#SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen: Reckonings and Thoughts

Content notes: Hugo, suicide, self-harm, racism.

If you didn’t see it on Twitter yesterday, there’s a #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag trending right now, which is fantastic. It was started by Mikki Kendall (@karnythia). Here’s the Storify for background. Mikki also wrote this piece in the Guardian explaining the hashtag.

The hashtag has grown out of serious and challenging critiques about mainstream American feminism, but originates in a story in which I played a part. It involves a once prominent male feminist who has been revealed as an abusive, manipulative fraud who actively did harm to a great many people and to movements for social justice — movements I personally support. That harm was disproportionately borne by women of color and women who have not had a high-level platform from which to tell their stories.

I have struggled with how to address my own role in this without centering myself or making it all about my feelings. It is difficult, awkward, and painful to read some of what has been written about me and others I know and care about. Many of the comments are challenging and important; I am reading them, trying to check my own emotional reactions, and thinking about how best to move forward. I know that there have been many calls for my response to this matter and that my lack of a prompt response can be interpreted as an unwillingness to engage. I have been thinking at great length about this and want to give it the attention it deserves. I also want to clarify an issue that I have seen repeated many times on Twitter and in articles about the hashtag: What sort of platform Feministe has given Hugo. Contrary to what I’ve been reading on Twitter, I was never Hugo’s editor in any capacity and Hugo did not blog for Feministe, nor was he linked and promoted on the site with any regularity. I was not a reader of his personal blog, nor a commenter, nor a friend or colleague. Before 2011, when Hugo-related discussions really blew up, we hadn’t mentioned him on the blog since 2008. We did link him a handful of times, mostly in 2005-6. I’ve seen Feministe listed alongside sites like Jezebel, the Atlantic and The Good Men Project, who all actively employed Hugo, publishing his work in the last couple of years and giving him platforms for his writing. That was not the case here. I add these points of clarity not to sound defensive, but because certain narratives are beginning to take shape and be read as truths, and I think it’s valuable to make sure that falsities aren’t being swept into an important and critical discussion. I also care about this community, I care about feminism as a whole, and I want to be accountable for the role we (and I personally) played in this. To do that, we have to start with the same set of facts. We have to talk about the role that more powerful actors in the feminist community had in allowing Hugo’s career to blossom and what distinct and overlapping roles they played. The feminist blogosphere is part of a larger media ecosystem, with people playing various roles. We may not have given Hugo a platform to publish his work, but we were part of a broader system that allowed him to access high-level mainstream and feminist media outlets. The intricacies of how that functions need to be addressed and assessed in determining how to not let this happen again. We have to talk about whose voices weren’t heard or were simply ignored when they were shouting “This guy is bad news!”

Where we really screwed up was publishing that interview with him in 2011. The guest blogger who conducted and pitched the interview didn’t know about Hugo’s past. I personally greenlighted the interview, also without knowing about the attempted murder / suicide, and without really registering his history of abusive behavior toward women of color. I want to emphasize that the decision to publish the interview was mine, and I am sorry for it. The other Feministe bloggers were not responsible; they also are not responsible for this post, or for what happens on my personal Twitter account. That interview was published in 2011. By then, there was plenty of evidence on the ground of Hugo’s manipulations and abuses. I made a choice to look past that. I wasn’t adequately listening or giving credence to the many people who had for years been shouting about Hugo’s awful behavior toward them. Even after the murder/suicide came to light in the wake of that interview, I was appalled, but I wanted to believe the redemption narrative that Hugo was selling. The question of why I wanted to believe that is one that I’ve been mulling over quite a bit in the past year.

Where I personally screwed up again was in adopting a code of silence around Hugo after the 2011 interview. That was an editorial policy that we agreed on for the Feministe community after lots of feedback from commenters: We wouldn’t link Hugo or even talk about him. That policy made sense to me at the time, since it was obvious that Hugo is a narcissist (and has been diagnosed as such) and trolls the internet looking for mentions of his name. He gets off on any attention, good or bad. The very act of writing about him sustains him, keeps him feeling relevant, encourages him to comment. Talking about him was triggering and upsetting for many of our readers. My view was: Freezing him out is the best path forward.

That was the wrong view. Having a no-link editorial policy on Feministe is one thing; refusing to mention him even on Twitter or on any platform gave the sense that my silence was neutral, and was more about not wanting to rock the boat than about pushing back against an arrogant abuser. Hugo targeted women of color to trash, in part because he understood that he could get away with it. I was part of a broader feminist blogger community that adopted standards which allowed an abuser to get away with it.

In recognizing my own fault and role in this, I want to be careful not to say that all of the other bloggers, writers and editors who published Hugo or linked him or didn’t say anything were intentionally enabling an abuser. Here is the rub: Abusive narcissists are often very effective manipulators. Hugo’s life is excellent evidence of that. I don’t want to heap blame on the many women who were manipulated by him. Abuse happens on a learning curve. Hugo burned a lot of people a lot of times in a lot of obvious and not-so-obvious ways. He burned friends, lovers, colleagues, wives, children, and strangers on the internet. He’s an abuser — a narcissist — and that’s what they do. They are toxic, and spread that toxicity under layers of charm, intelligence, flattery, and respectability. I don’t want to blame folks because they were behind other folks on the learning curve.

That said, there is a pattern here to who was where on the learning curve. Some of the history is detailed here, here and here. The degree to which I was behind on the learning curve is inexcusable. I should have known better; there were many opportunities for me to know better and I refused to see them. There is a pattern to who Hugo targeted for abuse — who he knew it would be safe to target for abuse. That speaks to major power imbalances in feminist communities. It reveals whose voices matter, whose pain is considered important enough. I do want to find a way to discuss the systematic problems within feminist spaces that allowed an abuser to thrive in our ranks.

This has come to a head (again) because Hugo supposedly “quit” the internet in a series of blog posts, only to show back up to give several bizarre interviews. On Friday he went on a truly terrifying Twitter tirade. I was on the sidelines watching; it was so bizarre that many people (myself included) thought his account had been hacked. It frankly read like a suicide note. I found reading it to be incredibly anxiety-inducing and scary; I really wanted him to stop, because I couldn’t look away even though it was bringing up all kinds of awful feelings. I was angry at him, and exhausted by him, and also scared for him — I have no love lost for Hugo, but I don’t want him to die. I felt that I was watching a very ill person — an ill person who is also a despicable person, and whose illness doesn’t excuse or explain his despicableness, but an ill person nonetheless who was clearly having a breakdown. When he tweeted at me in the context of that manic meltdown to apologize for his actions, I read it as an attempt to make amends in preparation for self-harm. I had a basic human knee-jerk reaction; I tweeted back at him, “Hugo, if this is really you and not a hack, please, close your laptop and call your therapist. Please.”

Understandably, that was taken as my showing concern for Hugo when, for the past year and a half, I had been silent about him even as many women repeatedly expressed their need for feminists to collectively stand up and push back against him. My silence was intended as part of that push-back, to freeze him out and make him irrelevant; but, as they say, intent is not magic, and in fact my silence was read as neutral and even complicit. That isn’t anyone’s fault but my own. People are not mind-readers. More importantly, we need to have each others’ backs actively. Flavia, who wrote this excellent post, was just one person in the Feministe comment section asking me to stand up. I didn’t do it. I chose silence.

I am livid with Hugo. I feel manipulated and stupid. I am angry at myself, for making these same mistakes so many times, and for not seeing or registering what was so obvious.

I am taking and will continue to take time to consider what’s been written and to reflect on it. I am paying particular attention to the many ways in which feminist communities replicate and perpetuate existing power structures and bigotries — white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, transmisogyny.

For my part (and Feministe’s part) in this matter, I am deeply and sincerely sorry.

I also understand that there are many members of the Feministe community who are triggered by discussions of Hugo, suicide, self-harm and abuse. For them, I will open up a subsequent thread to discuss the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag in a space centered on both examining our big-picture history and moving forward, without discussions of Hugo. This thread will be a space for discussions of the hashtag, the broader issues, and Hugo himself. Hopefully that will enable all of our community members to participate.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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690 Responses to #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen: Reckonings and Thoughts

  1. EG says:

    What was eye-opening to me about reading the tweets was not only how ugly the racism white feminists had inflicted on black women was, but also how many white feminists decided they just had to show up and explain to these women of color how they’d got it wrong. Like…don’t you know when to shut your mouth and sit down because this is not your space? Like those men who barge in here and try to explain to us how we’re doing it wrong.

    The inability ever to shut up and the lack of self-awareness–those are things you can only get away with if you have heaps of privilege.

    • littlem says:

      Okay, I … first am wondering if, since you’ve commented, you’ve had a chance to go downthread and read some of the comments that’ve been posted since you posted — chiefly, those which call out soft-pedaling under the rubric of “white privilege” actions which are actually flat-out racist.

      Second, the thing that really jumped out at me from your comment was that you felt that reading the tweets was “eye-opening” to you. Your eyes have been closed all this time? This stuff – racism in feminism, to be blunt – didn’t just start this morning, and it didn’t just start with Hugo.

      If you feel your eyes have just been opened because of this 2013 incident, and not, say, Karnythia’s hashtag, or anything else that existed prior to that, this calendar year, FTM … I invite you to Google “Amanda Marcotte”, “book”, “cover”, “racist”, and “2008”, along with my username. Just for starters.

      And then please consider the possibility that even though that incident took place five years before this one, it succeeds the beginning of such incidents by … oh, say, fifty years or so.

      At least.

      *sigh*

  2. Lateef says:

    Jill, that was thorough, introspective, honest, and well-contextualized. Ultimately, it was fair. You don’t need my approval, but you have my respect.

  3. I’d never even heard of Hugo till this last week (lucky me!).

    I do get where you were coming from with not wanting to give him any attention or enable him though. Some people just can’t distinguish between bad and good attention, or outright crave negative attention, which is hard for a lot of people to understand.

    As much talk has been done about the toxicity of call-out culture and being on the recieving end of a harsh call-out/dogpile, people who are all for that kind of action as a attempt to shame people into acting decently don’t seem to get that some people actually seek it out and desire it.

    It’s a lot easier to gain anger than love, and piles of hate instead of admiration.

    • Anon21 says:

      As much talk has been done about the toxicity of call-out culture and being on the recieving end of a harsh call-out/dogpile, people who are all for that kind of action as a attempt to shame people into acting decently don’t seem to get that some people actually seek it out and desire it.

      Perhaps you’re just talking generally here, but I don’t think Hugo’s longtime adversaries/critics were under any illusion that criticism from big names in mainstream feminism would “shame [him] into acting decently.” Rather, the point of engaging would have been to let the people (primarily WOC) who were targets of his fuckery know that his behavior was rejected and condemned by feminists, and that mainstream feminists had their backs.

      • Rather, the point of engaging would have been to let the people (primarily WOC) who were targets of his fuckery know that his behavior was rejected and condemned by feminists, and that mainstream feminists had their backs.

        Hm, maybe. It would also have fed this guy’s ego and given him exactly what he wanted. Jezebel and xojane and anywhere else should have kicked him to the curb–didn’t see anything special in his writing, if his last “Everything’s About Me” post was indicative of his usual style. He should have been shut out of feminist spaces. That would have been a lot more useful than Jill calling him an asshole or w/e.

        I have no idea why Jill in particular was supposed to be waiting around to swoop to anyone’s defense who he acted like an asshole to. Is she the feminist internet guardian angel now?

        Giving him a space for his narcissistic ramblings = harmfui. Not playing 7th grade best buddy who backs you up with a “yeah! what she said! get stuffed!”for bloggers = not harmful. In my admittedly not humble opinion.

      • Anon21 says:

        Giving him a space for his narcissistic ramblings = harmfui. Not playing 7th grade best buddy who backs you up with a “yeah! what she said! get stuffed!”for bloggers = not harmful. In my admittedly not humble opinion.

        Well, I think it might be useful to listen to some of those whom Hugo specifically targeted talk about why they felt abandoned by mainstream feminists and why silence seemed to them to signify tacit support for Hugo. Obviously, there’s a lot of good discussion going on on Twitter, including on Flavia Dzodan’s feed.

      • Eh, I think I’ll just skip it. I’ve never been interested in mainstream feminists (Feministe is the only one mainstream feminist site I keep up with) or the drama surrounding them.

        The fact that they apparently had a cis male feminist blabbing on is a good example of why I don’t. Why they would ever think it’s a good idea to let a cis man talk about feminism is beyond me and I can’t believe anyone was surprised he went around and acted like scum. What kind of man do you think feels it’s appropriate to represent women’s struggles and speak about them? Not a very good one, I can tell you that.

        If Jezebel and xoJane and the Atlantic or wherever else hadn’t given him a space he didn’t deserve or have any right to, there would have been no need for a callout or silence in the first place.

      • White Rabbit says:

        I have no idea why Jill in particular was supposed to be waiting around to swoop to anyone’s defense who he acted like an asshole to. Is she the feminist internet guardian angel now?

        First, what Anon21 said.

        When it comes to abusers, silence or neutrality from bystanders amounts to support/enabling.

        Further, it’s one thing to take a “no contact” approach with one’s abusive ex. That is actually the approach recommended by experts, especially with narcissistic abusers. The thing is, what we’re talking about here is a person who was abusive within a community.

        Multiple people within the community (feminism) were being directly harmed by this abusive person (HS), and this was happening over the span of many years. Where the community failed was in not listening to those who were being harmed (mostly WOC), and either continuing to give the abuser a platform, or not saying anything about the fact that others in the community were continuing to give the abuser a platform. This is a very real failing that needs to be examined and addressed.

        And even if everyone had dropped Hugo altogether and never looked back, that STILL wouldn’t have been enough, because the damage he had done to various people’s reputations and/or ability to gain platforms for their own writing would still need to be addressed. And that’s where we are today – an important discussion exploring WHY those voices were ignored, and what we’re going to do to make sure that doesn’t continue to happen.

      • Esti says:

        Barnacle, is your response to this post from Anon21:

        Well, I think it might be useful to listen to some of those whom Hugo specifically targeted talk about why they felt abandoned by mainstream feminists and why silence seemed to them to signify tacit support for Hugo.

        really the following?

        Eh, I think I’ll just skip it. I’ve never been interested in mainstream feminists (Feministe is the only one mainstream feminist site I keep up with) or the drama surrounding them.

        If so, I’d very strongly encourage you to rethink that stance. The whole point is that Hugo targeted women who were NOT “mainstream feminists” (because they were denied access to and status within the mainstream and/or did not want to be part of a community they found to be toxic) because he knew that he would be able to get away with it.

        To read only Jill’s perspective on this situation and then decide that’s enough, this is about a white man and predominantly white feminist websites, you don’t care about the voices of the WOC who should be centered in this discussion… that is profoundly wrongheaded. That is in fact the exact problem that #solidarityforwhitewomen is about.

      • White Rabbit says:

        If Jezebel and xoJane and the Atlantic or wherever else hadn’t given him a space he didn’t deserve or have any right to, there would have been no need for a callout or silence in the first place.

        See my earlier response above. I would argue that there would, indeed, still have been a need to address the damage he had done.

      • To read only Jill’s perspective on this situation and then decide that’s enough, this is about a white man and predominantly white feminist websites, you don’t care about the voices of the WOC who should be centered in this discussion… that is profoundly wrongheaded.

        I’ve read Flavia and other WoC’s posts on this. I read Hugo’s more recent blah-blah-look-at-me piece. I am not going to go read more on twitter, because frankly, I’m skeptical that there’s anything in 150 character bites that would interest me (sorry, I have a twitter, and I loathe reading/having conversations through it; this whole thing isn’t going to get me to start).

        Multiple people within the community (feminism)

        And there’s where we disagree. There is no one community of feminism. There are mainstreamers and other subdivisions and while there is some overlap no one is throwing this at the feet of any of the popular radfem sites are they?

        I don’t have the same aims or viewpoints or whatever as the people at xoJane or Jezebel (ugh, shudder) and the idea of me having anything in common with the people over The Good Men Project is hilarious.

        It’s not my community so it’s not for me to root out where this problem came from or who failed where when. That’s what I was trying to say.

      • White Rabbit says:

        Of course feminism isn’t a monolith. I guess I should have included a footnote instead of assuming that this is basic knowledge that didn’t need to be specifically spelled out.

        It’s not my community so it’s not for me to root out where this problem came from or who failed where when. That’s what I was trying to say.

        And yet you’re here, actively supporting Jill.

      • Esti says:

        Barnacle:

        There are mainstreamers and other subdivisions and while there is some overlap no one is throwing this at the feet of any of the popular radfem sites are they?

        It’s not my community so it’s not for me to root out where this problem came from or who failed where when. That’s what I was trying to say.

        Are you seriously saying that the radfem community has zero problems with racism and inclusion, and that therefore you don’t need to care about this issue? Because as many of the WOC driving this discussion have pointed out, Hugo is not the issue here. Hugo is emblematic of a larger issue with how feminism–not just Jezebel or Feministe or Feministing–deals with (or doesn’t deal with) the voices of WOC.

        Yes, there are a lot of smaller communities within the larger umbrella of feminism, and I’m sure this issue manifests in different ways, and to different extents, in many of those sub-communities. But you can’t dismiss racism as a “mainstream feminism” problem. Take a look at what some self-identified radfems had to say about the Trayvon Martin trial if you need a very recent example of why selective solidarity is a problem that infects all parts of feminism.

      • Are you seriously saying that the radfem community has zero problems with racism and inclusion, and that therefore you don’t need to care about this issue?

        No, because as a trans* person, I am definitely *not* a radfem. I am just using that as an example that there are various groups that fall under ‘feminism’ that have little to do with each other, hence, them being largely uninvolved personally in this issue.

        Is this about racism in general? Because I thought this was how racism was affecting people within a certain subset of feminism.

      • White Rabbit says:

        Ugh. Hit “Post” too soon.

        What I was trying to say was, “And yet you’re here, actively defending Jill against things she has already accepted responsibility for.”

      • What I was trying to say was, “And yet you’re here, actively defending Jill against things she has already accepted responsibility for.”

        *snort*. If I’m defending Jill, then what I am defending her from? What bad trait or negative action am I crying out in the night against?

        None–that I can see. Maybe you can enlighten me as to this defense I’ve been running and not noticing.

        I’ve just been curious why she’s being included in with the feminists who have actively lapped at Hugo’s asshole for years, apparently.

      • White Rabbit says:

        You just said it right there in your reply to me – by questioning why she is being called to task at all, you’re defending her against those of us who wanted her to take responsibility for her role in this, to be accountable.

        And FWIW, since I haven’t said it anywhere else, I really appreciate her response thus far.

      • You just said it right there in your reply to me – by questioning why she is being called to task at all, you’re defending her against those of us who wanted her to take responsibility for her role in this, to be accountable.

        I’m sorry, but that is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have read on this site.

        Kid walks in on one of his parents calling the other one a cheater “Hey, why are you saying that?”

        Well gee golly gosh, the fucking audacity of that kid, defending the cheater by asking what the hell is going on.

      • White Rabbit says:

        And that may be one of the most disingenuous claims I’ve ever seen on this site. I’m done with this particular conversation.

      • tigtog says:

        Moderator note to Barnacle Strumpet: back off from this thread until tomorrow.

      • the head of a giraffe against a bright blue sky: its mouth is pursed sideways

        nd tht my b n f th mst dsngns clms ’v vr sn n ths st. ’m dn wth ths prtclr cnvrstn.

        c dptng cd f slnc lk Jll, Wht Rbbt.

        [Moderator note: if you want to go back into the pre-moderation filter this badly, Barnacle - it can be arranged.]

    • A4 says:

      You report you have no long term context for this and also don’t seem to be doing any of the reading that could gain you some context. You therefore don’t realize how your casual assessment here and choice to support Jill in contrast to her own admissions of screwups in her lack of support for Women of Color are both very very much indicative of the issues being called out in the conversation surrounding #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen

      • LOL. Yeah right. I’m not supporting Jill on this. I just don’t think she is the big fuck-up here. Yeah, it would have been nice if she’d called it out, but you could say the same for any big name.

        She at least succeeded at limiting the audience for his poison, given that it never reached my (and probably a lot of other people’s) ears through this site. That’s more than the other mainstream feminist websites did.

        are both very very much indicative of the issues being called out in the conversation surrounding

        Oh it’s so much fun when we string words together and they really mean nothing, isn’t it? Either say what I said that’s indicative of what issue or don’t bother typing vague crap like the above quotation.

      • Safiya Outlines says:

        Barnacle – At this point you are derailing and making this all about what “interests” you. Not cool.

      • moviemaedchen says:

        I will second Safiya here. Barnacle, if you’re not going to read and think further about how you are contributing to the problem with your comments here, please at least stop making it worse.

      • you are contributing to the problem with your comments here

        lmao. You have got to shitting me. What “problem” am I contributing to? I don’t have Hugo in my room typing up comments for him, and he’s not getting a Guest Post spot on my blog, so I’m hardly giving him an audience.

        I’m certainly not being silent like Jill, or you wouldn’t be telling me to STFU.

        So I must be…???

      • White Rabbit says:

        Um. Wow. I’m going to go ahead and third what Safija said.

      • Barnacle Strumpet says:

        the head of a giraffe against a bright blue sky: its mouth is pursed sideways

        Wow.

        Um. Wow.

        wow
        /wou/

        Noun

        1. A sensational success.
        2. Slow pitch fluctuation in sound reproduction, perceptible in long notes.

        Well, if you insist.


        [Barnacle, you need to back off from this thread for a few hours. ~ tigtog]

      • evil fizz says:

        I don’t think you’re paying attention here. This is not just about Hugo and who gave him a platform and/or money to further spew bile and style himself as Male Feminist Supreme. There is a much longer, wider, and deeper pattern (which you seem totally uninterested in) involving the treatment of WOC by mainstream white feminists.

        And hey, not everybody has to be interested in everything. But you’re not going to come in here and do a “Bored now!” routine and think that’s constructive or welcome.

      • Alexandra says:

        The word you are looking for, Barnacle, is “dismissive.”

        I must be…? “Dismissive.”

  4. Athenia says:

    Thank you for this Jill.

  5. Thank you, Jill. That was thorough and considerate. I know I disagree with you quite vocally at times, but I’ve always really appreciated your ability to ovary up and deal with things.

    (And ftr I don’t understand why Feministe is being ranked up there with Jezebel and The Atlantic as an offender on the Voldeschwyze front; silence on a matter, however damaging, is ultimately not remotely as bad as perpetrating and perpetuating that damage. Not to mention Jezebel’s editors making non-pologies and wahhhing about how everyone haz a sadz that people are calling them on their shit. Disingenuous bullshit, that.)

    • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

      I would particularly like Jezebel to apologize for how they used to delete and ban people who left mean and/or critical comments about the Schwizzler

      • Yeah, I never go to Jezebel unless it’s to rubberneck at their assorted assholery, so I never knew they were banning people for being critical of Voldeschwyze. That really is beyond the pale.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        I know. I always end up there from facebook links and then I’m like, ugh, I just messed up my whole ‘fuck Jezebel’ thing

  6. Lindsey says:

    Thank you for this response piece. I have been following the #solidarityisforwhitewomen tag on twitter and I have been waiting for a response from one of the bigger names in feminist journalism to write something about everything that is going on. I am a white feminist who has also been doing a lot of reflecting on the events of the past week and on everything I have learned about Hugo and about how he treated women of colour in the movement. I also feel stupid and at the same time in awe of not being as knowledgeable as I should have been, and not seeing what I now see about him and about the gaps in my feminism. I feel truly sorry for the women of colour who were hurt in a very disproportionate way by him and I am revising my take on feminism and deconstructing my privilege within the movement. I was wrong and I want to move forward in a way that is truly equal in a feminism that values intersectionality and supports the views of all members of the movement. Women of colour within the movement, particularly those hurt most by Hugo, absolutely have a right to be angry and I am listening to what you have to say.

  7. Safiya Outlines says:

    I do think that saying the no platform policy was in response to the commentariat is not quite as things were.

    I remember The Big Hugo KickOff here. What made people wasn’t just the interview, it was the way that dissent and plain truth-telling was shut down by the Feminste blogger and those speaking out were then further chastised by a post that blogger wrote.

    Finally, people wanted something far stronger then “No Hugo round here”, I think your response at the time fell far short of the condemnation people were looking for and I know people stopped coming here because of it.

    But it’s not just that. It’s the way Big Feminist Bloglandia seems to be a self protecting cabal.

    I have seen you warn commenters on here that criticism of Amanda Marcotte is off limits. Why? Any other reason then because she’s your friend?

    This beyond Hugo and goes all the way into taking a good hard look at who gets to hold the microphone and who never gets that chance.

    • A4 says:

      Yes, I think this is a more accurate characterization of how it went down and the connection to the policy regarding Amanda Marcotte is apt as well.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with all of the above.

        It does appear to be something of an “in crowd” thing, at times. Worse yet that WOC were shut out of this in crowd and in effect, silenced. Even though the value of their insights and opinions, and ability to write about them intelligently and eloquently were inarguable, they were pushed aside and not given an opportunity to be heard.

        Furthermore, the person mentioned above DID go to bat for Schwizzy after the whole Clarisse Thorn interview debacle. And refused to back down from that. Yet even mentioning anything negative about Her around Feministe gets one mod-smacked. I find that to be a rather curious phenomenon, to be terribly polite about it.

      • Donna L says:

        Me too. Of course, we are allowed to make fun of her “30% less fun” nonsense — and I make sure to do so at every opportunity — but that isn’t exactly the same thing.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Of course, we are allowed to make fun of her “30% less fun” nonsense

        That IS ridiculous, I have way more fun than that.

      • Donna L says:

        That was “30% less fun” for people who have children. I thought you didn’t have children, Steve. Pardon me if I’m wrong.

      • Fat Steve says:

        That was “30% less fun” for people who have children. I thought you didn’t have children, Steve. Pardon me if I’m wrong.

        No, you’re right, I was saying I have more than 30% more fun! (but I wasn’t being serious just adding to your ‘making fun’ of the statistic- or should I say, I don’t attribute my having more fun than most to being childless, just to being immature)

    • amblingalong says:

      Wait, what? We’re explicitly not allowed to criticize Amanda here?

      Wow. Considering the racist shit she’s done, that’s another huge strike against any attempt by Jill to claim that she’s aiming to be POC-inclusive.

      • amblingalong says:

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9f/Marcotte.jpg

        Amanda Marcotte thinks this is OK.

        Whoops, am I going to be banned now?

      • What in fucking hell?

        I usually avoid everything Marcotte because my first run-in with her directly was the infamous 30% fun thread, so I didn’t know. That’s… really fucking racist. Like, hello the Victorians want their tropes back, racist. o_O

      • Lolagirl says:

        Yeah, I got reminded once to not discuss online disagreements I’ve had with her in the past here at Feministe. By Jill herself, no less.

      • Alexandra says:

        Yeah, this is old news, and why I haven’t read Pandagon in five years.

      • Jill says:

        There is absolutely not a “you cannot criticize Amanda on this blog” rule. Where I have told people to move on from discussions of Amanda was where the discussions and criticisms were totally off-topic and derailing — bringing up X thing Amanda said 5 years ago to criticize a different comment she made on the thread about a totally different topic. It’s been a derailing issue, not a “don’t criticize my friend” issue.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I’m really trying to remain respectful here, Jill. But the one time in particular you told me to move on it was a discussion about a comment she had made on a thread about parent related issues. I was bringing up something else she had said in the past that was related, perhaps tangentially, but still related nonetheless.

        Let’s be honest here. Amanda is a polemicist who often courts controversy. That she does pop in here at Feministe from time to time to comment should not insulate her from having people bring up other stuff she has said in the past. I’m not published anywhere, and yet I still don’t feel like I have any right to have shut down others bring up something bs I might have said in a previous Feministe discussion. That’s a hazard of being a loud mouth, as far as I can see it.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Yeah, I got reminded once to not discuss online disagreements I’ve had with her in the past here at Feministe. By Jill herself, no less.

        Lola, be fair, that was when you were arguing with me about the ‘child-free’ issue, and Jill’s comment was NOT ‘don’t discuss online disagreements,’ it was ‘Amanda is not involved in this discussion, so discussing her position on children is not relevant.’

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        And that’s bullshit, Fat Steve, because Lolagirl did not just say, “Yeah! And this one time? At band camp? Amanda was mean about kids!” out of nowhere.

        And frankly, since Amanda Marcotte has a history of marginalizing women of color (and mothers), that should be brought up every single time she says anything here. Because she’s a racist, in my opinion. (No, I don’t buy, “She says racist STUFF sometimes, BUT she’s not a racist!”). We should never fucking shut up about it, frankly.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Hattie is right. I touched on this in my comment below, but the bottom line for me is that she has zero credibility remaining precisely because of the sum total of her offensiveness. Be that on her own blog, or here at Feministe, and elsewhere on the internets. Frankly, I don’t see this as being all that different from writing off whatever Schwizzy says or does, because he’s just too far gone from deserving my respect or benefit of the doubt.

        And I don’t expect everyone else to agree with me. Different people, different points of view. But I refuse to nod along and pretend that she doesn’t have some serious flaws, and a questionable history of conduct. Once again, them’s the breaks of being a loud mouth.

      • tmc says:

        And frankly, since Amanda Marcotte has a history of marginalizing women of color (and mothers), that should be brought up every single time she says anything here. Because she’s a racist, in my opinion. (No, I don’t buy, “She says racist STUFF sometimes, BUT she’s not a racist!”). We should never fucking shut up about it, frankly.

        I’ll go you one better. Considering her absolutely disgusting treatment of POCs and refusal to take any ownership of it or make any kinds of amends, “racist” doesn’t begin to cut it. Amanda Marcotte is a white supremacist.

      • Fat Steve says:

        And that’s bullshit, Fat Steve, because Lolagirl did not just say, “Yeah! And this one time? At band camp? Amanda was mean about kids!” out of nowhere.

        And frankly, since Amanda Marcotte has a history of marginalizing women of color (and mothers), that should be brought up every single time she says anything here. Because she’s a racist, in my opinion. (No, I don’t buy, “She says racist STUFF sometimes, BUT she’s not a racist!”). We should never fucking shut up about it, frankly.

        I don’t disagree with any of that, but how can you characterize my comment as ‘bullshit’ when it’s a nearly 100% accurate description of what happened? I don’t mind when you fling the insults at me but here it makes no sense. Just because I didn’t feel Lola gave a full description of the situation, and you still feel Jill is culpable after I gave a full description of the situation doesn’t mean the way I described it was bullshit.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Hattie is right. I touched on this in my comment below, but the bottom line for me is that she has zero credibility remaining precisely because of the sum total of her offensiveness. Be that on her own blog, or here at Feministe, and elsewhere on the internets. Frankly, I don’t see this as being all that different from writing off whatever Schwizzy says or does, because he’s just too far gone from deserving my respect or benefit of the doubt.

        And I don’t expect everyone else to agree with me. Different people, different points of view. But I refuse to nod along and pretend that she doesn’t have some serious flaws, and a questionable history of conduct. Once again, them’s the breaks of being a loud mouth.

        But Lola, surely you get why despite this being a perfectly valid comment, it is off-topic as we are discussing whether Jill silences criticisms of her ‘allies,’ not what our opinion is of those allies. I’m not suggesting you stop, in the slightest. As a reader/commenter here it’s not my place to put the blog back on topic. I’m just suggesting that these divisive figures do put the blog off topic quite a bit because, quite understandably people have strong feelings about these people that go beyond the topic.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        Calling out racism or misogyny is never “off-topic,” Steve. That mentality is why we’re here in the first place.

      • Lolagirl says:

        “Calling out racism or misogyny is never “off-topic,” Steve. That mentality is why we’re here in the first place.”

        Exactly.

        Let’s not forget that the Schwizzy debacle came to a head in large part because of the systematic way in which he cultivated his supporters and followers. Which was often accomplished by going after WOC who spoke out against him or any of his supporter/followers/friends in order to to discredit them and get them shut out of mainstream online and published feminism.

        She Who Shall Not Be Named was one of those supporters and friends, and she benefited quite handily not only by engaging in racism herself but by Schwizzy going to bat for her on his blog in the Brownfemipower thing. And Schwizzy himself admitted that he undertook a behind the scenes campaign to get Brownfemipower shut out and discredited afterwards.

        So, no, it’s not off topic to discuss her or what she has done. Or to question how the policy of not discussing her has, at the very least, given the appearance that she was being insulated from criticism. Ultimately, mainstream feminism was complicit in continuing to let Schwizzy get away with some pretty bad shit by remaining silent and not calling him out for the things he said and did. She Who Shall Not Be Named was also complicit by taking his support and boosterism and profiting from it professionally.

      • Donna L says:

        Has Amanda said anything publicly about the whole Schwyzer thing since it all blew up?

        The post from what’s-her-name at Jezebel was so pathetically bad and inadequate that is was embarrassing. I was pleased to see her being ripped to shreds in her own comment section.

      • evil fizz says:

        Not that I’ve seen, but I don’t follow her closely.

    • I have seen you warn commenters on here that criticism of Amanda Marcotte is off limits. Why? Any other reason then because she’s your friend?

      Safiya, IIRC that was me on a very old thread, because I had no idea of Marcotte’s deal aside from some half-remembered stuff about her plagiarising brownfemipower (again IIRC). Which was off-topic for the thread, and I don’t recall Jill telling me not to discuss Marcotte, just not to derail (which I figured was fair). Of course, there might have been other instances of which I’m unaware, but I dunno.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Also, iirc, Schwizzy went after Brownfemipower pretty nastily about that deal. Which is in no small part why WOC are so pissed at him for getting them shut out of mainstream feminism.

      • Safiya Outlines says:

        Yes, but how off-topic have things been around here in the past? Very. Very, very, very.

        How often did Jill used to swoop BTL and rectify off-topicness, let alone threaten someone with banning for doing so? Rarely. Not necessarily because of any bad intentions, free flow of conversation and all that.

        However, elsewhere where on this thread people have given examples of how derails and off-topicness have been used to hurt WoC here and that hurt was not prevented.

        Yet, one supposedly off-topic mention of Amanda Marcotte and the banhammer is waved.

        This is part of the problem, when certain feminists are deemed as “too big to fail/take full accountability for their wrong-doings”.

        I know there will be twitchyness in certain corners about me bringing Amanda Marcotte into this, because this is meant to be the Hugo Schwyzer story.

        Except it’s not about him, not really. The internet is full of entitled, abusive, misogynists, he is one of many. The question is why did high profile feminists choose to back him. Why did they not believe the women who spoke out about him?

        We’re hearing a lot about profiles, book deals and support and other such things. But I still don’t think we are near the real answers and they are answers we need to find if we want to move forward.

      • Fat Steve says:

        How often did Jill used to swoop BTL and rectify off-topicness, let alone threaten someone with banning for doing so? Rarely. Not necessarily because of any bad intentions, free flow of conversation and all that.

        When a person comments here on a semi-regular basis, you can make the assumption that they read the comments.

        I would think that Jill would behave the same way if someone randomly criticized you or I on a thread which we didn’t comment on, as I can’t think of an example where that sort of thing went untolerated.

      • Fat Steve says:

        sorry, meant ‘tolerated’….migraine twisting my melon

      • Lolagirl says:

        Yes! Yes! You get, Safiya, you really get it!

        Even setting aside the silence on Schwizzy issue. There have been numerous times here at Feministe when posters have brought up how a particular post from Jill or whoever ignored WOC completely. And yet, WOC rarely still see their concerns centered in any meaningful way here at Feministe. Despite the fact that they are women just as much as white ladies are, their concerns are too often ignored, and thus erased.

        Which brings me back around to what bugs the most, and what bloggers like Red Light Politics and Brownfemipower have brought up. The reality that the silence wrt to Schwizzy here at Feministe did not include, at the very least, a behind the scenes attempt to boost and give a platform to the WOC Schwizzy was actively going about silencing.

        Because that would have really been the best revenge, as far as I see it. We won’t mention your name, won’t discuss what your doing, and sure as hell won’t publish your stuff at Feministe, Schwizzy. And watch us as we center and give a voice to those you try to freeze out of feminism.

      • yazikus says:

        Yet, one supposedly off-topic mention of Amanda Marcotte and the banhammer is waved.

        I just checked out that thread, to see what went down, and to be fair, her name was mentioned 15 times. I don’t disagree that it would be odd the be banned for one off topic Amanda comment.

      • trees says:

        Except it’s not about him, not really. The internet is full of entitled, abusive, misogynists, he is one of many. The question is why did high profile feminists choose to back him. Why did they not believe the women who spoke out about him?

        Yes, this.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Meh, Yazikus, once you really know the extent of her involvement with Scwhizzy and her erasure of WOC from mainstream feminism it’s hard to have any fucks to give about her or her opinions. Never mind respecting her or her opinions. And it is not overstating to point out how influential Amanda is becoming in mainstream, online feminism.

        I just, I guess I kind of feel like after what she did to Brownfemipower was so shitty, and then having Schwizzy’s back after the Clarisse thing, I don’t cotton to people appearing to tiptoe around her. I’m trying to believe that isn’t what Jill has done in the past, but its hard, given the bigger picture.

    • Helen Huntingdon says:

      What Safiya Outlines says is much more accurate with respect to what went down.

      One truly weird point that we were unable to get any kind of sensible answer to at the time was why Feministe chose to make it absolutely imperative that Schwizzy retain the right to comment here.

      Many tried to explain that this was frightening — knowing that even with everything he had done, his license to barge into the conversation must be preserved as more important than the rest of us put together.

      As there got to me more insistence that Feministe was not standing up for him or giving him a platform, we kept asking why not ban him then? There was some excuse about him being placed in permanent moderation, but that could only mean there was still some intent to provide him with the possibility of a platform — otherwise it makes no sense to give him an option to comment here.

      For all I know, he’s still not banned here. I didn’t come around much after it was made so overwhelmingly clear that Schwizzy > everybody else was woven into the comments policy.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        Ugh, I had forgotten how nasty that whole “Hugo Shall Remain The Most Valued Commenter Ever” thing was. We didn’t just get a refusal to answer what that was about, we got really nasty verbal abuse for even asking.

        And I would have continued to forget if the same whitewashed and unbelievably slanted versions of Feministe’s role weren’t being promulgated all over again in the new “for the record” post that attempts to define the official record as something completely different from what already happened.

        And of course, once again, comments are shut off on a post where they should not be. We can’t have the non-important people challenging whatever the Important People choose to declare to be Official History.

      • tigtog says:

        Helen, are you equating Clarisse’s decisions on how to moderate comments on her own post, back when Feministe did not actually have a Moderator Team acting co-operatively, with Feministe as a whole? Because I for one, as the person who chose to close comments on my own posts for reasons beyond the history here, think that would be quite unfair to the rest of the Feministe collective.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        tigtog, I’m equating the overall pattern of shutting down discussion either by shutting off comments or by other means, such as refusing to answer legitimate questions, responding to legitimate questions with sarcasm and verbal abuse, and so on, with Feministe as a whole.

