Hugo Schwyzer and SlutWalk

The organizing team of SlutWalk Toronto would like to offer a sincere apology for Hugo Schwyzer occupying a position of authority in the organizing team of SlutWalk Los Angeles in 2011.

Hugo Schwyzer has impacted and caused harm to many women, especially women of colour he’s dismissed, degraded and stopped from being recognized, heard and valued (background info here). Women such as Flavia Dzodan (aka @redlightvoices), Sydette Harry (aka @Blackamazon), brownfemipower and many others. We know this harm – that Hugo Schwyzer has now owned – has left and continues to leave wounds. Hugo Schwyzer has also been involved in organizing and advocating SlutWalks, partcularly SlutWalk Los Angeles in 2011. We are sorry for the harm he’s caused and his involvement and connection to SlutWalks and efforts to support survivors of sexual violence.

We first were introduced, online, to Hugo Schwyzer in 2011 shortly after our initial SlutWalk Toronto rally occurred, and when SlutWalks were taking place in various cities around the world. From afar we quickly came to understand he identified as a feminist, he was a Professor at a college in California teaching on gender, sexuality and feminism, and he was passionate about supporting SlutWalk where he was in Los Angeles, California. He played a central role in the first year organizing of SlutWalk L.A. and participated in many conversations around SlutWalk on a lot of various platforms. At the time we supported him, his involvement in our gender inclusive efforts and encouragement of why men needed to care about sexual violence, victim-blaming and slut-shaming, and the whole of the SlutWalk L.A. team of organizers, speakers and volunteers.

After 2011, there were many more conversations about who he is, and what he had done. Like many cities with volunteers organizing SlutWalks, the people making up the SlutWalk L.A. team changed. The SlutWalk Los Angeles team decided to organize specifically without Hugo Schwyzer moving forward in 2012. We supported them in knowing what was going on in their communities more accurately than we ever could, and in making this decision as one that was best for their team and the many survivors they were connected to.

In the last couple of years, we’ve learned a lot more about Hugo Schwyzer and the damaging impact he’s had upon many women, including some of the women he’s had relationships with, and women of colour he’s targeted. Again, we are incredibly sorry that he has been involved in SlutWalks, and that he has used this position to further infuse misogyny and racism into the lives of so many women, including many survivors of sexual violence.

We wish care, support, safety and healing – emotionally, mentally and physically – to the many people who’ve been impacted by Hugo Schwyzer’s actions, including his loved ones and family.

We want to give a shout out of thanks to the voices that have spoken out around the damage caused by Hugo Schwyzer, and to thank those who have spoken out against those who have supported him and offered up more platforms for him to be heard over others. Thank you for calling out the problems, sharing your experiences and working to hold folks, including us, accountable. We want to specifically acknowledge the incredible conversations, knowledge and experiences shared in the recent #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen hashtag trend on twitter, created and instigated by Mikki Kendal (aka @karnythia).

On a final note, we understand allies are not perfect and there are many intersections of oppression, such as mental illness, where we need to shore up resources and support. But oppression in one area does not give us or our allies permission to be oppressive in another. We need to hold our allies and each other accountable. When our peers, even the ones we otherwise respect, screw up we need to call them out on it. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure we take ownership of our issues and problematic actions and inactions. It is up to us to do our own learning and to ensure the media we look to is not exempt from our critical lens. It is up to us to not put the onus on oppressed groups to take their energies away from their battles to hold our hands through our discomfort in realizing how our privilege harms them. It is up to us to do better, and be better, so that we reach the end together and not on the backs of our sisters and brothers.

– The SlutWalk Toronto team

One Comment

  1. Beverly Diehl says:

    It would be great if we could see, when a volunteer approaches a newly formed organization, exactly what kind of “tail” he or she is dragging in terms of back (or current) history of being an a$$wipe. But when something comes together as quickly and organically as SlutWalk did in 2011, it is impossible to vet everyone, and with an overnight movement with as many branches formed as this one, who’s doing the vetting?

    In hindsight, many things could have been done better, in almost every endeavor, by any person or group. Such is life, we learn and move on.

    Participant, Slutwalk LA 2011