Dear Hugo Schwyzer, Please Shut Up.
It is fascinating to watch Hugo Schwyzer try to redeem himself. It is incredible to me to watch this man, a man who made a living out of co-opting the feminist voice for his own profit and ego, a man who slept with his students twenty years younger than him, a man who tried to kill his partner, beg for redemption.
Hugo, it’s not that you are beyond redemption. It’s not that you are forever damned. I believe it is possible for you redeem yourself. I believe that with the appropriate amount of treatment, sincere repentance, who knows, maybe a little bit of religion, you can be a good person again.
But you’re not there yet. Even though you believe you’re there, even though you sincerely believe you can show the world how much you’ve changed, you still haven’t hit the point where the public can or should trust you.
A true apology has two components; a thorough admission of guilt, and a commitment to not repeat your mistakes. You’ve got the first part locked down; you’re open about what you did. But you’re missing the second part; the part about not repeating your mistakes. We have no evidence that you’re willing to change. You know why? Because we’ve seen this behavior before.
You apologize for sleeping with your students, promise that it’s over, and word comes out that surprise, you’ve been sleeping with your students the whole time. You promise your awful behavior is over, that you’re finally in treatment, and surprise, it turns out you’ve been helping a vulnerable, mentally-ill woman learn how to self-harm. You screw up. You take responsibility for it. New, salacious details emerge. You graciously, magnanimously take responsibility again.
Why should we believe you?
Why is this different from any other time you’ve promised everyone that you’re different, that you’ve changed?
Here’s a hint: it’s not. Hugo, you haven’t changed. Don’t kid us, don’t kid yourself.
Here’s what redemption for Hugo Schwyzer will look like: he disappears. He deletes his twitter. He throws his macbook in the ocean, I don’t care — the point is, he leaves us alone. He finally recognizes that there is literally no combination of Hugo Schwyzer plus public attention that is good for him, nor us. Instead of using his creative energy to write terrible articles about how men like him can re-enter the dating world, he starts a damn journal. An offline journal. A redeemed Hugo Schwyzer is one who recognizes that his love of attention is toxic, his desire to stay relevant to the conversation is never going to be healthy or normal, and that he is better off bowing out.
Schwyzer seems convinced that enough self-flagellation and he will have racked up enough suffering in order to be a good person again. It doesn’t work that way, bud. Constantly redirecting the conversation back to yourself, constantly trying to keep your name and face in the public eye — you are centering yourself, at the expense of, always at the expense of your victims. If you really, truly want to be a better person, you’d disappear.
End of story.