As a feminist who is a friend of Hugo Schwyzer’s, I’m very disheartened to see that there are self-identified feminists who would take such a reactionary stance against Hugo without looking at his words, actions, roles, and past in context. It’s a disappointing moment in history when we as a movement attempt to expel our best members based on quotes and accusations carefully culled to be as misleading and inflammatory as possible, simply because someone doesn’t fit the mold of being the perfect feminist with an always do-gooder past and the right demographic background.
In the past thirteen years, Hugo has gone above and beyond to make amends and create an accountability process for himself. I’ve seen the work he does to individually help others, and to be a safe space for students at my college. He uses his past experiences and current resources to help, not harm.
Isn’t one of the first few lessons of feminism realizing that what a feminist “looks like” can be wildly different from our expectations?
“Fashion is one of the very few forms of expression in which women have more freedom than men. And I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s typically seen as shallow, trivial, and vain. It is the height of irony that women are valued for our looks, encouraged to make ourselves beautiful and ornamental… and are then derided as shallow and vain for doing so. And it’s a subtle but definite form of sexism to take one of the few forms of expression where women have more freedom, and treat it as a form of expression that’s inherently superficial and trivial. Like it or not, fashion and style are primarily a women’s art form. And I think it gets treated as trivial because women get treated as trivial.”
“I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women, though, they’re all “crazy.” I have a suspicion - and hear me out, because this is a rough one - that the definition of “crazy” in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.”
Sometimes we come across women (or men) who are so vehemently against the idea of feminism, it really starts aggravating us. But we must remember one of the prime directives of feminism, which is to educate those who have bought into the stereotype media has foisted upon our movement. These people…
I largely agree with these pointers with the exception that provable facts don’t dissuade people from their firmly held opinions. If that were the case, no one would argue creationism should be taught as fact in schools. Research has shown that when confronted with factual evidence contradicting an emotionally felt opinion, people will rarely change their opinion.
My rule on how to talk to an anti-feminist is this: don’t. Disengage. I meet far more people who are on the fence or simply misinformed about what feminism is than people who are firmly against feminism. My time is better spent on reaching the ambivalent, and it’s better for my health, too.
Those rules—being polite and calm, citing reliable sources—are rules for talking to any stranger walking up to your, say, feminist club’s table. Sticking to them makes it easier to disengage when you’ve identified someone as an anti.
“Coming into a feminist conversation with, “Have you considered that sometimes women acquire free drinks at bars?” is like walking into graduate school during Philosophy finals and saying, “Have you considered that the color blue that I see may not be the color blue that you see?”
Imagine you are the guy who just walked into that Philosophy class and laid that shit down. Imagine the class full of students who have worked very hard and committed themselves and sacrificed to be here, students who have spent several years of their lives learning about this subject. Imagine now their feelings when you go to the head of the classroom with a smirk on your face and demand the professor give you an A for effort. Imagine now that they think you are a douchebag asshole, because they do, and because you are. You are a douchebag asshole because you are obviously so self-centered, arrogant, and completely ignorant of the world around you, that you thought you could walk into a high-level course with no background and no work and say something profoundly simplistic and totally unrelated and also everybody should congratulate you for having done this thing, so brave, so provocative.
Okay, so that might be a little more abstract of an example. How about something more people are likely familiar with? Imagine you work very hard at your job, and yet you have a boss who is a fucking moron. Your boss knows nothing about the work the company does. Your boss doesn’t even know the names of the products. All your boss knows how to do, apparently, is walk around with a very smug look on their face, occasionally saying something like, “Have we considered… advertising our product?” and waiting for the advertising department to praise such a profound and remarkable idea. And if you do not praise your boss, your boss gets angry. Your boss tells you that you are not a team player. Your boss tells you that they got where they are by hard work and ingenuity and hustle, and you could show a little bit more of that, don’t you think? Also, have you considered using this new internet thing he’s hearing so much about? That’s why he gets paid the big bucks, you know, ideas like that.
This is what you do when you walk into a feminist conversation and ask whether or not we have considered that sometimes men get turned down by girls they like and that hurts their feelings.
You are not asking us a real question. You are simply illustrating, for all to see, your own ignorance. You are saying, “I have not considered the implications of the question I have just asked. I have not taken the time nor effort nor commitment to sit down and ask myself
this question. Instead, I have come into your philosophy classroom/office/feminist blog and shit out my question with a smirk, because I believe that my two seconds of thought are worth more than your long-term analysis, because I believe I
am worth more.””
The above is a great excerpt from a post at Fugitivus a couple years ago. The post is longish, and definitely worth a read, but this particular quote stood out.
You can probably imagine the stupid ass shit that doesn’t get out of The Border House moderation queue. ”HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THAT MEN ARE OBJECTIFIED IN VIDEOGAMES, TOO???!!!11” No, dumbass. We haven’t. Because it’s not like we spend a lot of time thinking about sexism and its effects on people in the context of videogames and have a blog about it, or anything like that!
If you aren’t following dr-grumbles or reading Fugitivus you should be.
Click through and read the whole thing because it’s really good.