Bettina Arndt says the SBS documentary “Is Australia Sexist?’’ is the just the usual ideological spin we have come to expec­t from public broadcasters. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Bettina Arndt says the SBS documentary “Is Australia Sexist?’’ is the just the usual ideological spin we have come to expec­t from public broadcasters. Picture: Jonathan Ng
“Sexism is rife in Australia.” That’s the headline for promotion of a forthcoming SBS documentary, Is Australia Sexist?, to be shown on December 4. The network promises a “wake-up call for Australia”.

Instead, it’s just the usual ideological spin we have come to expec­t from public broadcasters.

The teaser for the program reels out alarming statistics based on what it claims is the largest survey on the issue, showing that most young women have experienced gender inequity, many have been sexually harassed, many felt it was easier for men to find their dream jobs — all you would expect to hear from SBS, which invariably promotes the feminist narrative.

MORE: ‘Blatant spin’ — SBS accused of sifting data to show ‘sexist’ Australia

But what’s odd about this docu­mentary is that the independent Perth-based film company Joined Up Films, which did much of the filmmaking, intended to make a more balanced program about sexism. Indeed, they encouraged me to take part because the survey results showed quite a different picture from the male-bashing dogma SBS is promoting.

Darren Hutchinson, one of the producers, made the point that he wanted to include discussion of how a minority feminist group is affecting men’s rights issues: “The survey statistics support your views, which is why we’ve asked you to contribute to the doc. It’s not a token segment, it’s a profoun­d insight that require­s a credible voice to give it context.”

The statistics he quoted were revealing. Only 19 per cent of Aust­ralians identify as feminist. Almost half the population (45 per cent) feel feminism has gone too far. Most (76 per cent) feel men suffer from sexism, too.

These views hardly surprised me, so I agreed to take part and recruited Renee Gorman, the former University of Sydney stud­ent who stood up to feminist activists trying to stop the documentary The Red Pill being shown on campus. We were assured by the filmmakers that they needed us to represent the majority view their survey revealed: most people rejecting the feminist narrative and acknowledging sexism against men. But they warned us that SBS, which was funding it, would put its spin on the end product.

Well, that’s for sure, as SBS’s alarmist teaser reveals. We are promised shocking findings about our sexist country, showing how hard life is for women dealing with the wage gap and the constant threat of rape. We see little girls being taught that boys always get paid more; women afraid to walk down the street. The compere ends up in tears at the thought of her children facing such ordeals.

Gorman and I were greatly relieve­d to discover that our interviews weren’t included in this blatan­t propaganda exercise. We were aware how easy it would have been for our long interviews to be edited to misrepresent us. What’s the bet that none of the survey results that challenge the SBS narrative are mentioned?

Having been supplied with the survey results showing only small numbers of Australians believe in the feminist viewpoint, why would SBS alienate the audience with this biased presentation? The survey showed the number of feminists in the older demographic likelier to be watching SBS is even lower — 15 per cent for people older than 55.

SBS’s stated values of being “fair, clear and transparent” are hardly demonstrated by suppressing key results of a commissioned survey, particularly in relation to sexism against men. Every day I receive emails from people nation­wide shocked at the treatment of men in their lives, a major reason feminism is losing its appea­l. Many are stunned to see laws, rules and regu­lations so favouring women at men’s expense. The excesses of the #MeToo campaign are examples of blatant disregard for fair treatment.

But there are many others. There’s good reason six out of the eight people who kill themselves in Australia each day are men. The injustices faced by men and boys in our society are well known in the community but rarely make it on to the public agenda: rampant false domestic violence accusations, fathers struggling to see children after divorce, paternity fraud, unequal health funding, education pitched to favour girls, the constant demonisa­tion of male sexuality.

The push to get universities involved in adjudicating rape cases is another case in point. How scandalous that universities risk the reputations of their campuses as safe places for young women, to kowtow to a small group of activists promoting the fake rape crisis to bully universities into getting into the criminal justice business. The feminist grip on our institutions can’t be overstated.

The SBS sexism documentary is further proof that key players in these organisations are intent on stirring up trouble between men and women, in the face of evidence that most want a ceasefire.

Bettina Arndt’s book #MenToo will be published on December 1 (Wilkinson Publishing).