Feminist Scholars Defend Female Professor Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Pussyhat (Ethan Miller / Getty)
Ethan Miller / Getty

Feminist scholars are defending a female professor who is facing a Title IX investigation over alleged sexual misconduct in a reversal of their normal approach of believing victims.

Avital Ronell, a professor of German and comparative literature at New York University, is currently facing a Title IX investigation over alleged sexual misconduct. Astonishingly, feminist professors around the country are arguing that the investigation is unfair.

In a letter addressed to New York University’s president that was signed by influential feminists Judith Butler and Slavoj Žižek, the investigation into Ronell’s alleged misconduct is essentially referred to as a witch hunt. They claim that the accuser has waged a “malicious campaign” against Ronell.

We have all seen her relationship with students, and some of us know the individual who has waged this malicious campaign against her. We wish to communicate first in the clearest terms our profound an enduring admiration for Professor Ronell whose mentorship of students has been no less than remarkable over many years. We deplore the damage that this legal proceeding causes her, and seek to register in clear terms our objection to any judgment against her. We hold that the allegations against her do not constitute actual evidence, but rather support the view that malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare.

The group of academics who signed the letter doesn’t claim to have any reason to dispute the facts behind the allegation against Ronell. However, they claim that terminating Ronell would be an “injustice.”

If she were to be terminated or relieved of her duties, the injustice would be widely recognized and opposed. The ensuing loss for the humanities, for New York University, and for intellectual life during these times would be no less than enormous and would rightly invite widespread and intense public scrutiny. We ask that you approach this material with a clear understanding of the long history of her thoughtful and successive mentorship, the singular brilliance of this intellectual, the international reputation she has rightly earned as a stellar scholar in her field, her enduring commitments to the university, and the illuminated world she has brought to your campus where colleagues and students thrive in her company and under her guidance.

It’s important to note that these scholars are the architects behind most of the major women’s movements in America today. These are the same movements that advocate for “always believing victims” of sexual assault. It seems, however, that they can not consistently apply the principles they espouse when the person on the receiving end is a colleague that they feel has been wrongfully accused of misconduct.

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