        Because “Feministe as a whole” is a real thing apart from a collection of the individuals involved. That’s why it has a name and common site. If it were really utterly unrelated actions of disparate individuals, they’d all be off at their own sites with no need of a common name and site to identify them as a unified entity.

      • tigtog says:

        While I can understand your point of view, I don’t believe it’s the only valid one. For instance, to me Feministe is a venue (one of many I have an affiliation with). My time on the stage is my own, and is not necessarily related to what others do with their time on the stage.

      • BBBShrewHarpy says:

        I generally hate censorship and any kind of erasing of records, but I’m a quarter-hair away from recommending Feministe erase all and every post and comment that deals with HS. I feel the TigTog’s posting this “for the record” without enabling comments is in the same vein.

        If you follow her link and then read the comments on Angus Johnston’s blog, you will find comments from a Michael Whiteacre that claim HS had sent him screenshots and proposed text for the revelations about him. In other words, far from being embarrassed by his misdeeds being uncovered, he relishes it and all the discussion surrounding it. And in fact appears to be orchestrating the whole thing or at least pushing it along in all its sordid murk. This implies he’s either working for the book deal we all suspect or is a weirdly omnivorous narcissist devouring all and every mention of his deeds regardless of whether they paint him in a good light (perhaps both).

        We are all providing fodder for this (including me with this comment, unfortunately) and I would personally be happy with a moratorium on it.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        Okay, that’s nice for the people on the stage, because it lets them take the stage without having to think too hard about how they got there. Which is exactly the core of the whole overarching issue here.

        But suppose we pretend that point of view isn’t dripping with privilege for a moment but is just that simple and straightforward. In that case you still make choices about what stage to get on, and those choices declare who you are and what you’re about.

        When there’s scary shit happening on that stage, how you choose to participate or not declares who you are and what you’re about. You can get together with the other users of the stage and say, “I don’t think we should allow this in our shared venue.” If that doesn’t work, you can say, “I’m not going to be associated with this, so I will no longer walk on this stage.”

        That’s what I’m seeing some people in my completely unrelated profession do right now in real time — they’re declaring that there is injustice in the running of one of the biggest stages there is, so at serious professional cost to themselves, they are refusing to walk on that stage.

      • tigtog says:

        When there’s scary shit happening on that stage, how you choose to participate or not declares who you are and what you’re about. You can get together with the other users of the stage and say, “I don’t think we should allow this in our shared venue.”

        Which is what the Feministe collective has been doing since absorbing the lessons from the storms of 2011 and is continuing to do. I’m not claiming that haven’t made other mistakes since, but we are determined not to let what happened then ever happen again.

        It’s easier for me to stand up in this thread and say this than it is for those of my co-bloggers who were scarred by the fallout from Clarisse’s posts. I was not an active blogger here then, I was only doing tech support, and I didn’t cop any of the flak directly. To me this is largely a non-emotional issue, and I do understand how privileged this makes me on this thread. My privilege doesn’t however make my perspective valueless in terms of what Feministe is now versus what it was then.

        One of the reasons I started posting non-tech posts here again, starting the weekly Open Threads from January 2013 onwards, is because I wanted to work on community building to make the commentariat a less hostile place so that it didn’t scare off potential co-bloggers and guest bloggers. Because that’s what was happening, and it didn’t make any of us working behind the scenes happy. We wanted it to change, we’ve been working hard for it to change, but we didn’t have a magic wand to wave to make it happen. It’s taken time to get us as far as we’ve come, and it will take more time to get the larger Feministe community to where we would like it to be.

        If that doesn’t work, you can say, “I’m not going to be associated with this, so I will no longer walk on this stage.”

        Others’ opinions may obviously vary, and that’s their prerogative; I don’t think Feministe is so irredeemable that I’m going to disavow this venue. If that lowers your opinion of me, so be it.

      • tigtog says:

        BTW, it’s well after midnight here in Sydney, so I’m going to bed. Since it’s still the weekend in the US, the other moderators may well be busy doing non-blog things. So comments on this thread for the next few hours may spend some time in moderation until one of the moderator team can log in to approve them. Please be patient – there’s nothing personal going on.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        tigtog, when you write a post with “for the record” in the title and include a section that declares “the facts” on “the past relationship between HS and Feministe”, you really don’t get to argue that you’re acting solely as an individual and not part of Feministe as a whole.

      • tigtog says:

        Helen, I was specifically rebutting counterfactual claims:

        * claim: that Jill and/or Feministe had ever acted as editors for HS posting articles on Feministe. That never happened.
        * claim: that Feministe promoted HS as heavily as Jezebel etc did over the last few years. That never happened.
        * claim: that Feministe allowed HS to continue commenting here over the last few years since the Clarisse-storm in December 2011. That never happened.

        I’m happy to amend the post to include the clause “regarding those particular claims” after the words “the facts” in order to be punctilious about other areas of contention.

        Are you claiming that any of the particular 3 rebuttals above are incorrect?

        [this post has been edited for clarification]

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        “If that lowers your opinion of me, so be it.”

        Oh for heaven’s sake, tigtog, that is major privilege-laden goalpost-shifting. Nobody, including you and including me, really cares about my individual opinion of you, and that is not remotely what any of this is about.

        “let’s reiterate the facts” was not at all adequately specific if you were only trying to rebut 3 specific points and not imply you were presenting all “the facts” “about the past relationship between HS and Feministe”. If that was your aim, you might want to edit your post.

        As to the accuracy of your rebuttals, I don’t know whether or not the first two are accurate or not. The third though, may or may not contain actual untruths, but is a really unbelievably freaking dishonest representation of what went down. Go back and read that thread, and the statements of excruciating pain from some women of color there.

        Saying that when the decision to ban HS was made, it had been weeks since it was an issue, is a really ugly coverup of the verbal abuse that was dished out by Feministe to commentors who ask why, if Feministe was no longer supporting HS, was he allowed to comment on that very thread announcing that and why was he not banned?

        Their pain is heartbreaking. Don’t freaking whitewash it. That’s nasty.

      • tigtog says:

        “let’s reiterate the facts” was not at all adequately specific if you were only trying to rebut 3 specific points and not imply you were presenting all “the facts” “about the past relationship between HS and Feministe”. If that was your aim, you might want to edit your post.

        The post was edited in line with my comment 30 minutes previous to this comment of yours.

        As to the accuracy of your rebuttals, I don’t know whether or not the first two are accurate or not.

        Anybody can factcheck that what was gleaned by me from our database to inform the rebuttals matches the snapshots taken of Feministe at the time by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

        The third though, may or may not contain actual untruths, but is a really unbelievably freaking dishonest representation of what went down. Go back and read that thread, and the statements of excruciating pain from some women of color there.

        My rebuttals are against specific falsehoods being propagated around the femmosphere, they’re not meant to be a full summary of every aspect, because Jill has already made a comprehensive attempt to address other points in this very post. That’s why I linked to it from my latest post about HS admitting to betraying his pedagogical, moral and ethical obligations by using his students for sex, which is the primary point I actually wanted to emphasise as being on the record.

      • tigtog says:

        Saying that when the decision to ban HS was made, it had been weeks since it was an issue, is a really ugly coverup of the verbal abuse that was dished out by Feministe to commentors who ask why, if Feministe was no longer supporting HS, was he allowed to comment on that very thread announcing that and why was he not banned?

        This is not a simple question to answer, and I’m not even capable of answering it in specific, because I was not directly involved. I’m sure that won’t satisfy you, but the best answer I’ve got is a general one, which will take a few paragraphs to lay out.

        The principle of not abrogating the free speech of others was long upheld as a guiding principle by many other bloggers here at Feministe. I’ve blogged for many years now on my own blog against allowing just anybody to poison comment threads just because they cry “Freeze Peach” (anyone who can comment on somebody else’s blog has the wherewithal to set up their own blog using a free service, so the principle of free speech is not being abridged by a blog owner declining publication of certain comments in their own corner of cyberspace). It took me a long time to persuade others here that setting tighter boundaries on unacceptable content that should be declined publication was not an unacceptable breach of a foundational principle; that tighter curation of comment threads was in fact standing up for our readers, not silencing them.

        I surmise (but it is only informed speculation, not a pronouncement) that the reason why Hugo was allowed to comment on that thread was because, at the time, the idea that not supporting him in blog posts extended to not allowing him to comment in his own defense would have seemed unjust. I doubt that anyone who held that view then still holds it.

        Since the Clarisse-HS storm, various changes to the way comments are managed have been gradually introduced in hopes of improving an infamously toxic commenting culture that was egregiously easy to troll/derail here. My own suggestions were tentative at first, because my role was only tech support. Over time, my role has expanded to be more of a community-building one. It takes a long time to change a community culture, but it’s beginning to happen as we fine-tune our moderation tools and stated boundaries in response to commentor feedback. It will always remain a work in progress.

        The failures of the past cannot be undone. I do not intend to erase or whitewash them. I do intend to play my part in ensuring that the way we handle the inevitable fails to come is far better from now on.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        “claim: that Feministe allowed HS to continue commenting here over the last few years. That never happened.”

        This comes across as possibly lying and gaslighting, depending on how you define “last few years”. I can’t come up with a definition of “last few years” that could possibly mean less than 2-3 years, and HS was allowed to comment on a thread in late December 2011, which means that he was allowed to comment at Feministe less than two years ago.

        Now as far as I can see, his comment or comments on that thread was/were deleted, but that doesn’t mean they “never happen”ed.

        We the unimportant people saw. You the People Who Matter can erase the records and write “That never happened”, but it still did. We saw.

        If you meant, “since December 2011″, please change the wording of your post.

      • tigtog says:

        I did mean ‘since December 2011′, since that is when the Clarisse-storm went down. I had no intention of gaslighting. 2011 is to me a ‘few years’ ago, even though yes, December 2011 is less than two full calendar years ago.

        I will however now write anything further on this in a super formal Spock-like style to avoid any further misunderstandings.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        “I will however now write anything further on this in a super formal Spock-like style to avoid any further misunderstandings.”

        Right, because getting your facts straight on a topic on which you have been grossly misrepresenting what happened is such an unreasonable request that it calls for snarking.

      • tigtog says:

        Getting my facts straight is not an unreasonable request.

        Grossly uncharitable readings of what I have written bring out my defensive side, I admit. Or does gross misrepresentation only go one way here?

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        “My rebuttals are against specific falsehoods being propagated around the femmosphere, they’re not meant to be a full summary of every aspect, because Jill has already made a comprehensive attempt to address other points in this very post. ”

        tigtog, I can’t even figure out what this is supposed to mean, because it does not remotely appear to address the very crucial point that your third “rebuttal” bullet paints an extremely dishonest picture of what happened, conveniently whitewashing away really vicious and vile behavior on the part of Feministe.

        I see you’re just plain ignoring my point that you wrote what radical women of color wrote as expressions of pain in the thread in question. Because that really is the status quo that must be upheld isn’t it? Their voices don’t count. The narrative that the People Who Matter choose to tell is.

        This is downright sleazy.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        “Grossly uncharitable readings of what I have written bring out my defensive side, I admit. Or does gross misrepresentation only go one way here?”

        You gave up any reasonable expectation of charitable readings when you posted your grossly dishonest narrative in your third bullet in you “for the record” post.

        If you want the benefit of the doubt, DON’T DO THINGS THAT UGLY. Have you gone to the relevant thread and read the heartbreaking descriptions of pain on this? Or do they continue not to matter?

      • tigtog says:

        Helen, my narrative was not intended to be dishonest. I accept the charge that it is not an adequate representation of the facts, and I have edited it accordingly.

        I was insufficiently clear in the original version about which specific claims I was rebutting. I hope that clarifying the specific claims in the latest edit makes it clearer that I was not intending to erase the many things Feministe did get wrong while arguing against claims of things Feministe never did at all. If I need to clarify further please let me know.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        tigtog, unless you apply completely different definitions of verbal abuse, I really cannot see how you’re getting that I’ve been verbally abusing you, but on that old thread Feministe wasn’t verbally abusing anybody.

        I see you’re repeating Caperton’s trick — ignore the real question, ignore most of the comment in question, most of all ignore what was going on that thread that the question was about, and cherry pick one piece of it to throw a fit over after it’s separated from the context that gives it meaning. It’s a nice way of evading the very serious question asked.

        I asked a real question that others asked as well — why was there, from what we could see, an enormous double-standard protecting HS as some special class of commenter?

        Did you read the thread yet, meaning the statements of real pain on there? Because Caperton’s ignore-the-question-and-go-for-verbal-abuse response really hurt some people, including one of the people really harmed by HS’s attempts to manipulate who counts in “feminism”: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/24/a-different-take-on-accountability/#comment-423214

        And yet that response by Caperton was allowed to stand as the official response with no one coming back and saying that was not okay, or would not be a pattern for the future. That was part of the pattern of abuse on that thread — the people in power leaving things hanging, gaslighting, side-stepping questions, just not answering them no matter how many people asked. When you combine that with even one nasty verbal attack, the pattern as a whole feels like one big attack to those under the lash. Which you can tell if you read the comments of those smarting.

        Gaslighting: There was the responding to real questions with a lie or something close to it as an evasion, such as “Hugo has not been banned because Hugo has not tried to leave a comment here” when he had commented on that very thread. Gaslighting is a really ugly form of verbal abuse.

        http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/24/a-different-take-on-accountability/#comment-423138

        http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/24/a-different-take-on-accountability/#comment-423322 — This one asserts to ban HS would be “preemtive”, again making it sound like he hadn’t come back and commented in the very thread where it was announced he was unwelcome.

        You declared that to be in no way abusive, but when it comes from someone who’s already gaslighting and carefully gaslights over the order of events on that very thread, yeah, it is.

        It’s really fine with me if you don’t happen to agree with my personal view of what’s important on that thread or surrounding that issue. What I do want and have wanted all along is for you to really read the thread and the most acute statements of pain for what they really are. If you had done that to start with, we would probably never have had this conversation.

      • Donna L says:

        I really cannot see how you’re getting that I’ve been verbally abusing you,

        Repeatedly accusing tigtog of dishonesty and gross misrepresentation, rather than a more neutral characterization such as being mistaken — particularly given that as you know, she wasn’t personally involved at all in the underlying fiasco — qualifies as verbal abuse to me.

        We can all read that 1,024-comment thread ourselves and decide how to characterize what happened. I viewed the thread as a positive (albeit frustrating) experience at the time, and still do, in light of the fact that the commentariat was essentially united in condemning HS and refusing to consider his various pathetic excuses and self-justification.

        I must say I had completely forgotten, though, how much I ended up finding it necessary to deal with transphobia and/or ciscentrism, none of which really had anything to do with the topic, but managed to rear its ugly head nonetheless. I don’t think I have the energy to do that anymore.

      • PrettyAmiable says:

        Helen, I was on team “pre-emptively ban him,” but saying Caperton gaslit the community because she didn’t count his one comment about no longer commenting at Feministe seems to stretch the definition of gaslighting. I understand the sensitivity to gaslighting given how it’s the HS-way of life, but an honest mistake (missing/ignoring/forgetting a brief comment where he flounced some 800 comments earlier) is not gaslighting.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        “Repeatedly accusing tigtog of dishonesty and gross misrepresentation, rather than a more neutral characterization such as being mistaken — particularly given that as you know, she wasn’t personally involved at all in the underlying fiasco — qualifies as verbal abuse to me.”

        Donna L, when someone writes a post with “for the record” in the title and include a section that declares “the facts” on “the past relationship between HS and Feministe”, doesn’t that kind of mean they’ve looked at the facts?

        Even so, I tended to go for phrasing like “appears dishonest” and kept asking if she had read the thread in question, just in case she somehow hadn’t despite her implication that she was presenting “the facts”. She never really did answer me on that one.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        “I understand the sensitivity to gaslighting given how it’s the HS-way of life, but an honest mistake (missing/ignoring/forgetting a brief comment where he flounced some 800 comments earlier) is not gaslighting.”

        Pretty Amiable, exactly — which is why in that thread multiple commenters responded to Caperton that HS had in fact posted in that very thread. They were ignored. It went like this:

        “Not banned b/c not commenting”
        bunch of people: “Yes he is! Right up there!”
        *crickets*
        various: “So why not banned?”
        “Don’t do preemptive banning of someone not commenting” gaslighty response

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        “Did you read the thread yet, meaning the statements of real pain on there? Because Caperton’s ignore-the-question-and-go-for-verbal-abuse response really hurt some people, including one of the people really harmed by HS’s attempts to manipulate who counts in “feminism”: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/24/a-different-take-on-accountability/#comment-423214

        I just realized I failed here to name the author of the comment I linked to, and that is not just a simple mistake, but a piece in a pattern of systemic injustice.

        The author is blackamazon. She can be found at http://blackamazon.tumblr.com.

        I apologize.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        “This is not a simple question to answer, and I’m not even capable of answering it in specific, because I was not directly involved. I’m sure that won’t satisfy you, but the best answer I’ve got is a general one, which will take a few paragraphs to lay out.”

        tigtog, that whole comment of yours was a very helpful narrative and you did a good job of laying it out, and answering some questions that may have never been answered from the point of view of the commenters. Thank you for doing that.

        It would be really helpful if you would change:

        “Following the storm unleashed by that post, Clarisse decided to stop blogging here and HS was blocked from commenting (a largely symbolic gesture since he’d already announced weeks earlier that he would no longer comment here, and has not attempted to do so since).”

        in your “for the record” post to something at is not grossly misleading. Much as I appreciate your explanation of why no one would answer the banning question at the time it was raised, that wasn’t the concern I was raising. What concerns me is that your third bullet point presents a fundamentally dishonest narrative instead of something reflective of what really happened.

        “Following the storm unleashed by that post, Clarisse decided to stop blogging here” — as far as I know, that’s more or less accurate.

        “and HS was blocked from commenting (a largely symbolic gesture since he’d already announced weeks earlier that he would no longer comment here, and has not attempted to do so since).”

        This manages to paint a fundamentally false and egregiously dishonest picture. It makes it sound like HS was banned and this announced in some kind of prompt and timely fashion as a way to humor people over a long-dead issue. The reality is that no one would give a straight answer to anything on his banning, it was a real and vital issue to many commenters, and Feministe piled ugly verbal abuse on those of us who dared to question this and to point out the outrageousness in the double-standards being used to excuse preserving HS’s status as a future commenter at all costs.

      • tigtog says:

        Helen, I have edited the post to clarify several matters, particularly the points you raise about my third bullet point. This is how that section now reads:

        * CLAIM: HS was a frequent contributor of posts on Feministe.
        FACT: HS has never published a post, not even a guest post, on Feministe. His work has been occasionally linked to and/or quoted by Feministe authors, although not for many years (other than one notorious time as detailed below).

        * CLAIM: HS’s work was frequently linked/promoted on Feministe in recent years.
        FACT: [eta]Since 2008, there have only been 2 posts on Feministe in which HS was mentioned positively.[/eta] Until Clarisse Thorn posted an interview with him in December 2011, HS had not been mentioned in any post on Feministe since a single post in January 2009, which itself was the first time HS had been mentioned in a post since August 2008.

        * CLAIM: HS has continued to be supported by Feministe since 2011.
        FACT: Apart from Clarisse’s interview, HS has largely been ignored by Feministe since 2008. His right to comment on posts here remained, that’s it. Following the storm unleashed by her interview post, Clarisse decided to stop blogging here and HS was eventually blocked from commenting due to pushback from the commentariat. At the time his banning was officially announced, HS had already pledged to cease commenting here, so the final banning seemed largely symbolic, but symbols are important and it should have been announced sooner.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        It’s a big improvement, but it’s still really bad.

        “CLAIM: HS has continued to be supported by Feministe since 2011.
        FALSE:”

        Uh, well, have you really been reading what the problems are? Because he’s been supported by a campaign of strategic silence, as others have explained far better than I could. If you want to say he hasn’t been linked, been allowed to post, or been allowed to comment, better to say that.

        “Apart from Clarisse’s interview, HS has largely been ignored by Feministe since 2008. His right to comment on posts here remained, that’s it.”

        That’s only “largely been ignored” if you’re in the “by the People Who Matter, not those little people who natter over their little nothings” mindset. Giving him free access to publish what he chooses in your comments section is not in any way shape or form ignoring when it’s someone with a track record of using such spaces in coordinated misinformation campaigns.

        “Following the storm unleashed by her interview post, Clarisse decided to stop blogging here”

        I couldn’t quite put my finger on what bugged me about this yesterday, but it’s that Clarisse (and the entity Feministe) are centered in the narrative, and legions of the harmed and the horrified are neatly vanished from the narrative. Oh, wait, they’re a “storm”. Not rational, thinking, beings pointing out very real problems in the face of hostility and abuse, but a force of nature no one can reason with. How nice.

        There’s a reason I keep saying Feministe talks in terms of “The People Who Matter and all the rest of you peons” — because that’s how you keep writing your narratives on this topic.

        “and HS was eventually blocked from commenting due to pushback from the commentariat.”

        This might work if you added something like, “which was handled very poorly and at times abusively by Feministe.”

        “At the time his banning was officially announced, HS had already pledged to cease commenting here,”

        WTF is this even here? This is the opposite of all sense. HS’s track record clearly proves that his pledges are not kept, and no matter what he promises, he does not leave venues (other than temporary flounces to drum up drama) unless forced out.

        What the hell is going on that a “pledge” from this guy is central to the narrative? Nobody with an ounce of integrity believed it at the time. It was just not possible to believe it without deliberately ignoring the evidence offered up by people who evidently don’t matter. HS bet on the racism of white feminists to sell that kind of horsepucky, and he won. We all know that was the deal.

        “so the final banning seemed largely symbolic,”

        TO WHOM? Only to Feministe’s little list of People Who Matter. The rest of us who were dealing with objective reality, looking at his real record, and listening to a bigger share of voices could see that there was nothing symbolic about it whatsoever, since it was the only way to keep him out.

        “but symbols are important and it should have been announced sooner.”

        Oh how nice if you to throw a bone to the little people who fuss over their little irrelevances that don’t matter to The (White) People Who Matter.

      • tigtog says:

        Helen, the third bullet point has been amended again to take in to account some of your criticisms above. From this point on, if somebody other than you points out further problems with it, then I am prepared to listen, but for now I have had enough of you abusing me.

        * * * * *

        While the webhost was fixing the server, I happened to have Caperton’s post from December 2011 already open in a browser tab, planning to look for what you claimed were repeated examples of abuse from Feministe bloggers against those who were complaining about Hugo not being fully banned (following what turned out to be a semantic miscommunication regarding what “she’s gone” in reference to another commentor meant in respect of what was understood as “banning”), so I spent the hour scanning the thread.

        What I actually found was one sarcastic (but not IMO abusive) response from Caperton to you personally after you had capped off your complaint with this hyperbolic piece of rhetoric:

        The object lesson would appear to be Feministe is in favor of dudes who try to murder women?

        Caperton’s response to you is the very next comment in that thread. It hardly surprises me that Caperton treated you personally from that point on as a bad faith interlocutor.

        Caperton’s later response to the accumulating complaints from many other commentors that Hugo had not been fully banned was not in any way abusive of them. The first paragraph was dismissive of your question as quoted above, and then it went on to address the complaints generally without abuse of any kind.

        I could find no abusive responses from anybody on that thread, let alone a Feministe blogger, to anyone complaining that Hugo had not yet been banned. If I missed one, please link to it and I will modify this statement accordingly.

        * * * * *

        So, I have now listened to you repeatedly abuse me on this thread and have nonetheless incorporated some of your suggestions into my post. I accept your anger, but I refuse to accept further abuse from you.

      • Fat Steve says:

        This manages to paint a fundamentally false and egregiously dishonest picture. It makes it sound like HS was banned and this announced in some kind of prompt and timely fashion as a way to humor people over a long-dead issue. The reality is that no one would give a straight answer to anything on his banning, it was a real and vital issue to many commenters, and Feministe piled ugly verbal abuse on those of us who dared to question this and to point out the outrageousness in the double-standards being used to excuse preserving HS’s status as a future commenter at all costs.

        Helen, I’m going to assume you’re arguing in good faith despite some evidence to the contrary.

        It’s simple. Feministe does not issue formal bans. The fact that HS hasn’t posted since is pretty much evidence of a de facto ban. Roman Polanski is not ‘banned’ from the US, yet the arrest warrant against him acts as a de facto ban.

      • debbie says:

        You are obviously unsatisfied by how this is being written about here- maybe it’s time for you to get your own blog where you can write whatever you want instead of trying to force tigtog to do it for you?

  8. f. says:

    Let’s please be clear on the fact that this is not an isolated incident. I don’t want to make this all about the history of one specific blog seeing as it is a persistent problem in feminism as a whole. But I would like to add another piece of Feministe history that I’d describe as “really screwed up” to this conversation. What about the persistent awful comments that led Chally to stop guest blogging here, on this note:

    As for Feministe, I’ve tried my best to direct readers to, and conversations along, those lines: I’ve wanted conversations that go towards all of us. I have spent long, frustrating, pre-dawn moments working at this, until every last one of my friends spent a solid year asking me when I was going to quit, telling me no one would blame me for a second if I did, because no one should have to put up with the kind of thing I was getting from readers simply because of who I was. I have received violent threats, I have received remarks about my family and my racial background. I have received the more mundane forces of attempts to hijack almost every single conversation and make it about something closer to feminist and social norms, which seem curiously aligned at times. I have taken every kind of pressure you can imagine. And I wasn’t going to quit until I had said every last thing I wanted to say, until I made it quite clear that women like me are in fact here, feminist, and important. I did my very best, but it’s not good enough; it’s never going to be enough until everyone cares about everyone else, not just the kinds of feminism such as work for the dominant set. I’ve done my best, and I have given everything I have to give.

    What gets me is the profound lack of lovingkindness displayed towards fellow people. My way of thinking is that true justice goes towards us all, all at once. You don’t have to understand, you just have to reach out to someone different until you can communicate. And that’s not something I’ve been seeing a lot of in the feminist communities in which I have engaged in my time as a feminist.

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/04/26/the-time-has-come-the-walrus-said-to-talk-of-many-things/

    I am vaguely aware that moderating policies here have changed since then, but please consider how Chally’s run here mirrors the stories of many of the women who were attacked by Hugo. Like bfp she was really young when she started writing here, and her experiences were regularly audited by commenters who might well be a lot older than that. People seemed to be close-reading her posts in an effort to trip her up or find some weak spot. It wasn’t charitable reading at all. She had access to a certain platform but to me,it often seemed like mods and other bloggers were not willing to mix it up in the comments or change policies on her behalf. The debate-club ethos of the comments here was allowed to persist even when she would explicitly address it in her posts and made it clear that people were actually hurting her by acting that way.

    This is not to derail the conversation. It is to point out one instance of MANY in which it seems to me that solidarity for a woman of color was painfully absent.

    • Safiya Outlines says:

      True. Another example I can think of is the comment sections to the Maia posts, which were a horror show. Although, again, I would absolutely agree that the mod policy is much better now.

      • Donna L says:

        I didn’t start commenting here until the fall of 2011 (except for leaving one trans-related comment on one of Maia’s threads, about which I recall she was quite receptive), and I think it’s true that things have improved since then in terms of the moderating policies. I can’t, and won’t try to, speak about how WOC feel, but I can definitely say that Feministe is a much less hostile place for trans women than it used to be, back when I was only reading, not commenting. (I do think it’s fair to say that there are some parallels between mainstream feminism’s treatment of WOC, and its treatment of trans women, over the last 40-50 years. There have been a number of things I’ve read on SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen#, and previously, that have seemed very familiar.)

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Here lately it’s gotten pretty hostile for WoC, sad to say.

      • Jenna says:

        Of the blogs that I bother to read the comments on, Feministe is still rougher than most. It’s about on the edge of what I can stand to read. I do continue to come here and read comments because some of the commenters have linked to things that have really taught me things, or someone phrases a comment in such a way that I see something that I haven’t before. However, I still have to brace myself sometimes to come read the comments because there are more personal attacks here, in general, than I am comfortable with.

      • Donna L says:

        I completely accept that that’s your and Pheeno’s experience, and believe me, I know it’s completely justified as to race issues.

        At least for specifically trans issues, though (to the extent they don’t intersect with race), Feministe has now become one of only a very, very tiny number of feminist blogs where transphobic comments — and cissplaining, and ciscentric interrogation of trans people — aren’t allowed to go on indefinitely, and get cut off. That’s been true here pretty much ever since the giraffe system went into effect. And it’s very, very different from how it was before, as demonstrated by the 2007 and 2009 threads to which people have recently linked.

        The only other place I know of like that is Shakesville. If there are any others, I’d love to know about it. All the general progressive and feminist blogs I know about are horrifying in that respect, no matter how trans-friendly the place claims to be. (Feministing doesn’t count, because they don’t have comments there at all anymore.)

      • tigtog says:

        Donna, what I still think of as “my” blog, even though it’s been a group blog for a long time, Hoyden About Town, does not tolerate anti-trans commentary of any kind, neither does Geek Feminism. So far as I know, none of the contributors to either blog would tolerate anti-trans comments at any of their personal blogs, either.

      • trees says:

        If there are any others, I’d love to know about it. All the general progressive and feminist blogs I know about are horrifying in that respect, no matter how trans-friendly the place claims to be.

        Racialicious is well moderated, but there aren’t a lot of comments.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        The Maia posts, which I had to be pointed to because I was no longer reading… That was one of the most horrific shitshows I’ve ever seen on the internet. I’m still shocked that was allowed to happen.

        And it’s not just Chally. Other WoC bloggers have left because I think they were burned out as well — and not wonderfully supported by those who’d been around longer. That’s been bad for the blog, which has not been nearly as good in a very long time.

      • Chally says:

        Okay, I’ve been trying not to say anything, because it’s not the point of this thread, but I am kind of over being called on in this way in the comments on this blog and elsewhere. I did not leave this blog because I was burned up, Kristen, and f., I very much appreciate the thoughtfulness and kindness and support, but I wasn’t driven off here, and I was actually on staff, not a guest blogger. I said everything I have to say on this subject in a comment at Hoyden About Town, and would like what I have actually said about my actual experience on this blog to be respected.

        I appreciated this post, Jill. I hope that white feminism will get more of a grip on this dynamic from now on, and am switching between a lot of hope and very little.

      • f. says:

        Hey Chally, I am glad to see you here. I hope I didn’t give the impression of holding you up as a martyr of some kind; I still follow your writing at Zero At The Bone when I can, and I know you’re still doing awesome things and weren’t silenced, but I don’t read Hoyden About Town and wasn’t aware of your statement there. I am sorry for misrepresenting your position on staff as a blogger here and didn’t mean to in any way diminish your contributions by erroneously calling it “guest blogging.” In short, I am sorry for quoting your final post in a way in which you never intended it.

      • f. says:

        And now I feel that I’ve been woefully unclear and defensive. Instead of following an impulse to make sure that your powerful words ended up on this thread, it would have been my job to do some research and find out what else you had said on the issue in the meantime. Instead, I hurried to quote something that wasn’t mine to say and dragged your words into a context that wasn’t mine to decide. I really am sorry and will think hard about how to do better next time.

      • Chally says:

        That’s fine, f.; you’ve been very kind.

    • trees says:

      Does anyone remember Holly? She was a trans* WOC regular contributor. Her posts were wonderful, but she too had a rough time here.

  9. verucaamish says:

    Powerful post but I am struggling with one part: “I don’t want to heap blame on the many women who were manipulated by him. Abuse happens on a learning curve. Hugo burned a lot of people a lot of times in a lot of obvious and not-so-obvious ways. He burned friends, lovers, colleagues, wives, children, and strangers on the internet. He’s an abuser — a narcissist — and that’s what they do. They are toxic, and spread that toxicity under layers of charm, intelligence, flattery, and respectability. I don’t want to blame folks because they were behind other folks on the learning curve.” Why can’t you, as a white feminist call out the circle of white feminists who perpetuated this travesty? Is this not the same wagon circling that gave Hugo Schwyzer the space he needed in white mainstream feminist circles?

    • Yeah. By that account, no one’s really bigoted/enabling, they’re all just behind the curve.

    • EG says:

      I read it as a kind of misplaced gallantry, like Jill not naming Clarisse as the guest blogger who thought HS was totes cool, combined with not wanting to seem to offload her responsibility by blaming other people (“Yeah, but Susie did it worse!”). But ultimately, I agree: it reads like the mainstream online white feminists who supported HS are somehow his victims, instead of being complicit in victimizing the WoC bloggers he attacked and shut out.

    • Athenia says:

      Yeah, it’s one thing to believe your fellow white feminists were behind the curve, and quite another when Jezebel seemed to be actively banning commenters from criticizing Hugo. I don’t believe that has happened with anyone else besides Hugo. And that’s a BIG BIG BIG problem.

      • Buttered Lilies says:

        No, Jezebel has a history of banning people who criticize any of the writers too strongly. It’s abhorrent that they published him, but banning commenters who criticize the writers is pretty consistent with how they handle things.

      • esoteric turtle says:

        I strongly disagree. I’ve been on Jezebel for years, and Hugo is the only writer who commenters were routinely banned for criticizing. Jez is definitely very touchy about criticism, but the way they went after anyone who talked about Hugo’s past was very different than they have ever treated other criticism. It was extremely important to Jezebel that its readers remain in the dark about all the disgusting things Hugo has said and done, and they went to Draconian lengths to accomplish this. They have never protected any of their female writers to a fraction of the same degree (and of course, a woman with Hugo’s history would never have been allowed to write for the site in the first place).

    • Karak says:

      Because valid criticism is one thing but going after people like they’re kids that shit on the rug is another. Jill isn’t a god or even a mod of those sites and organizations, and waving herself around as a hero is just toothless pandering.

      Bitching out Jezebel doesn’t fix her actions or do anything constructive; it’s just fake looking-good.

      • XtinaS says:

        “Bitching out Jezebel”

        Could we not?

      • evil fizz says:

        You mean using that phrasing, not that Jezebel shouldn’t be criticized, right?

      • XtinaS says:

        Oh, absolutely. Apologies for not being clear! The issue I’m having is with the word choice; I am all for condemning Jezebel.

      • Karak says:

        We, as commentariat, should, but for Jill to do it strikes me as gross and ego-stroking. “Look at how awesome I am compared to them!” Especially because that really invites praise of Jill without nuanced critique of her and her work.

        I would prefer she avoid those behaviors. But us down here are the peanut gallery, and we should throw shells.

      • XtinaS says:

        @Karak:

        I am solely referring to your use of the word “bitching” on a feminist blog. Could You Not.

      • Athenia says:

        I know Jill isn’t a god, but I do think it’s important to accurately describe what has been going on. Perhaps Jill isn’t aware, that’s fine. I’m here as a Jezebel commenter sharing my experience. I think Jill would agree with me that if an outlet is actively silencing anyone who is trying to speak out an author’s history, that we need to know about that.

  10. Alexandra says:

    Of course he says he’s having a bipolar episode… like bipolar people don’t get enough bad press already. God fucking damnit. fuckfuckfuck.

    • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

      Haha, I know, right. Thanks a lot, Hugo.

    • Yeah no shit. But you know, there was only the one ism he hadn’t hit yet, and he sure is trying for a blackout on Douche Bingo, so…

      • Alexandra says:

        I’m just about to lose it here. I was talking to my mother about how my migraines have been really bad lately, and how I’d asked my psychiatrist for a referral but he told me to just keep taking over the counter pain meds. She handed me last sunday’s NYT, which had a great article about how doctors refuse to treat chronic pain in the mentally ill, and as a result, people with bipolar disorder die twenty-five years earlier, on average, than mentally healthy people, of preventable and treatable physical illnesses.

        I am so sick of watching people turn away from me, physically recoil from me, when they learn that I have this illness. And now Hugo Schwyzer is just fucking appropriating this experience so he can duck responsibility once again.

      • Goddamn, Alexandra. I knew it was bad, but not that bad. All the hugs if you want ’em.

        And yeah. I’ve got a friend who’s bipolar and has other health issues besides and damn is it rough on her. That news is just…profoundly tragic.

      • moviemaedchen says:

        Virtual hugs if wanted. That’s fucking infuriating – both the refusal to treat and Voldeschwyzz’s appropriation of the condition. I’m sorry.

      • White Rabbit says:

        That stat is horrible. I’m not easily surprised anymore, but that got me. And I know I’m just an Internet stranger, but I’m so sorry about how people have treated you.

        I also suffer from terrible migraines, including symptoms I previously had no idea were even related to migraine (including temporarily losing my ability to speak/read/write, which is terrifying). I spent four years being dismissively told by my primary care doctors that it was just my PTSD/anxiety. I finally found a doctor who listened to me and sent me to a neurologist, and it turns out I have a rare form of migraine that has been causing my misery-making symptoms. I also learned that there are prescription medicines that are much more helpful for migraineurs than anything available over the counter.

        I don’t mean to tell you what to do, but are you able to see another doctor to get the referral you need? I realize your resources may be limited, so I don’t mean to be condescending or presumptuous. I just can’t stand the thought of a fellow migraineur suffering needlessly like I did for so long.

        As for HS, I’ve been disgusted by his continuous efforts to blame his abusive behavior on his mental illness. Seeing folks accept that and run with it, and in some instances argue with me about it, has been maddening. As an abuse survivor, I’m all the more infuriated, as I’m all too aware of how abusers use that narrative to gain sympathy and slither away without consequences.

      • Annaleigh says:

        OMG, that’s a terrifying statistic. So sorry about your migraines. *hugs if ok* And yeah, as a person with bipolar myself, I think my blood pressure went through the roof when I saw Schwyzer was know attributing some of his bullshit to bipolar…

    • Alexandra says:

      Hugo Schwyzer

      The point is that I’m sui generis. I’m not symptomatic of a problem in feminism, I’m a reminder of what manipulative mentally ill can do.

      Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, bipolar disorder is not a personality trait, you lying, responsibility-ducking, manipulative piece of shit.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        “I’m not just a monstrous a-hole, I’m the most unique/special monstrous a-hole EVER”

      • Alexandra says:

        I admit, stepping away from my initial anger, it’s actually fairly brilliant. On the one hand, he invites you to hate him. On the other hand, and more subtly, he makes you feel guilt for hating him – because after all, he must be suffering more than you are at his hands, what with him experiencing mental illness and all. How can you be sure you’re not being a big mean ableist by telling him he’s an asshole?

        It’s too perfect, and convenient, for me to believe. Maybe he’s manic. But maybe he is claiming bipolar disorder as his excuse, rather than alcoholism or drug addiction or a personality disorder, because bipolar disorder is often treated as one of the “two most serious mental illnesses”, up there with schizophrenia. It is a mental illness whose sufferers are assumed to be truly incapable of controlling themselves while in the depths of a serious episode, who are uncontrolled, uncontrollable, and above all tragic figures.

