Last week I asked you what questions you’d like me to ask the controversial Hugo Schwyzer. While some of you had never even heard of him, others of you were ready to go with questions. Lots of questions.
Even if you loathe him and strongly feel that he shouldn’t be allowed even near the word “feminism” – let alone act as a voice for it – Hugo Schwyzer has always been honest about his controversial past. He is candid about the things that most of us would try to forget. In a lot of cases, this honesty seems to redeem him, at least in the eyes of some people. There are those who stand by and support him, accepting the things that can’t be changed, but the voices on the other side of this debate all but call for his head — they also seem to be the louder of the two very divided groups.
With the questions we received from our readers and a couple of our own, we reached out to Schwyzer and asked him to explain himself.
How do you reconcile your accountability process (where you said you’d be taking yourself out of women-centered & feminist spaces) with your recent upswing in pitching and posting articles to websites like Jezebel and xojane?
I wrote that I’d be taking myself out of explicit feminist spaces. That doesn’t mean websites – it means not participating in conferences or clubs where my physical presence may be problematic. I no longer am a member of NAWSA. I no longer advise the feminist club at PCC. But I’ve been writing for Jezebel since before this controversy and never intended to resign from that position. The editors at XoJane include friends, and I fully apprised them of the controversy.
Lots of people don’t want me writing in those spaces — and many do. There’s no way to figure out what the percentages are. There’s no poll. I trust and believe, sincerely, that on balance the potential for good trumps the potential for harm. That’s the view of the (often feminist) editors who publish me and the view of the people to whom I am accountable.
XoJane, Jezebel, TheGloss, and so forth – these sites are not providing group therapy in a safe and nurturing environment. They are spaces for vigorous, even controversial discussion of ideas around sexuality and gender roles. Editors shouldn’t be in loco parentis.
Have your thoughts changed about the statement you made on xojane claiming a “faulty premise of scarcity” on the Internet, and your belief that you are not depriving less-privileged voices from being heard?
I stand by that statement. There are many, many wonderful websites (and more and more each year) focusing on women and women’s issues. The vast majority of writers for these sites are women; a growing number are women of color. I do not believe that a single white man writing a weekly column or an occasional contribution means that women are being silenced. If I were writing primarily about, say, black women’s issues, and there were no black women at the site writing about that issue, that would be a huge problem. But that’s not the situation here.
Writers who have privilege have an obligation to promote the less privileged – to introduce them to editors, to signal boost their articles in social media, and so forth. But I don’t buy into the idea that there are a finite number of opportunities, and that because I wrote a piece for XoJane about my divorce, a less-privileged voice was automatically not published. That’s just not how the ‘net works.
What are your plans for the future regarding writing (and pitching) to women-centered publications?
Complete candor with the editors about the ramifications of publishing me. Total transparency. Editors know their sites better than I do.