NEW BRUNSWICK,NJ - The accusation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a professor when they were teenagers should be investigated by the FBI, Gloria Steinem said during a discussion celebrating Rutgers University's creation of an academic chair in honor of the activist.
Speaking on campus Friday at ceremonies for the establishment of the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies, Steinem said she and others are pushing for a full inquiry into allegations that Christine Blasey Ford made against Kavanaugh. The Supreme Court nominee has denied all allegations.
Ford "has done her best and all of us have been campaigning for an FBI investigation," Steinem said.
She was speaking during a public conversation with activist and writer Naomi Klein, who was selected as the first person to serve in the chair named in honor of Steinem. The conversation was moderated by Farai Chideya, the novelist, journalist and radio host.
Steinem, in response to questions, emphasized the need for women to have control of their bodies.
"Democracy starts with our out bodies. Nobody had the right to touch our bodies. Some people will never understand that," she said.
Klein spoke of the honor to be named to the new chair and praised the university.
"It's very rare that there's this kind of a recognition of an activist," she said, adding that there is " a lot of fantastic work being done here at Rutgers" in women's studies.
Klein also spoke of the harassment women face and the strides to bring the issue out in the open.
"It's a confusing time to inhabit a woman's body. We are being pulled in so many directions, forward and backward," she said. "There a lot of bravery right now of women telling of their trauma and abuse."
As the initial appointee to the Steinem chair, Klein, over the next three years, will teach, organize public events, conduct research and engage students in debate and scholarship on a range of issues, university officials said.
Those issues will include the role of activist journalists in revolutionary movements from abolition to feminism, the complex relationships among new media technologies, market forces, democracy, and movements for racial, gender and economic justice, Rutgers said.
An author who has written books on climate change, corporate use of sweatshops, and the lasting impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, Klein said she will bring all of those topics into her teaching.
"It can't just be about equal representation," Klein said of women's studies. "We have to be about change. We are not all the same but we can come together for a common project," she said.