I could also title this post ‘why third wave ‘feminism’ is barely worthy of the name’, since it was third wave ‘sex positive’ ‘feminists’ who gave him a platform in the first place.
Schwyzer became a gender studies professor by accident when he filled in for a colleague who was on maternity leave from Pasadena City College, a two-year junior college. With his Ph.D. from UCLA in British medieval history, he was hardly qualified. His only background was two women’s studies courses he’d taken as an undergrad at UC Berkeley. In the years since, he had done no research or scholarly papers on gender issues. But the college let him teach the class. Right away Schwyzer discovered that he enjoyed the attention from his young students, particularly the female ones. At the time, the mid-’90s, men who built their identities around championing equal rights for women weren’t exactly prevalent. Sensing this could work in his favor, Schwyzer began creating a persona for himself as a male feminist.
Schwyzer required his students, most of them minority women in their late teens and early twenties, to keep journals. He urged them to share their feelings, their family experiences, and their struggles with sexual identity. One student I spoke to thought this was a little unusual, but she said, “Hugo felt like a very safe person.”
In reality he used the journals to suss out potential sex partners, he told me. If a student addressed him as “professor,” he learned, she wasn’t interested. If she wrote “you,” she probably was. Within months Schwyzer began sleeping with his students—sometimes, he says, conducting several affairs at once. During one student lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., in April 1997, he says he had sex with four coeds, three of them at the same time. This was a period when he was also drinking heavily, abusing cocaine and prescription drugs, and swept up in a stormy relationship with a woman in her twenties.