Bettina Arndt trained as a clinical psychologist before becoming well known as one of Australia’s first sex therapists. She is also a commentator and author, most recently of #MenToo. Bettina Arndt argues that most women are fed up with trivial issues being blown up as sexism. In Australia, as elsewhere, people are turning away from mainstream media seeking more balanced views elsewhere. That includes properly addressing what’s happening to men. In an address to The Sydney Institute on Monday 3 December 2018, Bettina Arndt explained why she was no longer a feminist.
WHY I AM NO LONGER A FEMINIST
Last year I was approached by a Perth Film company, asking me to take part in a documentary being made for SBS on sexism. I wasn’t keen because I know all too well how easy it is for filmmakers to do a long interview which they then edit down to make you look like a dodo. I couldn’t imagine anyone at SBS would do me any favours. But the Perth company, Joined UP, assured me they planned to do a balanced program and they pressured me to take part to comment on survey results showing most Australians have real concerns about the way sexism is normally portrayed.
They pressured me to take part to comment on survey results showing most Australians have real concerns about the way sexism is normally portrayed.
Those statistics were very revealing. Only 19 per cent of Australians identify as feminist. Almost half the population (45 per cent) feel feminism has gone too far. By far the majority, (76 per cent) feel men suffer from sexism too. I did the interview and persuaded others to get involved to comment on this majority view. But now SBS has released their teaser for the program – Is Australia Sexist – which goes to air tomorrow night, Tuesday 4 December. This revealed they have ditched anything that challenges the feminist narrative and simply were promoting the usual male-bashing dogma we have come to expect from our public broadcasters.
They have ditched anything that challenges the feminist narrative and simply were promoting the usual male-bashing dogma we have come to expect from our public broadcasters.
I wrote about this for The Australian and SBS told an Oz news reporter that they weren’t including the statistics in question because “they couldn’t cover every angle of complex issues surrounding sexism”. So, instead, in the promo we are promised shocking findings about our sexist country showing how hard life it is for women dealing with the wage gap and the constant underlying threat of rape. We see little girls being taught they will never earn as much as men, women afraid to walk down public streets. The compere ends up in tears at the thought of her children facing such ordeals.
That’s feminism today. No interest in equality, no concern about telling the truth. Rather a barrage of misinformation aimed at demonising men and presenting women as victims. Anything which challenges the feminist narrative is silenced.
It’s a far cry from the feminism which inspired me at the beginning of my career. I became involved in sex therapy because I was excited about the women’s movement offering women more choices in their lives – and I thought a better sex life, maybe even more orgasms, was a good place to start. Feminism then was about equality – not promoting women’s wants and needs and denigrating men. And feminism was about empowering women. Remember Helen Ready singing “I am woman, hear me roar”. About promoting our strengths and independence – not treating us like pathetic, fragile, complaining wimps. I never imagined feminism would become such a repressive movement, prepared to lie and cheat, determined to silence any opposition to their ideological dogma.
Feminism then was about equality – not promoting women’s wants and needs and denigrating men.
Just look at our higher education sector where feminist activists have succeeded persuading our universities to lie about the safety of our campuses for young women. I’m currently conducting a fake rape crisis tour, speaking to student groups about what’s going on here. I decided to do this after a really alarming experience last year when I spent eight months helping a PhD student at Adelaide University accused of sexual assault by a fellow student. He contacted me to tell me he was being investigated by university committee. I found him a criminal barrister to advise him pro bono.
It was clear from the very first contact with the student that the committee had no idea what they were doing. The student received emails asking him to attend meetings with committee, but the criminal barrister advised him not to attend and to demand full details of accusations. It was a very scary time for him because the committee apparently had the power to stop him being awarded his PhD.
The student received emails asking him to attend meetings with committee, but the criminal barrister advised him not to attend and to demand full details of accusations.
I wrote to the university, we sent legal letters and then suddenly the University’s general counsel stepped in and immediately back-peddled, assuring the student that he too should be afforded procedural fairness and provided him with a full statement regarding details of the accusation. The whole business came to an end when the university declared they were dropping the case. He was awarded his PhD and with great relief left the university. I’ve published a YouTube interview with him, describing the whole harrowing ordeal.
I’ve published a YouTube interview with him, describing the whole harrowing ordeal.
