Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hey Hugo, how can we miss you if you won't go away?

Poor Hugo Schwyzer had a meltdown and thousands of people are feeling sorry for him laughing so hard they are in serious danger of wetting their pants.

I will cheerfully admit to having been one of many, many people to lay into this awful fraud and I'm glad to see him exposed and sent packing. Assuming he'll actually go. Like Anthony Weiner, Schwyzer is a moral narcissist who just keeps coming back. He seems to want to admit he was a fraud and yet still be loved and taken seriously.

There are two kinds of issues here: there is an issue of alleged academic fraud and there is an issue of moral hypocrisy that is simple fact.

Here's the academic issue: Schwyzer was writing for all sorts of popular publications as a "gender expert" even though his actual field is British and medieval history. As he puts it, "It is a little odd that someone would become a very well known speaker and writer on feminism when he took only two undergraduate courses on women’s studies and that’s it."

Well, actually, it isn't all that odd. I suspect two undergraduate courses is a lot more study than most high-profile feminists ever did. And there is no reason whatsoever that anyone at all shouldn't be allowed to write about feminism just as anyone at all  is allowed to write about Shakespeare. But the issue gets tricky if I, for example, were to start writing about Shakespeare while claiming to have academic credentials to do so, which I do not. Schwyzer claims to have only written for non-academic publications but the issue here is one of personal integrity. Consider, for example, the author description on the piece that I originally responded to about a year and a half ago:
Hugo Schwyzer is a professor of gender studies and history at Pasadena City College and a nationally-known speaker on sex, relationships, and masculinity. He blogs at his eponymous site and co-authored the autobiography of Carré Otis, Beauty, Disrupted.
 Well, you can see how someone reading that just might get the wrong idea about Schwyzer's credentials.

And, as I always say, if you find one rat, you can be pretty sure there are others.

The  moral hypocrisy issue is that Schwyzer argued that men shouldn't date younger women while having sexual relationships with women half his age and cheating on his wife in the process.

Moral hypocrisy is an issue I have written about before and I've tended to argue that hypocrisy is only a symptom of a deeper problem. The deeper problem, to quote myself
The real source of hypocrisy is not believing in anything at all.

That was what was is so depressing about the two cases I mention above. Neither man is aware of himself as a hypocrite because neither is acting against beliefs that actually mean anything to them. Our classic notion of a hypocrite—Mr. Burns running for office on The Simpsons—knows he is lying and consequently makes some effort to hide it. Real hypocrites have no notion. There is no point in even trying to explain it to them.
And Schwyzer is a further example.  He wrote the following:
If there's one tangible thing that men can do to help end sexism—and create a healthier culture in which young people come of age—it's to stop chasing after women young enough to be their biological daughters. As hyperbolic as it may sound, there are few more powerful actions that men can take to transform the culture than to date, mate, and stay with their approximate chronological peers. If aging guys would commit to doing this, everyone would benefit: older men and younger men, older women and younger women.

This proposal flies in the face of everything we're taught is normal and inevitable ...
But here comes the big admission about his personal life at the time he wrote the article above:
One of my themes has always been that men should leave younger women alone and start to have a greater value in appreciating their female peers—that men in their 30s and 40s should be dating women in their 30s and 40s; sort of challenging men to see as sexually desirable women who are their own age. I wrote a piece for The Atlantic on that that got a lot of attention. But the very same week I wrote that I was sleeping with a 23-year-old affiliated with the porn industry, not a student of mine, but who I met through the porn class. And of course, I was also sexting.
The thing that should strike you here is the complete lack of guilt. Until the matter became one of shame by being made public, Schwyzer had no problem doing what he did. He wrote the article the same week he was having the affair. He has no moral beliefs at all.

You can see it in his pathetic attempts at self justification:
For me the motivation was not to get these girls into bed. Sex is only the exclamation point on what you really want. What I am addicted to is affirmation and validation from women. That is what I wanted. That is what this whole thing was set up to get. I didn’t need them to want to f**k me. It made no difference to me if they thought of me as a potential boyfriend or a potential father. What mattered to me is that they had me on a pedestal, that they thought about me. That is the honest truth.
That's the "honest truth" until he asked if he has ever had sex with his students.
Not since 1998. Before 1998 I slept with two dozen female students, somewhere in there, it’s a ballpark thing. That ended when I had a similar but not as bad a breakdown to the one I had now.
It helps to do the arithmetic in cases like this. Schwyzer is 46 years old now. He was 31 in 1998! Even if he breezed through his PhD at a record pace, he would have been teaching only five or six years (and probably less) in 1998. In that time he'd had sex with two-dozen students!

And, oh yeah, that " similar but not as bad a breakdown" in 1998? Schwyzer has said it climaxed when he tried to kill himself and his girlfriend while under the influence of narcotics. How does that count as not as bad? That's the thing you have to grasp: this man doesn't believe in anything at all.

And it tells you an awful lot about feminism that he succeeded so long at being a celebrity in the field.

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