The Predator and His Champion

“The one where I meet my brother, Hugo Schwyzer” (public Facebook photo)

If someone claimed pacifism and turned out to be a wheelman for armed robbers, you might doubt their commitment to the cause.

On the surface, The Times of Israel’s new media editor Sarah Tuttle-Singer cares about women’s issues. Author of articles including “My Jewish Abortion” and “Always. Carry. Tampons.,” a Facebook post by her last August began:

“I am so glad [Moshe] Katsav, former president, convicted rapist and miserable excuse for a human being, was denied parole today.” [1]

The self-described “rebellious Jewess” remarked in another post last August before the Ninth of Av titled “I don’t want to rebuild the Temple”:

“I LIKE that we have no High Priest…I’m pretty sure that if the Temple were rebuilt, the most sexist, homophobic, noxious dude of ALL would be in charge.” [2]

So one wonders: If Sarah Tuttle-Singer cares about women, why is she glamorizing a notorious sexual predator?

The predator in question is Hugo Schwyzer, with whom she posted photos last July and commented:

“This guy — this is the guy … One of my favorite writers, a mentor, a friend and a brother.”

The next month she again referred to “My friend and brother Hugo Schwyzer” in posting a Times of Israel blog he wrote. On November 10 this year, after sharing a post of his about sexual misconduct by the comedian Louis C.K., Tuttle-Singer called Schwyzer “a good guy and one of my best friends.”

A former gender studies professor at Pasadena City College, Schwyzer resigned in October 2013 after he “seriously injured a young woman driver” while driving under the influence with his mother as a passenger. Before that, Schwyzer perpetrated a murder-suicide attempt in 1998 and abused his academic position for sexual gain. For example, Mona Gable describes in a 2014 profile:

Schwyzer required his students, most of them minority women in their late teens and early twenties, to keep journals. He urged them to share their feelings, their family experiences, and their struggles with sexual identity. One student I spoke to thought this was a little unusual, but she said, “Hugo felt like a very safe person.”
In reality he used the journals to suss out potential sex partners, he told me. If a student addressed him as “professor,” he learned, she wasn’t interested. If she wrote “you,” she probably was.

After his resignation, Schwyzer’s interactions with women have included showing someone less than half his age who he met in a psychiatric ward how to self-harm with cigarettes:

…there were other things they did together, Amber said, showing me a circle of burn wounds on her inner wrist — dark red, oozing with pus. They hurt. “I wish I hadn’t done it,” she said. The day before, she and Schwyzer had burned themselves with cigarettes while sitting in her black pickup truck. She’d never done that before, but Schwyzer, who says he burns himself to relieve his suicidal urges, showed her how.
Back at the house, Schwyzer rolls up his sleeves, shows me his burns, too, whispering so his mom won’t hear him from the next room. When I say that Amber regrets it, he doesn’t respond.

In relation to such as the above, Schwyzer tweeted last March:

“Would adding the phrase ‘don’t google me’ to one’s dating profile be futile, counterproductive, transparently manipulative, or clever?”

This is one of Sarah Tuttle-Singer’s best friends, her mentor and brother. A woman responded in this context to her November 10 post:

Have you spoken to the women yourself? Are you absolutely certain they are as sanguine with his contrition as you are?
His behavior went on for nearly 20 years.
You are using your platform and professional reputation to advance him.

Schwyzer even weighed in on Tuttle-Singer’s post last year about Moshe Katsav being denied parole:

“The goal of prison is to punish a crime, protect the public, and last but not least, rehabilitate the offender.”

And how much prison time did Schwyzer serve after his murder-suicide attempt or felony DUI arrest where the victim had to be airlifted?

Tuttle-Singer has written about herself:

“I write about the things that many feel and few say. And when I put that s*** out there, others respond in kind. And then we have something very rare: authenticity.”

As her promotion of Schwyzer shows, mutual exhibitionism and self-absorption trump authentic commitment to this or that movement. Notice how often “my” and forms of “I” appear in Tuttle-Singer’s writing, compared with Schwyzer’s nearly forty uses of “my” and seventy uses of “I” in the blog she posted last year about his psychiatric hold.

You know you’re in the orbit of a narcissist when anything — an election, a terrorist attack, an ice cream cone — tends to become about them. With people like Hugo Schwyzer and Sarah Tuttle-Singer, it’s not about feminism or allyship or any other cause. It’s about them.

[1] At least Tuttle-Singer waited for a conviction with Katsav. On March 24 last year, she wrote that Sgt. Elor Azaria “should rot in jail” after killing an attempted murderer who stabbed a soldier — March 24 being the day it happened. Fittingly, soon after she wrote that “for nearly 50 years, the Palestinians have been at the mercy of our Ministry of Defense, with no end in sight.”

[2] Maimonides teaches that “It is a positive commandment to construct a House for God,” but the mere author of the Mishneh Torah didn’t double major in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Berkeley. On the Ninth of Av itself, Tuttle-Singer posted a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, who was on the PLO Executive Committee and said when he resigned over Oslo, “The martyrs were right.”