Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Reductio ad Absurdum of #MeToo

If this story doesn’t warm your heart, you don’t have a heart.

It’s the reductio ad absurdum of #MeToo, reported fearlessly and comprehensively by The New York Times.

A much lauded professor is accused of sexually harassing a graduate student. The graduate student files a complaint with the proper authorities at New York University. The university finds for the student and suspends the professor for a year. A band of feminist intellectuals writes a letter in support of the professor.

Simple and direct, don’t you think. Until the last sentence, which tips you off to the fact that something is askew in the account. That would be: the professor in question is female, a lesbian and a feminist named Avital Ronell. The student in question is male, a gay male named Nimrod-- you can’t make this stuff up-- who is now married to another man. Nimrod’s last name is Reitman.

Does this make the story of unrequited lust improbable? Perhaps. Does it make it impossible? Of course, not.

I have not delved very deeply into the work of Avital Ronell, and thus, I cannot tell you whether it is worth anything. I suspect that it isn’t. I note, with chagrin, that Ronell is Jewish, but also belongs to an organization called the Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that has taken to praising people like Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian terrorist convicted of murdering two Jews in Jerusalem. We can, without too much hesitation, question Ronell’s judgment.

And then there’s Judith Butler, an especially vapid and confused Berkeley professor, who has led the march to defend Ronell… on the grounds that whatever Nimrod said happened could not have happened. It is not quite as insipid as the defense launched by University of Texas professor Diana Davis… who declared that the #MeToo movement was designed to punish male predators. And, to advance the feminist cause. Using it against a feminist lesbian compromised the integrity of the movement… or some such.

New York University spend eleven months investigating. It found, the Times explains, for Nimrod:

An 11-month Title IX investigation found Professor Ronell, described by a colleague as “one of the very few philosopher-stars of this world,” responsible for sexual harassment, both physical and verbal, to the extent that her behavior was “sufficiently pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of Mr. Reitman’s learning environment.”

The university has suspended Professor Ronell for the coming academic year.

In the Title IX final report, excerpts of which were obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Reitman said that she had sexually harassed him for three years, and shared dozens of emails in which she referred to him as “my most adored one,” “Sweet cuddly Baby,” “cock-er spaniel,” and “my astounding and beautiful Nimrod.”

I am sure you want to know the details. Happily, the Times supplies them:

Mr. Reitman, who is now 34 and is a visiting fellow at Harvard, says that Professor Ronell kissed and touched him repeatedly, slept in his bed with him, required him to lie in her bed, held his hand, texted, emailed and called him constantly, and refused to work with him if he did not reciprocate. Mr. Reitman is gay and is now married to a man; Professor Ronell is a lesbian.

How does a lesbian go about seducing a gay man? I know you want to know. The Times does not let us down:

The problems began, according to Mr. Reitman, in the spring of 2012, before he officially started school. Professor Ronell invited him to stay with her in Paris for a few days. The day he arrived, she asked him to read poetry to her in her bedroom while she took an afternoon nap, he said.

“That was already a red flag to me,” said Mr. Reitman. “But I also thought, O.K., you’re here. Better not make a scene.”

Then, he said, she pulled him into her bed.

“She put my hands onto her breasts, and was pressing herself — her buttocks — onto my crotch,” he said. “She was kissing me, kissing my hands, kissing my torso.” That evening, a similar scene played out again, he said.

Can you stand it?

There’s more:

When he got to New York, the behavior continued, he said, when after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, Professor Ronell showed up at his apartment because her power had gone out. He said that, despite his objections, she convinced him that they could both sleep in his bed together. Once there, she groped and kissed him each night for nearly a week, he said.

As for the concrete evidence, the Times prints an email sent by Ronell to Nimrod:

“I woke up with a slight fever and sore throat,” she wrote in an email on June 16, 2012, after the Paris trip. “I will try very hard not to kiss you — until the throat situation receives security clearance. This is not an easy deferral!” In July, she wrote a short email to him: “time for your midday kiss. my image during meditation: we’re on the sofa, your head on my lap, stroking you [sic] forehead, playing softly with yr hair, soothing you, headache gone. Yes?”

So, serious academics find true love… can you stand it?


PaoloP said...

She's really the lesbian, isn't she. I suspect she holds and displays the badge of lesbianism purely as a career-enhancing status symbol.

Sam L. said...

I can't stands no more! The HORROR!! The horror....

Shaun F said...

Avital's photo reminds me of a character played by Andrea Martin from SCTV years ago - a cleaning lady by the name of Ms. Pirini Scleroso. Take the reference for what it is.

Dan Patterson said...

Avital. Isn't that a prescription medication for personality disorders?
Sounds like someone "got a little" and is self-shaming. Self hate is a destructive mechanism abundant in academia.