        Yet, of the many bipolar people in my life, what I can say is, bipolar disorder is not a personality type. It is a mood disorder, not a personality disorder – though it is often treated as a personality disorder by the ignorant (and frankly personality disorders are so stigmatized I want to be careful, and respectful, here). There are bipolar people I have known who have been angry, dangerous, violent people while in the depths of an illness. I experience bipolar disorder mostly as a compulsion to harm myself when I am depressed, or to start 110 different projects and artworks and short stories when I am manic. I have friends who mostly experience hypomania, and others who mostly experience depression, but none of us experience bipolar disorder as, “Whoops, time to abuse people on twitter!” disorder.

        None of this is to say that it’s impossible that Schwyzer does, in fact, have bipolar disorder – assholes wind up with bipolar too, after all. But his assholery doesn’t have that much to do with his mania. It’s not like he was manic the whole goddamn time he was misbehaving, or being abusive to WoC online.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        I’m bipolar as well and I don’t believe he’s manic for a fucking second. I’ll buy that he’s all up in Cluster B, I think that’s pretty clear.

      • Moi says:

        ‘I’m bipolar as well and I don’t believe he’s manic for a fucking second. I’ll buy that he’s all up in Cluster B, I think that’s pretty clear.’

        I am so with you. I’m bipolar II, my husband and various relatives are bipolar I, and I was also reading through his blog (UGH) and he says at a number of points he was hospitalized over six times for a period of nineteen years and always diagnosed with Cluster B disorders. He even wrote a post about how to “be cured of” NPD.

        It’s especially enraging to me because Cluster B disorders are so often seen as ‘women’s’ problems and used to push us down and bipolar disorder is nowhere near that stigmatized, so of course he’s not going to say in his big public mea culpa “I have NPD.” No, he’s manic. (Hell you are, buddy. I’ve heard pressured speech, many times, and leaving periods off sentences on Twitter ain’t it.)

      • moviemaedchen says:

        HOLY SHIT that is disgusting (his comment). I can’t even unpack all the levels of fuckery there.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        It’s almost like a serial republic villain.

    • CBrachyrhynchos says:

      My thought as a high-functioning crazy person:

      He’s known about his problems with sexual impulse control and narcissism for over a decade, but repeatedly keeps making career choices where he can easily rationalize both. I just passed up a management opportunity because I’m not convinced that I can maintain a high level of fairness and professionalism while managing my particular flavor of cognitive weirdness.

      It wasn’t entirely out of his control. He could have used a TA as a buffer and reality check on his relationships with students and guest speakers. He could have made the entirely unsexy choice to publish on history and literature (his meagre academic qualifications) rather than chase bylines in Jezebel, The Atlantic, and the Good Men Project about pornography and his own prick. He had an entire decade to make those decisions.

    • Li says:

      Hugo has always been very interested in invoking his own mental illness, but he’s never bothered to consider the role ableism played in his own violence towards women and abusiveness, or really ever applied any disability analysis in his writing.

      This is a guy who decided to kill a woman because he decided that her sadness and experiences of trauma made her life unlivable, and that kind of trope is exactly that used to justify the murders of disabled people by partners or caregivers. But Hugo’s account of that event doesn’t mention the way in which trauma made his victim especially vulnerable to violence, since that would mean applying mental illness politics and not just mental illness excuses.

      • SunlessNick says:

        But Hugo’s account of that event doesn’t mention the way in which trauma made his victim especially vulnerable to violence

        Or, relatedly, how he used her illness to discredit her to the investigating cops. His illness is an excuse, hers was a blame.

    • Jenna says:

      He’s also setting up to use the California Disability laws to fight for his job. Thank you so MUCH HS.
      I am on medical disability leave in CA. My situation is such that going on leave protected my job from a layoff so that I didn’t lose my medical insurance, and wasn’t as much in danger of a medical bankruptcy.
      But, he’s setting things up with his psychiatric medical leave so that they can’t just fire his ass. They may still be able to do it( I am not a lawyer), but, one of the MANY (waaaay too many)priveledges that HS has is the money to lawyer up. Firing him when he has tenure and a medical disability leave will be expensive for the school. They may(again, I am not a lawyer) have to wait to fire him until his doctors certify him as capable of going back to work. Whatever they do or are doing will cost the school money. Whatever happens they have already seen costs to their reputation as well. They may or may not do the right thing, but, it is going to cost them, regardless.
      Again, as someone on medical disability In California myself, I resent him using that as one more tool to fight till the end. He always fights to the end, and seems to relish even negative attention.

      • CaitlinH says:

        Exactly, thank you for your comment! And let’s not forget that he teaches at a community college, which is (a) part of the California community college system, which is not exactly rolling in cash right now and (b) an important resource for all sorts of disadvantaged people, especially poor people and POC, in getting a post-secondary education/class mobility/job skills.

  11. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    I don’t know. I don’t have the time to look back through the hash-tags but the blow-up over Marcotte’s book and brownfeminpower happened on this site. And that included Hugo charging in and telling women to shut up and apologize.

    It’s uncharitable, but I keep thinking about Sandusky who also made the puppy eyes and the “I’m trying to change” speech. And each time Sandusky got a slap on the wrist, he tweaked his MO to manipulate the rules. That’s what I see Hugo doing. Having been caught with students, he switched to text messages with his research contacts and guest speakers. As far as I can tell, he’s still doing it through medical leave and playing the interview circuit.

    And if he practiced what he preached and if he was really serious about recovery on these things, he would be handing in his resignation and retreating to private life to figure out why he can’t seem to work in an academic position without harassing someone, why he can’t champion feminism by punting to women rather than walking over them.

  12. Nanette says:

    Black Amazon blackamazon.tumblr.com

    brownfemipower brownfemipower.tumblr.com

    *looks around, sees no one has burst into flames, so continues*

    This is a good start Jill, and kudos to you for even this much, considering the profound silence on the part of some of the most involved mainstream white feminists.

    A good start, but sadly lacking in some of the most important context I believe. Context that is not served at all by the “mistakes were made” type of rhetoric which only gives yet more cover to not only Hugo, but to the white feminist structure (and individuals) who most enabled him and his drive to harm WOC.

    A very specific and targeted drive to harm not just “women of color” but very specific and targeted women–namely, Black Amazon, brownfemipower, and Flavia. Among others, yes, but these had the special joy of being targeted as part of Hugo’s “white knighting” in the services of very specific and indivdual white feminists–namely, Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti.

    And that is at the core of the harm he did, the harm he was allowed to do, the denigration of women of color he was allowed to get away with and the long–years long–effect it has had. The primary betrayal and lack of solidarity was not so much in his attacks against women of color–after all, we are used to that. What’s one more egostistical, white priviliged male amongst so many others?

    No, the real harm, in my view, came from the fact that white feminists (some generally, the named specifically) stood with (or behind, rather,) this abusive, racist white male as he attacked these women of color because it was in their service. The service of their reputations, their careers, clicks, profit, who knows whatn and that wound up giving him free reign to do the same thing (to these and other woc) for years. No, the real harm, in my view, came from the fact that white feminists (some generally, the named specifically) stood with (or behind, rather,) this abusive, racist white male as he attacked these women of color because it was in their service. The service of their reputations, their careers, clicks, profit, who knows whatn and that wound up giving him free reign to do the same thing (to these and other woc) for years. No, the real harm, in my view, came from the fact that white feminists (some generally, the named specifically) stood with (or behind, rather,) this abusive, racist white male as he attacked these women of color because it was in their service. The service of their reputations, their careers, clicks, profit, who knows whatn and that wound up giving him free reign to do the same thing (to these and other woc) for years. No, the real harm, in my view, came from the fact that white feminists (some generally, the named specifically) stood with (or behind, rather,) this abusive, racist white male as he attacked these women of color because it was in their service. The service of their reputations, their careers, clicks, profit, who knows whatn and that wound up giving him free reign to do the same thing (to these and other woc) for years. YEARS.

    With the full

  13. pheenobarbidoll says:

    When people ahead in that learning curve are screaming at you, it pays to listen.

    Again-

    I told you so.

    • f. says:

      Yeah. This is what really bothers me about the whole situation. People like Flavia, blackamazon and bfp were doing their best to get the word out about an abusive individual within the community. By doing so, they were offering a really important type of SUPPORT to fellow feminists. Which was roundly ignored and treated as some kind of attack.

    • BBBShrewHarpy says:

      Indeed. In a small way Barnacle in her reactions above is echoing the mistakes we at Feministe made at the time of the Clarisse debacle.

    • Alexandra says:

      This article by Garance Frank-Ruta over at The Atlantic about who knew what when about San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is an eerie parallel, I think. Everybody “knew” for years, but until the bad press reached a national level, nobody did anything but brush off the concerns of the people who complained.

  14. Nanette says:

    …To finish

    With the full complicity of various white, mainstream feminists, large and small. Many involved were trying to build their careers at the time and Hugo and white feminists formed a mutually beneficial partnership, so to speak. He promoted their books, gave them his full-throated “women’s studies professor” approval, and stomped on WOC who threatened the narrative. In return, they either promoted him, actively encouraged (or stood silent) him in his targeting of any vocal (and potentially powerful and influencial woc like BA and bfp) and shut their eyes and mouths to his vile and abusive past, as well as his present.

    I encourage people to read brownfemipower on this, and flavia and others, because it goes beyond Hugo of course, to the rot within professional feminism itself.

    (Hopefully this comment will come out better, lol)

  15. S.H. says:

    From what I’m seeing, Hugo is still on the internet and still pulling his same crap, he’s

  16. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    As far as I can tell, the highpoint of his career seemed to involve a series of articles and interviews about his own dick, scolding people who have ethical qualms about circumcision. Is that really feminist?

  17. Donna L says:

    Just as a reminder that Schwyzer is not the only disgusting, abusive, sexist pig who claims to be a man who supports feminism (not that anyone here really needs to be reminded, I’m sure), please see this post at Shakesville by Emi Koyama today, about the silencing and intimidation of women of color at the “Men Against Sexism” conference in Detroit last week.

    http://www.shakesville.com/2013/08/silencing-and-intimidation-of-women-of.html

    I have been reading Emi Koyama’s writing for a long time. This is very upsetting.

  18. A4 says:

    It seems to me like one of the privileges of class privilege is the ability to have kind delusions with fewer consequences. With more societal privilege it is easier to believe that the world is a nice place. It is easier to believe that things are great and just need a few more years of internet feminism and a couple more laws before everyone is equal. It is easier to believe that discrimination against gay people is over because of a supreme court ruling, and it is easier to believe that racism is over because of a black President.

    Jill’s trope of being “behind the curve” and Jessica’s narrative of grief over at Jezebel both draw on a narrative of personal innocence. Jill’s comes in the form of her desire to believe in the possibility of redemption:

    I wanted to believe the redemption narrative that Hugo was selling. The question of why I wanted to believe that is one that I’ve been mulling over quite a bit in the past year.

    I think the why here has to do with privilege. White privilege, cis privilege, straight privilege. The privilege to be able to have delusions of goodness where things are actually very ugly and have the consequences be minimal.

    I know I grew up being told that the world is wonderful, the country is great, the democracy is free, the money is fair, and the rights are equal. It turns out zero of these things are true, but people want to find the good in things. I understand that, but while privileged people are finding the good, marginalized people are experiencing the shitty, and here when they talked about it, they were called killjoys, pessimists, hopeless, bitter, disruptive, and a nuisance. They didn’t believe in redemption like a good humanist should, and they weren’t trying hard enough to communicate across difference like a real feminist.

    So it turns out that the marginalized voices were right, and Jill’s privileged voice was wrong. Oh wait, not wrong, “duped”, because her flaw was to be too kind-hearted. And then moving forward, she had Good Intentions, but still managed to Oops some racism.

    The puzzling thing for me is how her intentions can be good and racist at the same time? How can the silence be just a mistake, when it was also a choice to not listen to Flavia’s request for vocal solidarity?

    • EG says:

      The puzzling thing for me is how her intentions can be good and racist at the same time?

      Because that’s what it means to have one’s conscious good intentions be influenced by one’s unexamined, unconscious racism. That’s what she’s saying–that’s why she wanted to believe Hugo and not bfp. She didn’t say her flaw was to be “too kind-hearted.” She explicitly said that her flaw was to give HS the benefit of the doubt rather than listen to the WoC bloggers who were trying to tell us what was up.

      • A4 says:

        Because that’s what it means to have one’s conscious good intentions be influenced by one’s unexamined, unconscious racism.

        That’s a convenient narrative.

      • EG says:

        And that’s…a meaningless response.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        A4- you could have the best of intentions while lecturing Black people on how eating too much watermelon is bad for digestive health. See how that is racist at the same time?

      • A4 says:

        I think the opposing constructs of unconscious and conscious attributes are another form of the mind body dualism that allows people to separate their mind, i.e. their true spiritual self, from the sordid and messy state of their body, i.e. their base wordly self. They can then attribute their negative and emotional and imperfect characteristics and choices to their “unconscious self” and attribute their intentional rational carefully-considered characteristics and choices to their “conscious self”. This allows for the exact above situation, where Jill can admit to doing a bunch of racist things but also saying they are not indicative of her personality.

        It’s a narrative that serves white supremacy, because it allows white people to commit racism without being racist.

        But where is the “unconscious self”? Where is the “conscious self”? Why can they be separated with little explanation?

        Part of privilege is having your intentions be considered separate from your actions to allow for your virtue to be saved while your actions are condemned.

        The problem with the narrative here of “conscious intention” and “unconscious nature” is that it allows people to pretend that they can easily separate thoughts and actions into these two categories in an accurate and real way even years after the thoughts actually take place. It is a tool for defending the nature of one’s essential character while still admitting to making choices that were very racist. It is a way to consciously mediate the narrative of the effects of one’s actions by making some of them more indicative of one’s consciousness while others are attributed to a nebulous and poorly defined “unconscious”. The “unconscious” is not explained, and it’s defining attribute is that it is “not really you”.

        I don’t buy it. I think it’s a tactic to cast racism as a sort of “force of nature”, or at least a “force of culture”, instead of purposeful actions by white people to ensure their own supremacy in society.

      • EG says:

        Then we disagree so essentially regarding basic psychology and cognitive theory that we have no common ground to start with regarding what it means to have intentions. However, I think you fundamentally misunderstand what the unconscious is if you think that it is only the repository of “base” and/or wicked desires. I also think you are mapping a religious moral dichotomy on to a fundamentally amoral schema.

      • A4 says:

        It’s one thing to believe in having intentions. It’s quite another to believe that they can be reliably self-reported at any point in time and that report should be given credence over the real nature of the actions.

        If you believe you have a good explanation for what the unconscious is, I would love to hear it.

      • Donna L says:

        It sounds almost as if you’re claiming that there’s no such thing as the “unconscious.” Please correct me if I’m wrong.

      • Matt says:

        I sort of agree with A4. The unconscious defense is pretty problematic. Especially since it not only allows racism to be passed off as accidental and unintentional but also allows the privileged to control who GETS TO HAVE AN UNCONSCIOUS. Seriously. If you look at the pattern of certain bloggers involved in this, and everyone else ever but that’s off topic, they are extremely disparaging of this narrative until they become the group that wants to wield it to ameliorate their personal offenses.

        Hugo wielded this same power as part of his redemption narrative. He made mistakes and didn’t think and all sorts of bullshit. He tried so hard to deprogram his upbringing and be a better man. Well, I shudder to think of how awful he would have been if he WASN’T trying to be a good person. Mind. Boggling.

        Actually there seems to be a huge parallel here with the mental illness/addiction defense and the unconscious/unintentional defense. Huge can wield addition and intention as weapons because of his race. Just like the women who spread his filth all over the blogosphere.

      • A4 says:

        No Donna, I am saying that the unconscious is a poorly defined concept that is usually constructed as a repository for aspects of themselves that people find to be disturbing and want to reject from essentialist characterizations of their selves.

        It was invented by philosophers, popularized by Freud, and now is adopted into everyday use to excuse bad behavior as “not really me”, or “the part of me I can’t control so should be given more leeway for the bad effects that come from it”

        But “the unconscious” is not a place in my brain, it’s just any part of any previously or retroactively established essentialist unified narrative of the self towards which I am not currently directing my attention. It is just carelessness, and racism as a result of carelessness, as a result of not prioritizing anti-racism is STILL racism. It’s not “unconscious racism”.

        So are we once again going to center the white perspective of racism? Making important very fine distinctions between types of attitudes that will lead to us making women of color, anyone of color, victims of racism so we don’t assign too much blame or are too mean to the racist white people? Because that’s what Jill did with all of her metaphors of learning curves and careful language about “power imbalances”.

        For once will we center the experience of women of color here and say “What I did was racist because it made women of color the victim of racism and that is what is most important when discussing racism”?

        Jill tagged this post as “racism” and placed a content note for “racism” at the beginning, but the word is notably absent from the body of the article.

      • EG says:

        I don’t see how the unconscious is a “defense.” It doesn’t absolve anybody of their racist, harmful actions. It just means it’s the responsibility of the white person to became aware–conscious–of that racism so as to counter it.

        I think you’re reading a defense where none is intended. You don’t have to go around thinking “I hate black women and think that they are inferior and unworthy of respect” to do or say racist things. That doesn’t mean you get a pass on those racist things. It just means you should have interrogated your “instincts” so as to become conscious and in control of that racism.

        I’m not getting what you mean by “who gets to have an unconscious.” Everybody does, but this thread is about interrogating what Jill did/said/failed to do/say.

      • Matt says:

        Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, who is believed when they say it was unconscious.

        The unconscious is implicitly used as a defense. No one blames the unconscious for their good choices. Its always brought out right when somebody has said or is about to say:
        “But, I didn’t mean to say/imply…”

      • Anon21 says:

        The unconscious is implicitly used as a defense. No one blames the unconscious for their good choices.

        Well, you’re obviously loading it with the verb “blame,” but I do think people attribute positive choices to their unconscious. E.g., it’s common to hear in feminist spaces about how a woman had a hard-to-explain, not-based-on-anything-concrete bad feeling about a man and thus refused to trust him/put herself in a vulnerable situation, and was later vindicated.

      • EG says:

        I disagree. First of all, people talk about positive things being unconscious all the time–ask any artist about how they make art. Second of all–it’s not a defense because it doesn’t relieve the person of responsibility, culpability, or the obligation to fix the problem.

      • Jamie says:

        Re: mind/body dualism — I mean, isn’t this just a longer way of saying that “intent isn’t magic”? I think everyone’s on board with that.

      • Matt says:

        EG, it ISN’T a defense. That doesn’t mean people don’t use it as one or that it isn’t often treated as one.

      • EG says:

        That’s the answer to a different question. A4 asked how it was possible to have intentions that were both good and racist. I explained. A4 then claimed that acknowledging the existence of an unconscious was inherently a defense. It is not. Whether or not people incorrectly use it as one is not the issue.

    • Jamie says:

      The puzzling thing for me is how her intentions can be good and racist at the same time?

      Complexity?

      I think the problematic stuff you’re pointing out is a thing that should be pointed out, but your last point… I mean, welcome to humans. Cognitive dissonance. Unconscious *isms. Privilege. How many times have we had the, “Racism isn’t just burning crosses and wearing hoods and twirling one’s mustache” discussion?

      I mean, are we supposed to say she’s Sauron?

      • Bagelsan says:

        Seriously. I feel like we just reinvented the wheel — wait, humans are complex and flawed? WUT is this shocking discovery.

  19. AMM says:

    I hope this isn’t derailing, but:

    The part that still doesn’t compute for me about this whole affair is how it is that so many supposedly clued-in feminists didn’t seem to pick up on the clues that this guy (I refuse to increase his Google hit count by using his name) was a creeper.

    I encountered his persona by reading his website, and immediately got the feeling that he was a creep — that if I were female I would not want to be in the same room with him. His feminism seemed to mostly be a cover for him to better exploit women for his own ends. The article about how he liked to seduce his students was the most obvious example of it, but IIRC every article had a similarly creepy feel. (BTW, I got a similar vibe from the site that I found out about him from — the site I call “the creepy men project.”)

    So when Ms. Thorn posted that article about how this guy was some kind of feminist hero, my reaction was: “how can you _not_ know what kind of guy this is???” By “you” I meant both Ms. Thorn and the blog owners.

    I mean, I’m a man, so I have don’t have the personal experience with seemingly nice guys showing themselves to be predators the way (I’m told) women have. Especially someone in the BDSM scene like Ms. Thorn. And I’m not socially sophisticated. I wonder what it was that made people I’d thought of as wiser and more experienced in the ways of sexism and patriarchy not notice how he stank like week-old dead fish.

    If this guy — with all this stuff right out there on his website — can take in so many basically admirable feminists, how many other less blatant creeps are lurking, unnoticed? And what does it take to recognize them right off the bat, instead of years later and only after they’ve self-destructed?

    • evil fizz says:

      I think part of it’s actually as simple as because not everyone reads everyone else and keeps up on their internet comings and goings. In 2005/2006 Feministe was a LOT smaller than it is now, as was the feminist blogging community in general. Between then and 2011, I think people kept an eye on other writers more loosely, both as a function of the expanding size of the blogosphere and the personal commitments. People (and I count myself and Jill among these people) went from being full time students to being people with demanding jobs with a lot less flexibility.

      But that answer doesn’t really get to some other questions, like why when the interview came up for consideration it got greenlighted without, essentially, a background check. I know of at least two other guest posts that came down during that time due to information that was provided after the posts had already gone up.

      I think it’s very much a function of who gets the benefit of the doubt in a multi-faceted system of oppression and why. There’s also an unwarranted reliance on credentialing and resumes. One guess at to what groups accrue those advantages.

      • AMM says:

        Something doesn’t add up here.

        If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that, when they approved Ms. Thorn’s article, they just didn’t know enough about This Guy to know what kind of a person he was. I don’t know if you mean his name was unknown to them, or that they only knew about him from hearsay.

        But they must have known within 24 hours of posting Ms. Thorn’s article that he was problematic at the very least, because by then there were at least 100 posts describing in detail what was wrong with him. IIRC, there were also a number of comments mentioning his bad treatment of WOC by then, too.

        The reluctance on the part of both Ms. Thorn and the management here to consider that maybe he was not what they’d presented him to be (e.g., by pulling the article) doesn’t sound consistent with them not just not knowing anything about him. It sounds more like they already saw him the way Ms. Thorn presented him and were having trouble adjusting to the idea that that image was a lie. Jill’s characterization of herself as “behind the curve” supports that.

        I have my theories as to why this happened, but I’m an outsider and my theories (on anything) plus your life savings will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. It would be far more useful and interesting for those who were taken in by him and those close to them to apply some good old feminist analysis to the phenomenon and maybe make us all wiser (we’re already older :-( )

      • evil fizz says:

        Yeah, sorry, I think that may have been less clear than I’d hoped. He’s had a long history of doing shitty things, but the murder/suicide post was relatively late in the game. It would certainly have been possible in considering the interview to have known that he had done some crappy things before but not seen the murder/suicide post. Also, I’d say that as a general rule, you don’t ordinarily think “I wonder if this person has committed any horrific felonies in the time since I’ve last heard much about them.”

        The comment thread bears this out. “Wait, this the dude who wrote about trying to murder his girlfriend” “I’m sorry, WHAT?!” is about how it went down.

        I think there’s a lot more to it than that, but it’s a small part.

      • trees says:

        He’s had a long history of doing shitty things…

        Why wasn’t this enough? Why did it take learning of his attempted murder? Still people focused on the suicide bit, it was always he wanted to “kill himself and his girlfriend”, the focus was on the tragedy where HS could be painted as some sort of victim. It was always about the mitigating circumstances, the substance abuse and mental illness, as if that’s some sort of explanation for attempted homicide. The partner violence, the violence against a woman, was downplayed. And then there was wholesale acceptance of his redemption myth, in the face of heaps of evidence to the contrary. Hell, if I had only read what he posted here on this very site at the time, I could see what this dude was really about because I am a WOC and I value the voices of other WOC. I get it, he’s a predator, a manipulator, a practiced charmer who could have you thinking the sky is red, ’cause he says so. But why were the voices of his current victims of the moment, WOC, ignored?

      • AMM says:

        But it was already obvious that he was an awful person even before he talked about having tried to kill someone. Is this how far you have to go to stop being the darling of the feminist community? Treating women as if they only existed to fulfill your needs/desires/urges isn’t reason enough (to merely take one example)?

        It somehow reminds me of the women who say of their abusive husbands/boyfriends, “I know he’s not perfect, but really he’s a wonderful husband/boyfriend and he really loves me.”

      • evil fizz says:

        I’m about to fall asleep standing up, so I’ll be back to this tomorrow, but in a nutshell I’d have to say it’s racism, privilege, the halo effect plus its inverse (who you like/likes you and who doesn’t), and who gets the benefit of the doubt, mixed with the Darth Vader boyfriend problem.

      • Karak says:

        I honestly think you’re demanding a lot from what are essentially people posting short ideas on the Internet. Jill eyeballed a piece, seemed acceptable enough, and it was posted. There was a lot of negative feedback, the mod team was caught off guard, froze the thread, did a deeper investigation, and then made a decision.

        They’re making the guidebook up as they go. Responses may look strange or wonky as they work out how to respond and what went wrong with the process in the first place, all with an eye to damage control and creating a future policy.

        This isn’t The New York Times or Vanity Fair with a giant how-to guidebook and people educated in the media field for 50+ years. This is being pulled out of Jill’s ass as she goes along.

        She’s *not* immune to criticism, but its not some complex puzzle to wonder what secret meaning a fuckup has. It’s a fuckup because she’s doing and learning. If you think she’s fucking up in the exact same manner repeatedly, then yeah, call her out, but ruminating over a fuckup from two years ago isn’t really meaningful.

      • EG says:

        The mod team didn’t freeze the thread because they were alerted to the badness of HS. Clarisse froze the thread because people were being so mean and it hurt her feelings. Apparently she got hate mail as well, but what that had to do with commenting on the thread was never clear to me.

        The mod team didn’t address the HS issue until after Clarisse’s follow-up finger-wagging about how we need to believe in redemption and no back-talk (i.e. she pre-emptively froze comments), which pissed a lot of us off bigtime.

      • trees says:

        @Karak

        I’m not clear on who your comment is in response to, AMM or me. What “demands” are being made? Your description is not at all how things played out. Also, I ain’t “ruminating over a fuckup from two years ago…” and I myself get to determine what’s “meaningful” or not for me.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        THIS.

        The mod team didn’t freeze the thread because they were alerted to the badness of HS. Clarisse froze the thread because people were being so mean and it hurt her feelings. Apparently she got hate mail as well, but what that had to do with commenting on the thread was never clear to me.

        The mod team didn’t address the HS issue until after Clarisse’s follow-up finger-wagging about how we need to believe in redemption and no back-talk (i.e. she pre-emptively froze comments), which pissed a lot of us off bigtime.

    • Athenia says:

      For me, I think Jezebel, at the very least, fucked up majorly. Like, even if they were “behind the curve”, Hugo became a fixture there *after* the dust up here at Feministe. Like c’mon. That’s unacceptable and Jessica Coen made an explicit decision to go for clickbait by an abuser asshole, which, they’ve done before. Except with Hugo, his bullshit was dressed up more pretty.

    • Kristin Rawls says:

      I agree with this. I have no idea how anyone who read anything at all ever written by him could possibly have missed it. None whatsoever. He got bolder and more blatant over the years, but it was always painfully, ridiculously obvious.

  20. Tony says:

    So have we seen the end of Hugo or not? It’s too hard to read what really happens with strangers on the Internet.

    It seems like he still has his defenders.

    He’s still doing interviews.

    He hasn’t deleted his “meltdown” and claims it’s because he gave up his password.

    I think if he were really mortified by it he’d have found a way to have it gone by now.

    I’m not denying that he could well have real issues– I don’t know. I just won’t be surprised if he continues to try and monetize it all including his most recent Twitter ‘meltdown’. I won’t be surprised if he’s still lying and deceiving. Still capitalizing on the same redemption narratives. Still enjoying the attention.

    It’s good that brownfemipower, Black Amazon, Flavia, Karnythia and other WOC are getting some mileage out of this. If anything constructive can come out of this it’s from that.

    • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

      I just won’t be surprised if he continues to try and monetize it all including his most recent Twitter ‘meltdown’. I won’t be surprised if he’s still lying and deceiving. Still capitalizing on the same redemption narratives. Still enjoying the attention.

      I could be wrong, but I’m 95% positive this is his long game and we’ll see a memoir at the end of it

      • Lolagirl says:

        I could swear I actually read something from the horse’s mouth/behind to the effect that he was penning a memoir. I think it was in either his final goodbye interview, or maybe it was the after he tried to off himself and got committed interview.

        I don’t know, all that attention seeking, blogging, tweeting, and interview giving all kind of runs together after a while.

      • EG says:

        According to Flavia Dzodan, he’s already reaching out to MRA sites. Preparing his readership?

      • Jim Rustler says:

        EG, if you read the website I listed, you’ll find that most of the major MRA groups can’t stand his ass either.

      • Matt says:

        I read a few posts by the MRA’s about Hugo. He did send messages to them. But most of them were too busy congratulating themselves for figuring him out before “those rich white feminists”. I doubt he would get much coverage or positivity there. A few of them did say they were jealous at how many smart, attractive women he’d managed to “bang” and how he so easily convinced many feminists he was on their side but that was mostly random commentators.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        As has been reported, Hugo is still employed by Pasadena City College. They can’t let him go because of his mental illness which is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and probably some California statutes as well. He’s only talked to his union rep there at PCC and not school administrators. “All I have to do is pull out the trump card and say I’m mentally ill,” he said while adding that he doesn’t want to use that too flippantly.

        lol/barf

      • piny says:

        Oh, no, wouldn’t want to sound flip. That might give the wrong impression. Perish the motherfucking thought.

        I mean, I’m all out of ideas at this point. Prayer? But you’re not supposed to use prayer for stuff like that.

      • SunlessNick says:

        “All I have to do is pull out the trump card and say I’m mentally ill,”

        Well, fuck that shit. How often do you see “card” phrases used by the people they actually refer to? Not fucking often, because us crazies know that mental illness isn’t a game, and isn’t a card – just like PoC know that race isn’t a game and isn’t a card.

      • Helen Huntingdon says:

        That’s exactly it. Even his Twitter “meltdown” was trying to sow a connection between certain phrases and his name, so they’d be long-established by the time he wanted them for monetary purposes. See “bad boy of internet feminism”.

    • Kristin Rawls says:

      Hugo will be back with a half-million dollar book deal.

      • piny says:

        I don’t have a cite, but someone prior to the meltdown – when he said calmly that he was leaving internet feminism – mentioned that he already had one. And that he’d received an advance. Does anyone know anything about this? He may have scuttled the book deal. I would be cool with that.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Or. . .this could be a ploy to generate attention for the book. Yeah, my mind goes there.

  21. Nanette says:

    Great comment, though I’d like to disagree with one point.

    “Worse yet that WOC were shut out of this in crowd and in effect, silenced.”

    Shut out, maybe (though many WOC made the conscious choice to remove themselves from white feminist spaces) but not silenced. Their (our) voices, insights, experiences, so on were not much visible in mainstream feminist spaces, but were in other places. bfp has claimed her own name !ack now, but she never left off writing and sharing–she was just select about who she shared with. Black Amazon also has been writing and analyzing on Tumblr and Twitter, and, of course, Mikki (karnythia), was a “name” even before she tapped into that well with the now famous Twitter tag. Flavia as well, though she did stop writing her blpog recently because of attacks and things.

    I think this is important to note, about the not being silenced thing, because that was exactly the goal of Hugo and his enablers/co-conspirators. And it didn’t work–frustrated them to no end, too. But, no, it didn’t work. No one rushed away with their tails between their legs because of racist white dude and angry white feminists.

    They just put more effort into creating their own spaces, less a mirror of how professional feminist spaces work, and more an example of how many communities/activists of color organize themselves, with loose, but fast moving when needed connections. The internet and social media are rather perfect for that.

    Mind, where many who were targeted by Hugo and professional white feminists *have* been affected is in the professional sphere. In who gets the writing gigs, who gets to speak for woc, who gets courted by media, panels on this and that, publishers, so on.

    They were *very* effective in trashing black amazon’s, bfp’s, flavia’s and other’s names and positioning them as “aggressive” “jealous” “stupid”, so on–while, yes, people stood silent, or supported the trashing. That effect will last a long time, I’m afraid, especially because these same woc (and many others) are often vocal in calling out jezebel and xojane and others, when it’s worth the time to do so.

    Anyway…not silenced.

    • Nanette says:

      Well, shoot. This was supposed to be a reply up above, but…

    • Lolagirl says:

      Well, some of them were certainly silenced, in their own words, in various ways. Some of the very WOC who have participated in the hashtag have also discussed on their blogs and elsewhere how they were denied access to the powers that be who could publish them and give them greater exposure to a much wider audience. All because they spoke out against HS and his boosters, colleagues and friends.

      I’ll have to go dig up specific references, if you want them. But I definitely remember these issues being raised by more than one person in this whole debacle. I’m frankly in awe at the perseverance of some of these women, who got shit on and had their careers and reputations stomped on, for having the nerve to speak out, and refuse to go along to get along. It never should have happened in the first place, and yet it did.

      • Nanette says:

        Thanks for figuring out I was replying to you, lol. And, no, I don’t need you to dig out references. I know what you mean and what you are referring to. I think, maybe, we are just viewing the term in different ways, though I agree with your view of it as well.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Yeah, after I retread your comment a few more times I see we are basically saying the same things.

        I’m just so pissed off to see how these intelligent and articulate women had their careers undermined the way they did. Simply for speaking out, and speaking the truth. And so many of the people who should have had their backs didn’t. I, just, good grief, it makes me furious.

  22. Bagelsan says:

    I don’t really know much about this guy (barely recognized his name until this post), but I’m happy to signalboost his douchebaggery in the future. He sounds like a classic predator, and clearly some white feminists thought they had him on a leash.

  23. Donna L says:

    Just please don’t anybody look at solidarityisforstraightwomen by mistake. It may sound OK (although it’s kind of appropriative), but it was created by the loathsome (and dangerous) cathy brennan, and exists for the sole purpose of trashing and vilifying trans women and their allies — specifically including Mikki (karnythia) — for supposedly being “homophobes” because they consider Brennan and her acolytes to be bigots, and because they support so-called “men” (trans women).

    I think a lot of the reason Brennan is doing this is her anger at Karnythia for rejecting her support, and saying she didn’t want to have anything to do with bigots.

    You know, I’m not saying that there aren’t WOC who are transphobic, but I do wonder sometimes if it’s a coincidence that every single transphobic radical feminist I’ve ever heard of (at least, among those who’ve devoted such an enormous amount of time to that particular cause that they’re well-known for it) has been white, from Mary Daly to Janice Raymond to Germaine Greer to Sheila Jeffries and Julie Bindel, to Cathy Brennan. Maybe because their privilege makes it easier for them to believe that trans women have posed a greater threat to feminism and feminists (and world peace) than anything else in the last 40 years. I had no idea we were so powerful.

    So, feh.

    • evil fizz says:

      Wow. What an incredibly shitty thing to do*. Just…ugh.

      *creating a fake/appropriative hashtag to foment bigotry

    • EG says:

      I have admired Karnythia for years, but when I saw her shoot down Brennan’s attempt to offer support on Twitter (I think she just said flatly that there was no room for transphobia with her and they should fuck off), my heart just sang all over again.

      • piny says:

        Yes. See, that is how you deal with bad people.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        piny!!! I was just talking to Holly on twitter yesterday and wondering what you’d been up to.

      • piny says:

        Hail, hail, the gang’s all here….

        And hi! Can we have a Hugo Sucks thread on Feministe every week?

        I was in Argentina when we last discussed Hugo Schwyzer; now I’m in South Korea, teaching. I’m writing some stuff and applying to grad school, which is terrifying. And I’m at pastimperfection.tumblr.com, which lately is all Hugo Sucks all the time.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        And I’m at pastimperfection.tumblr.com, which lately is all Hugo Sucks all the time.

        Holy shit, I follow you! Always freaks me out a bit when I see Tumblr People in other places. I had no idea you were Piny from here.

      • piny says:

        Thanks! Um, it feels weird to tell people and weird to not tell people so…I sort of forget who does and doesn’t know. But yeah, that’s me.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        Are you on twitter? I’m not on tumblr, but at twitter I’m @kristinrawls.

      • Karak says:

        OT–

        Piny <3

    • trees says:

      Thanks for the heads up. I don’t even know what to say about this. I can’t imagine their endgame; they busy themselves with Dr. Evil type bullshit.

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      Not a coincidence Donna. I’ve met several radical feminists who deny racism exits. They were all trans* exclusionary. I’m not meaning to imply that all TERFS are racism deniers, but it’s hard not to see the correlation.

      • EG says:

        Yep. They’re like unreconstructed Marxists. The only true oppression is class exploitation misogyny and race is only a tool of the bourgeoisie men to divide the proletariat women and so thwart the revolution.

      • Alexandra says:

        Exactly. It’s an idea which I think I first saw in Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics, and it sounds exactly like Marxism. It excuses all manner of bigotry and extremism, because of course once we get rid of sexism (or just men, depending on which radfem we’re talking about), every other problem in the world will vanish.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        That’s it exactly.

      • Donna L says:

        And of course if you disagree with that analysis, you’re suffering from “false consciousness.” (Or you’re a handmaiden of the patriarchy, to use brennan’s phrase.)

      • EG says:

        There’s a way I understand how radfems came to that stance in the second wave’s historical context; many radical feminists were coming out of the New Left, in which Marx’s theories were highly respected and endlessly analyzed. That’s what gravitas looked like to them, so of course they modeled their own theory on it.

        The problem is, of course, is that the whole premise was flawed to begin with, and we’re no longer in that historical context, so it’s time to let that shit go.

      • Donna L says:

        Wow. I haven’t run across anyone who goes that far, although there are plenty who like to play Oppression Olympics all day long and insist that “misogyny trumps racism” or however they like to put it.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Misogyny, class, all of the isms. They all trump racism given the particular interest of the derailer when racism is discussed. It’s not racism because X happens to Z people too! If X didn’t exist then racism would follow! Yes, isms intersect, but it’s always racism expected to take a back seat.

      • Yes, isms intersect, but it’s always racism expected to take a back seat.

        Yeah, funny how that is. God, who was it wrote that trite-ass article here a while ago about how misogyny was The Worst, and linked to that fucking $1billion rising thing, and then concluded I was a rich white American from my disagreement? That was possibly the classiest example of how that ALL WOMEN TOGETHAH 4EVAH thing works out in real life.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Yup. My eyes are still rolling over that . You American cracka,you! -snorts-

    • Well, clearly us uppity WOCs can’t be allowed to (be seen to) have a thing. Any thing. Good fucking gods.

      Also, awesome on the transphobia. That’s just awesome. Fucking Brennan.

