H is for hubris, Hugo; S is for sordid, Schwyzer

I have stopped blogging, haven’t I? It wasn’t planned and it certainly doesn’t feel definite. Yet, I have a grand total of 5,678 unanswered emails. No hyperbole, this is the figure accumulated in all 4 of my mailboxes that I stopped checking a couple of months ago. In the past week I’ve gotten half dozen or more media requests about Hugo Schwyzer. Did I have something to say? What did I think about him quitting the internet? I wasn’t even aware he had quit until the emails started coming in. I had to google and trace back the footsteps of the writers who had been covering the on going debacle. I stared at the screen trying to muster some reaction other than “Oh, it has come to this”. And then, I started to frantically search for the apologies, the accountability, the mea culpas. I searched in vain because I am not interested in his apologies or his accountability (LOL as if there was going to be any to begin with). No, I wanted to find the apologies from every editor in a major publication that gave him a paid gig so that he could become the “Hugo Schwyzer brand” (LOL again, he called sexting and dick pics “off brand”). I wanted the media that celebrated all the page clicks his filthy faux feminism brought in to publicly acknowledge their role in creating the toxicity that enabled his rise to fame. I wanted Jezebel’s Editor in Chief, Jessica Coen, to acknowledge how she contributed to this disaster every time she banned commenters protesting his presence. I wanted her and his editors at The Atlantic and Jane Pratt from xoJane to look at us in the metaphorical eye, and say “I am sorry”. I was expecting some sort of ethical acknowledgement of the role that the media they manage played in his systematic abuse of any dissenters. Women like Blackamazon, like brownfemipower and countless others he systematically belittled and demonized deserved the public apology. The women, and it is no coincidence he systematically picked on Women of Color, whose lives he insulted and put down deserved this apology. Even I deserved better considering how he went through back channels to have me removed from blogs and publications where I contribute to because I dared criticize his posturing and tales of redemption.

I despise his ideology. This is no news to anyone. However, here’s where things get murky and difficult and not easy to express coherently (mostly because it is difficult to put into words the source of so much of my anger and disappointment): even more so than despising his ideology, I despise the culture that enabled him. I despise the TMZ of feminist media that “reports” our issues and sells us a lip gloss version of our politics and gives space to people like him so that he can shit on us and tell us how we should take it in the face while he puts Women of Color in “their (our) places”. This is how White Supremacy works and I am pointing all my fingers at Jezebel and xoJane and The Atlantic and every other publication that paid him to publish his repulsive opinions. The shame is on each of you and not merely on his cock shots or pathetic sexting. The shame is on every editor that thought selling women like Blackamazon or brownfemipower (or even my fucking self) for page clicks was a worthy trade off. Each and every one of those editors that knew what he was, how he acted and how his misogynist racism operated behind the scenes has played a part in this. And you get to “represent” feminism. You are the filters of who gets published and who doesn’t. You are the ones that hold the doors and set the agendas. The dick pics are also on you. You helped create the monster, now I hope you enjoy the money shot. And don’t say you weren’t warned. Countless others aside from myself had extensively documented his antics, his skeevy politics, his racism, his misogyny. But he brought the page clicks. At our fucking expense. Sisterhood! Yay!

Herein lies another problem with this toxic media environment that supposedly represents feminism: if you protest too loudly or not using the right platitudes or if you go after the gate keepers, you can forget to be included. You can forget mainstream gigs, book deals, mentions, promotion. You become “a loose cannon” (something he apparently called me for writing about him). You will never know this because other people won’t tell you in your face. They just stop talking about you or your work does not get promoted or you are confined to a very small niche, left to the “discontent bunch”. You are “difficult”. The fact that Hugo Schwyzer, white knight extraordinaire, defender of the likes of Amanda Marcotte against a “horde” of mean Women of Color was paid to write about feminist issues while someone like brownfemipower was confined to the category of “trouble maker” is testament of these dynamics at play. I insist, the media that paid him to write, plus every gig, speaking engagement, interview, authoritative quote, TV appearance he did on behalf of feminism is a slap on the face of every Woman of Color he belittled and worked against.

There is no justice in him leaving the internet (LOL as if, mark my words, he will be back and probably with a book deal). It would have been justice if those who make money under the banner of feminism had not given him a space to begin with. Justice is when we collectively acknowledge that someone’s ideas are not fit to represent our politics and we do not reward them with celebrity and promotion. It would have been justice if, instead of giving him a space, those publications would have hired Women of Color to amplify the voices he worked so hard to silence. Leaked dick pics and grimy sexts are not justice, they are just a sordid confirmation of what many of us already knew. 

I stopped blogging a couple of months ago because I felt like a merchant of pain and death. I can only write about those topics that I know first hand and they almost always come with pain. I wrote about my own dead, the dead I carry on my shoulders. I always write about the pain that we experience on a daily basis and then, one day, I felt dirty. I felt that all this death and pain, in the culture we live in, is not honored but turned into a commercial affair. I felt I was selling my dead for the opportunity to become a “brand”. I never wanted to be a “personality”. I wanted to change the world. I wanted no other undocumented migrant to ever have to carry another dead on her shoulders. I wanted to make it better. Then I realized that we live in a culture that celebrates the smut brought to us by the likes of Hugo Schwyzer and my pain has no place in that culture. This feminism, these politics of the left that have been co-opted by the mere commercialization of our grief. “Take it up a notch! Drive the page clicks!”. Those of us who write and have bills to pay are forced to partake in this culture of death. Some of us delude ourselves thinking that one day we won’t have to write about the pain, we will be able to write about whatever we want because we are now a “recognizable brand”. We buy into the myth of bootstrapping our way up the media food chain so that we can become the gatekeepers and then “things will be different”. But they are not and the price becomes too high to pay. In my case, I felt the trade off was the memory of everything I hold dear and sacred: life and my loved ones. I couldn’t do it anymore, at least for a while. Now, I write this and realize that Hugo Schwyzer’s popularity is a direct cause of our pain. He got to be a protagonist in the history of feminist blogging, even celebrated by some; Women of Color get to fill the supporting role of killjoys and discontents. His leaving the internet (no matter for how long) is no justice for us because our lives, our pain and our dead are still not honored. 

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