The hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen has been trending lately on Twitter. It was launched by a woman named Mikki Kendall, a writer and pop culture analyst. Writing for the Guardian, Kendall explains her frustration with the white liberal feminists who gave platform to the woman-hating “male feminist” Hugo Schwyzer despite repeated protests from women of colour about the way he treated them. By his own admission, Schwyzer built a career on the back of debasing women of colour. He was enabled in this by white, middle-class, liberal feminists like Jill Filipovic and Jessica Valenti who bent over backwards to give him column space in Feministe and Jezebel respectively. The hashtag was, in part, designed to call attention to the fact that nice, white, middle-class feminists often side with men over their sisters of colour and have, what I agree, is a much-needed conversation about racism within mainstream feminism.
Radical feminists have long been critical of Schwyzer. We have been saying, since the very beginning, that this man is a dangerous, woman-hating abuser who has no place in feminism or at any college campus in the world. We have a long, long list of issues with him. Let’s break it down here.
Hugo Schwyzer tried to kill his ex girlfriend. He has confessed to this several times but has never been arrested or charged with this crime. He is a self confessed rapist. He publishes personal details of his intimate relationships with little regard to the privacy or dignity of the women he was involved with. Hugo Schwyzer encourages young women to allow men to “jizz on [their] face[s]“ by telling them it will make boys happy and not ashamed of their penises. He has used his Twitter account to attack women of colour and lesbians on more than a handful of occasions.
I stand with all the women who were both directly and indirectly affected by Hugo Schwyzer and his toxic, manipulative bullshit. I stand with the women who were victims of his abuse. I stand with the women who were taken in by him and now feel regret. I stand with all of you because we are women and we have been raised as women in a society which hates and devalues women. Do I think Valenti and Filipovic are arseholes for throwing their sisters under the bus? Yes, I do. Do I blame them for it? Not entirely. Because I get how this shit works. We live in a patriarchy and the more a woman sucks up to dudes, especially white dudes, the better she is treated. Most women do this on an unconscious level. We wear the ridiculous shoes which hurt our feet but make our calf muscles look nice. We wear the make up which itches and makes us break out because we think it makes us look prettier. We force our breasts into uncomfortable, gravity-defying booster bras because natural breasts are considered unsightly. We tell men they’re clever and we laugh at their stupid jokes because when we do all these things, we get cookies. It takes women time to learn to put other women before men. Most women never learn it because that’s the way the system is designed. It’s much easier to oppress a group that doesn’t even realise it’s being oppressed.
When radical feminists tried to give support to the women of colour who were wronged by Hugo, we were told in no uncertain terms, to fuck off.
Here, Angry Black Women is referring to the stance that @bugbrennan, and indeed all radical feminists and almost every rational person in the world takes, and that is that a penis is a male organ. Never mind shared interests: if you think a penis is a male organ, you are a nasty, TERFy, transphobic bigot and you must be ostracized and shunned.
Intersectionality doesn’t seem to make space for lesbians and their concerns. Like these feminists of colour, who have a legitimate grievance against the nice, white liberal ladies who gave Schwyzer a pass to run amok through the spaces they’d created, Lesbian feminists have an issue with the mainstream heterofeminist and GLBT communities. We are told that to be good allies, we need to accept any man who says he’s a woman and allow him into our hard-fought-for spaces. To be even better allies, we need to consider these men as potential romantic partners. To be the best of the best, we have to suck their dicks, When men like Tobi Hill Meyer are on the advisory board for the annual Butch Voices conference in Oakland, CA, real lesbians are supposed to shut the fuck up and defer to his ‘marginalized’ voice.
Siding with men over women is perfectly acceptable if the man in question identifies as a woman. If Hugo Schwyzer returned to the internet after his extended medical absence and declared himself transgender, would he suddenly be absolved of all his sins and welcomed into the community with open arms? Would the women of colour, who are (rightfully) angry with the white women who ignored their concerns and sided with a white man, suddenly switch base? Would the fact that Hugo is a man no longer be relevant?
There can be no solidarity among any women when women side with men over their sisters. Hugo Schwyzer is a man. Trans women are men. Lesbians are not bigots for knowing a penis is male. And even though you throw abuse at us for knowing penis is male, we will stand with you against any form of male violence. Because vagina matters.