‘This is vile’: Fury at Australia Day honour

 

Australians have reacted with fury to controversial commentator and men's rights activist Bettina Arndt being recognised in this year's Australia Day awards.

Ms Arndt was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) - Australia's third-highest civic honour - for striving to achieve "gender equity through advocacy for men".

The journalist and sex therapist was criticised in 2018 when she interviewed convicted sex offender Nicolaas Bester and has been outspoken against what she believes is a "fake rape crisis" at Australian universities.

"This is vile," writer Van Badham tweeted.

"Bettina Arndt platformed a paedophile, creating space for a convicted criminal who groomed & raped a child to brag about his crimes, while she herself blamed children for 'sexual provocation'. If she is what's 'honoured' as an Australian, it is no honour AT ALL."

"Giving Bettina Arndt this award is like giving Pauline Hanson one for promoting racial equity & George Pell one for child safety," journalist Sherele Moody wrote.

"Arndt's work is not about gender equity. It's misogyny-driven hate designed to keep women barefoot, pregnant and tied to the kitchen sink."

Writer and speaker Georgie Dent said she couldn't "help but wish this was all a sick joke".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ms Arndt, 70, who says she's been writing about men's issues for 30 years, told news.com.au she was "delighted" to have her career recognised in this way and predicted it would "cause a stir".

The Sydneysider said she's also "very happy" about the wording used in the citation for her honour.

It states that she has been appointed an AM "for significant service to the community as a social commentator, and to gender equity through advocacy for men."

"It absolutely captures what I'm doing," she said. "But I would imagine that would be controversial because the feminists claim that they're the only ones promoting gender equity through endlessly tilting laws, rules and regulation to favour women at the expense of men.

"I hope this award will encourage others to join me in campaigning for true gender equity - fair treatment for men and women."

Bettina Arndt said she predicts her Australia Day honour will cause a stir.
Bettina Arndt said she predicts her Australia Day honour will cause a stir.

Ms Arndt said she is currently campaigning to draw attention to the "illegal kangaroo courts" she claims universities are using to adjudicate rape, as well as male suicide and "gender-neutral" suicide prevention policy.

Domestic violence is another issue she has campaigned on.

"Malcolm Turnbull boasted of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on domestic violence programs which (were) all about demonising men," she said.

"They ignore the true complexity of domestic violence which include problems with mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse."

Meanwhile, she claims male victims of domestic violence receive "absolutely no funding".

Ms Arndt says she's been writing about men's issues for 30 years.

She said she started off as a feminist and campaigning for women's rights, but became "increasingly alarmed" by the movement.

"I felt in many areas, women had achieved equality," she said. "We had a lot to celebrate. But there are many who wanted to extend women's rights well beyond any notion of equality.

"It's now all about male bashing, trying to advantage women over men in so many areas. I had enough of that."

Throughout her career, Ms Arndt has courted controversy with her views and campaigns.

Here are a few of her most recent headline-grabbing incidents.

 

INTERVIEW WITH CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER

Ms Arndt stoked public outrage in 2018 over a sympathetic interview she conducted with convicted sex offender Nicolaas Bester.

In 2010, Bester groomed and repeatedly sexually assaulted a 15-year-old student while he was a maths teacher at the elite St Michael's Collegiate girls school in Hobart.

When the victim came forward to report the grooming and sexual abuse, Bester was arrested. Police also found 28 pieces of child pornography on his computer.

He was sentenced to two years and six months in prison but in 2015 Bester reoffended by making child exploitation material.

He also bragged that the sexual abuse was "awesome".

Nicolaas Bester bragged that the sexual abuse was ‘awesome’.
Nicolaas Bester bragged that the sexual abuse was ‘awesome’.

Ms Arndt, who laughed about these comments, said in the interview: "You did something else pretty stupid. I can imagine how easily this happens."

Soon after the interview, Ms Arndt responded to the public outcry saying: "I apologise to those I have offended by the relaxed tone of the interview, particularly in the segments of the interview shown by 60 Minutes which were carefully selected to damage my reputation.

"I find it difficult not to get along with people who are willing to have an honest conversation with me, even those who have made grave errors in their lives."

Ms Arndt had previously been criticised by sexual assault survivor advocates, after she published that an alleged rape committed against university student Freya Willis was merely "regret sex".

 

'FAKE RAPE TOUR'

The NSW Police riot squad was called in when Ms Arndt was scheduled to speak at the University of Sydney as part of her Fake Rape Crisis Campus Tour.

Her main claim was that rates of sexual harassment and assault on university campuses, highlighted by campaigns such as End Rape on Campus, were being artificially inflated by campus feminists to stoke anti-male sentiment.

However, she was greeted by about 40 students blocking access to her University of Sydney event.

University security stood by while people attempting to pass through to watch the talk were pushed and shoved before police came to break up the crowd.

Riot police were called to Bettina Arndt’s talk at the University of Sydney.
Riot police were called to Bettina Arndt’s talk at the University of Sydney.

 

The protest's organisers, the university's Wom*n's Collective, said the action that day was an attempt to "challenge Bettina's rhetoric".

"Bettina's 'Fake Rape Tour' across university campuses in Australia is a misinformed and harmful attempt to undo the work of generations of student activists and advocates in combating the issues of sexual violence on campus," two spokeswomen for the group told Honi Soit, the university's student magazine.

Ms Arndt faced similar issues when she was invited to give a talk in Melbourne's La Trobe University on the same tour.

La Trobe University initially denied its Liberal club to host the event, but then changed its mind on the condition that the club would foot the bill for any extra security.

The university then changed its mind, saying it would pay for the extra security itself.

 

BUSHFIRE COMMENTS

In November, Ms Arndt attracted the ire of hundreds of angry Twitter-users when she spoke of the role of men in the bushfire crisis.

"Our media is full of images of brave men fighting the ferocious fires," the commentator wrote. "As always, it's usually men who do the really dangerous, difficult work protecting everyone else. Give thanks for the good in men."

 

Commenters and left-wing website Junkee accused her of playing down the role of women in fighting the bushfires.

 

HOW ARE PEOPLE CHOSEN FOR THE HONOURS?

Given Ms Arndt predicts her award will cause a bit of a stir, it's worth explaining how the recipients are selected.

Her award, the Member of the Order of Australia, is appointed for service in a particular locality or field of activity, or to a particular group.

Anyone can nominate any Australian for this.

When a nomination is received by the Secretariat, it is registered and an acknowledgment is sent to the nominator.

Secretariat staff then conduct research and may contact referees suggested by the nominator and others sourced directly by the Secretariat.

The Governor-General David Hurley considers and approves those recommended for the honours. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/The Australian
The Governor-General David Hurley considers and approves those recommended for the honours. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/The Australian

Once research is completed, nominations are presented to the Council for consideration.

The Council then makes recommendations to the Governor-General, David Hurley, on appointments and awards at all levels.

Once the Governor-General has considered and approved those recommended, congratulatory letters are sent to successful recipients.

Awards and appointments in the Order of Australia are publicly announced on Australia Day.



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