Hugo Schwyzer was a passionate advocate for women's rights. But when he revealed his personal history of addiction, violence, and sex with students, he sparked outrage -- and raised questions about a man's role in the feminist movement.
On December 24, 2011, feminist writer Hugo Schwyzer was banned from participating in Feministe, an influential feminist site. The outrage was sparked by an interview in which Schwyzer discussed his own checkered past, including consensual sex with his students. Underneath the post, Feministe commenters drew attention to an even more astonishing admission -- in a year-old post on Schwyzer's own site -- that in 1998, while intoxicated, he had attempted to kill himself and an ex-girlfriend.
"Why are you giving this animal a platform?" demanded one Feministe commenter. "There are three-and-a-half billion women on this planet with inspiring, thought-provoking stories and insights to share, and you choose instead to promote the self-serving rhetoric of a narcissistic sexual predator."
Oddly enough, this outrage came just days after Schwyzer had proclaimed his solidarity with the feminist movement by withdrawing from an online magazine called The Good Men Project. As its name suggests, the site was built around a simple question -- "What does it mean to be a good man?" -- and Schwyzer had welcomed the opportunity to preach his brand of feminism to a mostly male audience. But on December 14, 2011, the site's founder, Tom Matlack, published a piece called "Being a Dude Is a Good Thing" in which he argued that men and women were fundamentally different, and that women refused to "accept men for who they really are." It wasn't "ethically possible," Schwyzer wrote on his site, "to remain silent while the site with which I am now best associated took an increasingly anti-feminist stance."