For the last few weeks, the notoriously controversial male feminist Hugo Schwyzer has been off Twitter and Facebook, an absence that was noticed by some, at first, and then everyone who pays attention to these sorts of things when the reasons for his social media disappearance became common knowledge. Schwyzer, who’s made a career denouncing “the myth of male weakness,” had cheated on his wife (his fourth) repeatedly, they had separated, and that, plus the stress of what he calls “takedown culture” online, had led to Schwyzer checking himself into a psychiatric facility. The admitted former drug addict (who once, in the midst of a drug binge, tried to kill himself and his then-girlfriend) explained in a mass email to friends, former colleagues and acquaintances (including myself) that he had become a danger to himself and he was taking time away from the internet to get well and repair his marriage to the mother of his two small children.
Except he didn’t take time away. First, he gave an ill-advised interview to NYMag.com, in which he described his infidelity as “off-brand” (he’s right, in the sense that he has spent the last few years writing about sex, gender, marriage, relationships, etc. from the perspective of a bad boy gone good). That was followed by interviews with LAWeekly.com (in which he confessed to another suicide attempt) and a porn gossip website (regarding the details of one of his affairs, with an online web cam model), not to mention upwards of four additional “goodbye” blog posts on his own website.
For a few days, things were quiet on the Hugo front. Until today, when Schwyzer reactivated his Twitter account and began tweeting, almost non-stop, for an hour. Admitting almost right away that he was in the midst of a manic episode – Schwyzer says he suffers from bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder – Schwyzer said it was time for the truth to come out, that he was a “breathtakingly cocky,” “self-aggrandizing” fraud who “loved the attention” and was “fucking awesome at getting it.”
Schwyzer went on to detail and apologize for various “monstrous” hypocrisies, including sexting a much younger woman the same week he wrote a piece for TheAtlantic.com condemning age-disparate relationships. Certain individuals (feminist bloggers like Jessica Valenti and Jill Fillipovic, as well as his editor at Jezebel, Jessica Coen) and websites (including The Frisky) were directed specific apologies. Amidst it all were mealy-mouthed excuses for his behavior (“I wanted … to belong to your community so badly”); irritation with those who thought his tweeting wasn’t doing him any favors in the long run (“Why won’t you let me finish people”; “Those of you tweeting at me to be quiet want to cover [the truth] up”); passive-aggressive digs at critics who he claims were right about him all along; and dismissive asides to those he thinks should have, for some reason, been more supportive the last week.
Schwyzer also tweeted about taking a medical leave of absence from his community college teaching position (his now infamous porn class is no more) and promised that when he returned (because, seriously, he’s leaving the internet for real this time), he would no longer be speaking as an expert or teaching about gender-related topics and feminism. He also tweeted repeatedly that his wife currently won’t allow him to see his children. And really, I’m just scratching the surface of this whole Twitter meltdown.
After stepping away from his laptop for a few hours — after concerned friends apparently called the police, afraid Schwyzer was suicidal — he was back on Twitter briefly tonight, seemingly medicated and calm. “I am sorry, so sorry, for not having taken my meds properly and for having upset so many people,” he wrote in a series of tweets. “I am clearly very unwell. It is time to return to my original pledge to leave social media, and — without deleting today’s manic rants — that’s what I’m doing now. Let me be clear: I have a serious mental illness. But that is an explanation, not an excuse, for the harm I’ve inflicted.”
“I’m going to be giving my laptop to my family tonight so I can more effectively stay offline,” he concluded. We’ll see if it lasts and, for the sake of his two kids, he actually gets the help he clearly desperately needs. [Twitter]