Political flyers in support of conservative sex and gender commentator Bettina Arndt were distributed at St Paul’s College on Wednesday afternoon. The flyers claimed that the SRC has manufactured a non-existent “rape crisis” on campus.
The flyers, addressed to “male college students”, characterised the movement to end sexual assault on campus as an attack on men’s rights.
“It’s all about establishing a campus ‘believe-the-victim’ justice system where women’s [sic] word is gospel and men are rarely believed,” the flyers read.
They were placed under the dormitory door of each St Paul’s student. A spokesperson from the College noted that “the flyers were distributed by intruders who were trespassing on college land without permission.”
“We were shocked and pretty unhappy to see that,” one student told Honi. He said that the flyers were not well-received by Paul’s students, and have since been disposed of.
In a video posted to her own YouTube channel, Arndt herself can be seen handing out the flyers to students on Eastern Avenue. The video also appears to show footage of individuals slipping the flyers under college dormitory doors.
Arndt has been on a university tour since last August, travelling from campus to campus and speaking on what she refers to as the “so-called rape crisis”. Her central contention is that anti-sexual assault activists have exaggerated sexual harassment and assault statistics, effectively manufacturing a scare campaign, to the point where male students have been demonised and are at risk of being unfairly punished.
The flyers are Arndt’s official promotional material, displayed on her website, and were allegedly distributed by her team. The Wom*n’s Collective (WoCo) organised a protest when she spoke at USyd in September, with approximately 40 demonstrators opposing the event.
USyd’s SRC and the National Union of Students (NUS) are committed to opposing Arndt and her message. NUS passed a motion at their annual national conference (NatCon) in December to “provide campus women’s collectives and activists with support to counter-protest against Bettina Arndt, to ensure that these destructive theories are not continued without clear opposition.”
The flyers directly respond to this motion, arguing that this amounts to “paying activists to try to shut down discussion”.
“Bettina’s scare campaign to raise supporters can be seen as the PR stunt it is: Bettina relies on controversy and media to stay alive as the ‘E-grade’ political celebrity she is,” said Jazz Breen, co-convenor of the Wom*n’s Collective. “[She] relies on a base of supporters who identify as ‘Men’s Rights Activists’—a term used to describe those who will happily proclaim that ‘feminism is cancer,’” she said.
Arndt’s latest propaganda blitz has targeted a college attempting to move on from a history of sexism and sexual assault. The Warden of St Paul’s, Don Markwell, who was brought in last year to help reform the culture of the troubled institution, addressed the issue at dinner last night. A spokesperson for the College said that Markwell affirmed the college’s commitment to addressing sexual assault on campus.
“The College has, on very many occasions, said that it is utterly determined to be leaders in preventing and responding strongly to sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault,” the spokesperson told Honi. “One rape is one rape too many.”