Thursday, September 20, 2012

Let's Discuss Hugo Schwyzer

Today was kind of heart breaking in terms of reading XOJane. On the one hand, I found some new sources for stylish tights for my fat ass. On the other hand, I see that they're yet another women-oriented site that has given Hugo Schwyzer an audience. XOJane is kind of a mixed bag. They'll write about awesome feminist stuff, and then have a columnist who thinks Tucker Max and his misogynist rape jokes is HILARIOUS and worthy of interview and who also is super racist in a nice-white-lady way. But that's kind of the low level background radiation of festering ignorance we all live in.

Hugo Schwyzer, for those of you who somehow missed it, is a very loud and influential voice in feminism which is kind of ironic or disgustingly sad, depending on your point of view. Raised in utter affluence and privilege, this able bodied white man coasted lazily through life, drinking and doing drugs and sexually assaulting women who were too stoned/drunk to say no. I mean, he admits this. He straight up admits that sometimes you (he)  just can't tell if a woman wants to have sex or not so shucks it's not RAPE rape if she's unconcious, amiritedudes? The concept of enthusiastic consent is apparently lost to him. He also has blogged, more than once, about the time his girlfriend came to him for help. She'd been beaten by her dealer, perhaps raped, and was strung out on drugs. He "had sex with her" (she was in NO position to give consent, which makes it rape), described it as "hot," and then decided they both needed to die. So as his battered, raped, strung out, doped up girlfriend trustingly slept he turned on the oven's gas so they'd both die. He tried to murder his girlfriend. He has admitted this more than once, as a casual kind of thing, like it's just some wacky adventure people have. He's also admitted that the cops didn't question him about it because he's a rich white dude with and influential family.

He's taken those blog posts down on his lawyer's advice.

His string of ex-wives and ex-girlfriends want nothing to do with him and refuse to talk to him, which frustrates him because that means he can't "make amends" as part of his sobriety. It doesn't, however, prevent him from writing about them in public and making a living off of intimate private details of theirs. Boundaries, what are those? Sorry, bucko. Changing a person's name while discussing her family and the overseas trip you took isn't enough to hide her identity from anyone who knows you for any length of time. Let me restate this: women who have refused contact with Schwyzer, who will not talk to him, are funding his lifestyle as he writes about intimate, personal, private details of their lives, sex habits, and genitalia.

Boundaries? What the fuck are those?

He "dated" students, as a college professor. Including 4 different ones in one weekend on a school trip he chaperoned. When he was discovered, he was tasked with writing professorial codes of conduct barring student/teacher interaction. Ooooh, now THERE is a punishment. Meanwhile, I've got this hen house out back and I'm about to buy a fox to guard it. Who else but a predator knows how to write rules governing predatory behavior? He likes his victims young, apparently, and was super eager to get involved in writing sex tips for teenagers, submitting a bunch of stuff to a site that was later horrified to find out that, ha haaaaa! He raped and tried to murder his girlfriend.

While organizing slutwalk, he managed to turn the focus on men, and referred to his work as "slut herding."

He's advised women that they need to let men spooge on their faces because men are just so JUDGED and SHAMED for their (heterosexual) sexuality and not gleefully embracing facials is harming men.

He's racist and classist (no big surprise there) and talks a LOT about his WASP upbringing, not in a "I'm aware of my privilege" sort of way but in a "I'm a WASP, don't forget it" way. He's blogged derisively about non-white non-affluent students, and was also one of Amanda Marcotte's big supporters for her book that featured Brave White Jungle Exploring Women fighting off Ignorant Jungle Savages.

He's a professor of women's/gender studies, teaching women's/gender studies classes, despite not having majored or minored in women's/gender studies. Because people who've ACTUALLY studied women's/gender studies are just so rare, right? So hard to find.

But it's ok, you guys, because he's a born again Christian. God has forgiven him. Why can't you?

Hugo Schwyzer is a paternalistic, condescending sexual predator who keeps being given platforms on feminist and women interest sites. Sure--- SURELY--- there are some women out there who could be given those slots? I really have no interest in reading the lascivious details of some dude's boner as he tries to gas his girlfriend to death/pull a tampon out of the vagina of a woman he married who now loathes him/claims that gosh! it's just too hard to tell if a woman wants sex or not! Why do people keep giving a voice to him? Why is there a market for what he's selling? Why is a man's voice given weight over womens' voices? Why is his message so important when it's so harmful?

Hugo Schwyzer gets paid to eviscerate women, to splay their secret innards and splash about in their guts, gleefully, while talking about his erection and how hard it is to be a man. He gets paid to talk shit about his the women who have removed themselves from his life, to reveal their ugly bits and their secrets and mortifications. He makes his living off the pain of other people, pain he has caused.

He's a rich, able bodied, heterosexual cis-male and that, apparently, is all a person needs to be considered an expert on a topic he has no first hand or scholarly experience in. He silences women. And every time women give him a platform to speak, we take part in our own silencing.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Real Women"

"Real Women Have Curves" came out in 2002. It's a compelling coming of age story, but also the story of growing up Latina in a racist white culture, and growing up fat and being told to hate your body. Anna, her sister, and her mother work in a factory (with other women) sewing couture dresses for less than minimum wage, beautiful dresses that are never larger than a size seven. Because that's what a woman is, right? Wealthy, white, and slender. That's what we're all told being a real woman is: airbrushed, slender, white perfection. It's on the tv, in movies, in just about every ad ever. And this movie entered the world and the phrase "real women have curves" entered the conversation.

And that's insulting. It's an insulting thing to say.

Real women come in different sizes and shapes They are tall and they are short; they are slender and they are  fat; they are  large breasted and small breasted and lacking breasts entirely; they are wide hipped and narrow hipped. They have plump arms and skinny arms, bow legs or straight, long hair or short hair. They wear make up and they don't; they shave their legs and underarms and they don't; they wear high heels and boots and sneakers and flip flops and go barefoot; they wear skirts and pants and cover their hair and are nudists.

Women are human beings with all the range and glory that human beings come in.

Saying "real women have curves" is policing. It polices womens' bodies and tells women what is and isn't acceptable female-ness. And that sucks.

 There is, rightly, a backlash against the phrase now. Saying simply "real women have curves" without qualifying statements like "and real women don't have curves, too" is problematic. Deeply problematic.

But apparently people need reminding that the phrase came into existence for a reason. There is still huge pressure on women to be small, to be slender, to have eternally perky breasts that aren't too big (like a slutty slut) and pert firm but not too big butts and no hips and upper arms you can bounce a quarter off of. There is huge pressure on women to take up as little space as possible, to be child sized, to be pocket sized.

The phrase "realm women have curves" is problematic. Saying "this large woman is attractive and this skinny woman is gross" is wrong. Comparing women's bodies, pitting body type against body type, is divisive and harmful. But, and apparently this needs saying, simply posting a photo of a fat woman is not an attack on slender women. Saying that fat women are sexy or beautiful or desirable is not an attack on slender women, Acknowledging that fat women exist is not an attack on slender women.

Let me say that again.

Acknowledging that fat women exist, have a right to exist, have a right to be recognized as human beings, is not an attack on women who aren't fat.

So can women who identify as feminist please stop complaining about size-positive posts, images, quotes, etc? If it's something that honestly and legitimately tears a group down, by all means, criticize it. But if it's something that does nothing more than elevate someone different from you? Knock it the hell off. That's just petty bullshit, and it's harmful. It's saying that bodies other than your own do not deserve respect or to be treated as human.