Good thing we have a Professor of something called “gender studies” to lecture us on what really went down in Newtown last Friday.
Fragile masculinity was not the sole cause of last Friday’s massacre. Lax gun laws (themselves rooted in our national myth of violent self-reliance) and mental illness also played a part. So too did class privilege: Lanza, like most rampage shooters in America in recent decades, had grown up in comfort in bucolic suburbia, the son of a vice-president at General Electric. Privileged white men aren’t the only ones to suffer from mental anguish, but as a result of our national history, they are disproportionately likely to imagine that they are entitled to foist their pain onto others in a terribly public way. Privileged white American men are also the ones most likely to feel the rage of “frustrated entitlement,” keenly aware of the disconnect between the affluence and autonomy they were taught was their birthright, and the anxiety and rejection that seems to characterize their daily experiences with others.
Speaking of frail masculinity, anxiety and rejection, back in 1998 this very white male tried to kill his girlfriend.
Part of my ignorance about the specifics of Hugo’s story can be easily explained by my not really being actively engaged in the online community part of feminism.
But part of it is really just me being ignorant, full stop. Thus, I decided to do some reading about Hugo Schwyzer, about his troubling history as an addict and about why so many people would rather he simply vanish from feminist spaces entirely, if not from the face of the Earth.
The storm around Hugo centers on the story — originally on his blog, although the references have since been deleted — of an attempted murder-suicide that took place in 1998, while Schwyzer was under the influence of drugs. As the story goes, Schwyzer blew out the pilot lights on the stove in his apartment and turned up the gas while his ex-girlfriend was passed out. When neighbors smelled the gas, they intervened (Schwyzer cannot comment directly on this, for obvious legal reasons).
This is like having Ted Kennedy lecturing on the perils of drunk driving. But he’s a feminist now, so his past treatment of women is apparently forgiven.
For me, feminism offered me a vehicle with which to match my language and my life. Feminism challenged me to live differently, and it gave me a perspective on how to live kindly, honestly, and empathetically in a male body. Feminists don’t owe me a welcome. But feminism changed my life in countless ways for the better. I’d like more people – especially men – to hear that message.
We white males who haven’t attempted to kill anyone are hearing a rather mixed message.
Via Tim Blair.
Update: Here’s the idiot speaking at Slut Walk back in June. What a tool.