Welcome, Hugo and Company

Well, my friends, it looks as if Hugo Schwyzer and his readers have noticed my little blog and my post “Rape, Blame, and Taking Responsibility (A Parody of HugoBoy).” The reactions were not surprising in the least. One colorful character visited my blog and posted in mostly unprintable graphic detail the type of physical torment he or she would like to see visited on me. Then the respondent concluded by calling me a “sociopathic dimwit.” The irony of this was not lost on me. My apologies to the person who posted those comments, but I have deleted them due to their obscenity.

Anyway, at Hugo’s board, the expected baseless accusations were made:

1. Supposedly I made light of raped women.

This, of course, is no more credible than saying Jonathan Swift made light of starving Irish. Naturally, respectable people will be outraged and horrified when women are raped. My use of parody was for turning the ugly mirror back at those feminists who make light of divorced men. It was to show that they are of the same spirit as those who say, “The little lady had it coming to her.” Their cavalier disregard for the pain and suffering that members of the male sex go though is seen for what it is.

Why, today, as I anticipated the type of nonsensical responses I would receive, I reflected on the taboo of rape. Why, in our culture, is physical violence towards women regarded with unspeakable horror, but violence towards men regarded with indifference or amusement? Blame cannot be simply laid at the feet of “Patriarchy” as many understand it, for feminist literature is rife with this schadenfreude.

Needless to say, Hugo’s post lets his readers off the hook with regard to thinking about the suffering of men and about female culpability. My post puts his readers uncomfortably right back on the hook by exposing their moral hypocrisy. They reject the notion that a woman should, by default, shoulder all or even most of the blame for rape. Yet they seem to accept that a man, by default, should shoulder all or most of the blame when a women destroys his career, his family, his future, yea his life as he knows it. Then, they have the temerity to suggest the pain that such a man goes through is trivial compared to the physical pain of rape. This, even though experts have suggested divorce is often more traumatic than the death of a spouse.

2. Supposedly I made light of Hugo’s pain.

I can understand why some may have had that impression, and I yet I wrote …

“I don’t want to make light of Hugo’s divorces …”

“I want to give Hugo credit in light of his own personal hardships …”

It should have been apparent to readers that I acknowledged Hugo’s painful past. My problem with Hugo was not that he shared his personal struggles for showing how people should move beyond bitterness. Indeed, I should give credit to Hugo for writing out a thoughtful response to my parody. It is hard for me to disagree with his premise that divorced people should engage in self-examination, see where things went wrong, etc. The problem is that Hugo directed his comments only at men; his descant was a botched attempt to underscore the imagined emotional immaturity of those he does not really know. The picture he painted was pretty, but incomplete, and woefully misleading. Therefore, I wasn’t buying it.

It’s all fine and well to tell a man to accept his part in a domestic fiasco, but what about the woman involved? We, as a culture, never really hear about her. The cultural totem of the virtuous, chaste female obscures honesty inquiry into the matter. Nonetheless, to imply that all men should accept total blame for their failed relationships and not reflect on the guilt of women is naive at best. At worst, it is misandrist. But, predictably this point was lost on some readers who have too much of themselves emotionally invested in the debate.

1 Response to “Welcome, Hugo and Company”

  1. 1 JIC
    April 6, 2005 at 10:43 am

    “The problem is that Hugo directed his comments only at men…. It’s all fine and well to tell a man to accept his part in a domestic fiasco, but what about the woman involved?”

    Part of Hugo’s philosophy – of which I can see the point though I’m not sure to what extent I agree – is that it is the responsibility of men to guide other men and it is not his place as a man to ‘correct’ women. He doesn’t say that women may never need correction, but that it is most appropriate for another woman to provide that correction, guidance, etc.

    You are correct that his advice is lopsided and targetted only toward men. That’s intentional, and it does not deny that women have their own responsibilities for growth and their own burdens to shoulder.

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