Bettina Arndt has confronted protesting socialist students as she starts her controversial university tour about campus rape.
The sex therapist and columnist gave her first of a series of lectures on why she believes there is not a “rape crisis” at Australian universities at La Trobe University today, but not everyone wanted to listened.
All through Ms Arndt’s lecture, protesters aligned with the Victorian Socialists banged on the doors of the Eastern Lecture Theatre and chanted “Bettina Arndt, go to hell. Go take Milo (Yianipoulos) there as well.”
But before she spoke, the sex therapist approached the students at their uni square stand and tried to talk to them. The socialist students just kept chanting.
“Why don’t they come and listen to me speak? And engage in a conversation around this issue,” she said, “What are they afraid of?”
The lecture comes a week after La Trobe University reversed their ban on the student Liberal Club inviting Ms Arndt to speak on campus.
Ms Arndt’s lectures use cases of US rape allegations, and data from both the NSW bureau of Crime Statistics and the Australian Human Rights Commission, to make the case that there is not a growing prevalence of rape and sexual assault against female university students.
The sex therapist has said she wants to tackle the unfair treatment of male students who are falsely accused of sex crimes on campus. But her critics accuse her of victim blaming.
Ms Arndt said she spoke to the socialist speakers, despite their aggressiveness, because she wanted to invite them to the lecture.
“I went over there to ask them to come and listen and ask me questions,” she said, “they proceeded to scream in my ear from a foot away.”
Ms Arndt faced sceptical audience members inside too.
But she and her audience of supporters and critics battled on while the protesters banged on the doors and chanting “F*ck off, f*ck off, Bettina,” to the tune of Queen’s We Will Rock You, and “When women’s rights are under attack, what do we do? We fight back.”
Socialist student leader Elliot Downes said before the protest they did not want to shut Ms Arndt down.
“I think she represents a real far-right kind of sexism … which drags society back to the 1950s,” they said.
“We’re not here to shut her down. We’re here to show there are opposition to those views.”
But the socialist student added they had no interest in taking on Ms Arndt in debate.
“I think our protest is the dialogue I want with her. I think she has enough capacity to share her ideas,” they said.
The university had originally let Ms Arndt speak if the Liberal Club paid for costs.
But both Ms Arndt and Liberal Club president James Plozzo told The Australian yesterday that the university will now pay for security.