After a 11-month Title IX investigation, a professor at New York University was found to be responsible for sexual harassment. It’s not uncommon for sexual and emotional abuse to happen within educational institutions. What is striking, however, is the fact that the perpetrator is female.
Due to policy violations, Avital Ronnell is suspended for the upcoming academic year. A former graduate student, Nimrod Reitman, said that she sexually harassed him for three years.
Female sexual misconduct raises challenges
Some leading feminist scholars have supported Professor Ronnell amidst accusations. Close colleagues are speaking up in defense, stating that they have witnessed the teacher-student interactions and know Ronnell’s true character.
Allegations against women are less common, for reasons not completely known, but assumed. This raises challenging questions for feminists involved in the #MeToo movement. How should they respond when “one of their own” is acting poorly?
Amongst all the discord, there are some similarities to how the situation is being handled. Just like alleged male harassers have their support system, so does the opposite sex. Professor Ronell’s supporters have rallied to discredit the accuser, a familiar tactic in such a circumstance. Regardless of intimate emails between Ronnell and Reitman, the professor denies all allegations of sexual contact.
Title IX was originally intended for female victims
Title IX was used as a tool during Mr. Reitman’s allegations, which ironically addresses sexual harassment of female youth at educational institutions. The waters get murkier yet. Campuses across the U.S. are facing problems when tackling sexual assault on school grounds. Complaints about the federal law have spiked in the last two decades. Sometimes cases involve individuals who seemingly consented to sexual contact, but report abuse later down the road.
Institutions always have their rules. However, victims of sexual abuse should never feel like they don’t have a voice or a say in their future. Physical and emotional abuse are both equally damaging. Seeking legal representation after these traumatic experiences is paramount. Every individual victimized by an institution deserves justice.