So, what is a university doing getting involved in a potentially criminal matter, with unqualified people blundering around, risking the chances of a fair trial, for both the accuser, the alleged rape victim and the accused?
Well, this is the end goal, the ultimate aim of a long campaign by feminist activists who are concerned about the low rate of conviction in date rape cases. Their problem is that juries won’t send young men to jail for years on the basis of he-said, she-said allegations where they don’t know whom to believe. So, the best way to increase conviction rates is to set up a different system of justice, using a lower standard of proof – namely the “balance of probabilities” – and “believe the victim” procedures which stack the odds against the accused.
That’s what happened in the US seven years ago where, after years of campaigning by feminists, Obama required all publicly funded universities to set up tribunals, requiring lower standards of proof, with the accused not protected by lawyers, often denied full access to allegations, and lacking other legal rights available under criminal law. It’s led to a steady stream of young men (and occasionally women) being suspended from college, their lives derailed by this “victim-centred justice”.
It’s led to a steady stream of young men (and occasionally women) being suspended from college, their lives derailed by this “victim-centred justice”.
That’s proved a mighty costly exercise for the American university system, particularly with a number of these accused young men and their families winning legal cases and receiving substantial payouts from colleges that failed to protect due process rights. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against universities alleging such violations and now the Trump administration is acting to change regulations to ensure proper legal rights for the accused – a move being greeted by positive editorials across the country, with surveys showing widespread public alarm about these kangaroo courts having gone too far.
The amazing thing is Australia is being bullied to go down the same dangerous path. Here too we have seen activists preparing the groundwork for universities to get involved in the criminal justice business. Sydney University has announced new procedures determining sexual assault charges on the balance of probabilities. UTS has a committee to investigate these cases which includes student members and they are withholding student exam results until students complete an online sexual consent course – we have lawyers considering possible legal action over this.
They are withholding student exam results until students complete an online sexual consent course – we have lawyers considering possible legal action over this.
The campaign here started years ago, promoted by groups like End Rape on Campus, alleging our universities are crawling with rapists, promoting alarmist statistics to back their claim. They then persuaded the Human Rights Commission to spend a million dollars of tax-payers money to do a survey proving there was a rape crisis. But that whole expensive exercise proved a fizzer for the feminists. On the day the AHRC results were released my news story in The Australian – announcing the good news that there was no rape crisis – was the only positive story to appear that day in mainstream media. Journalists everywhere else downplayed the reassuring survey results which showed only 0.8 percent of students claiming to be sexually assaulted over the previous year, even using a broad definition which included being “tricked into sexual acts against their will” and including incidents during travel to and from campus, not involving other students.
Journalists everywhere else downplayed the reassuring survey results which showed only 0.8 percent of students claiming to be sexually assaulted over the previous year
All the survey came up with was a high incidence of low-level harassment – mainly involving staring and sexual jokes or comments. My news story included data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics showing that universities are 100 times safer than the rest of the community for young women.
So, there is no rape crisis on our campuses but rather than acknowledge these reassuring results, the Human Rights Commission shifted the goal posts and promoted alarmist news about high levels of sexual violence (fudging the fact that this was mainly the unwanted staring). The sexual violence theme was taken up by vice counsellors across the country who pledged 24-hour sex assault help lines, counselling services and sexual consent courses.
The sexual violence theme was taken up by vice counsellors across the country who pledged 24-hour sex assault help lines, counselling services and sexual consent courses.
I wrote to all the major universities asking how they could justify doing all this and risk putting off overseas families from sending their precious daughters to study in this country and received not one sensible response – only weasel words from media units. The emperor has no clothes. Our Vice-chancellors parade before us, totally naked, whilst the entire university sector, including eminent social scientists, cower in silence, denying the solid research evidence of safe campuses. That is what led me to embark on a campus tour, seeking out student groups to invite me onto campuses where I could discuss the illusory rape crisis and the related push for university involvement in adjudicating sexual assault.
The results have been pretty much as expected. My first talk, scheduled for August at La Trobe University in Melbourne, was suddenly cancelled when university administrators claimed it didn’t align with the values of the university. Following media pressure, the university backed down—but only after a conversation with one of the administrators who suggested they may need to offer counselling to students attending the talk. The event went ahead, despite protest demonstrations and a very noisy crowd of protesters bashing on the doors to the venue, shouting into megaphones and doing their best to drown out our discussion.