      • Donna L says:

        I really, really hate that woman. I think she’s evil. But I will never, ever challenge or interact with her directly if I can help it, because, to be honest, I’m afraid of her. I don’t want her ever to know who I am. I’m glad for the existence of allies like Karnythia who are willing to tell her off.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        She is one of the most truly awful people I have ever encountered. And I haven’t even really ‘encountered’ her.

      • Donna L says:

        And now somebody has taken my comment on this (without asking me, naturally) and posted it on twitter as a warning, obviously mentioning the solidarityisforstraightwomen hashtag. So it’ll go straight to you know who. I guess I can’t really complain about somebody broadcasting the warning, even though it was intended for people here, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about becoming a target for her.

      • Yeah well this lesbian-leaning bisexual woman would like to kindly tell Cathy Brennan to fuck right off with her racist appropriation and transphobic shitflinging.

        Donna, I am so sorry.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Who is she again? Sorry, all the douchebags tend to run together in my head. They all look alike. (ba dum tish)

      • This is an incomplete list of her bullshit and awfulness.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Oh yeah, THAT douchebag.

        Just another cockroach.

        And what should we do to cockroaches?

        That’s right. Fucking step on em.

      • Donna L says:

        Except she isn’t just another cockroach. She’s a partner at a Maryland law firm that specializes in representing “payday” lenders and the like — see her profile at http://www.hudco.com/profile.cfm?section_id=2&attorney_id=51 — and has a lot of resources which she’s happy to use to go after trans women by baiting them (sometimes by finding their photos and posting them on her “Pretendbians” website, and using information she find to out them) until they get angry, and she can use what they say either to sue them or to try to support her “trans women are just violent men” argument. So she isn’t so easy to step on, certainly not by trans women themselves. (Just look at that violent rhetoric! Good thing I didn’t advocate it.) Which is why it’s so important — here as in other contexts — for allies to speak up against her.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        That’s what we’re for Donna. Stepping on roaches you can’t. That’s what allies should be here for at any rate. I guess being dirt poor has one advantage. Cockroaches can sue all they want, I don’t have shit to take.Got a can of raid though.

      • Donna L says:

        Thanks, pheeno; it’s appreciated, believe me.

        Oh, and I should have said, she isn’t just an expert on payday loans, she’s an expert on making auto title loans, and repossession, too! This is a panel she was just on:

        AUTO FINANCE SESSION: TITLE LENDING

        Panelists:
        Catherine M. Brennan, Partner, Hudson Cook LLP, Hanover, MD
        Justin B. Hosie, Partner, Hudson Cook LLP, Chattanooga, TN

        DESCRIPTION OF PANEL:

        Ready to test-drive the title lending market? Are you
        considering offering low-cost alternatives to title-loans? Learn the legal and compliance basics related to licensing, disclosures, non-payment, repossession,
        collections, and regulatory oversight. Understand the legal underpinnings before you get behind the wheel.

        OK, enough about her.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Well, we can’t very well leave the poor out of the soul crushing fun now can we? What a slime ball.

      • trees says:

        That is just so mega-shitty. Donna, I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Thanks, pheeno; it’s appreciated, believe me.

        Oh, and I should have said, she isn’t just an expert on payday loans, she’s an expert on making auto title loans, and repossession, too! This is a panel she was just on:

        AUTO FINANCE SESSION: TITLE LENDING

        Panelists:
        Catherine M. Brennan, Partner, Hudson Cook LLP, Hanover, MD
        Justin B. Hosie, Partner, Hudson Cook LLP, Chattanooga, TN

        DESCRIPTION OF PANEL:

        Ready to test-drive the title lending market? Are you
        considering offering low-cost alternatives to title-loans? Learn the legal and compliance basics related to licensing, disclosures, non-payment, repossession,
        collections, and regulatory oversight. Understand the legal underpinnings before you get behind the wheel.

        OK, enough about her.

        Donna, please don’t take this comment as support for Brennan but specializing in that sort of thing makes you a less respected lawyer. And appearing on a panel organized by your own firm (both speakers are from the firm,) doesn’t make you an expert in anything.

        So while I completely agree with your negative comments about her, I can’t agree with your positive ones (referring to her as an expert in anything.)

      • Donna L says:

        Steve, do you think she gives a damn whether people think that kind of law practice is “respectable”? The fact is that that’s her firm’s specialty; they are considered experts in the field; and she does happen to be one.

        Do you really think I used that term to compliment her? My point is that I see her as an “expert” on making money in a morally dubious way, and uses it to investigate and harass trans women. I don’t even understand your point.

        Look, I happen to be a lawyer. And to have a trans history. Why in the world would you think you know more than I do about these things?

      • Fat Steve says:

        I don’t even understand your point.

        Was just trying to add to the criticism of her. It was an attempt to be supportive, sorry if it just came off as stupid.

      • Donna L says:

        OK, no problem.

  24. Kristin Rawls says:

    Wow… I see a lot of old names in the comments — people I met here but haven’t seen in a long time. Partly because I’ve been absent and partly because some of them have.

    I have not read any mainstream feminist blogs regularly in many years. But as I was around for a great deal of the history bfp chronicles in her posts, I wanted to chime in to say a few of things.

    Jill: It was partly because you had great people like Holy, piny and Cara that I used to say feministe was problematic but still the best of the mainstream feminist blogs. But it was partly because you were more willing to listen to criticism back then than you have seemed in recent years. I think you wrote highly imperfect responses when you were critiqued but were often fair — and you tried to have integrity. I have not felt this way about your writing or feministe in many years. I know it sounds like a back-handed compliment, and well… Technically, that’s kind of what it is. But I’m hoping that this marks a change for you. After all these years, I’m not sure I expect that… But I have respect for your post here.

    I hope you’ll be open to the broader critiques as well, but I guess that conversation is happening in the other thread.

    • Kristin Rawls says:

      Just want to add here that yes, 100%…the “behind the curve” rhetoric doesn’t work here. I’m white, cis, culturally middle class… I should have a lot more in common with mainstream feminism than I do, and frankly… I picked up on this within the first paragraph I ever read written by Schwyzer. Why is that? I’m not more evolved or better with context clues or special. He’s always been transparently horrible. I want to know how this happened. What did you see in him back then?

      • piny says:

        I can’t say this. I did not think of him as abusive; I was out to lunch during the Jungle Out There performance. I just didn’t have much patience for his politics – he was annoying as hell. Smug, shallow, and self-serving. But I was very surprised to hear about the unilateral suicide pact, and I would not have expected something like the recent meltdown, say, two or three years ago. And, well, I think it’s important to look at him as a phenomenon. All of this stuff is the effect of one personality.

      • verucaamish says:

        Even without the abuse, Hugo was problematic to say the least. Back in 2006, he wrote a whole post about feminism being a cold swimming pool a man had to get away from every once in a while. And he never walked that one back. From the get go he seemed to characterize feminism as some kind of weird penance. That alone would get me pause to allow him to have any kind of forum in feminist spaces.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        The thing that clued me in about an abusive personality was that he had had sex with many of his undergraduate students — he bragged about it in the first thing I ever read from him. That’s a serious abuse of power, and I take it as a major red flag whether or not it was technically legal at the time.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Steve- animal rights issues are not stupid or frivolous. but that’s not what this thread is about.

        It’s about racism.

        So please take comments about fur to a spill over thread.

        Do not disrespect the WoC here by bringing up animal rights. Please.

        Also, and while I’m sure you’re glad I haven’t been responding to specific comments by WoC, I don’t want you to think my silence reflects a neutrality. I totally get why WoC want to know exactly what Jill, (and by extension Feministe,) stand(s) for, and I totally get why it’s not clear.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        And…I just saw a tumblr with screenshots proving, Jill, that you were at least in professional contact with Hugo as recently as May. Not sure what to say about that, except… I’m kind of at “fuck it” at this point. Just glad we’re being careful with facts.

      • piny says:

        Hey, if you cap any given conversation with Hugo Schwyzer, what are the odds it will be about statutory rape?

        Look, Jill, I understand that there are different definitions of dissociation. There are people online that I have zero political respect for – I mean, not that we disagree; I think their opinions are disgusting and harmful – and I still communicate with them on that level. But…you do give the impression in the post that you aren’t talking to this guy anymore, because he’s a serious creep, and…this is different.

        People are angry that Hugo Schwyzer has been treated as a political dispute. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about shunning and takedown culture and callout culture, but even aside from the question of whether it’s appropriate to exclude this guy (YES), you said shunning is what you did.

        And he’s not like Robert or whoever. He’s abusive towards people in this community, here and now. He used your blog to hurt people you respect and care about. You have a responsibility to not…let him participate anymore. And that includes talking to him about consent laws like his opinion has some value.

      • Well…I like to pick on Jill as much as anyone on this blog, god knows, but she didn’t ever say she wasn’t on Twitter contact with him, so… dunno what your point is. Twitter isn’t Facebook; people engage with people they don’t know very well/disagree with on Twitter all the time.

        Not that I wouldn’t accept evidence disproving anything Jill said in this article, but I don’t really care about “evidence” “disproving” something she never actually said.

      • That said, I do agree that this article comes off as Jill having completely rendered Schwyzzle persona non grata, and that clearly wasn’t the case that time, at the very least.

      • Fat Steve says:

        And…I just saw a tumblr with screenshots proving, Jill, that you were at least in professional contact with Hugo as recently as May. Not sure what to say about that, except… I’m kind of at “fuck it” at this point. Just glad we’re being careful with facts.

        I don’t see how that twitter exchange proves ‘professional’ contact.

        More disappointing was to see Jill’s twitter pic in which she seems to be wearing a fur coat. Animals should not have to die so humans can be stylish.

        (Caveat: Jill, If it is faux fur, then allow me to say it looks fantastic, complements your skin tone extremely well, and the lipstick provides a stunning contrast in color.)

      • piny says:

        That was the wrong view. Having a no-link editorial policy on Feministe is one thing; refusing to mention him even on Twitter or on any platform gave the sense that my silence was neutral, and was more about not wanting to rock the boat than about pushing back against an arrogant abuser.

        No, that’s pretty much exactly what she said. I mean, yeah, technically, talking about doesn’t include talking to, but you would think? If you refuse to mention someone’s name you are not on speaking terms anymore?

      • That’s entirely fair, piny. I was being pretty nitpicky there and I think unnecessarily so.

      • EG says:

        That is…disappointing. At the very least. I clicked on the screen caps and the conversation appears to have been between Jill and Eve Vawter until Hugo butted in; after that, Jill addressed him twice, from what I can see, he replied to her, and after then it looks like she left the conversation. Not an ongoing back-and-forth-we’re-colleagues-discussing-something…but…

        I do wish she’d shot him down the way Karnythia shot down Brennan rather than engaging with him at all, though, or at least ignored his “contributions,” a la the freezing-out policy.

      • Jamie says:

        It looks like she’s arguing with him. As in, disagreeing.

      • Jill says:

        You know what? You’re right. Honestly I forgot all about that interaction. If you want to see the whole thing, it was initially me tweeting with Eve, Hugo jumped in, I responded a handful of times and then I left the conversation. I wasn’t purposely trying to obscure that history; I forgot it happened (and frankly, if I had been trying to be shady, I could have gone back to delete those tweets). I will dispute that it amounts to “professional contact” (what? If that’s the case then I’m also in professional contact with Barack Obama and Rob Delaney) but yes, you are correct that it was contact. I’ll reiterate that you can chalk that up to stupidity and forgetfulness, not malice or dishonesty. But obviously you’ll believe what you want.

      • Matt says:

        Steve don’t you think its a little problematic that you as a white male are making posts defending Jill given the context of this discussion? And making comparisons to her fur coat or w/e, seriously? This is totes the time to bring that up.

        /sarcasm

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        I can’t really comment on the depth of the contact between Jill and Hugo, but it reads as a respectful exchange between colleagues. Maybe it was just once (I really can’t go back through the past year of Jill’s tweets).

        Jill, I never really felt that you were intentionally lying about anything. But I can’t help but notice that you meticulously researched all the details that make you look more innocent but didn’t bother researching this.

        As to the depth of the friendship (or non-friendship) you had, you devoted this post to congratulating Hugo on the birth of his child. I searched him on the site — there are a few pages of posts that either focus on promoting Hugo or at least link to him. Many of the most glowing posts were written by Lauren, who posted more than once to defend his feminism on a radio program. And another (in feminsite of all places!) to geek out on his love for contemporary Christian music. The impression that I get from these posts is very much that you operated as colleagues and friends. I just find the disavowals a bit disingenuous. You’re right — most of it happened between 2005 and 2006, but…

        How many other people get posts congratulating them on the birth of a child? Besides maybe Jessica.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Steve don’t you think its a little problematic that you as a white male are making posts defending Jill given the context of this discussion? And making comparisons to her fur coat or w/e, seriously? This is totes the time to bring that up.

        /sarcasm

        Ok, I’m not going to go int othe whole identifying as ‘white’ thing again because I don’t think anything I’ve said could be construed as defending Jill.

        And as far as the fur coat thing goes, I’m not comparing a racist woman abuser to a fur coat wearer in terms of offensiveness. I feel strongly about fur being 100% unacceptable, and I feel strongly about attempted murder being 100% unacceptable. Is it a defense of Jill to say that the replies to HS seemed like a conditioned response to being asked a question by anyone (i.e. you answer it,) whereas a photo of yourself wearing a fur coat seems like a calculated act of provocation towards people who feel about fur as I do. You may consider my position stupid and frivolous- I know a lot of people think animal rights are a frivolous pursuit but I am not one of them.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Steve- animal rights issues are not stupid or frivolous. but that’s not what this thread is about.

        It’s about racism.

        So please take comments about fur to a spill over thread.

        Do not disrespect the WoC here by bringing up animal rights. Please.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Steve- animal rights issues are not stupid or frivolous. but that’s not what this thread is about.

        It’s about racism.

        So please take comments about fur to a spill over thread.

        Do not disrespect the WoC here by bringing up animal rights. Please.

        Gotcha. You won’t have to tell me twice,

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Thank you.

  25. pheenobarbidoll says:

    My initial reaction was one of vindication, but now I’m just tired. Because I know it will keep occurring. White feminists will still ignore us, or dictate how reactions should be in regards to our experiences. And react all pissy when we don’t accept how they think our experiences should be handled. If they acknowledge our experiences and abusers at all.

    • Nanette says:

      Just what I was getting ready to say. Tired, tired…especially in the knowledge that nothing will change. In fact, I think this post (Jill’s) is indicative of that. Same old story, same old eliding of the actual issues while using carefully couched language that is protective of the status quo.

      The system and structure wrt women of color and professional white feminists–including Jill (the only one of that circle who does not depend on being Big Name Feminist for her livelihood) writing an “appease the horde” post while the others stay silent–works in the way it was intended, after all.

      deny,deflect, accuse, appease, smile, move on, then ignore has been the mode of operation for big media sites and small for ages

      Why mess with success?

      • evil fizz says:

        Nanette, you don’t have to answer this is you don’t want to, but what would this post have needed to say for you to think that change was likely to even relatively possible? I’ve been sitting here trying to think what would be an improvement (and maybe I’m just limited by my own lack of insight and reading) and I’m sorta stuck.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        From my perspective (I’m not speaking for Nanette) All the apologies need to drop talking about how he fooled them. That’s not being fooled, that’s choosing to believe him over WoC. His mental health is also not relevant. He may or may not be bi-polar, but that has nothing to do with his racism.

        Fixing the problem requires admitting the problem. And the problem is racism, not naivete or mental illness.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Oh and flat out stating we were right would also help. No caveats.

      • tmc says:

        What pheeno said (I’m also not speaking for Nanette), plus cutting out the soft language about “learning curves” and whatever would be very excellent. HS is a white supremacist who used and abused WOC to further his own needs. White feminists believed, harbored, protected, and (in the case of Jessica) employed a white supremacist. White feminists kicked dirt into the faces of WOC in defense of a white supremacist.

        It’s a tried-and-true strategy. Whenever a white person wants to gain legitimacy amongst their white peers, throwing POCs under the bus is a remarkably efficient way of doing it. THAT is what happened here. Anyone who had the opportunity to listen to WOC, but CHOSE not to, and now feels that they were “fooled” is only trying to fool themselves [and us].

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        And (sorry I keep thinking of things after I post )

        Stop brushing this off as white privilege. It’s not white privilege. It’s racism. I’ve noticed that white feminists and other “allies” use WP as a pillow to land on when they’re been racist. You can’t soften this. Not for your benefit or ours.

        You were being racist.

        Your WP didn’t make you choose to ignore WoC. Racism did.

        Your WP didn’t make you attack WoC. Your racism did.

        Your WP didn’t make you abandon WoC. Your racism did.

        Your WP didn’t make you excuse your racism away with nonsense about being fooled. Or mental illness. Or wanting to believe in Change.

        Your racism did that. You did that. White washing it (pun intended) as white privilege only lets us know you’re not sincere and don’t truly grasp the depth of the issue.

        The issue is racism.

        Apologize for that. Start working on that. Stop making it the “lesser evil” white privilege.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        And Hugo is manipulative. But he didn’t create that racism. It was already there for him to manipulate. He used your existing racism, and you allowed it.

      • tmc says:

        And Hugo is manipulative. But he didn’t create that racism.

        WORD.

      • Ms. Kristen J. says:

        @tmc and pheeno,

        Thank you for taking the time and having the patience to explain. It should be obvious, but it wasn’t. Your words (and others) made me realize how I’ve f-ed up in the past.

      • verucaamish says:

        I still go back to that damn behind the curve business. Again, it centers the experience of the white feminists who shouted down WOC and aided and abetted HS in this whole mess. HS used the same dog whistles of “mobs” and “circular firing squads” that every fauxgressive uses. And yes, a whole blog post to the women of color – you were right. You saw it all and we turned our backs on you. That would be helpful to me and I wasn’t even the one who was marginalized.

      • Nanette says:

        Hi evil fizz,

        I co-sign everything pheenobarbidoll and tmc wrote. Nothing will change because nothing has been acknowledged.

        There’s more, too, but I don’t feel like typing today, sigh.

      • Nanette says:

        Also, what veruca said. I wrote something a ways back that ties into that– it’s nothing that’s not been said before but I think itks sometimes good to be reminded of how some of this marginalizing of woc (by white feminists) often works online.

        It’s here: nanettehb.tumblr.com/post/15969946353/anoldladyonfire-i-guess-if-i-were-going-to

        I am not the old lady on fire– I am replying to her. And, mind, it’s only after I replied and posted that I stopped to say to myself, “Wait–what the heck is ‘groupthink’?” It seemed to fit okay anyway, tho.

      • evil fizz says:

        Thank you, all of you.

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      Pheeno, I know this is irrelevant, and not something you should care about, but you have made a difference in how I think. Don’t act like things can’t change, because you are changing them, everyday.

  26. 30ish says:

    I’ve been aware of the Schwyzer story for years now and was extremely skeeved out by him almost as soon as I first came across his blog (I only heard about the murder-suicide part in 2011 here on Feministe, I’ve been lurking here for like 5 years). I think I got suspicious partly because I’m wary of redemption stories. All of what he wrote about his personal life followed the “I used to be bad, now I’m good” narrative. He seemed like a person who got off on being the good guy now, but telling people of his past sins and having them gasp in horror over them. I just thought that a person who was truly sorry and ashamed of what they did in the past wouldn’t almost… boast about it on the interwebz? I remember I thought he would for sure go through another bad episode. I’m not surprised this happened.

    I’m furious that this guy got so much opportunity to publish. It seemed obvious to me that he was not a safe person. And there are so many people out there who are much better writers. Even if Hugo’s promoters weren’t aware of his abusiveness, wouldn’t it have been their duty to not just cheer on any guy who’s writing about feminism without at least a superficial background check? It’s such a lack of carefulness by these blogs (like Jezebel). As for Feministe, I remember the huge outcry from 2011 on this blog. By then I was 100% sold that Hugo was an abuser – the murder suicide attempt was discussed right here. Can there be any more proof that someone is an abuser? That’s what I don’t get about the learning curve. When you find out someone has attempted murder suicide in the past AND that there are still women out there accusing him of inappropriate behavior, your learning curve should kind of hit the ceiling right then. I’m not sure how there could still be any uncertainty then. Except of course, he’s a white dude with ginormous privilege.

    • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

      That’s the thing that I keep coming back to – not only was his shittiness/creepiness/racism obvious from the jump, but he isn’t even a talented writer, and he had no unique point of view to share. Just a bunch of shallow myopic bullshit. His success truly fucking baffles me.

  27. Combray says:

    I still have a problem with the way that this has played out. It seems to me like the white mainstream feminists previously associated with HS only finally addressed all this after the Twitter meltdown (or whatever it was – I’m still not convinced it was anything short of another calculated bid for more attention). All the abusive past behaviour he’s guilty of obviously wasn’t enough to deny him a visible role in movement feminism, but even the latest developments, which lead him to inform the feminist community (over and over again, in another series of typically offensive blog posts and interviews) that he’s taking his legos and going home, were mostly met with silence. Now, though, after the Twitter incident, it’s finally too embarrassing to be associated with him. Because he made a complete fool not only of himself, but of the people who stood by him. So the ridiculous piece written by Jessica Coen, for example, just comes off as trying to save face in a situation where finally explicitly admitting that a mistake was made is the only way out without losing all credibility. And this post, while much better than Coen’s, seems a little like that as well, for me.

    • Henry says:

      yes, I don’t understand why this (sexting/infidelity/twitter meltdown did I miss something?) is the straw that broke the camel’s back. That camel was already buried under a mountain of straw.

  28. Natalia says:

    At this point, I have a reptilian, journalistic fascination with Hugo Schwyzer and his many personas. I want to see just how the man is going to go. Where will he take this next and how will he profit from it?

    Of course, I could afford to observe him from a distance, even interact with him, seeing as he had never targeted me personally. The word “privilege” is entirely appropriate to invoke here – appropriate for all of us who could remain in Schwyzer’s Internet circle with little personal consequence to ourselves.

    Also because I have known many a fucked-up person in my lifetime, and most of them make Schwyzer look like a choirboy (I’m guessing he will take offense at not being the baddest bag boy around, but it’s the truth) – so I could afford to gloss over the real ways in which people like that are dangerous, even more dangerous than thugs (who are, at least, upfront about being thugs).

    The worst thing for me, personally, is that the posts about his own body image had really hit home earlier. Even knowing what I knew, I found myself moved. It’s a testament to his skills and to my own stupidity – and the fact that I found his family narrative, the beautiful wife and adorable children, so genuine. “Surely he couldn’t possibly screw anything up now that he has THIS in his life, right?” Ahaha. Silly me.

    The thing is, trying to approach this with a clear head and after having read more and more stuff he has put out there since his (carefully orchestrated, in my opinion) meltdown, here is the conclusion I finally arrive at: this dude is not going to stop. He’s going to head deeper and deeper down that rabbit hole. He’s going to harm more people. At the end of the day, it wouldn’t shock me if he does end up killing someone one day, having come close before.

    I have a lot of sympathy for his victims, and his family, many of whom are also clearly his victims. None for him.

    It’s hard, because I have a huge guilt complex around men like Schwyzer. All of my life, I have wanted to believe in redemption narratives and beautiful character arcs and happy endings and teddy bears raining down from the skies. It’s what my secret history demands I believe, and what people like him exploit. Sucks to admit my own complicity in this – but might as well.

    • Kristin Rawls says:

      The other day, I was reading up on the life and personality of Ted Bundy. It was terrifying when I saw some of the similarities. Bundy had worked at a suicide hotline. He was involved in feminism by the time he was in college, and he did anti-rape work. He was also drawn to evangelical Christianity.

      But before I read about Bundy, I already had a very ominous feeling about all of this. I wonder if he already has killed anyone.

      • Sadly, the more of my time I devote to thinking about this in earnest, the more ominous this gets for me as well.

        Recent experiences in my life have made me much more aware of this type of person – and what to expect from them when they are challenged. I predict nothing good here. It makes me really scared – not for him, but for the people who are close to him.

        I used to buy into this silly narrative of Hugo Schwyzer being like every other addict I have known. But it’s not addiction, it’s not mania, it’s not anything else controlling his actions – but the real him, shining through. I bet he got a lot of satisfaction from fooling people – almost as much satisfaction as he got from going after others.

        There is no honest excuse for giving him the benefit of the doubt – I know that now.

  29. Sheelzebub says:

    I want to be careful not to say that all of the other bloggers, writers and editors who published Hugo or linked him or didn’t say anything were intentionally enabling an abuser. Here is the rub: Abusive narcissists are often very effective manipulators.

    I don’t buy that a lot of these big-name, prominent activists and writers and editors and their dudely allies were “fooled.” The issue isn’t that people were fooled, it’s that they chose to believe the white guy. They made an active choice about who they would believe, who had credence, and whose concerns should be centered and prioritized. How much sympathy am I supposed to have when people who insist they are fighting for the same things I am, and who insist that they believe and trust women, show they do not believe or trust the women who spoke up?

    Fooled? Look, I’m getting sick of this shit. Jill, I’m glad you’re addressing this–not many bloggers have really acknowledged thier role in this shitstorm. But HS is not some sort of genius. Plenty of people saw through him–the majority of whom were women of color, who spoke about their treatment and were promptly ignored (if they were lucky) or trashed. He was pretty upfront about it himself, by inserting himself in conflicts between women of color and white women, berating these women of color, and generally acting like a bullying shithead.

    When they spoke up, what they got in return was a white woman coopting the concepts pioneered by women of color in service of defending a white man and shaming his critics. They got a white woman rape survivor sneering at them for speaking up. They got a chorus of white women complaining about internet take-down culture, as if they were part of /b/ or something. They got lectures about mental illness and addiction, since everyone knows that the damage isn’t real if the dude who inflicts it is depressed or using, and certainly women and survivors never have any such issues, ever.

    They got dudely dude allies engaging in the same sort of shaming, bleating on about forgiveness and mental illness and mobs and take-down culture and The Important Shit and how people can really change and they didn’t see any evidence that HS was all that bad anymore and thought he had changed (ignoring what women of color were saying).

    It galls me that these “feminist leaders” lead, write, and edit, are the voices of this movement, and are now rewriting history. You’d think that every single activist out there never bought into his bullshit, never made shitty comments about take down culture or forgiveness or restorative justice. The dudely dude apologists still participate and think they deserve cookies and have developed amnesia over their own culpability in this. They still have the fucking gall to lecture anyone on anything after this enabling bullshit.

    How am I supposed to be at all confident in a movement that is supposed to have the backs of women when the white female leaders and their dudely dude allies basically engaged in the same behavior that enables abusers?

    • tmc says:

      On fucking point. Thank you.

    • tmc says:

      The issue isn’t that people were fooled, it’s that they chose to believe the white guy. They made an active choice about who they would believe, who had credence, and whose concerns should be centered and prioritized.

      Just wanted to emphasize this bit in particular.

      • AMM says:

        My suspicion is that they didn’t “consciously” choose. They made the default choice. After all, the “default human” is white male.

        Choosing anybody but the white male would have required actually thinking about what they were doing and why. When you don’t think, your patriarchal & racist upbringing (which every one of us has) end up making your choices for you.

        How do you think Patriarchy and racism managed to last so long, anyway?

        \begin{grouch}
        One of my beefs with a lot of 3rd-wave feminism is that all too often it’s about tweeting and blogging and marching and shouting and facebooking, and analysis, especially analysis of how sexism and racism permeate our thinking and actions, gets short shrift.
        \end{grouch}

      • BBBShrewHarpy says:

        I think there are other aspects to the complicity than being fooled by HS. Personally, I wasn’t fooled by him at all, there was no learning curve. I’d never heard of him before the Clarisse interview and I thought he was a turd from word one. Never bought the redemption story. Was shocked that this person was “teaching feminism”. Was disgusted by the 13-year old suicide-abuse narrative.

        So where did I go wrong? The first thing was that the guy was so obviously a fake that I thought it better to move on than dwell on him, regardless of how hurt other people might have been by him and especially by the continuing support for him of people whose support should have been elsewhere. In other words, I knew better (mistake 1). I also assumed Jill wasn’t fooled either and that her silence after the storm was because this is her house and Clarisse was her guest and she was being polite to Clarisse even though she obviously knew that hosting the interview was a mistake. My complicity was being deferential to this politeness because… I am in Jill’s house and give her the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because I identify with her and consume her brand of feminism because it’s the most comfortable brand for me to consume as a white, cis, het, professional woman.

        It seems from this latest post by Jill that I was projecting wishful thinking in terms of her view of HS at the time, and I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t identify with her I might have questioned this more deeply. So, that’s my racism exposed.

    • Matt says:

      Even the MRA’s were calling out Hugo. Because as he told one prominent MRA activist in an interview, because he needs attention and feminism is starting to be closed to him, he brought Game to mainstream white feminism and it worked.

      Its impossible to be believe that many bloggers didn’t know about Hugo because the truth was coming at them from every side.

      • Radfem says:

        How am I supposed to be at all confident in a movement that is supposed to have the backs of women when the white female leaders and their dudely dude allies basically engaged in the same behavior that enables abusers?

        Eh…gave up on feminism with a capital “F” a while ago when some White NOW members were more upset about the doctor who killed a Black woman during an abortion b/c though he told a nurse his tool had “grabbed bowel”, he sent the woman on home where she was in a coma before even getting there. He got charged for manslaughter and they were more upset about that than the fact that a young woman had died who should have lived. When the “n” word was tossed around by one of the woman, I’m like this movement’s just for me, don’t say that word in my presence and expect to be taken seriously as the national spokeswomen for or about women. I felt like slapping her to be honest but kept my control. I did go home and torch my NOW card. I was pretty disgusted.

        I’m all for pro-choice (though maybe my definition’s a bit more encompassing than so-called mainstream feminism) having done clinic defense and yeah I know this doctor was practicing a lot longer than he should have been (and flying down from the Bay Area three days a week) because of a dearth of doctors coming into practice who do abortions. But none of them would discuss the woman like she wasn’t even there or the fact that this man making his plane flight home was more important than this woman’s life. Maybe if she’d been White? I’m not sure why I’m bringing this up but this incident never left my mind even though it’s been some years. I guess it made me question being a feminist probably later than I should have questioned it.

        He was convicted of manslaughter (and sent to prison right away) which he deserved for leaving a woman with a perforated uterus to catch the next flight back home. The NOW folks were more into protecting a rightful conviction than this poor woman’s life. Needless to say, they didn’t get a whole lot of support from a lot of woman I knew and worked with. You just don’t render a woman invisible and meaningless for a “cause” and I think in less polite terms, it’s throwing women under the bus which too many White feminists (well intended or not) will do in a heart beat unfortunately. But in anti-racism movements I’ve seen women of color get treated like that by men of color especially women of color who are transgenders or lesbians. All this stuff goes on all the time and it’s not surprising it’s true in the blogsphere as well.

        I don’t know most of the folks mentioned admittedly as I don’t read many feminist blogs or blogs period. Though I do remember Black Amazon and Brownfemipower (and I did really like Holly’s words and she seemed really nice too) when she was on this site.) who were excellent, always read their writings regularly and think it’s beyond crappy if they were disrespected and marginalized. Brownfemipower has some admirers out here in some women studies professors of color that I know who were involved in the tenure situation with Andrea Smith in Michigan. She’s teaching out at our local university here now! So Michigan’s loss was definitely our gain.

        Sheezlebub! I remember her too! Always good insightful reading!

        I opt out of feminism movements and philosophy discussions for the most part b/c much of the time I don’t know if it’s really all about women or merely White women wanting the balance of power to shift from White men to them using the same patriarchal structure that they claim to fight.

        I saw Hugo in passing but I have to admit I always am a bit suspicious of male feminists or those who write about it. Amanda Marcotte, eh…I remember that book cover that someone posted here and I complained about it being racist trash to the publisher. I don’t read her because I don’t relate to her or anything she writes about at all.

        Having just been asked to make a “smooth exit” from an online game for objecting to players talking about having their trees ready to hang other players and using stereotypes involving the mentally disabled to harass and stalk other players, I’m a bit jaded with the internet in general anyway. Discussions like this are one reason why, how people talk about how being marginalized makes them feel and others just gloss it over and don’t really listen.

        White privilege, I can see as indirect benefit or direct benefit without complicity with other person(s)’s racist action in a society built on racism. But then since there’s always some form of complicity (intentional or not) involved, yeah it comes off as another kinder, gentler word for racism. Doing the racist act and trying to distance or disassociate one’s self from it. Almost like there’s this blase attitude like, yeah I did it but it was not me, it was white privilege or society made me do it. Then it happens again which is why apologizing for it is meaningless.

        I think for White women, working on issues with women of color (and this is probably true among different ethnicity and races and I see this in youth violence work with Latinas and Black women in communities where the children in those racial and ethnic groups are killing each other over race not turf) it’s very challenging and difficult work because you have to check all the things that might make your life easier and give you more access to opportunities in society at the door. I just don’t see that often enough, too much reluctance to do that and not enough personal honesty to admit it.

        I don’t know the details of the Hugo situation but if any woman and this should go without saying, including women of color then that should have been challenged not defended or written off.

  30. tmc says:

    Yeah, I can’t. I want to, really really REALLY want to believe that things will change after this. But I’ve been getting burned by white feminists since I ever first identified as a feminist (which was over 15 years ago; took about 5 years of abusive gaslighting bullshit before I quit feminism for womanism) and I’ve seen this cycle repeat itself ad fucking nauseam. I want to believe that most white feminists are my allies.

    And I. Just. Can’t.

    • EG says:

      I know you don’t need my validation, but it’s here if you want it. I think that’s a completely legitimate position to take. There’re plenty of things I feel that way about. My hope is that white feminists can improve ourselves to the point that we can offer support to womanists and feminists of color when its needed/called for/desired, but when you’ve hurt people over and over you don’t get to ask them to stay.

    • Radfem says:

      I’m definitely not hear to validate anything, it’s not in my place to do that for sure. I don’t think it’s necessary anyway, I think people should just listen and learn.

      It’s horrible to read what this guy was doing (as I don’t follow online feminist sites that much so I wasn’t really aware of it until reading here) and the women he hurt who were marginalized. I’d hoped that women wouldn’t silence other women to defend a man but race trumped gender in a movement that was supposed to be about gender rights and for women by women.

      Many very good points made here, thanks for posting them.

      • Witchsistah says:

        “but race trumped gender in a movement that was supposed to be about gender rights and for women by women.”

        Meanwhile, you all are demanding WoC ignore their race/ethnicities completely and get on your Miss Scarlett, Mammy us bandwagon.

  31. Mongke Khan says:

    You were duped, but it only because you wanted to be duped.

    What’s the old saw?

    “He wrote what he wanted, because they liked what he wrote.”

  32. Lena says:

    I’m really, really sick of the “Hugo is a master manipulator” theme going around in these discussions. Let’s not get it twisted–WOC had already been calling out mainstream feminists out for years before Hugo showed up, which is why all of you chose to ignore some really obvious signs. Until there is a wide spread discussion among white feminists about why, exactly, are they so hostile to WOC that they’re wiling to accept an admitted abuser of women into their ranks, this WILL happen again.

    • Miriam says:

      But who are “white feminists”? I feel like I’ve been going down the Internet rabbit hole of Internet feminism since the Hugo Schwyzer blow up, and it all seems so insular and small. I’ve seen references to Jezebel and xoJane as representative of mainstream white feminism, but they’re just the new media versions of Cosmo and Vogue. Jezebel just uses feminism as a brand with no sincerity behind it… they linked to Kate Middleton’s topless pics for heaven’s sake.
      Otherwise, it seems to be about Amanda Marcotte (whose history appears to be shady independent of Hugo), Jill, and Jessica Valenti (although I’m unclear from the articles and threads I’ve found if Jessica actually did anything active or if Hugo Schwyzer just favorably reviewed and defended Full Frontal Feminism). I know they have platforms, but it’s not like they’re names like Judith Butler or Naomi Wolf or helming institutions equivalent to NOW or AAUW. It all seems pretty inside baseball still.

      • Jamie says:

        Just wanted to reply so you don’t feel like you’re crazy — it was/is insular and small. At the time, the “big three” were Pandagon/Amanda Marcotte, Feministe and Feministing. Jezebel’s just as you describe, but in the galaxy by virtue of being superficially About Ladies. I Blame The Patriarchy was also a thing for a while.

        I’m not saying that to imply none of this is important or something. And I’m not up on my second wave history, but I wouldn’t be surprised if stuff exactly like this happened all through the second wave, among the “big” institutions, magazines, groups of thinkers, etc.

      • Donna L says:

        At the time, the “big three” were Pandagon/Amanda Marcotte, Feministe and Feministing.

        Just out of curiosity, since the only ones I read regularly myself are Feministe and Shakesville, which ones are considered “big” now? I stopped reading Feministing years ago, around the time a lot of people started boycotting the place because of the rampant transphobia in the comments (and the failure to say a word about Mary Daly’s transphobia in their post about her when she died), and haven’t even looked at it since then.

      • Donna L says:

        I should add that when I say those are the only two I read regularly, I’m referring to blogs that specifically identify themselves as feminist blogs, rather than “blogs by women” that focus on other specific issues, like trans-related blogs, and blogs like racialicious. I used to read pamshouseblend until it shut down recently.

      • Jamie says:

        Whoops, I forgot Shakesville! And honestly, I don’t even know what’s considered “big” anymore. And people can feel free to correct my impressions of that time.

  33. pheenobarbidoll says:

    Also- there is nothing special about Hugo. He’s not mentally ill*, he’s not a master manipulator, he has no super powers. He’s just a racist, sexist piece of shit asshole, like every other racist, sexist piece of shit asshole. His entire twitter “meltdown” was about focusing the attention back onto him, as clearly seen with his ” why has this turned into race discussions and editors” In other words, why isn’t this about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. You don’t ignore a cockroach. You fucking step on it.

    *in any way relevant to anything going on

    • Word. About all the dude had going for him was charm and SWAG privilege. Seriously, dude’s never written two paragraphs that weren’t skeevy.

      Of course, that makes perfect sense why everyone would believe him. After all, creepy straight white affluent guys are generally the creme de la creme of society.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Reading the “master manipulator” type comments..those are just getting up my nose in a big way.

        That’s no different than Rush Limbaughs fans claiming he just manipulated them into believing he was an OK guy.

        HS tapped into the racism that already existed in white feminist circles. He recognized it and used it. But as I said upthread- he didn’t create it. He is absolutely no different than any other racist shitbag who has followers defending him. The followers are no different, too. They both use their racism to justify the bullshit.

        I’d like to see every single white feminist who defended this shitbag issue an apology to WoC and specifically the WoC bloggers they fucked over and it say something along the lines of-

        Dear WoC (and then the list of WoC bloggers)
        I am a racist, I defended a racist ,and helped him screw you over. I helped because I am a racist. He did not manipulate me, my racism allowed me to align with him. I am sorry for my racism, sorry I used my racism against you and sorry that I helped him use our collective racism against you. I will make no excuses, and admit it was my very own racism. I will go back to Racism 101 and start over. I will stfu and listen. Full stop.

