How #MeToo is Affected When A Feminist Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Nimrod Reitman accused his former NYU grad school adviser, Avital Ronell, of sexually harassing him.

#MeToo hashtag, is the campaign encouraging women to denounce experiences of sexual abuse. (BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

The story might sound familiar: A world-renowned professor of German and Comparative Literature at New York University was found responsible for sexually harassing a graduate student. But this time, this classic #MeToo story was turned on its head. The professor, Avital Ronell, was a woman, and the grad student, Nimrod Reitman, was male.

An 11-month Title IX investigation found Professor Ronell responsible for both physical and verbal harassment, to the extent that her behavior was “sufficiently pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of Mr. Reitman’s learning environment,” according to The New York Times. She has been suspended for the coming year.

The descriptions of the separate experiences echo other #MeToo stories: Reitman says that he was afraid of his professor and the power she wielded over him, so he went along with her behavior even if he felt violated. Ronell, on the other hand, said that Reitman desperately sought her attention and guidance.

In the era of the #MeToo movement, this case has posed a challenging question for feminists: How to respond when one of their own behaved badly?

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