The event went ahead, despite protest demonstrations and a very noisy crowd of protesters bashing on the doors to the venue, shouting into megaphones and doing their best to drown out our discussion.
Even at Macquarie University earlier this month, the Liberal Club students hosting my talk were told not to include the word “rape crisis” in the flyer because it might trigger rape victims who were studying for exams at the time.
At Sydney University, the protests were far more alarming. Here, the University insisted on charging the student club hosting the event a security fee of nearly $500 for guards who had no authority to remove the aggressive mob of abusive protesters who blocked the corridor leading to the venue, preventing my audience from accessing the room and roughing up anyone who tried to get through. The escalating violence and abuse led the guards to call in the riot squad, who removed the protesters, allowing the event to proceed.
I’ve asked the university to take action against named key protesters for breaches to the University’s code of conduct and bullying/harassment regulations. An investigation is currently underway. We are taking further action following up on the vice-chancellor’s decision not to fully refund the security fee. Sydney University has long been allowing a heckler’s veto to flourish on campus, whereby conservative student groups are charged prohibitively high security fees to protect them from violent radical protesters.
We are taking further action following up on the vice-chancellor’s decision not to fully refund the security fee.
The whole fracas has proved quite a tipping point for community frustration over the failure of universities to protect free speech. The federal government has now appointed former High Court chief justice Robert French to conduct a review of policies to uphold free expression at our universities. I was fascinated to read in the SMH recently that this review seems to have derailed a planned taskforce aimed at bullying universities into doing more about sexual assault and harassment on campuses. “We were so close,” wailed the SMH headline which blamed me for the set-back in the feminists’ plans.
So, my little campus tour is hitting some home goals, exposing the free speech issue and hopefully giving the current government some backbone to stand up against feminist bullying. We’re currently running a campaign to write to Education Minister Tehan so that he hears not just from the activists promoting the fake rape crisis but from ordinary folk encouraging the government to stand firm. But Tanya Plibersek has now threatened to withdraw funding from universities who fail to take further measures to address sexual violence on campus – showing the Labor Party is firmly set on following the disastrous Obama path.
My little campus tour is hitting some home goals, exposing the free speech issue and hopefully giving the current government some backbone to stand up against feminist bullying.
I shudder at the risk to our male students if the Coalition loses power. The other development from the Sydney University protest is the university now faces questions from TEQSA, the Tertiary Education and Standards Agency, which regulates our higher education sector. This followed a wonderful performance in Senate Estimates by Senator Amanda Stoker grilling the bureaucrats about the protest against me. During Stoker’s performance, Labor Senator Louise Pratt made snide comments and then, when she had the floor, slagged off at me, talking about people hiring rooms on campus to promote “academically spurious” theories and equating me to a tobacco company promoting the health benefits of tobacco. She then launched into a long series of questions about why the universities aren’t doing more about the rape crisis. She is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Universities and Equity.
This is modern feminism in action. Led by extremists who are prepared to go to any length to achieve their goals – which are all about tilting rules, laws and regulations to favour women at the expense of men.
This is modern feminism in action. Led by extremists who are prepared to go to any length to achieve their goals.
Last year I found myself at the cricket surrounded by men in pink. It was the McGrath test and everywhere you looked the largely male audience was decked out in pink shirts, jackets and silly hats. Of course, it was a great display of men’s natural chivalry and kindness, but I was furious. I spent the whole day recording interviews for a YouTube tube video asking men in pink why men’s lives don’t matter.
I spent the whole day recording interviews for a YouTube tube video asking men in pink why men’s lives don’t matter.
Fifty-seven per cent of cancer deaths are male. The risk of dying from cancer before the age of 85 is 1 in 4 for males and 1 in 6 for females, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Why then don’t we see men dressed in blue, raising money to prolong the lives of their fathers, brothers, friends?
Two men I talked to admitted it was proof women’s lives matter more than men. And was that fair? “That’s the way it is,” he said. He and his mate boasted they were allowed by their wives to go away once a year to spend a week at the cricket – so there’s no way these two were complaining.
My concern wasn’t just losing more men to cancer than women – I realise it’s usually older men who are dying compared to some very much younger women. My real beef was that I’ve spent decades lobbying for more help for men dealing with the devastating consequences on their sex lives of prostate cancer treatments. It is just appalling how few men receive proper advice on the penile rehabilitation needed to have any hope of enjoying normal sexual functioning. It just didn’t make sense for all these men in pink to raise money for more breast cancer nurses when at that time there were hundreds working across the country compared to 28 prostate cancer nurses.