        Sincerely,

        Racist White Feminist

      • Jamie says:

        I like SWAG as a term.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I have the dumbs, what is SWAG?

      • I’ve used it to mean Straight White Abled/Affluent Guy. Though I should put ‘cis’ on there too. SCWAG. hmm.

      • Jamie says:

        I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that it’s Straight White Affluent Guy. This is the first time I’ve heard it.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Does that mean I’m an SJAG?

      • @Jamie yep!

        @Steve lol, indeed.

    • Moi says:

      Also- there is nothing special about Hugo. He’s not mentally ill*, he’s not a master manipulator, he has no super powers. He’s just a racist, sexist piece of shit asshole, like every other racist, sexist piece of shit asshole.

      THANK. YOU. I apologize for the allcaps, but yeah, this guy is not some kind of evil supermind.

      ….And Jill, personally, I’ve seen people have manic episodes, including suicide attempts, and those were terrifying. Not some idiot going on and on about himself on Twitter. It wasn’t a ‘manic meltdown’ — he’s the one appropriating the language of mental illness and saying ‘I had a manic episode.’ It’s really discouraging and infuriating to see other people just going along with his language, because he’s trying to manipulate everyone (STILL) into minimizing the actual damage he did, with the defense ‘I am mentally ill, so now you will have sympathy for me, and not hold me responsible for my actions’ (which any actually mentally ill person will tell you is RARELY what happens when people have, say, actual manic episodes).

  34. Miranda says:

    Yeah, just chiming in about how obnoxious and awful all this “Huge is a super dooper genius, and we were all fooled” rhetoric is. I wasn’t around when this stuff was originally going down, but a number of people have pointed out that women of color very vocally stated that he is a Bad Guy. That’s not being “fooled,” that’s “not listening.”

    While I can’t personally speak about overall dynamics in online feminism–though I completely believe the accounts I’ve read from the major players in womanism–this whole business has reminded me of things I’ve seen played out in a “micro-” or person-to-person level: there is a skeezy abuser, a marginalized person points out how skeezy they are, nobody listens, then the skeezy abuser reveals his true colors in an especially egregious way, everybody else is like “WAHHH HE WAS SO BRILLIANT HOW COULD I HAVE KNOWN?” and the marginalized person is sitting there, still feeling completely invisible. I’ve seen this happen so many times on the micro-level that I am seriously disgusted (though not surprised) that it’s happening on a macro-level among various feminist strands.

    Why is the narrative about Hugo at all? This isn’t about Hugo. He’s just a run of the mill creep. As a bajillion people have pointed out by now, this is about mainstream Feminists not listening to some marginalized folks who very clearly understood the shit that was going down.

  35. amblingalong says:

    And how fucking disapointing is it that, as a whole bunch of WOC (and others) dissect the reasons that Jill’s ‘apology’ is disingenious, that Jill herself is totally absent?

    • Jill says:

      I’m not absent. There are 250 comments on this thread. I am trying to keep up with them, and to allow people to discuss what I’ve written without me responding to every single thing. I’ve been admonished many times over the past few days to sit back, read and listen. That is what I am doing. And frankly, amblingalong, you and A4 have a long-standing habit of taking every single thing I do or say and twisting it into the worst possible light. I’m getting awfully tired of it.

      • A4 says:

        Like pointing out the hilarious irony in the juxtaposition of these two sentences?

        I have struggled with how to address my own role in this without centering myself or making it all about my feelings. It is difficult, awkward, and painful to read some of what has been written about me and others I know and care about.

      • Jill says:

        Yup. Goodbye.

      • FourEh says:

        Good riddance!

      • Donna L says:

        Well, that’s been coming for a while. Strike two.

      • Matt says:

        A4 may have done some things deserving of a ban. But of all those things, criticizing Jill is the least relevant. A pattern seems to be emerging here of commentators saying plenty of offensive stuff but only getting banned when they specifically antagonize Jill.

      • A pattern seems to be emerging here of commentators saying plenty of offensive stuff but only getting banned when they specifically antagonize Jill.

        Except IIRC A4 has been banned before, and that wasn’t for antagonising Jill. And A4 was already on warning and was disemvoweled less than a week ago for being a douchebag, and that’s another warning. The last straw doesn’t have to be heavier than all the other ones. Just saying.

      • Matt says:

        I only mention it because it’s happened before. I see your point, you could look at it that way. Perhaps that is what Jill was thinking.

      • Donna L says:

        The fact that repeatedly insulting the person in charge will get you banned shouldn’t be a surprise. Do you think this was the first time A4 had antagonized Jill here? He had been specifically warned before. Not to mention being banned before under his old user name, for doing exactly the same thing. (Hence the “strike two” comment.) A4 would have been banned the first time he did that at Shakesville, not the 20th time.

      • Jill says:

        To clarify on this point: A4 has been banned before, then asked to come back and we let him. He has repeatedly derailed threads, insulted other commenters, and lobbed various incredibly aggressive insults at me. I have told him probably 15 times that he’s walking a thin line and needs to be respectful. This was hardly the most offensive thing he’s posted, but it was the final straw. I would like to get back to discussing the issues at hand, and not having this comment thread be yet another place for A4 to make insulting comments about me in my own space.

      • Donna L says:

        Mac, I thought that DLL was banned for something similar, not that it matters. Anyway, I’m sure you remember it better; I have trouble remembering who said what here last week, never mind however long ago that happened. Just wait until you’re my age.

      • Nah, Donna, I don’t remember terribly clearly, I just had an idea that DLL had been snarky at a commenter. And LOL at the idea that I’ve got a great memory! I’m pretty scatterbrained at the best of times.

        …anyway, I think it’s fairly disrespectful to assume that a blogger should have to give someone many many chances (particularly someone who has been banned in the past, and who’s on warning) before getting to ban that person. I find it particularly uncomfortable to expect this in this situation, given that Jill’s a woman and A4 is, afaik anyway, not. And, not to suggest that A4’s anything like Schwyzzledouche, but I find it particularly annoying that this expectation is being raised in a thread centering on a douchebag who expected women to take his asshattery without reacting and framed himself as a martyr when they did.

      • amblingalong says:

        OK, that’s fair. Withdrawn.

        And Jill- I absolutely disagree that I’ve done any such thing. Honestly I think you post a lot of questionable stuff, despite the fact that I love Feministe, and recognize that a lot of what makes Feministe run is you.

    • pheenobarbidoll says:

      I ,for one, am ok with giving Jill time to read, listen and think before she responds. There are serious posts that require serious responses, and those can’t be given until some serious thought has been done.

      • Seconded. A first response is rarely the best response.

        Besides, if Jill were participating continuously in this conversation, how long before people started telling her off for butting in? I mean c’mon. I know I’d be a lot more uncomfortable participating if every post I made prompted a reply from her.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I agree that it might seem as if she was being too defensive or argumentative to participate actively in these comments. Because this has become quite personal at this point. It seems rather wise to take it all in and only respond after she has had some time to really reflect upon all of the responses here and at SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen.

        Just my $.02

      • Yeah. Also I seriously don’t want this conversation to be overtaken by Jill’s defensiveness. (Which would both be natural – I mean, a 250+ comment pile-on, really, she’d have to be a saint not to be – and problematic – because for srs I do not need more white defensiveness on this matter.)

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        describes something I am participating as a “pile-on” because people are being mean (!!) to Jill,

        That’s a complete misread of what Mac said.

        You’re being a jerk and making this about you and your boring blog cred.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        Look, this is not a fucking pile-on. I am so sick of words like this being used to trivialize these kinds of issues, issues that many of us have been talking to Jill about for six or seven years. This was a long, long time coming, and no, in fact, she wouldn’t have to be a saint not to get defensive. She’d have to be comfortable with being a public figure.

      • Pointing out that I’d like someone to not respond until they can do it out of a place of rationality and relative objectivity =/= trivialising the issue. And it is a pile-on. An entirely justified pile-on, and one that, as you said, was a while coming, but still, I don’t think I’d have the strength to be perfectly sensible and calm and understanding right off the bat (because that is what I’m talking about, an immediate response) if several dozen people were calling me out on racism. Would you?

        Goddamn, it’s like you didn’t read anything else I said on this thread and concluded from one word that I’m trivialising racism. Good job.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Advocating listening to WoC includes those of us you may not agree with too yanno. Mac isn’t white and certainly isn’t trivializing racism. Neither am I ( both not white nor trivializing) we may not be popular woc bloggers, but feministe is our community too and we damn well are allowed an opinion on how we want our concerns/anger/betrayal addressed.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        That you used it suggests to me that you are not nearly as aware of this history as you need to be. “Pile-on,” “callout culture,” “hoard,” “mob,” “kerfluffle” — all words used to discredit the people who’ve been saying these things for so many years and to make them appear irrational, overly emotive, untrustworthy. Words mean things. “Pile-on” has been used against every single person who has ever brought these criticisms to feministe.

      • Donna L says:

        Mac and Pheeno are right. I know nothing about you other than that I gather you used to comment here a long time ago, but you certainly haven’t been around in a couple of years. So you don’t know Mac and Pheeno either. But you didn’t really have to know them; all you had to do was read what they’ve written in this thread to be aware of where they’re coming from. You had no business assuming otherwise.

        Plus, even people who are “comfortable with being a public figure” get defensive under circumstances like this. Despite everything that’s being talked about here, Jill does happen to be human, and not a saint. As Mac said. So it’s good that she’s been listening rather than jumping in.

      • Donna L says:

        That you used it suggests to me that you are not nearly as aware of this history as you need to be

        And maybe you shouldn’t be lecturing Mac on the assumption that she’s ignorant, either. We’re all aware of those phrases, and who’s been using them. There’s still a difference that depends on how they’re used and who’s using them. Mac was hardly using the term as a criticism; she’s been part of it!

      • BBBShrewHarpy says:

        Kristin, you’re coming across like the Inquisition at this point.

      • I feel like this is some sort of bizarre “Yo dawg joke”, being whitesplained to about whitesplaining.

        Background, though your pasty high-equinity doesn’t deserve it: I’m Indian, recently emigrated to Canada. I was around for the Hugo Schwyzer threads, though I don’t recall participating. I’ve certainly brought up Schwyzzle often enough, and fuck knows half the reason I hang around Feministe seems to be to tell white folks how wrong they’re doing it, judging by my post content. So, you know, I’m familiar both with the critiques being given at Feministe, at least since the Hugocalypse of ’11, and I’ve made them myself.

        And by the way, it’s “horde”, not “hoard”. If you’re going to give me shit for not toeing some imaginary WOC party line, at least do it in decent English.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Sorry, I forgot it was time to pause while the white lady lectures WoC on proper use of language. Carry on.

      • trees says:

        That you used it suggests to me that you are not nearly as aware of this history as you need to be. “Pile-on,” “callout culture,” “hoard,” “mob,” “kerfluffle” — all words used to discredit the people who’ve been saying these things for so many years and to make them appear irrational, overly emotive, untrustworthy. Words mean things. “Pile-on” has been used against every single person who has ever brought these criticisms to feministe.

        @Kristin Rawls

        I’ve been around here for a good long while and remember the actualizations. I was particularly irritated when HS would call it a “kerfuffle” or dust-up. I get why you responded the way you did, but I don’t think macavitykitsune was using “pile-on” in the same way. Maybe a different word would be less loaded. I thought pile-on implied that the criticism wasn’t necessarily legitimate, but my understanding of internet-lingo is pretty limited.

        This was a long, long time coming, and no, in fact, she wouldn’t have to be a saint not to get defensive. She’d have to be comfortable with being a public figure.

        I very much agree with you that this has been a long time coming, but why not offer Jill the small kindness of basic human compassion? We can hold her accountable while giving her space to reflect.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        I’m so confused. Someone who is unknown to me describes something I am participating as a “pile-on” because people are being mean (!!) to Jill, I point out that every similar conversation of approximately the past decade in which Jill had the opportunity to change something was described as a “pile-on.” Apparently you feel this is a neutral, non-judgmental descriptor, and apparently you think that I was not included in the dismissals. Welp.

        What I wasn’t was plagiarized or publicly excoriated. I was definitely part of the “horde.” Pretty sure you weren’t, though… Back you weren’t commenting! When you vaguely remember sort of reading some threads about things maybe.

        Yes, “hordes.” Ever heard of ableism? Or dyspraxias that result in word-switching?

        Everyone on twitter is right. This place is Mean Girls. We were all right to leave.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        ugh, commented in the wrong place

        describes something I am participating as a “pile-on” because people are being mean (!!) to Jill

        That’s a complete misread of what Mac said.

        You’re being a jerk and making this about you and your boring blog cred.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        And now the angry white lady floundering because mean woc won’t let her get away with NOT LISTENING TO WHAT THEY SAID. Huh. Allow me to clear up your confusion. We are asking for a response to our posts after Jill takes some time to give it serious thought. Given that we ARE the woc that are frequently dismissed by the white feminists here, we have every goddamned right to ask this. And it is a pile on, but so fucking what? That doesn’t mean it’s not justified. And you have a lot of fucking nerve ( privilege) demanding we get our answers your way. Get your answers however the fuck you want, but do NOT tell the WoC here how to. FUCK. I am so sick to death of colonized privileged ass bullshit.STOP TELLING US HOW TO REACT TO FUCKING RACISM.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Oh and calling woc girls? Not cool.

      • Donna L says:

        Someone who is unknown to me

        In other words, you didn’t bother to read this thread or make any effort to ascertain where mac was coming from (or that she had been part of that “pile-on” herself in this very thread) before you made an erroneous assumption on that subject.


        describes something I am participating as a “pile-on” because people are being mean (!!) to Jill,

        She said nothing of the kind and didn’t describe it as being “mean” — which would have required applying that word to herself!

        Pretty sure you weren’t, though… Back you weren’t commenting! When you vaguely remember sort of reading some threads about things maybe.

        What? Are you serious?


        Everyone on twitter is right. This place is Mean Girls. We were all right to leave.

        Flouncing, I see. Well, if you acted back then in anything like the condescending way you’ve been acting in this thread, I’m glad you did. I notice that you haven’t addressed the fact that you’ve just been lecturing WOC on what kind of language they’re allowed to use.

        Not to mention that this is a much less “mean” place now than it was five years ago or so, judging from everything I remember, and from looking at old threads. It’s certainly a hell of a lot more closely moderated. And it no longer has the extremely bad reputation it used to of being a transphobic cesspool, among other things.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Ps- we’re not defending poor martyred beleaguered Jill you asshole. We’re defending our right to get answers after careful thought has been given, instead of knee jerk defensive responses ( that you can’t even avoid) . See the fucking difference yet?

      • trees says:

        @Kristin

        I read through some of the comments posted on an old “It’s a Jungle out there” thread. That seems like a lifetime ago to me right now. I was posting under the name “juju”. I see that I wrote a note in admiration of some of your past comments and we seemed to get on very well. I think some of this disagreement here is probably more just misunderstanding.

      • trees says:

        “It’s a Jungle out there” thread.

        meant the link Donna posted down thread.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        The careful omissions on Twitter are noted.

      • Donna L says:

        knee jerk defensive responses ( that you can’t even avoid)

        Ironic, isn’t it? There Ms. Rawls is pontificating about how someone comfortable being a public figure wouldn’t get defensive about receiving criticism from dozens of people over hundreds of comments, and what happens here when two or three people criticize some things she just said? Well, you saw it — “Mean Girls” accusations and flouncing and acting like everyone’s supposed to know who she is, and know that she knows better than they do, because she was here five years ago. And I had to google her to find out who she is, but it turns out that she’s written for xojane, The Guardian, AlterNet, The Christian Science Monitor, GOOD Magazine, Salon.com, Truthout, B—- Magazine, Global Comment, and “many others” including Feministe itself. Sounds like a public figure in Online Feminism to me, just as much as Jill.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        A white woman commenting, on a post mostly about racism, how WoC’s personal views are incorrect… I can’t even begin to unravel that.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        She spammed her Twitter with comments about us martyring Jill, and being mean about her mix up of horde and decrying Mac for telling her to use decent English, all carefully constructed to leave out the part where she’d white privileged all over the place. Typical racist behavior.

      • number9 says:

        Wow, that’s some spin you’re doing on Twitter there, Kristin. I’m accused of “whitesplaining” for challenging someone completely unknown to me for noting that calling this a “pile-on” is trivializing? Really, that’s the way this just went down? Really?

        And I love the way you summed up the commenter down-thread who is basically saying that a) Hugo’s an asshole and b) it’s hard to figure out what exactly went down for someone who was not part of the blogging world back then as simply Commenter at feminste: “I still don’t understand what Hugo did to bfp, Black Amazon and Flavia.

        Like, I’ve been lurking here for years, and I sort of remember you popping up in the comments. I get that you were part of the community and are understandably pissed about how things went down here. But you’ve been researching Jill’s past Twitter interactions like the Spanish Inquisition. And you’re spinning this thread on Twitter to make it seem as if folks here are saying that they don’t get why Hugo is so bad and feeling sorry for Jill. And that’s just not the case here at all. You keep going like that, your motives just start appearing pretty questionable.

        Women of color on this thread are telling you what they need from Jill. They are a part of this community now and they are telling you what they need. And your response is to lecture them about Feministe history, as if your hurt feelings from way back matters more – and this is in a conversation that needs to center women of color? You need to seriously de-center yourself, shut the fuck up, and join the rest of us white women on the sidelines. Look, it was pretty obvious to me that Hugo was a piece of shit back when he was still pro-life. So what? Figuring Hugo out before a few other white women doesn’t mean we’re exempt from having to step back to examine our own shit. You’re dominating here (and, glancing at your TL, on Twitter) a conversation that is in part about white women marginalizing and shutting down women of color. You don’t see the irony in that?

      • Donna L says:

        all carefully constructed to leave out the part where she’d white privileged all over the place. Typical racist behavior.

        I’d love to reply to her and say what a liar she is, but my twitter account is under my real name, so I can’t.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Exactly. Thank you number 9

      • trees says:

        You need to seriously de-center yourself, shut the fuck up, and join the rest of us white women on the sidelines.

        I second this motion.
        This is a troubling, though wholly predictable turn of events. I’d just like to point out that I was commenting during the various HS shitstorms, and have been a regular lurker/commenter here all this time, so I now the history. I am also a WOC.

      • Yeah, great. Now I’m an “accuser” who’s defending Jill.

        You know, Kristin, the hell with you and your lies. Anyone reading this thread knows how it went down; anyone who gets here from Twitter will know how it went down too. You fucking racist. And yes, I am aware of ableism, O Mighty Whitey. Thanks for adding ablesplaining to that. Want me to post a list of my diagnoses on the internet?

        One damn thread. Was putting your precious little ego aside for WOC for ONE DAMN THREAD too difficult?

      • Donna L says:

        I see that somebody responded to her, not that I expect it to penetrate her self-righteousness:


        Xtina Schelin ‏@XtinaSchelin 1h

        @kristinrawls Way to completely remove all context from your racist horseshit. You ever consider linking to the comment thread you were in?

      • XtinaS says:

        Donna L:

        *waves hello from Twitter*

        I just don’t want shit like this being tweeted un…contexted? Uncontexted, I suppose. If she’s gonna spin this so as to hide her total racism, I’m gonna “help” by providing said missing context.

        (Apologies for lack of lucidness; woke up with a headache, as I’ve done for a fortnight.)

        And yeah, I don’t expect much of anything to get through to her, but I might as well try. :P

      • Donna L says:

        Sorry; I somehow didn’t make the connection between Xtina S and Xtina Schelin. I’m very glad you said something, though. The whole thing was very distracting.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Me too XtinaS. Thanks. I had a lot of angry twitter responses typed up, but just got tired of it all and didn’t bother.

      • Donna L says:

        Well, it obviously didn’t penetrate, because she’s just doubled down (I think that’s the phrase?) with multiple tweets along the lines of


        Kristin Rawls ‏@kristinrawls 28m

        @mung_beans @XtinaSchelin Yeah, you’re still part of the dysfunctional, fucked up, vile community over there, and I left a long time ago.

        Kristin Rawls ‏@kristinrawls 16m

        @mung_beans @XtinaSchelin Why was I expected to know they were WoC? Magically intuit that too?

        Kristin Rawls @kristinrawls
        @bodysnatcher226 @mung_beans @XtinaSchelin I’m sorry, but when did “whitesplaining” get redefined to mean “disagreeing w/ a PoC”?

        Kristin Rawls @kristinrawls
        @bodysnatcher226 @mung_beans @XtinaSchelin Part of it seems to be a translation problem b/c the kids these days use words differently…

        A couple of people have tried to explain what happened, but it’s hopeless. It’s now all about her, and her assumption that anyone who disagrees with her must be a clueless “kid.” Which doesn’t really surprise me, given that her presence in this thread seems to have largely consisted of a “Gather ’round me, children of all colors, and listen to the story of Hugo Schwyzer and how I was the only white person who saw through him from the beginning.”

        She continues not to see how monumentally defensive she’s being, after sneering at the idea that it’s a good thing that Jill was keeping quiet because, among other things, anything she said would naturally be defensive.

      • Why was I expected to know they were WoC? Magically intuit that too?

        Yeah, it’s not like I explicitly identified as a WOC ON THIS FUCKING THREAD or anything.

        I’m sorry, but when did “whitesplaining” get redefined to mean “disagreeing w/ a PoC”?

        A WoC, by the fucking way. And no, it was the whitesplaining about how I should feel about Jill’s (IMO correct and respectful) decision to not be all over this thread.

        Seriously, I’m expecting a throwdown about “political correctness” anytime in the next six tweets.

      • XtinaS says:

        Donna: No worries! I cannot expect folk to be psychic, or so I’m told.

        And, now I know to block her entirely. Good job, Kristin! Way to be useless!

      • From Kristin Bawls’ twitter:

        & it’s not ableist (or US-centric) at all to snipe at someone’s spelling & tell them to use “decent English”?

        OH MY FUCKING GOD I EXPLICITLY IDENTIFIED AS INDIAN ON THIS THREAD WHAT IS THIS FUCKING HORSESHIT I AM GOING TO FUCKING LOSE IT ANY MINUTE NOW. SERIOUSLY. Like, the only thing she hasn’t done yet is misgender me.

      • EG says:

        Yeah, you’re still part of the dysfunctional, fucked up, vile community over there, and I left a long time ago.

        Yeah, yeah, she’s so cooler than us, she doesn’t even hang out here any more…and yet…she’s all over this thread posturing about how wise she is and expecting deference.

      • Donna L says:

        What’s more troubling than this particular incident is that Kristin Rawls herself is one of the prominent faces and voices in online feminism, given the list of places for which she’s written. And this is how she reacts when a couple of WOC point out that she wasn’t paying attention, and that she was whitesplaining? How dare anyone criticize her! She’s the expert on all of this! She’s the one who uncovered the fact that Jill congratulated HS and his wife on the birth of their baby in January 2009, even though she said she didn’t mention him here after 2008!

        It’s all quite symptomatic of the overall problem.

      • number9 says:

        OMG this is the first time since I’ve become aware of Twitter that I have been tempted to create an account. Just so that I can go over there and call her on her bullshit. How was she supposed to know that she was arguing with WoC’s? By reading the fucking thread, that’s how! Or maybe, just not assuming that everyone on the Internet is white unless stated otherwise? Or maybe if someone tells you to stop “whitesplaining” you should assume that person is probably not white?

        And for fuck’s sake, if you’ve been published by some of the outlets listed on her Twitter bio, then welcome to the Public Face of Big Feminism club.

      • Donna L says:

        I agree.

        It might make sense for further comments on this to go in the spillover #7 thread, since there’s already a small discussion about it there.

      • Annaleigh says:

        Yeah, this whole “lookit me, I’m such an ally to WOC” bullshit rings very false when you’re refusing to listen to the WOC in this thread who are telling you what we want and need from Jill right now. I agree with pheeno and mac that the best thing is probably for Jill to take the time to absorb and think about what is being said here, and NOT to post before she’s ready with a thoughtful response just to appease a whitesplaining “ally” who doesn’t care enough to pay attention to what actual WOC are saying in this very thread, at the very best and taking an actively racist stance at the very worst. Oh yeah, and I’m a WOC as well. I’m sure you’ll ignore that fact as well, however.

      • BBBShrewHarpy says:

        @kristin

        So what if people weren’t around when you were commenting? The world moves on. Jill still has a blog and we are all still guests in her house. She didn’t have to write this post and open herself up to this, and I agree with Mac and the others that giving her some space to respond to the reaction is appropriate.

        You’ve just been told you are whitesplainin’ to two WoC on Jill’s blog and… what? No self-reflection at all? You have dominated the comments on this blog today, and for what purpose? To say “I told you so”? To excoriate Jill? What is your purpose here? These questions are not being asked in a snarky way, I really am curious: what do you hope to achieve with all your posts given that you have said you gave up on this blog and find it and all of us hopelessly clueless?

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        I really don’t understand the thing about commenters who haven’t been around as long. You can’t just leave for years and expect all the newer people to bend the knee to you because you have a history here. I’m moving out of my apartment when my lease is up, but I won’t be back in two years to be pissed that the new tenants have redecorated.

  36. shfree says:

    The dude stank to me from the moment he used his full name to sign in on the comments. There is a very “LOOK AT ME, BEING ALL REAL AND BRAVE WITH MY WORDS. PS. COME TO MY WEBSITE” vibe to it, that I don’t even think Amanda Marcotte to that level has when she uses her name. Mostly because of his gender.

    And I remember the bullshit surrounding Marcotte’s book with the racist images, and her plagiarism, and how he leapt into the fray. And what I ALSO remember was how he thanked Marcotte for her eventual apology regarding the images, but never once apologized himself for his bullshit words. I did have a few things to say in that thread as I recall, but I didn’t give enough of a shit about him as a person to call him to task, as I didn’t think he was remotely important in any way other than his own head. I should have said something to him then, about what a racist shit he was being for not owning his own words, even if I’m not someone with any pull at all. And for that, I’m sorry.

  37. pheenobarbidoll says:

    (putting this here so it can be seen easily)

    Jill-

    I understand that you are probably feeling overwhelmed with comments at the moment, and that you are reading and listening to what’s being said. I don’t expect an immediate response from you, in fact I don’t want one. When (and I hope when not if) you do respond, I want it to be after much serious thought. I want you to think about racism. Yours, as well as others. I want you to understand that this isn’t a Hugo problem. He just happened to be involved. Anyone else could be in his place and this would have happened. Many others HAVE been in his place and the exact same thing happened to WoC. But I would rather read a real response (even if it’s not pretty) than one that happens too soon.

    I’m angry with you. I’m disappointed in you. But unlike Hugo, I do think you can affect real change in yourself and that can and should be encouraged. He’s a lost cause, you’re not. Mind you, I am speaking for myself, not anyone else. You have burned some bridges that will never be repaired, for some. I’ve yet to reach that point, so I am willing to hear what you may have to say at a later date. I just want it to be honest.

    So anyway, yeah. That’s how I feel for what its worth.

  38. Kristin Rawls says:

    Wondering if I should post this down-thread because it’s way up there at this point, hidden in a subthread. Feel free to delete the first one, Jill? In any case…

    I can’t really comment on the depth of the contact between Jill and Hugo, but it reads as a respectful exchange between colleagues. Maybe it was just once (I really can’t go back through the past year of Jill’s tweets).

    Jill, I never really felt that you were intentionally lying about anything. But I can’t help but notice that you meticulously researched all the details that make you look more innocent but didn’t bother researching this.

    As to the depth of the friendship (or non-friendship) you had, you devoted this post to congratulating Hugo on the birth of his child. I searched him on the site — there are a few pages of posts that either focus on promoting Hugo or at least link to him. Many of the most glowing posts were written by Lauren, who posted more than once to defend his feminism on a radio program. And another (in feminsite of all places!) to geek out on his love for contemporary Christian music. The impression that I get from these posts is very much that you operated as colleagues and friends. I just find the disavowals a bit disingenuous. You’re right — most of it happened between 2005 and 2006, but…

    How many other people get posts congratulating them on the birth of a child? Besides maybe Jessica.

    • Kristin Rawls says:

      This is in the subthread in which I posted the recent twitter exchange — and I’m referencing the fact that other, more exonerating details were meticulously researched.

  39. Kristin Rawls says:

    And here’s the link to the birth notice on the blog.

    Links to his personal blog and says:

    To Hugo and his wife, who just welcomed their first baby into the world. You are going to be great parents.

    • Donna L says:

      I have no idea how many people get congratulated, but I’m not sure that the existence of such a post in January 2009 is so terribly inconsistent with Jill’s statement that Hugo wasn’t mentioned here after 2008. And I think it’s entirely possible that Jill forgot that brief Twitter exchange — it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that she would have lied about it. I frequently have to interview people about their recollections, and later refresh their recollections with documents, and people forget far more substantial interactions and events all the time. I don’t think deliberate falsehood is the issue here.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        I didn’t think she was deliberately lying. I just think — and thought — she was being much more careful with the details that present her in a more positive way.

        Still not convinced that none of them knew though. I just don’t know how that’s possible.

    • Bagelsan says:

      To Hugo and his wife, who just welcomed their first baby into the world. You are going to be great parents.

      Sure, it might seem like boilerplate baby stuff, but it’s really secret instructions to Jill and Hugo’s co-cabal of evil conspirators to unleash their super-duper nasty plans of racism that Jill fully cosigned because Jill is Hitler. Duh. Total proof of her 100% complicity in all things Huge Doucheo-related.

      Or maybe she legit forgot 2 sentences.

  40. is it OK if i go anonymous?? says:

    I’ve met Hugo Schwyzer. I’ve been trying to catch up with the drama in his life and reading about it here has been pretty much very enlightening. I’m heavily into feminism but not so much into feminist blogging, so I’m sorry if I say anything that isn’t OK to say in these circles.

    I’m apologize to all of the people who are offended by the notion that he easily fooled people, having read your comments on this blog. I think your points are valid. But he still fooled me. I still have friends – young girls – who still think that Schwyzer is a decent human being and a wonderful professor. And they still believe that this is just a sad relapse and things will be fine down the road.

    I had been a longtime reader of the man before I began seeing that something was really off about him, but even so it took a long time to admit that I wasn’t just being paranoid.

    I’m sorry for the anonymous comment, but since moving to California, I think I better be careful about my identity and Hugo Schwyzer. He did try to kill a girl. I know he said it was in the past, but most of you don’t seem to believe that his words were genuine, and neither do I, not anymore.

    I sympathize with what Jill, the author of this blog, said about being behind the learning curve. For those of you guys who haven’t met Schwyzer, it’s not just about his charm, or his social status, or the fact that he talks a good game. The man is very, very, scarily smart underneath all of his “I’m just a nice guy who is trying to stick to the high road and sometimes screws up” rhetoric, and he knows how to push your buttons.

    Some of us fall hard for this kind of redemption shtick. I’m glad that with these latest revelations, there will be less people out there willing to trust him, but please understand that a lot still do. They are not necessarily evil-minded. A lot of them just don’t see him for what he is.

    Also, I’m not white. Until very, very recently, I had no clue about his history of racism. Really, none. If you don’t know where to look, you might just completely miss it. Not that I have looked in the right places, I’ve become truly and completely sickened.

    Sorry for the long-winded comment. I hope that all of you guys who have had any contact with him, or have been attacked by this man, can put him in the rearview mirror and never look back. It’s what I’m going to do.

    • Kristin Rawls says:

      So I’m curious what you took away from his writing about having orgies with students? Did you notice that he writes that stuff in the style of erotica? His post about trying to kill someone has been removed from the internet, but let me tell you about it in case you missed it. TW terrifying abuse story:

      He writes that the ex-girlfriend had just been raped by her dealer — she’d gone to procure drugs for them that day. He found it all titillating. He writes that she “smelled of sex.” He goes on to describe sex with his just-raped ex-girlfriend as “breathlessly hot.” I don’t get it… But it wasn’t just this post. How did it escape your attention that virtually all of his writing about sex with students is basically soft porn? Did that not strike you as creepy in the least? As a horrifying abuse of power? Did you not pick up on the fact that he was clearly titillated just remembering it all? Seriously, I don’t understand how an avid reader of his work ever missed this.

      I am terrified by the fact that you know many young women who still look up to him. I think it’s clear that he always reached out to people he saw as younger and more vulnerable. Can you warn the women you know about this? Show them some of the material online?

      I’ve never met Hugo in person. I’ve seen brief snippets of him on TV interviews. I think the man oozes smarmy creepiness in his writing, but I can’t speak for what he’s like in person.

      • is it OK if i go anonymous?? says:

        Well I used to be all “woo, free love” if you know what I mean. Some people think that erotic stuff is an important element of teaching. Most of those people happen to be creepy perverts, lol, but trying telling that to an eighteen-year-old girl who never had a healthy view of her own sexuality.

        I mean, I get that so many of you guys are clued in here, and I truly value that, but this is just my perspective on the man, as it used to be. What really got me where his posts about age disparity in dating, and body image, and stuff. And the fact that he was a bad guy, but was now one of the “good guys.”

        I’ve warned people about him already and some have listened, but I was actually blocked on Facebook by this one woman who thinks I’m completely evil and Hugo is a poor, misunderstood man. It’s really sad, but maybe she will still eventually see him for what he is.

        If you think I was stupid, please think about the fact that his wife was fooled by him too. I don’t know if she’s going to pull any of this “stand by your man” stuff soon, I hope not, but love does weird things to people and they kids together.

        I just really hope that she can be OK.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        I am also concerned about his wife and children. He tweeted that she will not allow him to see his children because she is concerned about their safety.

        I’m not saying you were stupid. I take it you were an 18 year-old college student at the time? I don’t know anything about you personally, but I suspect some women may have histories of abuse in their own lives (not you) that make them vulnerable targets. He’s figured out to abuse that vulnerability.

        I am curious how people explained away the creepiness. Again, as a college student, I can see being less prepared for it.

        In any case, I take it you were not an owner or main operator of one of the biggest feminist blogs over the past decade. I think the people with power who enabled him a lot of culpability. I also think it’s important not to blame other people — not feminist public figures — whose vulnerabilities he found ways to exploit.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        argh… I have tons of typos and left out words in there… Hopefully it makes sense.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        Another thing: I think the “woo free love!” thing you bring up deserves parsing a bit. In some sex positive feminist circles, it has become taboo to criticize sexual behavior at all. A big push not to sound like a prude. I wonder if this has sometimes made some people disregard their instincts about power imbalance and abuses like this? In principle, I agree with sex positive feminist ideas, but I think we need to be careful about trusting our instincts when it comes to things like this. Not scolding anyone about it, but I think it’s probably important to reinsert more discussion about power imbalances and abusive relationships.

      • is it OK if i go anonymous?? says:

        Kristin, I’m sure you probably mean well, but I also feel it’s not necessary to defend myself for being taken in by him after a certain point. Specifically in the sense that I’d rather not discuss under what circumstances I met him and justify myself further here… I have a feeling he’s probably reading this thread, and the last thing I need is him figuring out who I am.

        Also about sex positivity…I’m not really sure it’s totally relevant here. For me, sex positivity is about owning your sexuality and not letting it become the domain of gross dudes like Schwyzer, if that makes sense.

        Anyway, like I said, I hope you can also move on from this toxic personality. The sooner he becomes totally irrelevant the better, IMHO.

    • Tony says:

      People see what they choose to see.

      Me included.

      Ted Bundy got numerous marriage proposals when he was in jail.

      I think we need to seriously interrogate why Hugo got– and still gets– a never ending leash that other people don’t get.

    • Glad to know you’ve put him in the rearview. I sincerely hope he stays there for you.

      I also think that you’ve said something really important and it bears repeating: plenty of people out there remain convinced that Hugo is just a poor, misunderstood guy who’s been having some troubles lately. Lots of those people happen to be young women.

      That. Just. Sucks.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        That’s in part an indirect consequence of things like this blackout. Maybe these young women just learning about feminism wouldn’t have looked to mainstream feminist sites like feminste for basic information. But maybe they would have. Maybe some could have been warned. And yes, I think it’s terrifying that he still has this pull on so many young women — I hope it’s not too late to get the word out.

      • Miriam says:

        He taught and writes on his own blog. He’s got a platform. There is a TON out there on Hugo Schwyzer once a person knows to look. I will always be grateful to the commentors on Jezebel who posted about who he is on the bottom of his articles because I had really liked the writing of his that I saw.

        It is difficult to find details on Schwyzer’s conflicts with specific WoC bloggers. I’ve been following links and Googling for the past two days, and I’m still unclear on exactly what he did to brownfemipower, Black Amazon, Flavia, and others although I did get up to speed on Amanda Marcotte, Seal Press and the racist pictures in her book. I gather that he used his connections to block their writing/speaking careers, but not really how or how he helped the careers of Jill, Jessica Valenti, and Amanda Marcotte. Some of this stuff seems like it was all part of this insular blogging world that you have to be part of to understand, and I’m not so I don’t.

        I know there’s a lot of change being called for within this world, and it’s good and makes sense for it to happen here. But I think in terms of diminishing Schwyzer’s influence among college age women, the broader institutional issue is that Pasadena City College never fired him.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        See bfp’s blog linked by Jill. I’ve also tweeted a lot of the history over the course of many tweets over the past few days. Much of the history happened right here on this blog, so see the multiple posts about conflicts with Amanda Marcotte — you can find examples right here of how he swooped in to help her, beginning in 2006. Look up burqa-gate, the plagiarism issue with bfp, and the racist Tarzan drawings throughout Amanda’s book. Fine Holly’s post, “It’s a Jungle Out Here Too, Huh?” Then check the first Amazon reviews of that book. As we all went over to decry the overt racism, Hugo wrote a glowing review meant to offset what we said. Then go over to Pandagon and feministing, and follow the same trail. It takes time and has happened over the course of reams of comments. It’s why many of us left this space to start with. It has circumscribed my ENTIRE experience of online feminism. The people I am closest to? I found them at this blog back in the day when we were all raising these concerns and being virtually ignored. I refuse to go back and dig up everything I’ve put on twitter this week, so if you want go check my TL @kristinrawls.

      • Kristin Rawls says:

        He has said before that PCC tried to fire him when they first learned he was having sex with students — and gave the impression that he used his considerable resources to challenge the legality of firing him. I don’t feel I know enough about PCC, but I will say this… It is a community college. Most people who teach at community colleges do not even have PhDs. PCC gave him the opportunity to prey upon young women, yes, but it hardly conferred the same degree of legitimacy on him as being championed in feminist media did. It hardly could have created the network of fans he has throughout the United States. Community college teachers are not usually sought out experts on things like women’s studies. Who sought him out? Feminists. Why? I still haven’t figured it out.

      • tigtog says:

        Community college teachers are not usually sought out experts on things like women’s studies. Who sought him out? Feminists. Why? I still haven’t figured it out.

