What role, if any, should men with a history of abuse of women have in feminism? This question is at the heart of ongoing debates in the feminist blogosphere over Hugo Schwyzer, a professor of gender studies and male feminist personality. A close examination of Schwyzer’s record calls into serious question both his narrative of personal transformation and his current credibility as a feminist leader. This raises the question of why Schwyzer was allowed access to feminist leadership roles at all, much less for so long, but also points to broader, entrenched issues around male allies, racism and white privilege, and safe spaces for abuse survivors in the feminist movement.
Charlie Sheen has three faces. Not a day goes by without the publication of several new articles analyzing Sheen’s increasingly bizarre exploits (including, of course, this one) but, strangely, they all seem to be talking about a slightly different guy. The diverging media narratives of Charlie Sheen, and the very real behavior they’re covering, are interesting. They go beyond standard depictions of bad celebrity behavior, and seem to betray something fundamental about contemporary masculinity itself.
First, we have Charlie Sheen the comedian: Driven by a Kanye West-like compulsion to generate and control his own media narrative, and an equally Kanye-like propensity for bizarre statements, he has a massively popular Twitter account, gives a steady stream of interviews, and refers to himself as a “high priest Vatican assassin warlock” who is on a drug “called Charlie Sheen,” which you cannot share “because if you try it once, you will die and your children will weep over your exploded body.” This Sheen has a legion of newfound fans, and has inspired countless Internet memes. #Tigerblood and #WINNING, which are impossible to miss on one’s Twitter dashboard, both originated with Sheen. They keep spreading, and why not? They actually are extremely funny.
Thursday was the first anniversary of the publication of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse. Commonly called the Ryan Report, its publication cumulated in the realisation of the extent of the violence, rape and sexual assault that children suffered in the care of the Catholic Church. I have written more here. Eight organisations (Barnardos, CARI, Children’s Rights Alliance, Irish Association of Young People in Care, ISPCC, One in Four, Rape Crisis Network of Ireland and Dublin Rape Crisis Centre) met to discuss progress on the implementation of the Ryan Report.
To this day not a single additional penny has been paid by the eighteen religious congregations that committed crimes against children. I say additional because the Irish Government struck a shameful deal with the religious orders in 2002. The then Minister for Education Michael Woods and Attorney General Michael McDowell struck a secret deal. It was never put before parliament and there was no vote. In short, religious orders were awarded indemnity against all legal claims provided they supplied €128m in cash and property. The idea was that if there was a shortfall, the taxpayer would provide. Woods expected around 2000 claimants and a total cost of around €300m.
Fast forward to 2010, and 14 000 claimants have come forward. The bill is expected to be around €1.3bn. And the religious orders have not contributed a single additional penny. The congregations claim that the Irish Government had not yet provided the details of what further contributions are required. Continue reading