most of us have internalized the rule that it is wrong, wrong, wrong. If we even think about it (and the thought occurs to us all every now and then, I believe), most of us immediately go, “OMG, what am I thinking!?” We actively avoid getting started down that road.

    As someone who has worked with a LOT of murders and been in the position to take a life more than once, I can’t disagree more strongly. Almost everyone is capable of killing, given the right circumstances. (i.e., we are all potentially capable of homicide). Not everyone is capable of murder.

    What HS allegedly tried to do was murder. What most people are capable of doing is not murder, but is another type of homicide.

    FYI: in most American jurisdictions, humans can die in one of four ways: natural causes, suicide, homicide, accident. (I don’t know if there are others in other countries, but I can’t think of another category). Homicide means simply “at the hands of another”. It does not mean murder. This is why we speak of justifiable homicide v. murder.

    (FYI, this is why statistics wrt guns, rape, race, etc. that speak only of homicide and not what type of homicide are pretty damn useless).

    Homicide = taking the life of another (i.e., killing)

    Justifiable Homicide (i.e., not manslaughter or murder) = taking another life in a situation where it is morally/and or legally sanctioned. (e.g., self defense, or killing under the color of law where it is warranted, killing another soldier during a battle in wartime)

    Negligent Homicide/Reckless Homicide/Manslaughter = killing of a human being, in a manner considered by morals and the law as less culpable than murder. There is still some moral responsibility. The legal responsibility depends on the act, the circumstances, and the laws of the jurisdiction. (Note: these terms can mean different things in different jurisdictions, so I’m conflating a few different types of killing, but am doing so to show not all killing is the same).

    Murder = morally and legally culpable killing of a human being. The line between manslaughter and murder varies by culture and legal jurisdiction. It is not absolute. In general, however, countries that follow the Anglo-American or European models of justice tend to all view the premeditated killing of another human being as murder. Ditto for killing by inflicting great bodily injury (killing accidentally when the intent was only severe torture or maiming). There are other categories, but you get the idea.

    My point: all of us are capable of killing another human being. Having worked with a lot of killers, I can say not all of us are capable of rape, torture, or murder without some overwhelming external force acting upon us. We just aren’t.

    Yes, we are all capable of doing extremely nasty things given the right circumstances, but most of us will not encounter those circumstances during a normal life in a time of peace. Were we in an abnormal situation during a time of war, perhaps.

    But that’s a red herring, as we aren’t talking about what a normal person would be capable of given the right set of circumstances, we are talking about what one man did during a normal American relationship in a time of peace. (This equals the perfect situation to not be violent w/in the American context). Most men aren’t capable of doing what HS allegedly did in the context in which he did it.

    As for internalizing the rule that murder is wrong, if someone with HS’s privilege and education did not internalize that rule, is it because he didn’t have it available to learn or because either he is somehow defective or society made him so?

    I’ve worked with sociopaths, narcissists, and men who murdered because of external situational factors (e.g., being born into the Latin Kings). All of them know murder is wrong. The first two groups don’t care and aren’t capable of caring. (Though Narcissists are allegedly capable of learning if they really want to). The latter group knew it, but had no choice (or felt they had no choice).

    In order to murder, there has to be something wrong. It’s either the external context (e.g., wartime, social rules), or something wrong with the individual.

    Having never met HS, I can’t say how much of it was internal or external. But it was not “normal” in the sense of being something anyone could do under normal living conditions.

    I’m not bringing this up to attack you, but because I have seen firsthand how this line of thinking it prevents us from really seeing why these men act as they do and then addressing whether its an individual psychological problem, a individual contextual problem, or a societal problem.

    Charles Manson/Ted Bundy = internal problem

    Many gang members = individual contextual problem, societal problem.

    War crimes = societal problem (i.e., usually good people can do bad things in the proper context).

  196. Shelly
    Shelly January 4, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

    Sorry for the f-d up formatting. Is there a way we can edit our own comments? If not, why not?

  197. Helen Huntingdon
    Helen Huntingdon January 4, 2012 at 1:55 pm |

    Shelly, I don’t know the actual reason, but one reason not to allow comments to be edited after posting is that it has been abused on other blogs. Most people wouldn’t do such a thing, but I’ve seen it happen a couple of times where people edit their comments in a long thread to cover up behavior that was not well-received. Basically it’s a form of gaslighting.

  198. LC
    LC January 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm |

    I have seen some systems where you can edit as long as no one has responded yet, which seems to be an attempt to find a middle ground.

  199. Donna L
    Donna L January 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

    I know of some places that permit editing for a very limited period of time, perhaps 15 or 20 minutes — long enough to allow fixing typos or formatting problems, but not long enough for people to go back and wipe out posts or parts of posts which subsequent commenters have discussed or criticized, thereby making it difficult or impossible for someone who tries to read the thread later to follow what’s going on.

  200. Emma
    Emma January 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm |

    I wonder if I’m seeing the standard pattern of dismissing WOC feminists concerns here unfold. On the, “Why has he not already been banned,” question, we’ve seen evasions, misrepresentations, bizarrely nonsensical excuses, and long patches of silence. That sounds a lot like what various WOC feminists have been coming here and saying is how their concerns are normally treated at Feministe. So when they say this will no doubt be swept under the rug and the status quo restored, I have to suppose they’re probably right.

    Helen, I’ve felt the same way seeing the way this has been handled here, and it made me think back to Maia’s story about Anne and the safer spaces team:

    Anne wanted to go to the camp, but she did not want to be around him. She wrote to various people, including the safer spaces team, outlining the situation and asking if he could not come. She got nothing back but vagueness and an argument that they could not do anything because the camp did not exist yet.