        Kristin, from my memory of the blogosphere back in 2005-6, it was simple for someone to become well known across a broad range of feminist blogs merely by commenting frequently in a moderately perspicacious manner, and since the ‘sphere was smaller back before Web 2.0 people did a lot more commenting on each others’ blogs almost reflexively as a matter of netiquette. HS essentially groomed the feminist blogosphere by simply emulating substantive members of the commentariats and building up a commenting history that gave him a certain degree of credit before anybody knew anything much about him other than that he popped up frequently in the comments sections of many blogs that they liked to read. He worked hard at becoming a familiar voice, progressing to guest posts at various places (never here though). IIRC, the first blog that promoted HS heavily was Alas, A Blog – so it was one male feminist promoting another male feminist – and HS also quite aggressively went after media attention simply by describing himself as a male feminist to fairly ignorant editors and producers, and being a fairly smooth performer on his first shots, so then he got more. Once he had a media profile, then he started really getting traction with the many sites, especially when Ampersand had his own falling-out in 2006 with many feminists who shunned him for years, leaving a gap for HS to step into.

        I’d already wearied of HS’ I’m-such-a-bad-boy schtick and ‘splaining before 2008, but I absolutely stopped reading anything by him after the first Seal Press racefail blow-up, and I tended to avoid reading anything about him too in following years, figuring that I knew it all already, so the posts on his (attempted) murder-suicide revelations following Clarisse’s interview that she posted here came as a surprise, and it wasn’t until I read that thread that I also found out just how bad his persecution of WOC-bloggers had been. I wish I had been paying more attention rather than just ignoring him, because all that information needed signal-boosting a long time before 2011, but at the time ignoring him seemed the best course when dealing with someone who simply thrived on any attention at all.

      • piny says:

        Plus, people on xojane and salon keep writing think pieces about Hugo that leave out a whole bunch of important stuff. Then people read those pieces and think they have the whole story – one of the worst most recent referred to the suicide attempt as “reported,” even though the word is CONFESSED.

      • Lenny says:

        I’ve been trying to parse some of my discomfort about the argument that the ‘he’s manipulative and fooled us’ argument is crap. I think my discomfort is encapsulated nicely here – there’s a distinction to be made between people who continued to support Hugo after being told, repeatedly, by WOC what a douchebag he was and ignored them and chose to believe the white guy, and people who have been manipulated by Hugo. All of the ‘but it’s so obvious!’ stuff seems to marginalise the many people who were taken in and hurt by him.

        This seems like a different problem, abusers don’t have to be genius masters of manipulation, they just have to speak to the right issues in the right tone to prey on vulnerable people. Suggesting that everyone ‘should have known’ about him without adding caveats (which some people in this thread have done, but others have not) implies that the girlfriends, students etc. who he hurt or who just bought in to what he was saying should have known, because he’s so obviously a douchebag. It should be clear that the blame rests with him in those circumstances!

      • Kai says:

        Nah man. You’re saying that calling out enablers of racism is the same as victim blaming. That’s an attempt to blur lines which should be much more clear. For purposes which only you know. You’re wrong though. People know the difference.

      • Kai says:

        Also, like Kristin said way above, it’s twisted but this incident has actually triggered an odd reunion. Hi folks! Nanette, Ilyka, how we have missed your voices. Oh these days we just get together when discussing attempted murderers and such… what the fuck.

      • piny says:

        Yeah, what Kai said. (Hi!) It wasn’t that he was hurting people where we couldn’t see. It was that he was hurting the right people. It’s like Arundhati Roy said. “Inspector Thomas Mathew seemed to know whom he could pick on and whom he couldn’t. Policemen have that instinct.”

        He did pit some bloggers against other bloggers in self-aggrandizing ways, but that manipulative strategy wouldn’t have worked without a certain level of fear and distrust, i.e. racism. He exploited the situation. He didn’t create it. And we cooperated not because he was a smooth operator, but because it didn’t conflict with our own needs at all.

        And he was pretty blatantly aggressive and insulting towards, for example, BFP. He used the same tactics during the last go-round, but they were easier to fold into “abuser” and “misogynist,” so it was easier for some of us to see what was going on.

        And I include myself in that – I was on board with smug asshole and execrable pseudo-feminist hack, but I did have some trouble with bully. He was not hurting people in ways that might hurt me; thus he was not committing abuse I could understand.

      • piny says:

        Wait, apparently, what pheenobarbidoll said about the racism being there already.

      • is it OK if i go anonymous?? says:

        Kai, hi. I was taking a break from this blog due to the fact that it’s probably not my place to comment here in the first place, but I wanted to specifically point out that:

        I mean, when I first started reading the comments on this blog that specifically asked not to mention how his role as a manipulator fed into Hugo Schwyzer’s actions, I did feel a little, um, defensive. Because he had certainly manipulated me and I feel myself to be somewhat a victim of manipulations, though not as big of a victim as some of the other people who crossed paths with him.

        Of course I understand now that people here were discussing something in a specific context.

        I also want to say that being an enabler of his crap can take on different forms. Like, for me the scary part is that his influence extends so much further than this corner of the blogosphere. Just to give you my own example, when I first interacted with him, he treated me like this gorgeous princess, if you know what I mean.

        I was just young and stupid and inexperienced enough to think that this means that he couldn’t possibly be racist: I mean why else would he be so appreciate of me specifically???

        I totally mistook the guy’s overall skeeviness for some kind of… inclusivity, I guess?? I’ve seen it happen since with others.

        I thought it needed to be said, in light of the fact that many others remain fooled. Including girls who remind me of me.

        Sorry for butting in, tho.

      • Lenny says:

        Well, I clearly screwed up here. What I see as blurring is probably only because I haven’t been following the HS saga too closely, which is my bad. I have such strong associations with “she should have known better” (survivor triggers…thought I was thinking about this rationally when I’m now sure I wasn’t). Apologies!

  41. yes says:

    “Feminism got crunked today as women of color and their allies talk on Twitter.” -Storify’s subheading

  42. Kristin Rawls says:

    Another thing that’s been pointed out in recent weeks: Hugo was stridently pro-life when he first got involved in online feminism. There are rape survivors who had abortions who have described threads elsewhere in which he implies (to them) that pro-choicers don’t care about women. (I’m sorry, I don’t have a link handy — this was explained to me by someone who was involved in those threads and who I trust not to repeat rumor as fact.)

    But it’s clear from his blog history that he was stridently pro-life even during the Typepad years. Women with similar views were never treated with as much respect as Hugo always has been. Even if it’s true that you didn’t see him for who he really is (and I do have doubts), what’s with his cheerful reception during the pro-life fundamentalist period? And even if you weren’t as alarmed as I was by his history of abusing power with students, how did it escape your notice that (1) it was weird to have a conservative evangelical cozying up to you and (2) he shifted course on abortion (and porn) seemingly overnight?

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      I’m not sure what this has to do with what is being discussed. I am ex-pro-life. The pro-life/anti-choice movement relies on seducing women into voting against their own best interest, and it is VERY effective at doing just that. If millions of women were not being conned, confused, or coerced into doing so, this wouldn’t even have been brought up. I’m sure you can find better things to decry than “he used to be pro-life” Is my pro-choice stance invalid because of how I was raised?

      • piny says:

        No, it’s more his handwringing bullshit over, “I want to force women to carry pregnancies to term…but I don’t want to be sexist! God, tell me what to do!”

        Like, he wasn’t just pro-life as in, had some reservations about the unborn etc. He was a – I just typed nasty piece of work, so…he was cruel, prideful, all that stuff Jesus says you’re not supposed to do because it means you’re confusing yourself with God, essentially. When a man behaves that way towards women, it’s rank sexism, full stop.

        He wrote “Crying with Rage at Amy Richards,” an open letter to a woman who opted for a selective termination because she and her husband decided that they couldn’t have three babies instead of just one. As though this is somehow far worse than having an abortion when you are not already having a child. It was a nasty piece of work.

        And he did become pro-choice later on, but…it wasn’t the political position per se. It was his attitude towards women. He was pretty anti-feminist, claims to love and respect women notwithstanding.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        Thank you piny.

      • piny says:

        I understand your point about meeting people where they have been. I have no time for anti-abortion apologia, and I think it’s impossible to be pro-life and not harbor a lot of sexism. But I understand that people aren’t always pro-life because they are sexist. I also understand that a lot of religious organizations are pro-life.

        Honestly, his kumbayaface schtick was one of his most appealing personas. And I liked it more than the one where he started telling women how porn was actually about the health of men’s souls.

        I understand the appeal of that guy – the Christian feminist, the man who was honestly trying to weave together his love of Jesus and his respect for women. And when I first saw him, I thought he was a nice and earnest guy.

        But, you know, five minutes later….

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        I think it’s impossible to be pro-life and not harbor a lot of sexism

        As do I. It is not a coincidence that a vast portion of the pro-life/anti-hormonal-birth-control movement is faith-based.

  43. Kristin Rawls says:

    Just wondering: I assume Hugo and his IP have been banned from this site by now? I know he could easily find some other way to get in, but it would be horrifying if he managed to get through here.

  44. Shives says:

    You know, until this recent explosion of HS all over everywhere I’d forgotten he was a thing. I was a lurker when the interview catastrophe happened and then when Jill and Feministe went on an HS black out I sorta just forgot he existed. Which would have been a good thing, a brilliant thing, exactly the thing Jill and Feministe seemed to want to happen. Except he was still hurting people. He should have never dropped off the radar. It should have been talked about, not him, but the people who were pointing out that he was being an asshole. Even if you wanted to keep Operation HS Blackout going here at Feministe you could have linked to tweets and blog posts written by people complaining about him and announcing the terrible things he was continuing to do.

    This whole mess is terrible, and honestly I don’t really feel like this is a mess caused by HS. Maybe in the beginning but now it’s a mess created by a lot of us putting our heads in the sand and pretending he’d go away while also ignoring basically anyone telling us we were wrong.

    I’d like to apologize. I’m mostly a lurker, I don’t speak up often but I read and I should read more. It’s not Jill’s fault, or Feministe’s fault that I didn’t realize or remember HS still existed as a terrible person. While they could have made it easier I hold the final responsibility. I need to expand and search out more writing from WoC. You’ve been saying things that need to be said and should be listened to and I haven’t been listening. For that I’m sorry and I know it doesn’t mean a whole lot but this little speck floating around in the feminist internet is planning on listening better and listening more.

    • moviemaedchen says:

      I’d like to apologize. I’m mostly a lurker, I don’t speak up often but I read and I should read more. It’s not Jill’s fault, or Feministe’s fault that I didn’t realize or remember HS still existed as a terrible person. While they could have made it easier I hold the final responsibility. I need to expand and search out more writing from WoC. You’ve been saying things that need to be said and should be listened to and I haven’t been listening. For that I’m sorry and I know it doesn’t mean a whole lot but this little speck floating around in the feminist internet is planning on listening better and listening more.

      You post made me realize I should say the same thing. I also lurk, and don’t engage as much, which makes it easier to not pay attention, instead of keeping myself informed and seeking out more WoC’s voices. I’m sorry too, and will focus on doing more active listening and supporting WoC in the future.

    • trishka says:

      I’d like to apologize. I’m mostly a lurker, I don’t speak up often but I read and I should read more. It’s not Jill’s fault, or Feministe’s fault that I didn’t realize or remember HS still existed as a terrible person. While they could have made it easier I hold the final responsibility. I need to expand and search out more writing from WoC. You’ve been saying things that need to be said and should be listened to and I haven’t been listening. For that I’m sorry and I know it doesn’t mean a whole lot but this little speck floating around in the feminist internet is planning on listening better and listening more.

      this. what shives said. there are two little specks that are listening. thank you to the WoC here who have been speaking your truth.

    • Palaverer says:

      This is exactly how I feel. I’m relatively new to feminism (I only escaped conservative fundamentalist brainwashing in the last 5 years). I’ve heard of HS but I had no idea that he was still a thing in the world because my blog roll is overwhelmingly white. I’m fixing that now. Also, I had no idea about the negative history with Amanda Marcotte or Alas! A Blog, two blogs on my feed. Thank you to the WoC and others on this thread for educating me.

      • tadeina says:

        It seems like there’s a lot of history here that can be difficult to access.

        It is difficult to find details on Schwyzer’s conflicts with specific WoC bloggers. I’ve been following links and Googling for the past two days, and I’m still unclear on exactly what he did to brownfemipower, Black Amazon, Flavia, and others although I did get up to speed on Amanda Marcotte, Seal Press and the racist pictures in her book. I gather that he used his connections to block their writing/speaking careers, but not really how or how he helped the careers of Jill, Jessica Valenti, and Amanda Marcotte.

        Yes: this. Would it be possible for Feministe to post a collection of links to writings by women of color which clearly detail the events? I’ve been trying, but it’s difficult to piece together when you weren’t around; there’s this huge flood of information, and it’s hard to find what’s central, and how the pieces fit together.

      • ashurredly says:

        “Stop Speaking for US: Women-of-Color Bloggers, White Appropriation, and What Librarians Can Do About It” by Julia Glassman is on my to-read list. It looks like a good analysis of the appropriation of BFP’s work. http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/5n06f2t3#page-1

  45. pheenobarbidoll says:

    We need a giraffe here. Mods can that cornucopia of links be deleted? We really don’t need yet another asshole perpetuating the belief that mean woc are being cruel to Hugo, instead of the other way around. Especially by some idiot who can’t be bothered to find out wtf the issues are.

    [Thank you for sending a giraffe alert ~ mods]

    • Donna L says:

      Interesting to see how much turnover there’s been here. I recognized only a few names, other than Jill. There’s certainly much closer supervision by the moderators now. And things have changed in other ways.

  46. Brennan says:

    A small point:

    As a lurker who hadn’t really been following the conversation up to this point, I was initially confused by the post, with its references to “Hugo” and “HS.” I clicked through the links, took a minute to go “oh, that guy. He was icky,” and moved on to the comments. From the context, it seems obvious that this was an attempt to deny him the ego boost that he evidently gets from seeing his name online. Sensible thought, good on you, Feministe.

    So, here’s my thought: if we’re denying him the chance to see his name in print, shouldn’t we do the opposite for those who’ve been speaking the truth all this time and have been silenced? Shouldn’t we refer to one of his critics as “Flavia Dzodan”? That is how she always blogged on Tiger Beatdown, that appears on her Tumblr (well, “Flavia Tamara Dzodan” to be precise), and so far as I know, that is her real name. In the article, Flavia Dzodan is referred to only by her first name, which I would like to believe was a good faith oversight, but I’m uncomfortable with assuming that, especially in this conversation. In the post you linked, Flavia Dzodan spoke specifically about being denied exposure and promotion by the feminist community as one of the weapons he used to punish her. Wouldn’t this be a good time to start remedying the harm done to Flavia Dzodan, if only by getting her name onto the internet and into people’s brains a little more?

    Also, Flavia Dzodan. Her name is awesome.

    • Donna L says:

      God you scared me for a minute when I saw your name!

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Lol I was baring my teeth in anticipation Donna. You were not going to be a target if I had any say in it.

      • BBBShrewHarpy says:

        Me too!

        I think many people here admire Flavia Dzodan and refer to her quite a lot, particularly

        “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit”

      • Donna L says:

        She has a wonderful name. And many amazing things to say.

      • Brennan says:

        *iz mildly confused*

        Have been lurking for that long? *blushes* Well, sorry for the scare.

      • Donna L says:

        No; sorry — we thought you might be Cathy Brennan. See upthread.

      • Jill says:

        As a quick clarification: Don’t quote me on this, but I THINK we banned Cathy Brennan a long time ago. May have been some other public transphobe, but I have a vague recollection of her commenting here once or twice and us removing her as soon as we figured out who she was.

        I might be confusing her for someone else, but just as an FYI, if she’s not banned already, she will be as soon as she tries to comment.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Lol sorry for the confusion Brennan, I was on the same track as Donna. If some people think we’re mean girls, I was about to show what a mean woman looks like. Kinda disappointed now. I was gonna peel the paint off the walls for that horrible person. But back to your post- I agree.

      • Brennan says:

        Okay, I’m caught up, now. Wow, she’s horrific. Just in case she’s a long-lost relative, you have my sincere apologies that she exists.

      • Nanette says:

        Ha! Me too– I rushed back into the thread ready to jump in and stomp. Glad it was a false alarm.

    • Nanette says:

      Also, I agree on the name thing. I think that is an important point, especially now.

  47. Pseudonym says:

    As a SCWAG, let me give you folks here my incredibly valuable opinion on all the things:

    Seriously, though, I’ve found this whole episode to be very enlightening. I was never aware of Voldeschwyzer’s treatment of women of color, and it’s taken a while even now for me to get a good understanding of what happened. But his writing creeped me out from the first time I encountered it. I’m not positive I can pin down what gave me that impression, but it was something about the way he self-identified as a male feminist yet didn’t seem to care about exercising an abundance of caution about prioritizing the concerns and experiences of women. Something about his writing seemed to treat feminism as an empty formalism rather than an expression of lived experience, even as he dwelt on the details of his own pre-redemption-narrative experiences. One of the most valuable lessons feminism has taught me is the importance of shutting up. (I hope this comment doesn’t count as too much a violation of that principle.) I think this is something Jill is doing well here and now, whatever other faults she may have (and I’m not the right person to criticize or defend her otherwise). I don’t think HS ever understood that and I doubt he ever will.

  48. Hugo Was Not the First to Dupe Jill on this Site says:

    Jill, I’ve sent you a private response to this post via your gmail, to inform you about another abusive White male who got you to support him, via this site, in abusing a Black woman that he intentionally targeted as a WOC. The transgression is much deeper than just this incident, and this is the bigger problem.

  49. piny says:

    Hey you guys, check this shit out:

    Lesley Kinzel:

    Inside info: Hugo Schwyzer has emailed me directly to offer suggestions for how I should write about what a monster he is. It made me want to throw up. Actually, I won’t tell you what it made me want to do, because my kneejerk reaction was incredibly violent, for some triggering reasons I won’t go into here.

    I made a personal statement on Twitter earlier this week, prior to his email, acknowledging that I individually was complicit in giving him space when I was asked to interview him and I said okay. I wish I hadn’t, I’m incredibly sorry I did, and I have learned from that experience.

    That said, I think my shitty feelings about that are of little to no real importance in this matter, and my apologies are hollow if they are not supported by concrete actions.

    Because I personally believe that Schwyzer is now trying to construct a new redemption narrative that he can rebuild some semblance of a career on, I am extremely resistant to do what he has literally asked me to do and play along by writing up a piece about how terrible he is and how he totally “fooled” me, thereby keeping him at the center of the conversation and sustaining his media frenzy.

    Instead, I am individually working to grow more intersectionality throughout the site, and more specifically to reach out to some of the women whose careers he actively tried to destroy to offer them support and to ask them to write for xoJane.

    Frankly, I am pretty sure xoJane is never going to be a place where people don’t fuck up and say upsetting shit, and will always be a site where the 101 conversations are happening again and again — and I’m okay with that, because most of the time people learn from the experience when they do. That’s just one of the things that happens here, and I know I learn from it myself.

    And for the record, in this comment I am not speaking officially for the whole site or any other member of staff — just for myself.

    Hey, Lesley, want to write a piece on what a manipulative asshole I am? I’d be happy to supply you with some quotes, maybe some light edits…we could even work out some kind of exclusive interview sort of a setup, what do you say?

    • Li says:

      There aren’t enough reaction gifs in the world…

    • Donna L says:

      That’s just so typical of him. Including the self-flagellation (step one in the redemptive arc).

    • pheenobarbidoll says:

      She needs to email him back and say ” I’m sorry Hugo, but it’s not really about you, it’s about white feminism and racism. You were just an incidental along the way and no longer relevant.”

      That? That will actually damage him.

    • RP says:

      Instead, I am individually working to grow more intersectionality throughout the site, and more specifically to reach out to some of the women whose careers he actively tried to destroy to offer them support and to ask them to write for xoJane.

      This. This should have been included in every response about this mess. For the life of me, I can’t understand why some version of this didn’t end up coming from the people issuing apologies/statements now.

      This point is basic: When you cause damage any apology has to include a promise to fix the damage. The damage was shutting WoC out of mainstream feminist spaces and limiting their access to resources, speaking gigs, etc. The apologies ought to include promises to fix it.

      Now, whether they will want to write for xoJane after this is another matter. How these sites actually go about supporting WoC and women like brownfemipower and blackamazon in particular is something that should happen with them stating what they need instead of being told what they’ll get. But the offer needs to be made. I don’t get to hit someone with my car and expect any apology I make to taken seriously if I won’t even make a 911 call.

      • RP says:

        I have to say though that I’m not impressed that apparently this is just a comment instead of part of its own article. In fact, it’s a response to someone asking for some discussion in xojane’s role in this. As far as I can tell, that site hasn’t even issued any statement on this yet.

    • belledame222 says:

      AIYIEEEEEEE

      • ilyka says:

        ::suspicious look::

        Is it REALLY you, belledame? I won’t believe it’s really you until you cap off a string of serial comments by asking whether a troll can play “Melancholy Baby.”

      • Ms. Kristen J. says:

        Wow…reaching so far back…I was just thinking yesterday of your blog and what a shame it was that some of the history around the appropriation of Bfp’s work was lost. I remember you had a very good takedown at the time.

      • ilyka says:

        (Kristen J., most of this is not in response to you personally or specifically. I’m using your comment as a jumping-off point. I hope that’s okay and that you will understand.)

        I wouldn’t say bfp’s work was “lost.” I’d say it has largely gone uncompensated and undervalued. I mean, this is still here, and bfp is still blogging, though not always under that name.

        We’re approaching 500 comments, and to my knowledge, no one’s asked why women of color might not be dying to be “found” by white feminists. People will comment that it’s “interesting” how the names of regular commenters have changed since 2007, but not examine which names are missing, and definitely not ask why the names changed so radically.

        I mean, a comment alerting people to the way Ms. Magazine thought it could cover the hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen, without citing the women who made that tag happen, garnered little more than a “wow, really?” in response. So this isn’t just historic. It’s now. Again.

        And when work is linked that might answer where folks are or why they’re hard to find, the reaction is, “the link is broken” or “that comment section is vile” or “but things are better here now” or, or, or–or anything but honest engagement with the work being linked. It’s like saying, “Look at the Grand Canyon!” and your kid goes, “It’s hot, I’m tired, when can we watch videos?”

        That’s fine, if you’re six.

        With the full realization of how assholish this sounds: Is work only deemed “lost” if white women can’t find it?

        I don’t say that to disregard belledame’s takedowns, I’d still happily fetch her her axe, but you know?

        And I don’t write this to blast you individually, though posting it as a reply might make it look that way. I just–I have to echo Kristin Rawls: The overall tenor of this thread is immensely frustrating.

      • to my knowledge, no one’s asked why women of color might not be dying to be “found” by white feminists.

        Yeah ok except for those of us who did. But whatever. Fucking tired of being erased and dealt shit on this thread just so people can sneer at the site.

      • EG says:

        to my knowledge, no one’s asked why women of color might not be dying to be “found” by white feminists.

        I don’t ask questions I already know the answer to. Your assumption that we’re all adrift in some kind of 101-level ocean of ignorance is less about this site than it is about your–and Kristin’s–desires to play “I know better than you.”

        Nobody here is six years old, and your general dismissal of the comments here is so vague as to be meaningless–to say nothing of snotty and no more mature than what you claim to be unhappy with. Because my experience is that “the comment section is vile” is usually applied to anti-feminist sites, not WoC sites and that “the link is broken” is said by somebody who’d actually like to read whatever’s being linked to. Are you thinking of something specific?

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Me too. The tenor of this thread was fucking fine until some white women stomped in with their beef about the site and act like it’s on behalf of woc bloggers. Don’t give me that crap while you’re ignoring the woc here and expect me to see it as anything but crap. And I really don care if that wasn’t your intent.

      • People will comment that it’s “interesting” how the names of regular commenters have changed since 2007, but not examine which names are missing, and definitely not ask why the names changed so radically.

        Interesting, considering tmc specifically said it’s because the comments section here is hostile to WOCs, and several other WOCs agreed with her. Or does tmc not count for some mysterious reason (that definitely has nothing to do with the way y’all are erasing WOC on this thread left right and centre to further your generalisations)?

      • EG says:

        The tenor of this thread was fucking fine until some white women stomped in with their beef about the site and act like it’s on behalf of woc bloggers.

        Yeah, I’ve been mostly reading rather than posting for a number of reasons, and that’s certainly been my experience of the thread. At this point the discussion has been derailed by former commenters complaining about the shortcomings of current commenters and ignoring the comments of actual WoC on this thread. Again, it’s at least one and maybe more white women drowning out WoC just to hear the sound of their own self-righteousness.

      • Ms. Kristen J. says:

        Ilyka,

        No worries but to clarify, I didn’t mean bfp’s work was lost. What I was referring to in that comment was that a lot of the discussions we had back then, even the threads at Pandagon where some woc and allies (as I vaguely remember) argued for a boycott after bfp’s work was appropriated are gone. And since those conversations only exist in memory its hard to find ways to explain to people how irrevocably f-ed up the circumstances were behind HS’ white knighting. It shouldn’t have been so easily forgotten how rotten he was.

        But to your point, I agree that things have change. Heck, I’m rarely around anymore. And I do miss the brilliant WOC who wrote here often and I am deeply ashamed of the f-ed up racist shit I’ve done that contributed to their leaving.

        Still, there are new brilliant voices and the possibility for change, I think. I just wish that more of the history of online feminism was still around so that they would have greater context and may be able to stop the same things from happening.

    • Helen Huntingdon says:

      It’s interesting to me that Schwizzy is telling us exactly what his game plan is, if his words are looked at closely. He’s not just going after another redemption narrative. He’s going after a narrative in which is he singlehandedly smarter than All Of Feminism, lovable clever suffering flawed rogue that he is.

      If you look at the things he’s saying, the words he chooses, and some of the narratives being contrasted here, it really spells it out. On this thread, we had a couple of contrasting narratives offered for What Went Wrong.

      One is that various people were fooled by a super-clever, brilliant manipulator.

      Another is that nope, nothing clever about it — people freely chose the narrative that fit with their racist internal landscape.

      It’s worth noting that SwizzleStick is actively betting that the previous narrative will win out. That once again the racism of white feminists will play out in a way that serves him. That given a choice of those two unpleasant narratives, people will choose the “fooled by manipulative genius” narrative as less painful to believe about themselves than to take on the cleaning house that goes with the “I was actively racist” narrative.

      He’s betting on the racism of white feminists, and if it can be counted on, he wins out big, in dollars and spin and attention and fame, when he sells his narrative of having used the Game on All Of Feminism or All Of White Feminism and outsmarted the whole, because he’s just so, so clever.

      Note the timing of his self-serving, very orchestrated Twitter-fit. Don’t think for a minute that it’s an accident. He’s working very hard and actively toward getting certain phrases associated with himself so they will be there, already with a history, for any pop-cultural wavelets that can be ridden in association with the release of the Ender’s Game movie, which is all about a terminally earnest genius boy who keeps falling accidentally into sociopathy because he is just so much more special and brilliant than the rest of humanity that no one knows how to contain him — and oh, of course all this makes him the ultimate in purity and innocence and the One True Tale Of Redemption no matter the vicious things he does.

  50. ilyka says:

    Must highlight:

    And he was pretty blatantly aggressive and insulting towards, for example, BFP. He used the same tactics during the last go-round, but they were easier to fold into “abuser” and “misogynist,” so it was easier for some of us to see what was going on.

    And I include myself in that – I was on board with smug asshole and execrable pseudo-feminist hack, but I did have some trouble with bully. He was not hurting people in ways that might hurt me; thus he was not committing abuse I could understand.

    –partly because I keep thinking, piny, about what you said about the distinction between (and please forgive the paraphrase) “Hugo Schwyzer, Despicable Person,” and “Hugo Schwyzer, Tag Cloud.”

    I loved that because it remains my feeling that (as others have said upthread, and as Karnythia herself has said) Hugo Schwyzer, Despicable Person is not the point of #solidarityisforwhitewomen. (I really must check out the secondary thread.)

    As I understand it, and huge caveat here that I may be way off, the takeaway for white feminists should be preventing another Hugo Schwyzer, Tag Cloud, another Hugo Schwyzer, Phenomenon. Towards that end, acknowledging that labels like “abuser” and “misogynist” only apply in white feminist space when the victims are white, or presumed to be, is a good start. Recognizing “abuse” and “misogyny” in what happened to brownfemipower, Blackamazon, and Flavia Dzodan, among others, is a necessary next step; and being willing to call it that, out loud, in solidarity with and on the terms of the women of color he was allowed, and at times (it has to be said) encouraged to harm, is crucial.

    I don’t have much time, so I’m going to piggyback something else onto this tl;dr commment: I know, I know, Hugo Schwyzer, Despicable Person, is trying to get Lesley Kinzel to write about him. It’s despicable, yes, and we are all quite surprised. Look at our surprised faces that this despicable person would do this despicable thing. Can you feel the surprise?

    And yet, I’m concerned that this comment is being linked everywhere, because it is a comment left on an xojane article by Lauren Walker titled, “Why #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen has been so meaningful to me, and why it must never be forgotten.”

    So like–not to pick on you, not to pick on Lesley, but if we’re focusing on HS, DP at the expense of Ms. Walker? We’re already forgetting. You know what I mean?

    (& now I must go but Hi Nanette! Hi Kristin! Hi Kai! <3)

    • piny says:

      You’re right. I mean, on the one hand, Jesus Christ, you know? You think you’ve hit the bottom and there’s more bottom to sink through.

      Maybe he’ll come up with a Hugo Schwyzer: The Redemption Story board game, to simplify things.

      But although his creepy behavior demands some rubbernecking, it does not deserve to be promoted above Lauren Walker’s analysis. And it is important not to let this turn into OMG did you see what Hugo did now?

      • tigtog says:

        Thanks ilyka and piny for the link to Lauren Walker’s analysis, it’s highly illuminating. I’m going to separately link to it on the secondary #solidaryisforwhitewomen thread, where it won’t be buried under the HS rubbernecking here on this thread.

      • Donna L says:

        The link isn’t working.

      • piny says:

        Does this work? You should go read the whole thing – assuming I’ve actually managed to hyperlink to it this time – but this part is about this conflict specifically. (The piece covers a lot more ground, and most of it talks about internalized racism – and how little white feminists have done to fight racism.)

        It was during 2008 that the dam completely shattered. I saw the solidarity that I had hinged my self-esteem on during my youngest years laid bare for what it really was, and the sense of belated betrayal it instilled in me was beyond description.

        I watched as Gloria Steinem wrote an op-ed that pitted race against gender, as though the two could never coexist, and I experienced people denigrating the civil rights movement’s misogyny without paying any mention to feminism’s racism. I heard the exact words that I had lived by as a child repeated back to me, and realized:

        They were vile. They were racist.

        Oppression in the guise of liberation for another group is still oppression. I had spent so much of my young life hating a part of me on a level that a Klan member would be impressed with, and I was seeing that same hatred coming from the mouths of women who I thought were my sisters in struggle.

        It was that year, with the work of women of color being stolen by white feminists, with our experiences being both erased and appropriated at Slutwalks across the country, and with women who looked like me being called “nappy headed hoes” with nary a peep from feminism at large, that I decided that I was done.

        Feminism had proven to me that it was for women, but their idea of womanhood didn’t include those who weren’t white. There was solidarity, but it was only for white women and those that refused to criticize them. The illusion had been shattered, and the reality was too alienating for me to continue supporting.

        Solidarity was, and is, for white women.

        Solidarity is for white women when the contributions of women of color to feminism’s founding are completely ignored.

        Solidarity is for white women who call for inclusion of women into popular media, but say that it’s asking far too much that any of those included women be of color.

        Solidarity is for white women when your very existence is considered a dividing force.

        Solidarity is for white women when this discussion is still happening, centuries later.

      • Donna L says:

        Yes, I read it and thought it was great. I think people should stay away from the comments, though. Speaking of something vile that deserves the name. I’ve never read xojane before and didn’t know what to expect.

      • piny says:

        Oh, jeez, I totally sent you into that abandoned shopping mall without mentioning the zombies.

  51. demoiselle says:

    Sometime after I started lurking on feminist sites around 2004, I ran into HS’s writings. I very quickly found him to be skeevy, obsessed with his own sexuality, and manipulative. But it was so easy for me to just stop reading his stuff. I never had a blog of my own, I almost never commented on any site. I just walked away from HS. After all, if I listened rather than speaking in all other cases, why should I speak up about HS being creepy?

    It was easy for me to walk away.

    I didn’t realize that there were people he was actively victimizing who did not have the luxury of walking away. I regret very much that I didn’t speak against him back then. I am sorry.

  52. Donna L says:

    Please see this interview at The Hairpin with Mikki Kendall and Flavia Dzodan:

    http://thehairpin.com/2013/08/solidarity-is-for-hairpin

  53. Kristin Rawls says:

    I am sorry that I overreacted — and misconstrued — the comment that used the word “pile-on.” People are right that I ignored those who were trying to tell me I took it out of context. That’s true, partly because I thought they were insisting on something I already knew: That the comment was written by someone who has been critical of Jill. I knew that, but in light of the word “pile-on,” I felt the comment implied, “I’ve finished my commenting, and the rest is pile-on.” And then I reacted very fast without taking time to clarify or find out.

    I’m sorry. I’m still not sure what was meant with the use of “pile-on,” and I’d appreciate clarification — I understand it to mean quick, undifferentiated criticism and abuse heaped upon someone online who doesn’t deserve it. But I think the meaning may have shifted since I was active in these comments because it seems like others read it as “a lot of people who disagree with you.” I think perhaps I misunderstood what was meant here because of how this word has historically been used at feministe, in problematic posts like the one Jill wrote about “callout culture.” I would appreciate clarification on whether that has changed and what exactly pile-on means these days. I still read it as being synonymous with “horde,” so I want to be sure not to make the same mistake again.

    I was wrong to single out one comment. I reacted harshly to the one comment when I was, in reality, troubled by the overall tenor of the thread. I was troubled to find people suggesting that they still don’t know what Hugo did to BA, bfp or Flavia, even though Jill linked to bfp’s blog posts with that history in this very post. I was wrong not to take a deep breath and then offer a general comment that didn’t pick on any individual people, especially because I don’t know any of the relatively new people here.

    I was wrong to be skeptical of some of your comments — and judge them — based on things that happened in this community many years ago. It was a knee-jerk reaction and none of you are the “mean girls” I was talking about — except Jill, a little bit (particularly recent writing that shames mothers and women use adopt a spouse’s surname). But I called YOU these things, not Jill, not Amanda, not anyone who contributed to the kind of place this was back in the day. You’re not responsible, and I was wrong to make that comment. It was a cheap and unfair shot.

    I’m sorry that I was condescending. I reacted emotively without taking a step back and thinking about what I was saying. I allowed an emotional response to one word cloud the more reasonable things I SHOULD have said.

    I am sorry that the brunt of my reaction was directed at WoC. I didn’t know you were WoC, but that doesn’t matter. I had been reading the entire thread, but had started it immediately after the piece was published — and I wasn’t able to keep up with handles. In addition, I saw the word “pile-on” and I didn’t even read through the end of the comment, which would have clarified this for me. I was not making a point about race or racism, but none of the things I was talking about can be separated from it and I should have shut up.

    Sorry for flouncing. I really did think it would be better for everyone if I just disappeared, but I certainly did it in the most antagonistic way I could think of. Also… Well… I’m sorry for complaining about it on twitter for the past 24 hours. Up until people found me on twitter, I still thought every single person who’s been making this critique for all these years was being insulted for being this undifferentiated mass “pile-on.” When I was here, the explanation was that I misunderstood the comment — but I did know it wasn’t giving Jill a free pass. I was really really angry inasmuch as I thought it dismissed other critics, and I treated the situation as if it were Jill or Amanda or one of the big blogs who used the word. I do think folks would’ve been less likely to use it if you’d been around for all these years, and I think historical context is crucial. But it came across as condescending, not as trying to be helpful.

    The comment that took me to task for misspelling a word was ableist, as was the bit about using “decent English.” I was embarrassed because I have a mild kind of dyslexia that sometimes results in switched and/or transposed words. It’s fine, and I know grammar. But when I furiously rush to finish something, it’s more likely that it will happen. I was wrong to interpret the phrase “decent English” as being U.S.-centric. I will say it’s the only way I’ve ever heard the phrase used — more specifically, I’ve heard it used to complain about and denigrate Mexicans in North Carolina who “come here and never even bother to learn decent English.” I would appreciate clarification on what was meant — at the moment, I take it that it was a continuation of the ableism and did NOT mean what it has always mean what I’ve heard in other contexts. So the comment was problematic, but then I reacted in a problematic way, so I take responsibility for that.

    I think that’s everything.

    • Shives says:

      I was troubled to find people suggesting that they still don’t know what Hugo did to BA, bfp or Flavia, even though Jill linked to bfp’s blog posts with that history in this very post.

      I know for me personally it wasn’t that I don’t know now what HS had done to these womean but that I didn’t know much before other that he was a skeeve who slept with students and had terrible opinions about bodies he had no right to have opinions about.

      It seems to me that most of the critique has been for the lack of exposure here to the things he’d done personally to other bloggers and some of our own whitewashing of our blog feeds.

      I know that as soon as this explosion happened I went to every link I could find, waded into Twitter and Tumblr (where I’d never really been before : /), researched and read the things BA, bfp and Flavia had written.

      BTW, thank you for having the decency to come back into a thread that was “piling on” to you for things you’d said and done that were offensive and making an apology. I think this is exactly the situation Mac and Pheeno were glad Jill hadn’t participated in. I don’t think anyone can really react well to criticism without taking a moment to digest and understand what’s really being said.

    • tigtog says:

      I’m still not sure what was meant with the use of “pile-on,” and I’d appreciate clarification — I understand it to mean quick, undifferentiated criticism and abuse heaped upon someone online who doesn’t deserve it. But I think the meaning may have shifted since I was active in these comments because it seems like others read it as “a lot of people who disagree with you.” I think perhaps I misunderstood what was meant here because of how this word has historically been used at feministe, in problematic posts like the one Jill wrote about “callout culture.” I would appreciate clarification on whether that has changed and what exactly pile-on means these days. I still read it as being synonymous with “horde,” so I want to be sure not to make the same mistake again.

      For me your understanding of “undeserved” wrt the word “pile-on” is highly idiosyncratic. The problem with pile-ons in all my time online (including many years on USENet) is that they add more heat than light – it’s many many people all repeating essentially the same criticisms, as if nobody has already said exactly the same thing previously in the thread. Even when the criticisms may be well-deserved, a pile-on can easily escalate into a flamefest for no other reason than that people feel encouraged to add their repetition of the criticisms to the pile of criticisms already existing.

