Let me open this by saying that I have been crazy as a shithouse rat for many years now. Were you to print out the mental illness portion of my medical record, you could probably handily bludgeon someone to death with it, if you were the kind of person who did that sort of thing. I’ve spent a lot of years second-guessing myself, agonizing over choices — PARTICULARLY the ones that impact other people and even animals — without ability to trust myself. Because I know I’m batshit crazy, and I know that some of the ways my diagnoses tend to express themselves can be in thought patterns that, if carried through, would be actively harmful to others.
So when I found out that Hugo Schwyzer is back yet again, like some kind of horrible racist and misogynist zombie, only this time blaming all his predatory, malicious behavior on his mental illness and accusing critics of ableism and bullying, I got really, really angry. As s. e. smith has noted, whenever a white man does something harmful, his violence and maliciousness are blamed on mental illness in a way that actively hurts the vast, silent majority of us crazy folk who are just keeping our heads down, trying to get by. smith has even gone to the trouble to round up the facts on violence and mental illness. It’s harder to find figures on things like predatory racist and misogynist behavior because society likes to give those things a free pass anyway, but it does give the lie to the myth that crazy people are perpetrators, not victims.
And now Hugo Fucking Schwyzer wants to tell you that his diagnoses explain his behavior, and that criticizing him for that behavior is therefore ableist and awful of you. He’s already going for critics like Flavia Dzodan again, just like he previously went for her, for Sydette, and for brownfemipower. This time, he claims that they are ableist bullies because they suggest that maybe he should shut the fuck up and take accountability for his actions (I’m paraphrasing).
No. Just no. As my favorite shrink once told me, you can’t help your feelings but you CAN help your actions. I’m crazy, many of my nearest and dearest are also crazy. Me and my friends represent a spectrum of some of the most maligned and mocked diagnoses — personality disorders, OCD, bipolar, anxiety with some weird fucking triggers that people like to tell us to get over. And yet not a single one of us has engaged in abusive, deliberate racism and misogyny in order to build our careers. We are, in fact, routinely accused of overthinking, at least in part because we do. We second-guess ourselves, we agonize over whether our reactions and feelings are justified, reasonable, and normal. We endlessly work to make sure that we are not inflicting our mental illness on others, even avoiding seeking comfort and support because we don’t want to burden our friends and loved ones.
But now that Hugo needs a new career, he’d have you believe that he couldn’t help what he did, because he’s mentally ill. Bull. Fucking. Shit. We are not slaves to our crazy, and we still have choices in our actions. Mental illness may color our decision-making processes, may skew what choices we see as available and viable, but you know what? As my friend Jack said, if you can maintain a career — showing up groomed and on time and performing your duties — then you have enough self-control to not be a fucking predatory racist shitbag. If you are capable of controlling your impulses so that you are not getting into fistfights and stealing things right and left, then you are capable of controlling your impulse to have sex with students (cheating on your spouse in the process) and you are capable of considering whether or not you are being a manipulative lying fucker for your own benefit and NOT FUCKING DOING IT.
Hugo’s mental illness explains fuck all. He actively chose to follow only those impulses that would help his career as a “male feminist,” supporting racist actions by mainstream white feminists. He chose to cheat on his wife with his students in such a way that it went on for YEARS without anyone knowing. Any attempt to claim he was just a slave to his crazy is yet another manipulative lie designed to get him jobs. Having destroyed his career in feminism, he’s looking for a new home and apparently wants to move into being That Disabled Crazy Dude Who Has Redeemed Himself. He can fuck off and hard. He’s trying to throw crazy people under the bus the same as he did women of color, and I for one am not going to slip quietly under the wheels in order to let him continue to build a career on the backs of others.
It’s worth noting, too, that as soon as my batshit crazy self called him on his fuckery, he had a lot less to say than he did to Flavia. Guess it’s a lot harder to call a crazy woman an ableist bully when she’s pointing out that you’re perpetuating the very narratives that stigmatize and harm us. Because that’s exactly what Hugo and his defenders are doing right now: perpetuating the myth of the dangerous crazy person who will harm you for shits and giggles. Of course, Hugo wants you to pity him, as well, for being a slave to his crazy. He didn’t want to pull all that racist, misogynist, predatory, abusive bullshit. His brain made him, y’all. To which I firmly say, Fuck Off.
Crazy people have a choice, y’all. After years of living with a brain that has alternately tried to convince me to kill myself and tried to convince me that I need to save every cardboard box in the house (because there might be a shortage someday, I don’t even know, don’t ask me) among other things, I can tell you that this one thing is true: you can’t help your feelings, but you can help your actions. That includes Hugo and every other predatory manipulative asshole out there trying to claim there’s nothing they can do about it. They are wrong. We may have to work harder to avoid hurting others, we may have to examine our choices harder and we may never be able to trust that our first reaction is a good one, but we do have a choice. Hugo could have chosen not to hurt people, instead he decided that he deserved to hurt women, and women of color in particular, and went for it with gusto; he’s now refusing to accept accountability for his actions. That’s not because he’s crazy, y’all. That’s because he’s an asshole.