    They also seem of a piece with some of the sexist derails Greta Christina mentioned in a post here this week: abusive men are able to remain in spaces where they shouldn’t be welcome by appealing to “fairness,” “freedom,” and “the rules”, which of course! shouldn’t be changed or broken for a single person (e.g. Hugo’s banning). People with institutional power are obviously quite invested in the idea that there are or should be rules that apply to everyone equally, and that render the results “fair” even if they are unequal. In the cases of would-be allies above, the appeal to rules, process, and transparency also ignores that abusers overwhelmingly make their crimes personal, idiosyncratic, and private.

    I think everyone here is familiar with the idea (and some with the experience) that abusers deliberately exploit the gray areas in seemingly-explicit rules. Hugo did this by coming into the previous thread to mouth seemingly respectful words while actually doing something disrespectful– commenting in a forum where people were hurt and upset by him, and where he was not wanted. And, I think more importantly (and successfully), he’s done this by whining about how divisive his “past” is. He’s encouraged us to keep discussing the nature of forgiveness and whether his (false) remorse over his attempted murder rates, rather than his ongoing racism, bullying of women of color, and ill treatment of his students, which are unambiguously current and wrong.

  201. themmases
    themmases January 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm |

    Emma 1.4.2012 at 3:05 pm

    Hm, I am apparently showing up as “Emma” when I comment from work. I’m “themmases” from above; I posted once in the past under my first name but then reverted to my handle because I think there is already another Emma here.

  202. IrishUp
    IrishUp January 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm |

    Whether Emma or themmases, I heart you for this!

    “People with institutional power are obviously quite invested in the idea that there are or should be rules that apply to everyone equally, and that render the results “fair” even if they are unequal. In the cases of would-be allies above, the appeal to rules, process, and transparency also ignores that abusers overwhelmingly make their crimes personal, idiosyncratic, and private.”

  203. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm |

    AMM @ 185

    I was just trying to point to the parts that seem, for me, out of — WOW. I have no idea whether he has made it up, made parts of it up, or he actually lived it – I think it’s creepy no matter what, because it’s all about him (I guess the Narcissist in him)
    ———————————–

  204. Herding Sluts: The Paternalistic Feminism of Hugo Schwyzer « Student Activism

    [...] I don’t have any reason to believe that Hugo Schwyzer is likely to attempt another murder anytime soon. But the man who described his girlfriend as fragile and broken and in need of his sheltering strength as he plotted her death has not gone entirely away. The paternalistic impulse to save that young woman from herself — an impulse that came to him with “incredible clarity” then, one which he remembers “perfectly” today — is still in him, still driving him. It’s an impulse he’s redirected, but it remains unexamined, unchecked, and dangerous. (It particularly inflects and infects his writing about sexuality, about youth, and about people of color.) [...]

  205. About Hugo Schwyzer « blue milk
    About Hugo Schwyzer « blue milk January 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm |

    [...] On Change and Accountability: A Response to Clarisse Thorn by Maia. [...]

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

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

  207. MediaHound
    MediaHound January 9, 2012 at 8:17 am |

    It starts to become clearer.

    Hugo has found yet another Outlet – See Magazine – and it’s first edition out today.

    Aimed at women of all ages and even internationally.

    One has to wonder if the women and the men of the world really need more of what has been peddled already?

    It even links to Oprah in so many ways. More Cliché Cyber Theater will no doubt ensue!

  208. javier
    javier January 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    “…..The far left’s record on women’s rights would make the Vatican blush with shame……”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/08/nick-cohen-stieg-larsson

  209. Branwen
    Branwen January 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm |

    So the Feministe eds are just going to hope this dies, sweep it under the rug, stick their heads in the sand, etc, then? Because the discussion threads have wound down and still I hear the incredibly loud sound of NOTHING from our “fearless leaders” of feminism on Feministe, et al. Meanwhile, Schwyzer continues to troll Jezebel’s readership, telling us how women should feel about various sex acts and, no doubt, relishing the sharefest that results in the comments. People who point out his past get warned and moved to various “off topic” comment-gulags.

    Jill, what’s in this for you? Why not take a stand like so many of us have pleaded with you to do? Is this just contrarianism? Is it about money? What IS it?

    For those who haven’t seen it yet, at least some feminist bloggers aren’t willing to just sweep this hideous embarrassment under the rug: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2012/01/12/hugo-schwyzer-wants-to-jizz-on-the-face-of-feminism-but-not-why-you%E2%80%99d-think/

  210. DonnaL
    DonnaL January 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm |

    That’s a good post at Tiger Beatdown; thanks for linking to it.

  211. Branwen
    Branwen January 13, 2012 at 7:09 pm |

    And now Hugo is apparently saying the women who take issue with him are not “real” feminists. Hello, Jill? Anybody? Hello? How hard would it be to take a stand on this and say “fuck no, Hugo, you don’t get to decide that”?

  212. Branwen
    Branwen January 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  213. Branwen
    Branwen January 13, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

    A Facebook comment. “Erika Lynn Hartman Or we could torture them or use a Saudi Arabian-style justice system and cut their hands off in a public square.”. Liked by Hugo

    http://fucknohugoschwyzer.tumblr.com/post/15810143282/friendlyangryfeminist-image-a-facebook

    He’s reformed, eh? Sounds like he’s still all for violence against women when it suits him.

  214. ginmar
    ginmar January 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm |

    http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/the-accidental-rapist/

    For a guy who boasts he’s been talking about ‘enthusiastic consent’ he sure doesn’t seem to practice it.

  215. Branwen
    Branwen January 14, 2012 at 10:02 pm |

    I was very impressed when I took a peek on LJ to see that the editors of Scarletteen, when called out on the fact that they still have his stuff up on their site, decided to take it down and post an explanation as to why. That shows real integrity.

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