That’s why some years ago, a rather embarrassed group of journalists at our National Press Club found themselves listening to me talking about why a breast shouldn’t be worth more than a penis, as I explained the inequities of funding for cancer recovery.
I’ve learnt that it is not just talk of men’s nether regions that makes these audiences squirm. It’s talk about men’s issues, men’s rights. We live in a society which frowns on any discussion of men or boys missing out. Just look at what happened to Cassie Jaye’s documentary, The Red Pill, which I talked about last time I spoke at the Sydney Institute.
We live in a society which frowns on any discussion of men or boys missing out.
In November 2016, this controversial movie was due to have its first screening in Melbourne when feminist protestors persuaded the cinema to pull out. The protestors hadn’t even seen the film, they simply believed social media stories alleging it promoted violence against women. In fact, Cassie Jaye was a young feminist who originally planned to make a movie attacking the Men’s Rights movement but after listening to what these men had to say, she ended up focussing on how feminists silence debate on men’s issues. And what happened? For months feminists in Australia strenuously tried to ban the movie. It was the ultimate irony.
For months feminists in Australia strenuously tried to ban the movie. It was the ultimate irony.
But it didn’t surprise me. I’ve been writing about the issues raised in The Red Pill for over thirty years. As I said, I started out a feminist, wanting to help women. But when I started working as one of Australia’s first sex therapist, speaking out in the media, men started to talk to me about issues in their lives and I was shocked to discover so many areas where men and boys are not getting a fair deal.
Over the years I started to write more and more about men’s issues, picking up on a groundswell of concern about unfair treatment of men and boys – not just from men but from women. Mothers of sons doing badly in schools where the curriculum is now firmly playing to girl’s strengths. Daughters and friends of men who have committed suicide, or men who’d found themselves turfed out of their homes after false accusations of violence. Women sick of hearing about women’s issues, women’s problems when discussion of men’s issues is never on the public agenda.
I’m now making YouTube videos about all this. There’s now a whole new conversation going on YouTube led by people like Jordan Peterson and Karen Straughan – who spoke to the Sydney Institute last year – about issues the mainstream media chooses to ignore.
I’ve just pulled together a collection of my writings over the last few decades about men’s issues – I’m calling it #MenToo. That will really get up the nose of the feminists, won’t it?
Yet #MeToo is the perfect example of why I am no longer a feminist. This started out addressing an important issue – focussing on the Harvey Weinstein accusations, a powerful man misusing his power to take advantage of women. But it then morphed into unproven accusations being used to destroy men’s careers. I’m finding most people, men and women, are appalled at what is happening. One of the most startling examples was a Canadian MP who said she was traumatised for six months after having her photo taken between two male MPs and one of them quipped that this was “not the sort of threesome I had in mind.” Or American comedian Aziz Ansari who was accused of sexual assault because he was bad at going down on a woman.
What worries me is that puritanical women, women with a very distorted ideas about sex are now determining what is appropriate behaviour between men and women. The nineteenth century suffragettes had a slogan – “votes for women, chastity for men.” There’s always been a sector of the feminist movement keen on reining in male sexuality. Since the 1960s we’ve seen wave after wave of feminist attacks on any display of lusty male sexual drive starting with protests against bikinis in Miss America contests, or naked women in Playboy magazines, or calendars stuck on men’s lockers in factories. Now we see young women being forced out of their jobs as grid girls in Grand Prix races. Every week there’s another feminist protest about women as sex objects for men – which often result in women losing their jobs.
The nineteenth century suffragettes had a slogan – “votes for women, chastity for men.” There’s always been a sector of the feminist movement keen on reining in male sexuality.
The campaign to curtail male sexuality finds a very receptive audience in a society where there’s growing numbers of women with low sex drives. There’s international research plotting a growing desire gap between men and women – a topic I have written about for many years. And then there’s the new generation of young women, including graduates from gender studies courses, raised by a culture which paints a sexual joke as an attack on women, which teaches women that a lusty gaze is sexual violence, which manufactures a fake campus rape crisis. The resulting fragile, wilting wallflowers are eager to claim victimhood and tell tales of scary encounters with the dangerous sexual predator they believe lurks in every man.
“Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist,” said Camille Paglia. But that’s just what we have done.
Young women are now endlessly being told they can dress how they like, wear any sort of slutty or revealing gear and woe betide any man caught looking – particularly if he is not in her target audience, if he is too old or too ugly. The classic example was Princess Mary in Denmark who was wearing a plunging neckline at an official dinner. She noticed an elderly man sitting next to her peering down her cleavage and quickly adjusted her neckline giving him a disapproving look. This was all caught on video and the clip went around the world, shaming him as a dirty old man. I think that is outrageous. The politics of cleavage is actually all about women flaunting their sexual power to tease and torment men – but no one is allowed to talk about that.
The politics of cleavage is actually all about women flaunting their sexual power to tease and torment men – but no one is allowed to talk about that.
Whenever men get into trouble from feminists there are powerful men eager to join the witch-hunt. Male editors publish unproven #MeToo allegations, men in power endlessly choose to virtue signal to feminists and sell out other men – Malcolm Turnbull being the classic example. Some of that is about eliminating the competition, some about the long cultural, biological urge in men to protect women. There’s also the issue that powerful men don’t want to associate themselves with losers. The classic example is hostility from men to male victims of domestic violence – such as police telling these men to man up, to stand up for themselves when they know full well that could lead to terrible trouble for the man in question.
The classic example is hostility from men to male victims of domestic violence – such as police telling these men to man up, to stand up for themselves when they know full well that could lead to terrible trouble for the man in question.
Interestingly I’m now hearing from police across the country who are fed up with the way this issue is being distorted. Members of the police force go into people’s homes and see violent women as well as men. They know that most family violence is two-way, involving female perpetrators as well as male – which is exactly what is revealed by over 40 years of international research but ferociously denied by the feminist-controlled domestic violence industry. Last year a Brisbane police station had a White Ribbon day, where police were filmed making pledges to stand up against violence against women. Some of the police refused to do this and made pledges to stand up against Violence against Everybody. Their pledges were filmed but never shown.
I hear all the time from ordinary people concerned about unfair treatment of men. Last week I met a mother whose graduate son has just found himself a job. But she was alarmed at his reports of the small number of males who made it through the various rounds of job interviews, while less qualified women sailed through. There’s a leading advocate for men in Canada, Janice Fiamengo who is professor of English at Ottawa University. She started making YouTube videos about sexism against men after being on selection panels at her university and watching systematic discrimination against male candidates.
My favourite story about this was last year’s Canberra public service study of blind recruiting, where gender was stripped from all job applications. The assumption was this would help women overcome discrimination, but the opposite proved to be true. Blind recruiting was found to advantage men because there’s already a strong bias in favour of women in our feminized society. Naturally the public servants were then advised that blind recruiting had to go.
Last year’s Canberra public service study of blind recruiting, where gender was stripped from all job applications. The assumption was this would help women overcome discrimination, but the opposite proved to be true.
But there are signs everywhere that people have had enough. Anti-male grandstanding by men in power is increasingly being called out. Last year I made a video about the push to allow women to join Men’s Sheds. The Men’s Sheds Movement was all about providing men with a place to get away, enjoy male company and provide support for one another – that’s really important with older men who are at the highest risk of suicide. My video revealed that the chairman of the Men’s Sheds Association, who had a background in promoting equity in the workplace, didn’t believe there was anything special about male culture and was all for having women in sheds. Boy, did he feel the heat when my video was published.
There’s a growing realisation that feminism has become a divisive force in our society, creating division between men and women and unfairly targeting men and boys. We’re seeing the start of a fight-back. Lifeline recently cancelled a domestic violence seminar after 15,000 signed a petition protesting the involvement of man-hating feminist Clementine Ford who tweets regularly about killing men.
When will our political parties will realise they do themselves no favours aligning themselves with feminist male-bashing policies? Somehow these politicians fail to notice it was white men, the deplorables, who put Trump into power – with a huge number of women supporting them. The move is on for our deplorables to flex their muscles too.
Somehow these politicians fail to notice it was white men, the deplorables, who put Trump into power – with a huge number of women supporting them.
The feminists have done a brilliant job controlling the public agenda and shutting down proper debate on any number of issues. But they wouldn’t succeed in all of this if we stood up to them. This small, minority group only get away with it because they’ve succeeded in silencing the sensible majority. It’s time to take them on.