      Pile-ons are problematic because they effectively stifle any progression of the discussion forwards, whether the criticisms being made are or are not deserved/valid. Once a criticism has been made by one person in the thread, further repetitions of the same criticism tend to escalate hostility levels without making any new contributions that might generate thoughtful and considered discussion, and simply encourage defensiveness and discourage considered reflection.

      • trees says:

        @tigtog

        Oh, I had a similar understanding of that term, probably ’cause of how it has been hurled in an attempt to shut down conversations. The term was used to dismiss criticism and was said to be the practice of call-out culture; i.e. haters gonna hate.

        The problem with pile-ons in all my time online (including many years on USENet) is that they add more heat than light – it’s many many people all repeating essentially the same criticisms, as if nobody has already said exactly the same thing previously in the thread.

        Do you see that happening in this thread?

      • piny says:

        Yes, I agree with trees.

        I appreciate the clarification, but the best possible way to say it is that these HS discussions have way overcorrected for the possibility of a pile-on. The ongoing issue has been shutting down anger and dismissing legitimate grievance, not too much heat.

        If you deflect criticism, more people get more angry. And it’s not really possible for any one annoyed person to take responsibility for a pile-on, or appropriate to ask them not to express their anger because the amount of anger in the room has hit some critical level.

        Another thing – about longtime commenters – you should try to figure out who you’re talking to, to make sure you don’t completely misunderstand them. But a lot of people left Feministe (et al.) because of stuff just like this HS thing. They didn’t just drift away; it’s not like they moved and then came back and got upset that their towels weren’t hanging on the towel rack anymore.

      • tigtog says:

        trees, IMO the main heat vs light pile-on in this thread came from Kristin Rawls deciding to dominate the discussion and then getting defensive when others pointed that out to her. That doesn’t mean I think all KR’s criticisms are unjustifed, just that they were relentless and mostly repetitive.

      • tigtog says:

        Extra clarification: *I* do not characterise this *whole* thread as a pile-on.

      • Donna L says:

        Another thing – about longtime commenters – you should try to figure out who you’re talking to, to make sure you don’t completely misunderstand them. But a lot of people left Feministe (et al.) because of stuff just like this HS thing. They didn’t just drift away; it’s not like they moved and then came back and got upset that their towels weren’t hanging on the towel rack anymore.

        All I can say is that I’ve been here a little less than two years, and KR certainly left before that. (So did you, I gather.) There was absolutely no possible justification for any assumption on her part that the people here now are the same people as those who were here before she left.

      • Donna L says:

        And she wasn’t entitled to any special deference, either. I never heard of her.

      • piny says:

        Tigtog, I don’t want to pick on you, but that isn’t the definition of a pile-on.

        A pile-on is a group of people getting angry over one person’s behavior. In other words, the commenters who complained en masse about Kristin’s comments were piling on. Kristin can’t stage a pile on. She can be piled on. And the term is pretty categorically pejorative.

        And I understand that you’re talking about a different context again, and I agree what you’re saying about Kristin’s trying to yank the discussion, but this is important. The horde o’ WOC staging raids on hardscrabble internet feminist settlements has been a trope in this conversation for years. The natural response to this kind of deflecting bullshit is OH FUCK NO and YOU DID NOT JUST SAY THAT TO MY FRIEND.

        Women who spoke up to say, “She’s telling the truth – I noticed this same thing myself,” and, “I’m not happy with the way you’re treating her,” and, “Why aren’t you responding to her?” and even, “You know, I haven’t spoken up about this before, but it really upsets me when this happens,” were treated like a swarm. In fact, I believe we were using that word for a while.

        That is what pile-on means. We turned solidarity into antisocial behavior.

      • tigtog says:

        piny, you’re absolutely correct that KR could not stage a pile-on on her own. I mis-spoke there – KR was being a jerk in several ways that others challenged her for, but it ended up as more of a derail rather than a pile-on.

        I also agree that pile-on has often been used pejoratively in exactly the way you describe, to denigrate expressions of solidarity. Because that’s not how I originally learnt the term, that’s never been a usage I’ve agreed with, and I realise now that I have as a result downplayed the importance of others using it in the pejorative way. I regret that downplaying, and I won’t be doing that again.

        I still take issue with KR leaping to the “undeserved” aspect being implicit in describing something as a “pile-on”, but I do see why she leapt to that interpretation. I’m going back to listening now.

      • trees says:

        @tigtog

        The term was applied before KR entered the discussion. Weren’t we talking about the overall discussion, not just KR’s contribution? I’m confused.

      • tigtog says:

        trees, the argument about the term came when KR challenged mac for using it. I’ve already responded to piny that my application of the term pile-on to KR’s contributions is not accurate, and I agree. I don’t think mac was using it to imply that the pile-on was unjustified in any way, just that there was a very large quantity of responses to absorb.

        My example of the general definition of pile-on was a reference to the many different ways in which it is used, and that there are a bunch of purely netiquette-derived objections to pile-ons that long pre-date how the term has come to be (mis)used pejoratively and deflectingly to “characterise solidarity as antisocial”, as piny so aptly described it. As I noted to piny, I’m now aware that my long-term disagreement with those misuses means that I’ve been unconsciously downplaying the importance of those misuses, so I’m not helping, and I’m no longer standing by what I said upthread – it’s irrelevant and I should step back and continue listening.

      • piny says:

        Donna, I’ve been a semiregular commenter right up until now. And my posts are archived here under my name, along with a bio; you don’t have to gather.

        I didn’t say she was entitled to any deference at all.

        But…just like it’s important to know that this goes back way further than last year, it’s important to understand that Feministe has this long list of people who don’t come here anymore because Feministe was hostile for them. They’re not on speaking terms with this site; they do not respond here; their responses to the HS debacle et sequelae are not archived here. They are available.

        And these are the people who were here back when these prequels were happening; they don’t deserve deference, but they do have important information to share.

        It’s not reasonable for any commenter to think they’ll be recognized by some other stranger on the internet who’s new to a site they used to hang out on, but we also can’t just keep assuming we’re seeing everything. Kristin did that, and she really shouldn’t have, but this discussion takes place in a context of willed and manipulated ignorance. Like, feministe right up to now has done kind of a crap job of linking to these critiques.

        So we should all stop guessing.

      • Donna L says:

        Piny, just fyi, I’m well aware that you still comment occasionally; I should have said “stopped being a regular commenter” or blogger.

      • piny says:

        No, no, it’s okay! It’s just…Not You Specifically, but one of the ways that the microaggression followed by passiveaggression dynamic functions is that it drives people out for good.

        It’s…it’s one common way that dysfunctional families and communities operate: if you challenge the status quo, you become unwelcome. That allows them to ignore you, but it also allows them to pretend to other people that everything is fine. The family might be a little smaller, but it’s a lot happier. And they can also make it so that your criticisms go unheard – you’re the black sheep who lives in another state. It was yet another tendency Hugo Schwyzer was very good at manipulating. And it’s why people don’t have any idea who bfp and blackamazon and karynthia and nanette are.

        And this conversation is taking place in that context. So it’s okay to not know everyone – I forget most of Ye Olde Feministe Commentariate, it’s been nearly a decade now since I started here. But everyone here should be aware going forward that Feministe does not comprise the whole discussion. I’d say that most of the information on HS and white feminism is not strictly available here, and that a reading list mostly made up of white feminists is going to be misleading.

      • piny says:

        tl;dr: this behavior – and I don’t mean what happened five or one years ago – limited Feministe’s responsibility to its community by limiting its community.

        There are a lot of people, including a whole lot of very prominent and vocal women of color, who are contributing to this discussion but not on this site. Brownfemipower has been serial-posting about this whole thing – just like she did last year – on her tumblr. Not here.

        We have an equal responsibility to listen to all of these people. And their refusal to speak here is not an exemption. It’s an indictment.

      • Donna L says:

        And the term is pretty categorically pejorative.

        Piny, I hope you understand that in order for anyone to interpret mac’s use of the term as pejorative, they would have to be unaware that she was one of the very same people criticizing Jill in this very thread, and also would have to have not read her comment carefully. Obviously, she wasn’t being pejorative towards herself, and her comment made clear in any event that all she was saying was that “given the amount of criticism of Jill in this thread, anything she said here would inevitably be defensive — she would have to be a saint for that not to be the case — and, therefore, it’s a good thing that she’s keeping quiet and not responding all over the thread.”

        And even if that weren’t clear from the context from the outset, it was explained thereafter, here and on twitter. Which Kristin Rawls is acknowledging in her apology. So I’m not sure I understand why it’s productive to have an extended discussion of the meaning and history of the term as it was used here five years ago.

        I am quite sure that most people here — and certainly anyone who was around in 2011 for the 1000+ comment thread about HS, with what happened with Clarisse, and the aftermath — is well aware that characterizations like “pile-on” and mob and call-out culture and the like can be used in a pejorative way to trivialize legitimate anger and criticism. But it was always clear from context that trivialization and dismissiveness were the intent. The terms don’t have an inherent meaning outside of context, and the context here was very different. Not one single person in this thread, that I remember, was being dismissive of the anger being expressed, or trivializing the criticism.

      • piny says:

        I was specifically responding to what tigtog said about heat vs. light. I appreciate Mac’s point about not reacting defensively, but at the same time – “pile-on” is like “terrorism” and “judicial activism.” The double standard is part of the definition. It doesn’t typically refer to justified anger, and – like tigtog herself said – it usually implies that the people expressing anger should stop talking now.

        Generally speaking, it’s dismissive. And in contexts like this, where women of color are constantly silenced and tokenized and treated like a sometimes food, it’s really important to look carefully at this term that means, “Too many of you criticizing all at once.”

        And I don’t agree that there’s a consensus about takedown culture even among people who have seen all this play out (certainly if we’re working under the assumption that the internet is a big open tent); I think that’s the kind of thinking that gets us into these messes.

        There’s a consensus right up until someone gets too uncomfortable, and then all of a sudden we need to think carefully about what we’re saying, and some jackass publishes a think piece on salon about redemption, and suddenly all the WOC bloggers have an anger problem again.

        I think Mac was right about reaction time and Kristin’s dismissive response to her, but on the other hand, I understand why Kristin hated seeing the term. It has some really bad connotations.

    • Donna L says:

      I appreciate the apology, as long as it includes your having called the entire commentariat here “dysfunctional, fucked up, [and] vile”!

      But I’m not one of the people you specifically went off on, except insofar as I was included in the general condemnation, so it isn’t for me to decide whether to accept the apology. It’s really for mac and pheeno to say, I think.

    • moviemaedchen says:

      (Apologies to mac and pheeno and co if this isn’t for me to jump in on). I want to point out that the “I didn’t know they were WoC” stopped working as a defense midway through the thread before you left, when people explicitly identified themselves as WoC as part of their explanations for why they were telling you to back off. So unless you *kept* posting without reading the comments to which you were replying you had opportunity to step back and realize who you were talking to instead of making it about righteously laying it down to anyone who disagreed with you. And it certainly wasn’t working while you were continuing things on twitter. This was more than a harsh immediate reaction – it went on for a while. That needs to be acknowledged.

      I did find mac’s “hoard/horde” comment a touch ableist and unnecessary. Your reaction did not help things though.

      I can’t say thanks for the apology since it isn’t mine to accept or reject, but taking the time to make it is a good step. I hope if pheeno and mac and co have replies to make that you will listen to them carefully. (I’m not speaking sarcastically here.)

    • To start with, I”m sorry about the horde/hoard thing and its ableism. I was angry at having my words policed when in context it was clear that I hadn’t meant to critique people who were angry at Jill at all, and I maintain that it functioned as a racist microaggression, but that doesn’t excuse my slinging shit at another marginalised group. For the record, I wrote pile-on only to indicate the quantity of the comments critiquing Jill, not their quality; if anything, most of the WOC here have been more polite than I would have if my blood had really been up about this. (Mostly, I’m just bloody tired of the shenanigans of He Who Shall Not Be Named and his little coterie of ass-lickers.)

      However.

      You read a comment in which I identified as a WOC, and an Indian from Canada, and proceeded to characterise my comments as US-centric.

      • Shit, got cut off.

        You read a comment in which I identified as a WOC, and an Indian from Canada, and proceeded to characterise my comments as US-centric. You failed to recognise the specific context of calling WOC girls, and to acknowledge that that was problematic – and it is, by the way. You were, whether you knew it or not, policing the ways in which WOC – multiple WOC! – were allowed to respond to racism. You engaged in multiple racial microaggressions, and failed to acknowledge them.

        I don’t feel like getting into it with you. You’re a big name and I’m a fandom blogger and given your readiness to take shit to a medium I don’t personally use and that has a reputation for being shitty to people, I’m not interested in much interaction. I do not believe you would be personally nasty to me – I have seen no evidence of such – but I don’t know the morals of everyone you know and everyone they know.

        But while I appreciate you apologising for the things you DID apologise for – and I do appreciate it, really – your failure to own your own racist microaggressions is exactly what we’re talking about in this thread, which deals with how white women in feminism don’t own their racism the second their ego gets bruised. (No, it’s not about a grudgematch with Jill, no matter what you may think; Jill lies in that faction of white feminism, and as such, she’s only as much to blame as the rest of you.)

      • trees says:

        But while I appreciate you apologising for the things you DID apologise for – and I do appreciate it, really – your failure to own your own racist microaggressions is exactly what we’re talking about in this thread, which deals with how white women in feminism don’t own their racism the second their ego gets bruised. (No, it’s not about a grudgematch with Jill, no matter what you may think; Jill lies in that faction of white feminism, and as such, she’s only as much to blame as the rest of you.)

        Yes, this. Thank you macavitykitsune for spelling it out so clearly.

      • piny says:

        Yes, this exactly.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        What Mac said. I’ve been moving all day and am too tired to post more.

      • shfree says:

        Yeah, her apologizing for her racism toward you would have served her well. I wonder if she is going to be done here now, though, and her post up there was her last one on Feministe.

    • Miriam says:

      This feels like a petty clarification, but since it was one of my comments that got taken to Twitter:

      When I said that I’ve been Googling and following links to try and catch up, I meant exactly that. I did actually start with the linked posts and travel from them to many others. It may seem to you like bfp’s writing and Flavia’s writing and other writing about this are crystal clear about what happened, but you already know what they’re referencing. There is what four? five years of history here. It’s not easy to understand all of what people are talking about, especially because pretty much all of the players are unknowns to me (and that includes Jill and Jessica Valenti, who I know nothing more about than the main person with Feministe and the co-founder of Feministing respectively). I didn’t ask and am still not asking for a detailed synopsis because I do feel I got the gist. I made the comment simply to point out that for those of you who are in this blogging world and familiar with it, things that may be obvious or seem easy to understand that are not for those of us who aren’t a part of it. It was to support the one commenter who shared her person story of being taken in by Hugo Schwyzer by saying that she wasn’t alone in not knowing the full story. Many of us were never in a position to even hear complaints about him, much less take sides about believing some people over others, because this all took place in a very specific realm that a lot of us know nothing about. It is very weird to me to see Amanda Marcotte characterized as a big name mainstream white feminist, for example, because I only knew her as one of the contributor’s to Slate’s Double XX prior to several days ago. A feminist-oriented journalist, sure, but to me mainstream white feminists are people like Steinem or Butler or the various leaders of NOW.

      • ilyka says:

        I made the comment simply to point out that for those of you who are in this blogging world and familiar with it, things that may be obvious or seem easy to understand that are not for those of us who aren’t a part of it. It was to support the one commenter who shared her person story of being taken in by Hugo Schwyzer by saying that she wasn’t alone in not knowing the full story.

        I can appreciate that. Besides (and I say this having been one), bloggers can always use more reminders that they inhabit a microcosm.

        As you note, it’s literal years of history. I think–well, let me just speak for myself: I get angry that not only is it literal years of history, but it is literal years of history in which brownfemipower and Blackamazon, particularly, though not exclusively (not erasing Flavia Dzodan; just, her involvement has been more recent), have been painfully reminded that #solidarityisforwhitewomen over and over again. These reminders have taken various forms–not being named, being piled on, getting smeared in grudgematches–and Hugo has been used as the abusive cudgel, you might say, in many of them.

        I get angry not just that history repeats, but that it repeats with the same players. The net result is that a relative outsider can know, as you did, Amanda Marcotte as a paid Double X contributor, yet never have heard of Flavia Dzodan, or not know who Blackamazon is.

        That’s not your fault. That IS the result of racism and erasure. To make it explicit, that is the result of white feminists ignoring, condoning, or encouraging abuse and misogyny against women of color. brownfemipower said:

        the most discouraging and upsetting thing in wake of all this crap to me is how many people have said “who are those people?” (that is: black amazon, brownfemipower, flavia) and what happened?

        i really hope people use the “opportunity” to interrogate why nobody seems to know about the history of women of color in the blogosphere, especially because so much of our history coincides with the history of white women. why do you know the history of white women, but don’t know the basic rudimentary relationship they had with their woman of color contemporaries?

        And Flavia Dzodan’s reblog/response suggests some answers.

    • LotusBecca says:

      Kristen, it seems like Mac and (and possibly pheeno) are in some ways pleased with your apology. So that’s cool. But they seem far from fully satisfied. And I will add that a significant portion of your apology sounds defensive, racist, and full of shit to me.

      I’m white and have been known to fuck up and say racist things on this blog. So I’m not putting myself morally above you in any way. But your apology to me reads like you not taking responsibility for the essential shittiness of what you’ve been doing–which is being racist. The word “racist” does not appear once in your apology. You also did not specifically apologize for knowingly lecturing women of color on their language use (part of a white supremacist frame whereby white women supposedly know the right way to talk about things and women of color don’t). You also did not apologize for criticizing women of color for saying they wanted Jill to reflect before she responded to everything that is going on. You didn’t acknowledge that it is women of color who should decide what they want from white folks. . .it’s not for us white folks to tell women of color what they should want from us.

      You did not acknowledge that the biggest problem with you saying “Mean Girls” was the racist implications of using the word “girls” to describe women of color. You did not apologize for mocking a woman of color who characterized your speech as whitesplaining.

      Basically, you fucked up big time. In a lot of different ways. And even more so because of the context–this was all in the name of you posturing as some sort of bigtime white ally. And given what you’ve done, it certainly takes a lot of gall that you are now expecting people here to educate you about the meanings of terms like “pile-on” and “proper English.” That is not the job of anyone here, certainly not the job of any women of color here.

      Kristen, you are a white, cis, “culturally middle class” feminist whose work has been published in major media like The Guardian. You have a lot more in common with Jill and “mainstream feminism” than you like to admit. Like the rest of them (and in some ways, like me), you need to learn up to check your privilege, shut up, and listen when you are talking to women of color.

      • You remain awesome! ♥

        (and I should tell you that on ally axes you’ve got a pretty good learning curve.)

      • LotusBecca says:

        Thanks Mac. . .and I could say the same things about you! You remain awesome and on ally axes you’ve got a pretty damn good learning curve.

        I’m sorry but not surprised to see everything that’s been going on on this blog over the past week. Ugh white people.

    • Nanette says:

      Hi Kristin,

      Others have handled various points here much better than I can, so I won’t go over them (besides, I’m not sure I understand everything.)

      I will say, though, (and all of this is simply my opinion and no reflection on, or speaking for, anyone else) that I think your apology is inadequate, especially considering the harm and hurt you caused. I find it troubling, for one thing, that you are typing at “woc” and not speaking directly to mackitsune or trees or pheenobarbidoll or tmc or any of the other woc that you not only offended, but were directly racist in your actions towards. Intentional or not. Correcting that omission might bring things a step forward.

      Also, I was reminded by your mention that you didn’t know the people involved in the conversation were woc/poc and I realized that that is yet another difference between how white people interact and some woc/poc (me included.)

      For one thing, one of the first things I do when entering into a white space is attempt to identify fellow people of color and keep them situated in my mind. I am not always right, nor do I always remember, but I come close. Thus, I almost right away identified mac, trees, pheeno (whose name I knew from before) and tmc as woc. Later I added others to my mental list and removed a couple of others. In fact, I sort of faded out after saying my piece (a little too soon, maybe) because it seemed as if, wonder of wonders, woc regulars of this blog were well represented here.

      anyway, forgot where I was going with that, but will just reiterate that, in my opinion, this apology is still lacking.

      Still, it’s great to see you and Kai and Ilyka and everyone, though! What would old home week be without a mess of our own, eh?

      • Nanette… thanks, really a lot.

        For one thing, one of the first things I do when entering into a white space is attempt to identify fellow people of color and keep them situated in my mind.

        I’m SO GLAD I’m not the only one who does this. (Though my ‘dar is a lot less developed, haha.)

      • Also, your tumblr (which I just realised you have) is freakin’ brilliant. My “what to show people so my brain doesn’t explode trying to explain it myself in a semi-rational non-fury manner” bookmarks are expanding rapidly…

      • Nanette says:

        Thank you! Though I’m afraid that on my tumblr I often avoid everything and just post pretty pictures, lol.

        I’m SO GLAD I’m not the only one who does this. (Though my ‘dar is a lot less developed, haha.)

        Nope… “looking for the dot” is how one friend describes it, :). And my ‘dar isn’t all that great either, sometimes. I’ve been surprised myself, especially when someone I’ve thought was poc turns out to be white, lol.

      • Nope… “looking for the dot” is how one friend describes it, :).

        LOLING FOREVER. This is totally a thing I do! I’m primarily a fannish type person, and I’m into fandoms that (for licensing etc reasons) don’t have much traction on the subcontinent, and fuck knows whenever I find desis in my fan communities (or in places like this) my inner dialogue is something like

        YOU IS DESI PERSON. I R DESI PERSON. FRIEND? FRIEND! YAY FRIEND FRIEND IS GOOD. yessss. FRIENDDDDD.

  54. EG says:

    Ms. Magazine, displaying all the self-awareness of a…well, a mouthpiece for white mainstream feminism, has run a feature on #solidarityisforwhitewomen in which they fail to name either Karnythia or Flavia Dzodan. They refer to the latter as “one infuriated blogger.”

    Great. Thank you. That’s very helpful.

    • Donna L says:

      Wow, really? I subscribed to Ms. a few years ago for one year, after not having read it since the 1970’s, and was disappointed.

      • EG says:

        They have, according to my Twitter feed, now remedied the situation. But yep, that was how they decided to play it.

  55. is it OK if i go anonymous?? says:

    I’ve been reading all of you guys’s comments here and it just makes me so sad. I’m not part of your circle of friends, so feel free to tell me that this is irrelevant, but it is so obvious after a while, how people like Hugo Schwyzer just exploit the crap out of existing problems to create even deeper divides between people. This isn’t to minimize anyone’s individual screw-ups, but I am kind of amazed at how well he was able to do that and the last damage.

    And in the meantime there are SO many people on Facebook currently sending him love that it really grosses me out.

    I totally appreciate and respect the conversation that went on here and elsewhere on other blogs, and I have sent a bunch of people links, specifically so they could get a wider context. These viewpoints are important, much more important than anything Hugo has ever said in the end.

    I also think it is worth it to repeat that this man’s influence just extends so much farther than the feminist blogosphere. I have seen other girls who in a different context be victims of his racism actually GOING TO BAT for the guy online. They’re in the same place that I was just a few years ago.

    That’s just so upsetting to me personally.

    I guess I want to wish you guys luck in possibly rebuilding your community. For what it’s worth, it seems like there are a bunch of really smart people on here.

    I hope Hugo Schwyzer becomes totally irrelevant soon to pretty much all of us online and otherwise.

    much love
    xoxo
    from an anonymous reader

    • BBBShrewHarpy says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience. There is no way that anything you had to say was irrelevant.

    • I second BBBShrewHarpy. This is not irrelevant.

      Thank you so much for reminding us that Hugo’s reach extends far beyond the feminist blogosphere – as does the trail of people victimized and/or duped by him.

      Thank you and good luck. I’ve been really, really sick – and staying away from this thread for that reason. But now that I’ve seen your message – it’s like it gave me a tiny reason to hope. Seriously, thank you.

  56. Andie says:

    First off, I can’t believe I just killed my Saturday morning reading this whole thread. That being said, I am glad I did.

    I’ve learned a lot. Thank you to the commenters, esp. Mac and Pheeno for giving their perspective on not just the human debacle that is HS, but on feminism’s race problems, of which I am going to try and continue to make a concerted, if imperfect, effort to NOT perpetuate.

  57. I’m getting really frustrated at the people on this thread who used to be regular commenters in the past, and who’ve basically returned afaict explicitly for this topic. I fully understand why they left and why they come back; I’m not judging either decision.

    It feels, though, like there’s criticism being leveled at the currently-regular commenters on this thread (a large number of whom are WOC or POC, relative to the usual racial breakdown), essentially calling us out for not being angry enough or for asking Jill politely to STFU. Ever occur to any of you bloody crusaders that we might be a little exhausted? That we might be commenting on other sites, under other names, and following links to comment at the source rather than extensively discussing it right here?

    And I didn’t notice any of you except piny standing up against the racist crap that was being slung at WOC on this thread, either. No, that was a bunch of regular commenters standing up for the WOC who were being shit all over by Your Most Majestic Righteousness. So, you know, so much for walking the walk.

    I don’t know what race y’all are; I have no interest in trawling through five years’ worth of archives to find out. Particularly since you’re all content to form your little squee-circle-jerks in the comments, but not to actually collect your own when they decide to give WOC shit. I mean, I still haven’t got an acknowledgment for being characterised as “US-centric” after explicitly identifying as Indian, but I don’t see any of the old guard caring.

    So you know. Fuck your sanctimonious shit and your sneering and your generalising two commenters’ ignorance of the issue to everyone on this thread, and acting like you’re the only ones who ever read any WOC and we’re all a bunch of apples and coconuts over here.

    • EG says:

      Seconded. The sneering self-righteousness is pretty fucking tedious and comes off as nothing more than a bunch of self-proclaimed cool kids agreeing that their old hang-out ain’t what it used to be and that the kids who hang out there now are just nowhere near as clever as they are.

      I mean, I’m sure they all had to trudge uphill both ways in the snow to post on Feministe and now we just won’t get off their lawn, but all I’m seeing is a conversation showcasing the previous generation of commenters’ disdain for the current generation, and that doesn’t do jack shit to center the experiences of bfp, BlackAmazon, or Flavia Dzodan, does it? It’s just a circle jerk.

    • piny says:

      No, what we’re saying is that the old hang out is EXACTLY like it used to be.

      It’s true that Kristin was dismissive – and she said a lot of racist things about commenters in here having distinct opinions to her own. And it’s true that Ye Olde Regulars are being a little cliquish, myself included.

      But there are also a whole lot of people saying stupid minimizing shit. Like, Hi, Fat Steve and your animal-rights jokes. Hi, Bagelsan and your insistence that nobody get way grossed-out about birth announcements for creepy abusers. Hi, Donna L and your shock that Ms. Magazine didn’t use anyone’s name – even though that exact thing has happened several times in major-media coverage of this issue.

      I mean, that’s the issue here: deja vu all over again. This apology was point-by-point remarkably similar to the one from last year. It was just like the apology from a few months back about Quvenzhané Wallis. The only difference is that several more commenters seem not to have bothered to show up.

      It’s not that current commenters are failing to take Feministe to task. It’s that this debate is playing out in some very familiar ways – partly because of the limits of the territory, partly because of the way the territory limits itself. Fuimus, estis, etc. And a bunch of people have said that they don’t know much about what happened years ago – which, fair enough, but what happened years ago was this.

      Those commenters did not leave Feministe because they suddenly decided they would have more fun elsewhere. They left because Feministe made them feel dehumanized, forced them to swallow a lot of shit, said these things to them (including the apologies, right on schedule) a whole bunch of times. I’m glad that you feel supported here; I don’t want to minimize your contribution to this community or these threads, or act like you have no right to form your own opinion – or, for Heaven’s sake, your own associations.

      But we all were regulars. And a whole lot of ex-regulars are not here, pointedly not speaking to Feministe. I’m kind of tempted at this juncture to follow their example (okay, this would also be deja vu). Because I just don’t see any point to remaining here – and this is not meant as a criticism of you.

      And when I blogged here, I used to see, “Nobody talks about this,” a whole lot. It doesn’t literally mean, “Nobody has said this;” it wasn’t for me to take personally. It means, “This space is harmful to me; I feel isolated and vulnerable here; nobody will stand up for me if I am attacked.” And it would be one thing to support that person and quite another to insist that I was supportive.

      • EG says:

        Hi, Donna L and your shock that Ms. Magazine didn’t use anyone’s name – even though that exact thing has happened several times in major-media coverage of this issue.

        And how, precisely, is that minimizing?

      • piny says:

        I think it’s minimizing to be startled when something happens for the umpteenth time.

        Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon wrote about this issue without mentioning any of the women who complained about him. Dennis Romero at the LA Weekly did the same thing, referring only to “many feminists.” Lesley Kinzel interviewed Hugo Schwyzer and mentioned the controversy – including the murder-suicide pact – but did not name a single woman (she did provide some hyperlinks). Jessica Coen wrote about the twitter meltdown without naming a single woman Hugo Schwyzer had hurt. Buzzfeed covered the meltdown and referred only to “Schwyzer’s critics.” The Atlantic referred to Flavia Dzodan by name, which, good for them. These are just the ones I recall from this recent go-round off the top of my head. I’m sure there were others from last year.

        I mean, upshot: yes, this is our standard.

        And at this point, when we white people hear ourselves going, “Oh, man, that [unabashedly racist thing] happened? That’s horrible! How shockingly bad!” We should probably take a breath. Because what we are saying is, “My whiteness keeps me ignorant! Please explain how racism works again! It apparently did not sink in last time!”

        That’s kind of a theme here – this guy Hugo engages in some unabashedly racist behavior and everyone around him – the people helping him demonize valuable writers and thinkers who just happen not to be white women – just doesn’t put it together. I mean, we never did! This come to Jesus moment was precipitated by Hugo himself confessing to all of this in public. And still there’s some controversy about the depth of the problem.

      • EG says:

        I mean, if “nobody talks about” doesn’t mean “nobody has said this” but actually, secretly means “this place is bad and unsupportive for me,” it doesn’t seem too much to expect that “Wow, really?” would be understood as meaning “For fuck’s sake, that’s really racist and disappointing.” If we’re all talking in some kind of code, apparently.

      • piny says:

        Like I said, I don’t know if disappointing is the word.

      • Donna L says:

        Piny, you’re truly being kind of an insufferable asshole. Good riddance if you leave permanently. And take your fellow “old-girls club” with you. (Your “history lesson” up above was incomprehensible to anyone who wasn’t here at the time, by the way, and came across as nothing but a feeble attempt to excuse Kristin Rawls’s behavior.)

        Of course the “Wow, really” was intended for emphasis, and doesn’t mean I’m shocked or surprised. I’m neither stupid nor ignorant, and don’t expect anything good from Ms. Magazine or any other mainstream feminist outlet. I may not have been here until late 2011, but I’m neither a child nor oblivious nor naive. I’ve had issues with “feminism” since (I suspect) before you were born. And if you had been paying attention around here instead of barging in and making assumptions that we are all a bunch of naive ignoramuses, you would be aware of that. And maybe you should think a little more before the next time you act like a wise elder lecturing a bunch of children.

        And I’ll echo EG in saying that when you people were regular commenters yourselves, this was a shittier and more unpleasant place in general, which was one of the reasons I never commented here until 2011 in the first place. For example, although you aren’t personally responsible for that particular aspect yourself (see, I do know who you are, certainly more than you know who I am!), the fact that at the time I started commenting regularly almost two years ago I was the only trans woman here at all, and that the place had a very bad reputation among trans women (even though I don’t remember if it was the object of a general boycott like Feministing) isn’t entirely attributable to the history that’s the subject of your comments.

        This was never a trans-friendly place, and most of that was attributable to the people who commented here. (I got a taste of it from the regular commenters when I started, when I would bring up trans aspects of particular subjects and receive the sneering, “stop derailing; trans issues affect so few people that they’re irrelevant” kind of comments.) And if I’ve played any personal role in helping this be a more welcoming place for trans women to comment in general, I’m happy about it. So as far as I’m concerned, people from five years ago have no business lecturing anybody.

      • Donna L says:

        And by the way, I’m specifically aware of every single example you mention above of racist erasure and invisibilizing. I have, in fact, been paying attention, and following what’s been going on quite closely, and wasn’t “startled” a bit. You did see the part of my comment where I mentioned that I let my brief re-subscription to Ms. (which I didn’t request specifically, it’s something I got for making a NOW contribution) lapse, right?

      • piny says:

        You just elided “people” and yourself, specifically. If I’m talking to you and about you, I’m not talking to a group of people, am I? I think that was kind of stupid thing to say, and I explained why. If what you actually meant was, “Yeah, Ms. Magazine totally sucks, obviously, we all knew that” well, all you said was, “Wow, really?”

        That’s my point, though. Why do people keep reading this – “Lots of people were regular commenters; they eventually got really fed up and quit altogether” – as implying some sort of Golden Age of Feministe? Why wouldn’t it imply the exact opposite? Yeah, Feministe used to suck. Now, Feministe arguably sucks less. However, a whole bunch of people didn’t wait around for Feministe to stop sucking as much. That includes a bunch of people directly implicated in all of this, and the process by which they were trimmed out of the current family photo is germane.

        It’s not, “You need to acknowledge that Feministe sucks.” It’s, “We need to say that this place has a history; that history is having a direct impact on the way this conversation is playing out.” I cannot believe that this is being read as some kind of power play. The women Hugo Schwyzer named are not even here right now. This conversation about an abuser does not include his victims. At least one of them used to be a guest blogger here. This is not about my “beef with this site;” this is not about your affection for it.

      • Wow, this asploded in the space of a family phone call…

        Okay, so. I’m not saying there aren’t shitty people on Feministe, or that Feministe doesn’t have a shitty history; far from it. I basically have a problem with the fact that, from my perspective, we were having a fairly productive conversation, and then a bunch of old commenters came in, decided to make it all about Jill (which, as I said before, it is, but only somewhat more than the extent it’s about any white feminist), and then repeatedly erase WOC contributions on this thread, and in one case be racist towards multiple WOC and go on a whiny hours-long Twitter rant when called out on it. You’re wrong; I don’t feel supported by allies on this thread, except by the same handful of people whose support I can generally count on in any race-based thread on Feministe. I have a problem with what is, from my perspective, people who have come in here with pre-made cliques and no interest in listening to the WOC here, or even acknowledging their existence, AND THEN proceeding to set themselves up as the Sainted Martyrs Of Muchly BeTrodden Lawn. Like, the ordinary racism in here is about all I can handle, without also dealing with a bunch of old/new grudgy microaggressive assholes who think they’re all that because they left a toxic space that one time. You (and kat iirc) are the only ones who have not explicitly ignored WOC on this thread. You’ve been stellar and I have no issues with you whatsoever, but yeah, I feel pretty unsafe and angry and erased about the others.

        It doesn’t literally mean, “Nobody has said this;” it wasn’t for me to take personally. It means, “This space is harmful to me; I feel isolated and vulnerable here; nobody will stand up for me if I am attacked.”

        I’d like to respectfully submit that that’s probably not all the time, or even most of the time. What it usually means is “this blogger/commentariat are erasing and ignoring important shit”. It’s nice that you felt you didn’t have to take it personally, but frankly, maybe you should have.

        All in all, if this is the general quality of the people who left, I’m glad they left and didn’t let the door, etc. They seem a singularly unpleasant bunch to be around, between the sneering at the whites and the erasure/marginalisation/racism towards the POC. I can’t remember the last time I felt this used here. It’s a pretty icky feeling.

      • piny says:

        Well, respectfully, you have every right to decide for yourself, but I think I would have wound up harming people instead of providing them with what they needed.

        I don’t want to minimize what you’re saying about this specific group of people, or ignore what you’re saying about the tenor of this conversation, but this:

        All in all, if this is the general quality of the people who left, I’m glad they left and didn’t let the door, etc.

        It’s not, though. The people in here pointing to the current demographic makeup of Feministe do not reflect the past demographic makeup of Feministe. Those people – including the three people Hugo Schwyzer mentioned by name in his twitter meltdown – are staying well the fuck away from this place. They do not feel safe here. They have zero interest in this space. Feministe may well have improved, but it has not reformed enough for them to feel welcome.

        This conversation sparked off by an abuser is undertaken by a group of (well-intentioned) (informed) people (who are not generally racist or white) is still a hostile space according to them. This apology is categorically inadequate – but that rejection won’t become part of this narrative via Feministe.

        And Kristin Rawls can’t speak for them; neither for that matter can I. But there’s a reason you’re seeing Kristin Rawls and not dozens of other people, and it’s not that former commenters are a bunch of racist white people.

        And I don’t think people are arguing for nostalgia for the lost golden age of Feministe – or really trying to say that former commenters deserve precedence over current commenters. The opposite – they’re saying that for the sake of their sanity, they had to leave this space behind. It very much did not belong to them. If you see value in this space, that is entirely your own judgment to make (and fulfill), but at least several people we’re talking about reject this conversation entirely.

        That does not mean that your words have less value, or that you do not deserve support and respect. I don’t harbor any grudge against Feministe (for fuck’s sake, really) – or need it to be comfortable for me. But Hugo got a lot of traction out of the opacity of the archives we keep, and I think Jill is getting a certain level of traction now.

        The people who left aren’t all that, but nor should they be relegated to the past that nobody investigates. At least a few commenters were saying exactly that – you moved away, I don’t know from 2008. It’s okay not to be familiar with all internet traditions, but in this discussion it’s dangerous.

      • piny says:

        However, I need to say that I did not come down hard enough on Kristin; she was winding the discussion around a few minor points of order and syntax, and it was at best really unproductive more accurately bullying behavior. You and pheeno are here, and are contributing – and have been reading and responding both to Jill and Perfesser Dirty. You did not deserve to be ignored.

      • I’m glad this isn’t the kind of people who were here before (though I confess I was thinking about the white ones, not the WOC). I should have specified that I was speaking about perpetrators of racism, not people who are inherently positioned as targets.

    • gratuitous_violet says:

      Mac, I feel you so much in this comment.

      I’ve been reading Feministe, since 2006, as well as most of the other blogs namechecked above. Racist-ass shit was how I heard about amazing women like bfp and BA so many years ago, and it’s also how those women and other WOC became the bulk of my online reading.

      I haven’t said a word during this whole throwdown because I feel like I’ve been reading the same shit since 2006 and at this point i just want to devolve into rage, which wouldnt be productive.

      But I thought it was so funny that in the middle of one of those shit sandwiches up there, Kristin Rawls chose to describe what sound like similar years of reading to mine as having “circumscribed her entire experience of feminism” and use it as a way to sneer at others.

      Because I was about to use the same phrase, in regards to my experience of reading white women getting defensive throughout those same years of reading

      The discourse around these collective events are why I was ready to NOT call myself a feminist before I was even fully ready to call myself one.

      And watching it go down like this again just makes me feel old, at 20-something.

      So in a long roundabout way, thanks to you, and pheeno, and Donna and tmc and all the regulars holding it down, from one old-timer at least.

