At Persephone Magazine, Zahra Tahirah shares her story of “friending” me on Facebook with the ulterior motive of exposing me for the “villain I thought he was.” Instead, she found a more complex story, which speaks for itself, and includes an interview with me.
Hugo Schwyzer — ”Author, Speaker, Professor, Shattering Gender Myths” — was a villain to me. And when I started this article, it was my intent to show this. When I first came across his work as a reader of Jezebel, I found his work to be self-absorbed, and decidedly unfeminist. Over the course of about a year, I continued to hate-read his work, in particular the pieces on “facials,” creeps, and underage porn. I, as well as many other readers of his work, was furious. He tried to kill his ex-girlfriend! (One of the first searches that comes up when you pull up his name is “Hugo Schwyzer kill girlfriend.”) He slept with several students! He wants us to be degraded by facials! He outed his ex-wife! Why was this man with such an unsavory past being touted as the poster boy for feminism? Why was any man? Where we so entrenched in patriarchy that even the feminism movement couldn’t stand to have a woman at the forefront? I wanted to pour my anger in the form of an article in which I would attack and expose him for the villain I though he was. I wanted to probe into the world of Schwyzer to validate my own perception of him. However, what I found out along the way was rather surprising.
So much of what has been written this year about me has been without nuance. Though I don’t agree with everything that Zahra writes here, I’m so grateful for her willingness to engage with complexity, to hold contradictions in tension, and to work out her response in such a marvelous piece.