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@Jezebel You’re Being Abused: On Fake Feminism

January 4, 2013

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I hate it when people call out something as “fake” when what they mean is, “I disagree with or don’t like it,” so I avoid claiming that anything is “fake,” if possible. But there are certain times when the falsehood is so egregious that it can’t be ignored or referred to as anything other than fake.

Hugo Schwyzer has an article on Jezebel today which I’m not going to link to for a lot of reasons. I’m not going to outline them here, in no small part because Grace at Are Women Human has already done so admirably, several times. Suffice it to say, this motherfucker is as fake a feminist as can be. One cannot be both a feminist and knowingly engage in misogynist, predatory behavior and still claim the title feminist. Nope. Sorry. Fake.

Geace made an outstanding point during the Twitter conversation on this issue:

We’re feminists. When women say “this white straight cis privileged dude makes me feel unsafe,” we’re supposed to listen. Not complicated.

And she’s right. However, there’s something I think is being missed in this conversation. When that doesn’t happen, when people ignore us or defend the person who makes the space explicitly or implicitly unsafe, we need to examine why. We’re not talking about stupid people. We’re not talking about weak people and for the most part we’re not talking about people who don’t care about women. So why is he allowed to present himself as a male ally without the whole of feminist Internetlandia rising up against him?

I’ve written before on both narcissism and the cycle of abuse but I’m not sure if I’ve made clear just how insidiously charming and good at convincing otherwise strong, intelligent people to to make insanely stupid choices, narcissists can be. This guy is a narc of the first order. He’s a narc kind of professionally. He freely admits that. Actually, he claims he’s all better now but since his logic is something resembling ‘I have been cured of a personality disorder, which is by definition incurable, because I said so,’ it’s probable that he’s full of shit.

I was married to a narc for six years and in case anyone is unclear after having read some of the words on this blog, I am neither stupid, nor weak. I was abused. It took me six years to realize that. It took A- twelve. (we used to be in a poly relationship with our former partner. Then we left him and now it’s the two of us.) I understand just how good they are at convincing people of their innocence and good intentions. That full of shit probability I just mentioned? It can actually be really hard to recognize even when it’s pointed out to you repeatedly.

There’s a lot of anger on the part of many feminists at Schwyzer and at other feminists. The first is totally rational. The second is way out of bounds. Why? Because abusers are always abusers and blaming those feminists who have been snowed by an experienced abuser is bullshit.

It’s painful to me to watch both otherwise intelligent and respected organizations (which, I know, is a catagory that Jezebel doesn’t really fall into. Just go with me here) fall for the same poison disguised as charm that I lived with for so long. However, it is equally disturbing to watch feminists attack other feminists over this issue. Here’s why; those attacks benefit him.

Narcs need emotion to feed on and they don’t care which emotion it is. In fact, negative emotions are generally better because they are easier to bring forward and maintain. So the attention and adulation that he’s getting from those feminists that support and defend him are nice but the conflict between that group and those who tell the truth about him is wonderful. So when we go after each other, we’re only serving him.

A- and I used to do this to each other all the time. Our ex would do some stupid-ass, deliberately hurtful thing, because that’s how narcs function, and she and I would attack each other. We would do that, in part, because he had convinced each of us that the other was really the source of the problem, and, in part, because attacking each other was less painful that trying to engage him. He made it too painful to interact with him at all and especially painful to have what most people would consider a sane conversation about a mild irritation. Those always turned into either him raging for days or him stomping and pouting about how mean we’d been to him for an equal amount of time. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

You cannot reason someone with a mental disorder into sanity. You cannot plead them into no longer using you for their narcissistic supply. You cannot shame them into no longer abusing you. All you can do is leave and end the abuse or stay and continue being abused because crazy is not sane and a personality disorder can never be anything other than a personality disorder. The people continuing to support and defend Schwyzer are being abused by someone with a personality disorder and a hell of a lot of experience.

Understand, this isn’t me saying we should all sing songs and hold hands. Neither am I trying to absolve these groups of responsibility. The people who are defending this individual are wrong and they need to be called out as such. But there’s a difference between holding someone responsible for their actions and holding them responsible for his. He’s manipulative. He’s abusive. He’s the problem.

While it is of benefit to everyone to point out the predator among us and to define any space he occupies as not safe, it does not benefit anyone to attack those who are drawn in by the narcissistic predator with decades of experience convincing people he has reformed. We don’t blame the people he has previously abused for their abuse. We shouldn’t blame the people he is currently abusing for it either.



4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2013 2:12 PM

    Schwyzer makes me ill. This is tough in that I agree that the feminists defending him should not be attacked for defending an abuser because obviously they have been tricked by a narc.

    This is a hard thing to do when you’ve been a victim of abusers in the past and people have defended the abuser to you. I think it triggers something in women who were abused in the past. The fact that they do not realize that they are defending an asshole OVER women who are complaining about his sexism is so troubling and upsetting to me. It is very hard to temper that and “be the bigger person” when faced with this bullshit. I don’t think we should attack other women (he LOVES that, you are so right about that), but I wish that we could boot him out of any conversations regarding feminism.

    He admits to almost killing his partner. Why does this man have any business having an opinion in a feminist space?

    • January 6, 2013 2:36 PM

      I’m way less forgiving of flaws that I’ve made progress on when they are exhibited in other people and I think that’s part of it too. We all come to our own feminist realizations in our own time and one of the most common triggers for those realizations is surviving abuse. My ability to recognize narcs in roughly three sentences comes as a result of six years of lessons and pain. So, when I see other failing to recognize narcs or defending those narcs, it is extremely frustrating.

      I think it’s possible to be the bigger person and still take it to the hole as far as the larger point. That’s why I that whole blog was directly @Jezebel. They are part of the problem. They’re complicit in the harm but they are also being harmed. It’s possible to empathize with the second fact while still holding them responsbile for the first.

      but I wish that we could boot him out of any conversations regarding feminism.

      We can and you’ve just given me the idea for my next blog post. Look for it the day after tomorrow.

      • January 7, 2013 9:29 AM

        I completely agree with everything you said.

        After having a day or so to digest this, I thought of something that I didn’t originally take into consideration. I think that unless you have lived through abuse and come out enlightened on the other side, it is hard to see what a narc is doing. If you’ve either never lived through abuse or realized that you were being abused, how would you understand what is going on here.

        I made that point mostly to talk about women who haven’t lived through abusive relationships. I cannot believe that there would be a limitation in their ability to understand the subtle abuse that you only KNOW if you’ve lived it. Again, not excusing them; I just wish that they would listen to us instead of them.

        ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that I believe that victims of abuse know
        their triggers and it should be more important that we’re comfortable than him.


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