Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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We have to talk about Hugo

Those who remember my writing elsewhere will remember I have a problem with Hugo Schwyzer.

The combination of inclusive pronouns and his assumptions that he could be the voice of all men made Hugo a deeply divisive character even if you didn’t know about his chequered personal history.

So Ally Fogg’s article about Hugo’s latest departure from the blogosphere set a few alarm bell’s ringing here.

It’s a fair, judicious and well-balanced article that doesn’t go too far into the debate about whether Schwyzer is a well meaning fool or a cynical charlatan, and I would have left it there but for a sentence or two that jumped out at me.

Ally said

Many male feminists such as the three Michaels – Kimmel, Kaufman and Flood – sidestep this by writing primarily about what men should do among ourselves. However as Schwyzer correctly identified, this can only ever be within the limits set by feminist women.

Here’s my problem with that. Some feminists may be good feminists, but appalling human beings. They’re transphobic, in some cases, and whorephobic. Do I, as a man who tries not to be whorephobic or transphobic, have to accept the limits set by those feminists, or by other feminists who share my concerns about the way in which some women behave towards other women?

I don’t know what’s wrong with Hugo this time, but I know precisely what’s wrong with the idea of elevating people who choose to discriminate against others to a position of unaccountable power, able to set the limits of debate for other people. Just as I used to rail at Hugo for the way in which he tried to define and limit the debate to his preoccupations, so I will continue to support the group of feminists and other women I know who refuse to let the debate about feminism be framed in such a way as to exclude sex workers or trans men and women,


5 comments on “We have to talk about Hugo

  1. AllyFogg
    August 8, 2013

    Hi Carter, tis me.

    I’m not suggesting you, as a man, (or me for that matter) should refrain from criticising or challenging transphobic or whorephobic feminists, or any other feminists we disagree with on anything. Quite the reverse.

    I’m saying (for a man) it is much harder to do that and be taken seriously if you begin your argument (explicitly or implicitly) with the words “Well I’m a feminist and…”

    Make sense?


    • Aisyah
      August 18, 2013

      Hello there! First time I’m on your blog, and was linked by another post (oh, there are so many tabs open, it’s lost now)

      I think it’s interesting that you say that people can be “good feminists, but appalling human beings.” And I agree! It is true- people can be good ______, but ______. However, I believe that feminism covers a broad range of topics, and that includes “whorephobia”- because of the oversexualization of females, and just- that’s a really long argument/explanation which can be made. Whorephobia tends to refer to females and not males, usually. So I’m not sure if you meant to let that slip, but just a heads-up!


      • jemima2013
        August 19, 2013

        Just to pop in, whorephobia, as i see it applies to all genders, it just manifests differently. Male SWs get jokes about always being up for it, assumptions that its not really work for them, sterotypes about being paid for something all men would do (de skilling them) and so on.


  2. cartertheblogger
    August 9, 2013

    Perfect sense. I’m not a feminist, so I’m safe in that regard.
    I agree with you, incidentally, about the unattractive elements in some of the reaction to Hugo now. There’s a risk that people will miss the point; when Hugo was well he was still unaccountable, and unacceptable.


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This entry was posted on August 8, 2013 by in Uncategorized.

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