Classes started this past week at Pasadena City College. In the midst of a very bleak budget environment, it’s been nonetheless good to get back to teaching after a long two months away.
I’m so touched by the outpouring of support I’ve received from students and faculty in the wake of this surprisingly public discussion swirling around me. But while that support has been welcome, I don’t take it as a sign that I have nothing to rethink and no further changes to make. I’m still listening to friends and critics (and to the rare and precious view who are both). In the meantime, I’ve also taken steps to ensure that any student who feels uncomfortable having me as a teacher in the women’s history course can transfer to another section taught by a female colleague.
I did want to publicize two things. First, the F Word Media Collective will broadcast/stream a one-hour show tomorrow (Monday) from 12-1 PST. Hosted by Meghan Murphy, with whom I’ve had civil debates both on-air and in writing, the show will focus on the larger subject of men in feminism — and the issues surrounding the blow-up over the revelations about my past. Shira Tarrant and Ernesto Aguilar will be guests. Listen at Co-op Radio live or wait for a podcast to be posted within a day or two.
Second, a powerful statement emerged last week from a group of established feminist activists. Excerpt:
The recent controversy around Hugo Schwyzer has prompted alarming behaviour among the online feminist community that we are compelled to address. We want to be clear: In no way do we excuse Schwyzer’s past actions. Many strong and valid critiques have been made around Schwyzer’s position in the feminist movement — some of those critiques have been made by some of us writing this letter — and it’s crucial to create an open space for those concerns to be shared and addressed.
The issues that we are bringing up for discussion today go beyond any individual person. Our concerns center around solidarity, accountability, and the state of feminism.
Silencing and bully tactics have no place in the feminist movement. To bully and silence repeats the patterns of domination, control, and abuse of power that feminism seeks to change.
We have witnessed first hand silencing and bullying behaviour of some feminists by other feminists in our community. This behavior has caused a great deal of concern, anger, and fear. We fear being personally targeted and ostracized, with our reputations tarnished as we are falsely aligned with Schwyzer and his actions simply because we disagree with the way in which the discussion around him has been controlled. Silencing others and censoring ourselves impedes our social justice work. Bullying instills fear to the point that we, the collective anonymous authors of this statement, do not feel safe openly expressing our views. As a result, we are forced to respond to this behavior anonymously—an unfortunate and unacceptable result of take-down culture. These issues are not simply about us. We are concerned there are others whose views may be suppressed as well.