      • Alexandra says:

        I have also read Feministe for years, since at least 2007 and I believe since 2006, though I didn’t begin commenting regularly until 2011-ish… I was more familiar with karnythia/Mikki Kendall from livejournal than from twitter, which I am not on.

        what is tedious about some of the comments from the previous generation of Feministe commenters is the assumption that those of us who comment here now are by default ignorant, unthoughtful, not serious — calling us a pit of vipers or whatever it was Kristin Rawls said was I though particularly uncalled for, as it does not reflect the work done to improve comments moderation and conversation flow.

        For what it’s worth, this 500+ comments thread is probably the least acrimonious and insult-driven 500+ comments thread I’ve ever seen since I began reading Feministe. YMMV.

      • EG says:

        what is tedious about some of the comments from the previous generation of Feministe commenters is the assumption that those of us who comment here now are by default ignorant, unthoughtful, not serious

        Seconded. It’s not only tedious but also insulting. For instance, it’s not news to me–nor, I would warrant, to most of us–that bfp and Karnythia don’t comment here but are writing elsewhere and therefore the whole conversation is not contained here and it’s not an exemption but an indictment, etc. Many of us have actually referenced things they’ve written, so you can assume we’re following them. Why would the default assumption be that we’re under the impression that Feministe is the whole world of feminist/womanist/WoC blogging?

      • piny says:

        Since you’re quoting me – That wasn’t in reference to the commenters at all.

        I was talking about this post – the apology post, on this site – as a kind of online artifact. I think it’s a partial one; it gives an incomplete impression, and it’s important that people looking at this document know that. This is going to become an archive itself; it will stand as a resource in five years. And at least some of the people reading this post will have no idea that any of this other stuff exists.

        Commenters here have said in as many words that they don’t see archives going back several years. Donna has said that she doesn’t know who these former commenters are; Mac has said she has no interest in finding out. Plenty of people have said that they are not necessarily aware of conversations happening on other sites. That’s totally reasonable.

        Feministe hasn’t done the most stellar job of linking to critiques; this apology, for example, doesn’t mention Blackamazon or BFP or their blogs even though both of these women were specifically targeted by Schwyzer and named in his meltdown confession and both of them have written a whole lot of stuff in the aftermath. Jill links to them, but people don’t always click through.

        That’s what I mean about ignorance. I assume that the people reading along here are aware of at least some of this history – and that they, at this point, have access to some of these other narratives. But I know better than to assume that for everyone reading this iteration of this long conversation. This dialogue is fragmented, sprawling, and serial; it is hard to see completely, and it will become harder down the line.

        I say that as someone who always clicks through and reads and re-reads comments threads of this length. That’s a level of investment many people don’t have.

        Too, this fragmentation is not a neutral process. Feministe shrank its audience through bigotry; this discussion lost contributors through bigotry. To many principals, Feministe’s version is suspect, crucially inaccurate. This post doesn’t include that background, really. Any reconciliation process has to foreground this dysfunctional process we’re left with, or we’ll end up with more dead ends.

      • piny says:

        it’s not an exemption but an indictment, etc.

        I was referencing comments like this:

        Jill still has a blog and we are all still guests in her house. She didn’t have to write this post and open herself up to this….

        and this:

        I’m moving out of my apartment when my lease is up, but I won’t be back in two years to be pissed that the new tenants have redecorated.

        I think drawing lines between “on Feministe” and “not on Feministe anymore” is a bad idea, okay?

      • Alexandra says:

        I think what you are saying makes sense, Piny. If I understand what you’re saying, it’s that Feministe is both its own place with its own particular history, and also just one blog among the many that tackle feminist issues, at times badly and at times well. Since this particular conversation is not about Feministe per se, but about #solidarityisforwhitewomen, what’s most relevant here isn’t Feministe and its particular commentariat and history, but the role that Feministe and similar blogs have played in hosting, launching, and protecting Hugo Schwyzer and similar white feminists at the expense of women of color bloggers and women of color in generally, and about how HS is just part of a larger pattern of behavior among prominent white feminist writers where white feminist writers will promote the writing of other white feminists, often not only ignoring but directly at the expense of women of color writers. And what you’ve been trying to do is to bring our attention back to the broader conversation.

        Am I understanding what you’re getting at here?

      • piny says:

        Sort of, yes – rather, to highlight the ways in which this can’t stand in for the broader conversation.

        This kind of fragmentation is natural and value-neutral; it’s just what happens when a large group of people discuss something. But when you add in racism or another form of bigotry, you end up with partial dialogue and segregated attention. That dynamic will perpetuate itself down the line; people will read this thread and think they’re informed, even if they don’t (for example) click through to read what BFP is saying about this guy who, after all, made a pastime out of fucking her over.

        I’m not saying that commenters here are ignorant or racist; I’m saying that this post should not be analyzed in isolation, FYI who reads these words.

        Even last year, certain writers (Hi, Lesley!) were writing these very partial recaps of the Schwyzer Story that very clearly came out of partial research and information. It was annoying as hell – more so, because you knew people were reading these articles as though they were comprehensive. (Lesley even wrote one that purported to be the cliffs notes; it was more like a D- book report.)

        I don’t want this post to contribute to that; it would be extremely frustrating.

        And when you hand this dynamic over to an abuser…I mean, this setup attracts demonic energy, as it were. People like Hugo Schwyzer need these divisions to cultivate the level of amnesia that allows them access to more victims. And it catches their victims in a terrible double bind. By protecting themselves, by leaving, they make it easier for their abuser to deny the abuse.

        Finally, I feel for the people who don’t feel comfortable here. Contrary to a comment below, I don’t think this comments thread can be viewed as least acrimonious, most productive. I think we have become a smaller, happier family; there are commenters missing from just last year.

      • BBBShrewHarpy says:

        @piny:

        I was referencing comments like this:

        Jill still has a blog and we are all still guests in her house. She didn’t have to write this post and open herself up to this….

        I think drawing lines between “on Feministe” and “not on Feministe anymore” is a bad idea, okay?

        As that one is mine… and the other one an answer to mine, please keep in mind these were in response to Kristin Rawls pissing all over the thread. I totally agree with you that distinguishing between people who currently comment at Feministe and people who no longer comment at Feministe is unhelpful, yet that is precisely what Ms. Rawls did… repeatedly and at length.

        Would I have responded the same if bfp had been the one taking Kristin’s role? Very likely not.

      • piny says:

        Gotcha, and I understand what context you’re pointing to.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon says:

        As that one is mine… and the other one an answer to mine, please keep in mind these were in response to Kristin Rawls pissing all over the thread.

        yeah, when I made that comment, I was p much just annoyed with Kristin Rawls

      • Donna L says:

        Donna has said that she doesn’t know who these former commenters are;

        That’s an exaggeration. I know very well who the WOC who are being discussed are (including bfp); I certainly know who you are; I did not recognize the names of Kristin Rawls and maybe one or two others. I saw belledame222 up above, and definitely remember her — whether from here or elsewhere I don’t remember — as someone who was very trans-friendly. I am pretty sure I actually even met her once in person years and years ago, at a friend’s birthday party at a place in Brooklyn!

      • Donna L says:

        Summary: Piny, for you to single me out by name as an example of clueless white feminists (symbolic of the entire problem, etc.), based on your jumping to the wrong conclusion about what I meant when I said “Wow, really” about what Ms. Magazine did, was an unbelievably shitty thing to do, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if your motive, at least in part, was that you thought I didn’t show you the proper deference as a former big macher around here.

        Definitely not what I needed or deserved today!

      • piny says:

        Oh, what a bunch of whiny bullshit.

        Are you seriously going to passive-aggressively condemn me for being some kind of internet famous megalomaniac and then accuse me of targeting you because you failed to show me the proper deference as a big name? Not because I might have thought that was kind of a shallow, privileged thing to say?

        I’m the one who can’t see past her own gigantic hurting ego here, really?

      • piny says:

        Commenters here have said in as many words that they don’t see archives going back several years. Donna has said that she doesn’t know who these former commenters are; Mac has said she has no interest in finding out. Plenty of people have said that they are not necessarily aware of conversations happening on other sites. That’s totally reasonable.

      • Donna L says:

        The fact is, you were completely wrong in your interpretation. And if you had, in fact, been paying attention to what I write here — including on this thread — you might have actually taken a second to ask me what I meant, instead of immediately jumping to the wrong conclusion and singling me out to prove your point. You know; “assuming good faith.” And yeah, so I didn’t make what I meant utterly clear to you, but it was obviously clear to EG, who was the person I was talking to. That doesn’t make what I said “stupid.”

        Gigantic hurting ego my foot; sometimes people are actually angry because they were unjustifiably attacked, not because they’re being defensive because someone hit a nerve. The fact is that you’ve generally behaved like an asshole in this thread. Especially in your attempt to make excuses — because that’s what you did — for Kristin Rawls’s behavior. So stop lecturing me, and stop lecturing everybody else.

      • piny says:

        I still don’t think my interpretation was unfair. I think you are blowing this criticism way out of proportion, and I don’t think I have some obligation to interpret you in the best possible light because I know that you are generally anti-racist. I’m sorry, but I don’t think you’re entitled to any of that. And I don’t agree that, “Donna L said something insensitive” can be folded into my conduct on this thread such that I owe you on some collective level. You =! everyone else.

      • Donna L says:

        I don’t think I have some obligation to interpret you in the best possible light

        That is, of course, not what I said. What I said was that I think you have an obligation to ask before you interpret what I said in the worst possible light and go ahead and single me out as an example.

        “Blowing way out of proportion”? That’s your opinion.

        Look, I would guess that you’ve commented more in this thread alone than in the last two years put together. I notice that you referred to yourself as part of a “we” here (the commenters), but keep in mind that that isn’t necessarily how others see you. Keep in mind that for present purposes, you are, in fact, something of an outsider. Which gives you way less standing to jump to conclusions about people than you think you have.

      • EG says:

        I still don’t think my interpretation was unfair. I think you are blowing this criticism way out of proportion, and I don’t think I have some obligation to interpret you in the best possible light because I know that you are generally anti-racist.

        Bullshit. If you know somebody is anti-racist and not a fucking idiot, why would you assume the most idiotic and ignorant possible interpretation of what they said? That’s simply unreasonable. The fact is that your interpretation is incorrect, the comment was not deserving of your scorn or to be held up as some kind of example, and an inability to acknowledge that you made a mistake just makes you look like kind of a jerk.

        And not knowing who commenters on Feministe are from years ago is simply not equivalent to not knowing who bfp or blackamazon are. The latter are well-known WoC bloggers and central to this particular incarnation of this issue. The former are not nearly as important as they seem to think they are. It is entirely possible to be aware of a great deal of history regarding mainstream white feminism’s racism and the work of women of color without knowing who Kristin Rawls is; ignorance of Rawls does not indicate ignorance of anything particularly significant.

      • EG says:

        As an addendum to something in mod:

        I don’t think anything is being blown out of proportion, but if you, piny, think this is not such a big deal, back down from your misinterpretation and apologize. If it’s such a minor issue, that shouldn’t be a problem.

      • piny says:

        No. If it is not a big deal, then she has a responsibility to not freak the fuck out.

        Like so:

        It wouldn’t surprise me at all if your motive, at least in part, was that you thought I didn’t show you the proper deference as a former big macher around here.

        and then:

        Look, I would guess that you’ve commented more in this thread alone than in the last two years put together. I notice that you referred to yourself as part of a “we” here (the commenters), but keep in mind that that isn’t necessarily how others see you. Keep in mind that for present purposes, you are, in fact, something of an outsider. Which gives you way less standing to jump to conclusions about people than you think you have.

        All this because I said that “Wow, really?” was dismissive and that white people (including myself!) should not be surprised by stuff that is basically status quo. If Donna did not mean, “Wow, really?” as an expression of surprise, well, sorry I read it that way, but Jesus Christ, am I the one who needs to take a step back here?

      • …not really my conversation, but I would like to point out that IMO

        a) Piny’s point about expressions of innocent shock as a facet of privilege is an entirely valid one, and also

        b) Donna’s particular statement didn’t read to me as such, but as disappointment and dismay. Nonetheless, it accidentally furthered the innocent shock trope, which wasn’t good.

        Neither side’s in the wrong here, and neither side is right. I really don’t see why this is escalating.

      • Donna L says:

        I’ll take that as an apology.

        Because I wasn’t surprised, and you had no business assuming I was. Or singling me out for it as some sort of exemplar of cluelessness. See amblingalong’s comment below. And I’m sorry that I suggested that it wouldn’t surprise me if your motive in doing so were impure, but the fact remains that you are an outsider for present purposes, and don’t really have standing to jump to conclusions the way you did, without bothering to ask. Maybe that was acceptable discourse here five years ago, but it isn’t anymore, and I’m glad.

        And I assume you didn’t read the open thread today, or perhaps you might not be so surprised that I’m beyond my limit right now in terms of putting up with this kind of thing. That hardly makes me a whiny baby.

      • piny says:

        And, look, I’m not saying that people need to know all these names; I wasn’t talking about Kristin Rawls herself. Like I said myself above, I don’t know who a lot of these people are. I’m talking about general attrition – it’s not that people need to know anyone by name or reputation, just that they need to be aware of the fact of this absent crowd.

      • Donna L says:

        I’ve had my say on this, and if there’s anything further to be said, I suggest taking to the spillover thread.

      • piny says:

        Donna, you are way past overreaction into messed up. I do not accept your apology. This is not okay with me. It shouldn’t be okay with anyone. And if this is how Feministe has fixed itself, I want no part.

        “It” is not escalating. This is happening:

        Look, I would guess that you’ve commented more in this thread alone than in the last two years put together. I notice that you referred to yourself as part of a “we” here (the commenters), but keep in mind that that isn’t necessarily how others see you. Keep in mind that for present purposes, you are, in fact, something of an outsider. Which gives you way less standing to jump to conclusions about people than you think you have.

        and then:

        And I’m sorry that I suggested that it wouldn’t surprise me if your motive in doing so were impure, but the fact remains that you are an outsider for present purposes, and don’t really have standing to jump to conclusions the way you did, without bothering to ask.

      • Donna L says:

        You’re obviously entitled to your opinion, but you really can’t fathom why it is that when you basically say little or nothing for at least a couple of years, and then come in here and promptly make a wrongheaded assumption about what someone said (as if I would really be surprised at anything clueless that Ms. did about anything), and decide to make an example of them without asking them to clarify — an assumption which I don’t think you would have made if you had read anything I’ve said about this kind of thing — and then basically refuse to back down from it until EG asks you to do so, someone is going to react badly? I really don’t care if you accept my apology or not. I may know generally who you are, but that doesn’t mean I know enough about you to care what you think of me.

      • EG says:

        And if this is how Feministe has fixed itself, I want no part.

        Oh good, more flouncing. But sure, keep telling yourself that it’s Donna who’s freaking the fuck out and escalating, you’re blameless.

      • piny says:

        No, that is not what you said. “I don’t care what you think of me,” is not what you said. Clique, grudge match, get off my lawn, ye olde girls club – You were the one who called me an outsider because I don’t hang out here as much anymore. Not part of this community. Not one of us. My opinion is that this is seriously messed up, and what I said about smaller happier families? Exactly.

      • piny says:

        I’m not flouncing. I’m still here. “I want no part” as in, “I do not think of this as a kinder, less dysfunctional and soul-crushing Feministe, thank you very much.”

      • EG says:

        I’m talking about general attrition – it’s not that people need to know anyone by name or reputation, just that they need to be aware of the fact of this absent crowd.

        Yes, this is the attitude that’s getting right up my nose. We’re not in grammar school, and you’re not some font of wisdom. We’re aware that Feministe has alienated many people, particularly WoC. We’re aware that–gee, who would’ve though–the entire conversation regarding this issue isn’t encapsulated on this one site. We’re aware that Karnythia and bfp aren’t commenting here, and that doesn’t mean they’re not active. You’re not telling us anything we don’t know. So stop acting like some messenger from on high.

      • EG says:

        “I want no part” as in, “I do not think of this as a kinder, less dysfunctional and soul-crushing Feministe, thank you very much.”

        Again, your words aren’t to be taken literally, while you assume other people’s are. OK.

      • piny says:

        Yes, and did I call you an egotist with suspicious motives for misunderstanding?

        It’s not that you or mac or whoever have no idea who BFP is, or that you only read Feministe. It’s that people reading this post will see it as a more complete document than it is. That has already happened. And, look, several people here said that their information on this is incomplete – several commenters have written that they saw stuff late, or missed stuff, or weren’t really aware of the history. It is happening. If it’s not a problem for you personally, great – it has been for me and for many other people.

        And, well, look at the level of exclusivity we’ve reached now. Is Donna going to behave this way towards other former bloggers and commenters? Are we all deserters now? And, not to nitpick, but are we going to assume that everyone who hasn’t commented isn’t reading right along?

      • Donna L says:

        Keep in mind that I’m not exactly known here for getting angry at people without a good reason. The opposite, I think. I treat people with respect when they treat me with respect. And sometimes even when they don’t. So maybe, just maybe, you should consider that I had a good reason to respond to you the way I did, just as I had a good reason to be angry with Kristin. And should consider that the way that you’re drawing broad conclusions about Feministe from the fact that I didn’t respond well to your attacking me (including at least semi-flouncing) doesn’t speak very well of you at all. Enough already.

      • piny says:

        Donna, enough already about reputation; idgaf. I think your response was messed up; I think Feministe can take care of itself, and I care even less about hurting its feelings than being insufficiently sensitive of yours. I could not care less about “semi-flouncing,” or about your increasingly creepy definition of blog decorum.

        You were all over Kristin Rawls for what you saw as drawing lines between current and former commenters; you are on the other thread complaining about cliques. But this is your definition of who has the right to speak here – and I think it’s damaging. And in this discussion in particular – #solidarityisforwhitewomen – especially so.

      • Donna L says:

        And just one more thing (I promise!): with respect to the “outsider” thing, I don’t mean that literally, because I couldn’t care less how much someone comments here in general, or how long they’ve been away; everyone is entitled to respect. But there’s no question that when somebody, no matter what their history of association with this place, comments hardly at all for a very long time, and then speaks to people who do comment regularly with what came across (at least to me) as a certain amount of entitlement and condescension, and jump to conclusions without asking for clarification, they need to be aware that it’s natural not to react well to that, and to react in a different way from how they would react to someone who was a regular commenter.

      • Donna L says:

        OK, I didn’t see that. You still don’t get it. Creepy? Asking people to assume good faith and not jump to conclusions? Right. Fuck you.

        And it’s got not one fucking thing to do with who has the right to speak. Everyone has the right to speak. Not enough people speak, for God’s sake. It has to do with your thinking that you can act the way you do, and speak with the sense of entitlement and condescension with which you’ve been speaking to me, and refuse to acknowledge it, without getting pushback on it.

        And if you think that’s why I was criticizing Kristin Rawls, you really weren’t paying attention.

      • piny says:

        I didn’t say this was the only problem you had with Kristin – but it was definitely something you objected to, the idea that former commenters would somehow take precedence. Now you’re doing the exact same thing in reverse.

        Now you’re just contradicting yourself – and from sentence to sentence. Either my current involvement with this blog is an issue or it’s not. Either “outsider” is a meaningful category or it’s not. I don’t think I was condescending to you; I don’t think I demonstrated entitlement. I didn’t have a problem with you objecting to what I said. I had a problem with this:

        I notice that you referred to yourself as part of a “we” here (the commenters), but keep in mind that that isn’t necessarily how others see you. Keep in mind that for present purposes, you are, in fact, something of an outsider. Which gives you way less standing to jump to conclusions about people than you think you have.

        And yeah, that absolutely is about who has the right to speak here. I didn’t read you wrong.

        And yeah, it absolutely is creepy to draw lines between outsiders and members of the community, particularly given that this community has a tendency to drive people away. You want to know why I’m a broken record on this? This is why.

      • EG says:

        Those lines were drawn when Kristin and others of her commenting generation started talking down to the rest of us as though not having been regulars on Feministe in 2008 meant having just fallen off the turnip truck with respect to feminism last week. Don’t like them? Then lose that attitude.

        Further, you keep insisting that Donna is over-reacting. Tell me, what’s the appropriate reaction when somebody misinterprets you and then uses you as a negative example? Particularly when the only way you could have interpreted Donna’s “Wow, really?” as a wide-eyed, naive “I never would have thought white mainstream feminism would do such a thing” rather than an eye-rolling “Oh, for fuck’s sake, Ms., did you really think that was the way to go? Good job.” would be if you had no context for her at all.* That is what is indicating your status as somebody who is not currently a regular here, and the commitment to misinterpreting somebody, not asking for clarification, and taking offense at their justifiable irritation and classifying it as “freaking the fuck out” rather than just apologizing for misunderstanding is no less alienating to commenters than the attitude that we need your constant reminders that–gee, I almost forgot, it’s not like I have any knowledge of feminism at all ever, what with not having been a regular in 2008–mainstream white feminism, including this site, alienates WoC.

        It’s not a question of being a broken record. It’s a question of being a condescending, self-righteous broken record.

        *Although, of course, we should all magically know that when you and others from 2008 use words, they mean something different from what they say.

      • But this is your definition of who has the right to speak here – and I think it’s damaging. And in this discussion in particular – #solidarityisforwhitewomen – especially so.

        Oh, fucking really?

        As far as I can tell, it’s YOUR BUDDIES that were stepping all over WOC on this thread, in ways that were infinitely more damaging than Fat Steve’s one off-topic comment. You won’t criticise THEM except indirectly and in the most mild manner, a day later, once they’re all off this thread, but then you condescend to people on this thread who did actually manage to stop admiring that Taj Mahal of solidarity long enough to defend WOC and declare they’re being exclusive and “creepy” (because we all know that’s a term that’s totally ok to attach to trans women right)?

        I really wish everyone involved in this argument would stop making this conversation even more about white women than it already is. Thanks.

      • Donna L says:

        Mac, I completely agree with you that enough is enough. I suggested way up above that any further comments should be taken to the spillover thread, but that suggestion was ignored. This could all have been avoided if my “creepy” idea about assuming good faith and not jumping to conclusions about what people mean without asking for clarification — which applies to everyone, but I still think it especially applies to those who are new or haven’t commented in forever, and don’t necessarily have any idea who people are — had been followed in the first place. Whether or not anyone gives a fuck about anyone else’s “reputation” for not being clueless! Asking people “not to jump to conclusions” is not the same thing at all as asking them “not to speak.”

        This thread was going fine, I think, before the Kristin Rawls blowup, which I did my best to speak up about, here and on twitter. If what I said then or since made things worse, I apologize to you and the other WOC here. Not to anyone else.

        Piny, if you refuse to just drop this — and I really don’t care whether or not you accept my apology, even though I made a choice to accept your belated “If” you misinterpreted, then “well I’m sorry” offering — then please take it to spillover. Because if you don’t, it’ll definitely be time for a giraffe.

        Separately, I wanted to make one point about the “smaller but happier family” comment. I assume that was intended to mean “smaller” in terms of diversity, since I am not sure that the actual number of regular readers and commenters — and bloggers/moderators is necessarily any smaller than it ever was. As I think I mentioned, though, in at least one respect the commentariat is more diverse than it was before. I don’t know exactly what things were like five years ago (although this place never, ever had a trans-friendly reputation), but when I started commenting regularly almost two years ago, there were no trans women who commented regularly. Zero. Why would there be, given the regularity of incidents like that young trans woman who had the temerity to complain that her grandfather refused to use the correct pronouns, and was ripped to shreds in the comments for allegedly being ableist? Or the fact that anyone bringing up the trans aspect of an issue, or criticizing non-inclusive language, would be accused of derailing? All I can say is that things have changed for the better, or I wouldn’t be here, and I suspect that the other trans women who comment here wouldn’t be here either. So let’s please not forget that one aspect, as relatively inconsequential (in terms of demographics) as it may be, when we talk about changes in the Feministe commentariat over the years.

      • piny says:

        I did not refuse to drop this. I went to bed. I woke up to three more comments.

        Upthread, EG accused me of saying something shitty and dismissive – and implicitly kinda racist. She did not ask for clarification. She did not mince words. She did not assume good faith. I did not go straight into HDU mode and complain about being singled out and demand that EG look at my record and proceed to say a whole bunch of really nasty things about who belongs here. I clarified the misunderstanding and then I got on with my life.

        I refuse to make this all about Donna L, who is not a group of people. I don’t want an apology; I never asked for one. I want this creepy “outsider” nonsense called out. And even if Feministe is more supportive than in the days of ye 101 threads, the fact that repeated references to this blog as not responsive (…not just by Kristin; not just by me; not just by belledame and ilyka et al.) are seen as accusations directed at you all, while the one person I named responsible doesn’t get a mention…it’s a serious problem. I don’t think it’s the former commenters who are being cliquish and defensive.

        I don’t want to participate in this discussion about commenter privilege and apologies if. This is a blog where at least some of my friends feel unwelcome. That’s not a reference to Kristin or an indictment of you, or indeed an insistence that my friends matter more than anyone else’s. I’m not going over to the spillover thread; I’m done chewing over Donna’s hurt feelings.

      • Donna L says:

        creepy

        Doubling down, I see!

        I did not . . . proceed to say a whole bunch of really nasty things about who belongs here. I clarified the misunderstanding and then I got on with my life.

        Oh, please. For the 20th time, I didn’t say a word about who “belongs” here. (See immediately above.)

        We need a giraffe here. Please, enough. Finally.

        [Thank you for sending a giraffe alert ~ mods]

      • moviemaedchen says:

        You know, if this subthread isn’t going to come to some sort of conclusion, then maybe it could go to spillover as Donna earlier suggested? So as to stop the massive derailing of a thread that was meant to be devoted to dealing with the erasure of PoC and WoC off into the land of white feminist righteousness?

        Or it could at least go back to considering what the WoC participating in it are saying. Nobody apparently has any response to what mac has said in this very thread (see below), much less the points about appropriating the experience of PoC that Chally brought up here and linked to again in the other thread.

        Mac:

        I would like to point out that IMO

        a) Piny’s point about expressions of innocent shock as a facet of privilege is an entirely valid one, and also

        b) Donna’s particular statement didn’t read to me as such, but as disappointment and dismay. Nonetheless, it accidentally furthered the innocent shock trope, which wasn’t good.

        Neither side’s in the wrong here, and neither side is right. I really don’t see why this is escalating.

        and

        As far as I can tell, it’s YOUR BUDDIES that were stepping all over WOC on this thread, in ways that were infinitely more damaging than Fat Steve’s one off-topic comment.

        Mac’s also correct to point out the transphobic undertones of the “creepy” comment, but maybe that too should go to spillover.

        This has really gone on too long, so I’m going to echo the call to the mods: we need a giraffe here.

        [Thank you for sending a giraffe alert ~ mods]

      • tigtog says:

        Moderator ruling: it’s agreed that any further discussion in this sub-thread is derailing and should cease.

        Further discussion can be taken to #spillover, but seeing as at least one party has expressed an intention of not going there, any further discussion without that party or other significantly involved parties present should proceed very, very carefully.

      • Anonymous says:

        [This comment belongs on #spillover if you really must make it, as already directed ~ Moderator Team]

    • Annaleigh says:

      Mac, thank you, thank you, thank you. It is sickening watching former regular commenters in some cases engaging in some of the same shitty behavior they are decrying in others, and erasing, ignoring, and insulting WOC, especially when they claim to be making their arguments on our behalf.

      • GV, Annaleigh… thanks. I’m pretty dispirited by this whole deal right now, but it was nice to see your replies.

      • Annaleigh says:

        You’re welcome. I feel the same way. Very frustrated. There’s so much potential in the midst of this shitstorm to affect real change, but there still seems to be a lot of the same head butting. I am glad though that Jill is respecting our wishes to wait it out before she responds. That at least is a good thing.

  58. amblingalong says:

    I don’t really understand/care about/feel like reading any more of the asinine sniping about who said what when in which tone, and who was here first*, but maybe as a ground rule we could decide white people shouldn’t yell at POC for disagreeing with them about what’s racist?

    *seriously, we’ve reached the point that commentators are being attacked for expressing shock and dismay over something racist that happened. Because when racist things happen, the only correct response is weary resignation. FFS.

    • Because when racist things happen, the only correct response is weary resignation. FFS.

      Definitely. Until a POC reacts with weary resignation, in which case they’re assumed-white, or a jerk, or unaware of history, etc, etc, fucking etc.

    • GinnyC says:

      This! You would think that when responding to an issue that happened because white bloggers ignored the experiences of WoC people could start listening to the WoC commenters!!

      It’s disturbing that when issues like this come up some white feminists are so eager to distance themselves from the idea of being racist or transphobic. Yet these same white feminists encounter PoC who disagree with them even mildly and start engaging in racist microaggressions, and they belittle trans* women.

      I haven’t commented in months, but I’m commenting about this because it is part of the online culture that allows bullies like HS to thrive. I hope we can do better.

      • Annaleigh says:

        OMG, I am so angry, frustrated, and disgusted right now. The former commenters are just making this so much about themselves while claiming to be going to bat for WOC, and now Chally has had to come here and tell them that they are misrepresenting her experience at Feministe and why she left. I haven’t seen any of them respond to her on that score. Will they address it, I don’t know, I imagine that it would get in the way of the “white defenders of WOC” trip that some are on.

        If you (general you) erase WOC, ignore them, or snap at them because what they have to say gets in the way of your personal narrative of what is going on with WOC or threatens your self-image of what a great ally to WOC you are, YOU’RE NOT BEING MUCH OF AN ALLY, THANK YOU. Good god.

      • f. says:

        I’ve apologized to Chally for misusing her words as a talking point on this thread. It’s become clear to me that I don’t know enough of the history involved to be talking about this subject at all, and I will stay out of it in future. I’m sorry for the ways I contributed to talking over WOC in this space.

    • moviemaedchen says:

      Yeah, this. For a thread about how white feminists need to stop marginalizing PoC and start listening to them, there’s been a metric fuckton of stepping all over PoC commenting on this very thread. And then turning it into a turf war between white feminists over Feministe. Wow.

  59. Lauren says:

    I’m not sure if it’s wise to comment or not, but I am delurking to say I feel partly responsible and wanted to make it known that I am following along, reading all parties arguments here and elsewhere, including on Tumblr and Twitter and thinking quite a lot about my role in this.

    I started the Feministe blog, and Hugo’s positive relationship with Feministe is because I cultivated that friendship. In my defense it was a much different internet. Feminist blogging from 2000(ish) through Web 2.0 consisted of a lot of clear argumentation — direct conservative vs. liberal ideologies clashing boldly, as in, should abortion rights be preserved? Is the US response to 9/11 politically and ethically appropriate? The feminist internet was small and I tried to cultivate a playground for as many of the folks out there that claimed explicit and non-explicit feminist ideology, as well as just smart, women bloggers who were writing about interesting things. It was a small group, maybe 50-100 consistently active bloggers (someone can correct me on this) and a great deal of interaction between blogs and in the comments. The community functioned a lot like a loose social network, and Hugo was definitely a part of it.

    I’ve never met Hugo in person, but I built a website for him way back when (along with several other early bloggers) and exchanged emails with him. At the time I thought he was something of a curiosity — a white male Christian feminist who spoke at length about the body politic, including a “consistent pro-life” ethic. I never endorsed all of his politics, but I found some of them interesting and thoughtful, and posted as much. I never found his behavior creepy — maybe dense and bigoted — and I believed in the redemption story up until 2011.

    In 2005, I quit blogging consistently with Feministe for a variety of reasons (I float in an out occasionally, but mostly out). One because I was busier and couldn’t devote the massive amount of time necessary to run or contribute to the site any longer, but also because I realized that I was not an appropriate mouthpiece for feminism. I was not the feminist I thought I was, and I was more ignorant about race, sex, and gender than I was willing to admit — and about people, and about business. I’d been called to task more than once and realized I was often defensive and wrong. More recently, thanks to some personal and professional growth, I realized that I was prone to accepting a lot of unacceptable behavior from people because they were “nice” and we were “friends.” When it came time to call my nice friends out on this behavior, even if just to say, “Dude, party foul,” I didn’t have the guts to do it. This happened on and offline and I have suffered serious personal consequences because of it.

    Compounding this was the odd injection of money into the feminist blogosphere, circa 2005. When Seal realized they could plunge our blogs for money, I was one of the people pegged for a potential book deal. When I proposed a serious book about teen pregnancy, and they proposed a “gift book” type of primer on personal finance, I realized this was not a good thing. It was a bitter pill for me when colleagues were able to parlay their hobbies into professional writing gigs when I could not (I’ve made peace with it since). At the same time, however, it was always my contention that people getting paychecks from what used to be an amateur (or not “amateur,” but… I’m struggling for the word here) activist and/or consciousness-raising community would create a bigger imbalance in the kinds and numbers of voices heard, but would also prevent the voices that “made it” to the big platforms from interacting with the rest of the community in an authentic way (see Jezebel and xoJane in particular), especially when it came to topics of great contention, as with HS. I still think this is a major issue, but that horse is way out of the barn.

    In any case, this is my long due apology and head nod to the community for being difficult, unapologetic, bigoted and obtuse, and a personal apology to former blogging colleagues and contributors (including some on this thread, like piny and ilyka, and some not, like bpf, blackamazon, even Cara, Chally, and Holly) for letting my personal shit get in the way of the good of the whole, and to let you know that I am reading, following along, and I get it, and I’m sorry. And to Jill, to say that some of the heat you’re getting is mine, and I want to say that publicly so other people know it too.

    Since the money horse is out of the barn, I’ve been following (former Feministing editor) Ann Friedman’s contributions to the women in writing community and her activism around getting more bylines for women in major publications. I think this is a winning goal for women in general. I proposed this a long time ago and no one I know of bit, but what I would have liked to see during the “Full Frontal/Jungle” fight was some feminist bloggers writing explicit guides to up and coming writers — particularly non-traditional writers, say, who hadn’t gone to college or who were home with children or who lacked some of the illustrious friendships, resumes, and connections that would serve as a professional stepping stool — about how to break into the publishing world, write a book proposal, shop for and secure an agent, create a portfolio, create professional social media presences, submit to brick and mortar publishing institutions, and make this process more open and transparent for all instead of guarding trade secrets. And finally, promote the hell out of one another. Your links are your rhetoric.

    • Tony says:

      In light of piny’s comment below; just commenting to say I for one learned a lot from this post. Money is what we all want for sustainability and to reach people but it makes people accountable to money and that means not accountable to beliefs or communities, particularly marginalized ones. That’s where all of this seems to go back to in the end.

      * sometimes it seems that posts that don’t get replied to are ignored but that is not true. Most of the time I don’t feel it’s my place to comment ( this is not really meant to contradict piny’s larger point ).

      • Lauren says:

        Money is what we all want for sustainability and to reach people but it makes people accountable to money and that means not accountable to beliefs or communities, particularly marginalized ones. That’s where all of this seems to go back to in the end.

        Sure, and I agree, but for those people who have the talent, the disposition, and the ambition to be professional writers, it’s an awfully steep learning curve that could be alleviated with some explicit sharing of knowledge and resources. It was not lost on me as a single parent in a flyover state with dreams of being a writer that the vast majority of feminist people who were hand-picked for publishing and/or were able to climb from blogging to publishing for brick and mortar orgs or paying gigs were with rare exception single, white women with no children who lived in tech-heavy coastal areas like NYC, DC, San Francisco and LA. It makes sense to me that the feminist blogosphere, a community of writers, could put our money where our mouths are lift one another up and get away from this dominant demographic. If we wanted to.

  60. Annaleigh says:

    Or it could at least go back to considering what the WoC participating in it are saying. Nobody apparently has any response to what mac has said in this very thread (see below), much less the points about appropriating the experience of PoC that Chally brought up here and linked to again in the other thread.

    Thanks for this, moviemaedchen, I described what she said and linked to as saying that her experiences were being misrepresented here, but it’s not just that, it’s that they were being appropriated too. Sorry, Chally.

  61. pheenobarbidoll says:

    Jesus. The woc here now don’t need a fucking lesson on how heavy a racist load former woc commenters carried here. We fucking know. It’s a largely white feminist site. That means a heavy racist load will be, was and is currently being carried. They were dismissed,attacked and ignored here??? No fucking shit. It’s a largely white feminist site. News flash- the load isn’t significantly lighter right now, but thanks for adding your weight too.

  62. Lal says:

    Why are comments by Kristin Rawls, a white woman – who also happens to have a long track record of being published in many mainstream publications – in response to a young WOC are allowed to remain completely unchallenged? I am talking about Anonymous. (I would hit “reply” but the button is not working for me, I am not sure why).

    Kristin Rawls, I am trying very hard to give you the benefit of the doubt, but THIS is how you react to this young woman’s comments? By implying that she was obviously too stupid to get that Hugo was a creep at first or just deliberately ignorant or whatever? You should really know better than this. Especially if you know a thing or two about privileged male abusers.

    I get it, everyone’s tired of the Hugo the Great Deceiver. I get it, no need to remind me! But don’t go whitesplaining to a young WOC what she should or shouldn’t have understood about this man. This woman all but stated that she fears actual violence from Hugo, she needs this community’s support, not your self-aggrandizement and accusations.

    This woman here described the experience of being swindled by Hugo Schwyzer, she owned it, and you still attack her?

    How about actually listening to what she has to say? That so hard to do for a white woman in your position?

    Crap, I just knew I shouldn’t have been in here reading these comments. I do my best to lurk on this site, if only to avoid getting into pointless arguments with people who truly do not get it.

    And I am tired, Jesus am I tired, of white ladies perched atop high horses trying to explain things to us. And I am disappointed, to see that kind of thing happening here.

    Anonymous, I’m sorry if I am overreacting. Just please know that some of us are willing to lend a sympathetic ear..

  63. ilyka says:

    (Apologies in advance to mods that this may be a double post. I tried posting it last night, but it doesn’t seem to have gone through.)

    Macavitykitsune:

    Yeah ok except for those of us who did. But whatever. Fucking tired of being erased and dealt shit on this thread just so people can sneer at the site.

    I’m sorry. I prefaced my remark with “to my knowledge” because of its “which may be wrong” connotation, not to erase you! Not one statement in my comment was aimed your way, nor at any other woman of color at Feministe. Not one. The examples I cited and took issue with were all from white women.

    But intent is not magic, woe. And I see how using “no one” instead of “no white commenters” is, yeah, fucking erasing. As if “no white commenters” may as well be no one, or, you know, no one who matters. No one worth addressing.

    Oof. That’s racist, and I’m sorry.

    And I take your point about not speaking up for WOC with respect to the pile-on thread. If it helps, I did speak to her elsewhere (by the time I saw that part of this thread, she’d left it). But I could have been more supportive of you here. My bad on that too.

    I hope you’ll let me know if I’m wrong on, uh, what I got wrong. I very definitely do not want to make anything worse for you or for any other woman of color here.

  64. Donna L says:

    This