The campaign to cancel Bettina Arndt

After a long, very successful career, in early 2020 Bettina Arndt was subjected to a vicious media pile-on, following the award of an honours award from the government. This was an orchestrated attack, led by a prominent feminist activist who had long been working to damage Bettina’s reputation. 

This activist, Nina Funnell, had founded an organisation responsible for the establishment of Australia’s campus kangaroo courts for adjudicating sexual assaults. Bettina had long been speaking out about the unfair treatment of accused men in these courts. 

The honours award gave Funnell the opportunity to circulate maliciously edited material designed to discredit Bettina and recruit high profile people to attack her. After a huge furore Bettina ultimately received her award but Funnell’s campaign succeeded in having her deplatformed, effectively destroying her career in mainstream media. 

The internet is now full of untrue, damaging material about her. Her Wikipedia page is captured, with editors refusing to allow correction of misleading information about her.    

The background

For the past eight years Bettina has been writing articles and speaking out about the manufactured “campus rape crisis” being promoted by feminist activists. The goal of this campaign was to bully our universities into setting up regulations to adjudicate rape on campus, using lower standards of proof and removing due process rights of the accused, to ensure more convictions in date rape cases. 

This campaign had its origins in America where Joe Biden was responsible for requiring all publicly funded universities to set up tribunals to do just that – leading to kangaroo courts responsible for ruining the lives of young men on campuses across the country. 

Bettina’s speaking tour

In 2018 Bettina started touring Australian university campuses, speaking out about this push for kangaroo courts at our universities. The feminist activists were determined to stop her speaking – the riot squad was called in to protect her audience at Sydney University, which led to Education Minister Dan Tehan setting up the French Inquiry into free speech on campus.   

Here’s an article in Quillette which summarises these events. And more background here. 

Attacks on Bettina by End Rape on Campus activist 

Behind the scenes, feminist activists were working hard to damage Bettina’s reputation, clearly nervous that she might succeed in undermining their achievement in pushing the universities to adjudicate sexual assault on campus.

In particular, End Rape on Campus spokesperson, Nina Funnell published a series of damaging articles which selectively quoted from Bettina’s videos and articles, seeking to misrepresent her views. For instance, Funnell linked the rape and murder of La Trobe student Aya Maarsarwe to Bettina’s tour.   

Funnell also spent two years trying to prove Bettina had misrepresented her psychology qualifications, using social media to recruit people to make complaints about her. Three times the regulating body has decided there is no cause for action against Bettina. 

Funnell maliciously edited and circulated a video Bettina had made with a Tasmanian teacher, Nicolaas Bester, who had been imprisoned for having sex with a student, Grace Tame. Bettina made that video after Bester was released from prison and a local judge spoke out condemning the vigilante campaign being conducted by local feminists trying to stop him completing a PhD at the University of Hobart – a campaign prompted by End Rape on Campus. Bettina made it very clear in that interview that she condemned Bester’s behaviour and got him to agree he deserved to be sent to prison. 

See evidence on Funnell’s campaign against Bettina, compiled for the Press Council after complaints were made about Funnell’s unethical journalism. 

Funnell orchestrates campaign to rescind Bettina’s Honour

Bettina received an honours award on Australia Day 2020, acknowledging her work advocating for men. Funnell immediately starting circulating her damaging material to discredit Bettina, recruiting high profile people to come on board. 

One of the people demanding the award be rescinded was Grace Tame, Bester’s victim. Funnell had been responsible for organising a successful campaign to allow Tame to speak publicly as a sex victim (removing a law introduced by feminists some 40 years earlier to protect the identity of sex victims). 

When that law was changed, Tame had used her new freedom to present her own version of what happened with Bester. The original light sentence given to Bester reflected the sentencing judge’s conclusion that Tame had not expressed reluctance to participate in the relationship which led them to have sex 20-30 times. And indeed “there were times she conveyed an interest in you,” said the judge. 

When Tame was allowed to speak out, she joined Funnell in presenting misinformation about Bettina’s video with Bester, circulating Funnell’s heavily edited version of that interview. The ABC led their weekend news with a story of Tame condemning Bettina’s honours award, over a month after the media pile-on had started.  

In January Grace Tame was named Australian of the Year.  She has used this platform to launch numerous attacks on Bettina Arndt, including criticism of the newly appointed Assistant Minister for Women, Amanda Stoker, for supporting Bettina’s campus tour.   

Funnell is clearly worked closely with Tame, using her to inflict more damage on Bettina. 

The success of the feminist cancellation campaign 

The honours committee secretariat saw the campaign against Bettina as a defining cultural  moment, as they received unparalleled amounts of correspondence both denouncing and supporting Bettina. But the official rules determined she should receive the award, which happened at the end of 2020, because there was no justification for removing it for expressing views a minority find objectionable. 

However, Bettina experienced a ferocious media pile-on, which included attacks from almost all sectors of mainstream media, two Attorneys General, and most of the Australian Senate which voted for a motion which blatantly misrepresented a key element of a comment she had made about the Hannah Clarke murder. In expressing support for a police spokesperson, she quoted his words. The Senate wrongly claimed those words were her own. 

Cancelled but not finished

Bettina is almost totally deplatformed in Australian mainstream media. She has a growing following for her blogs on She also established a new group, Mothers of Sons, where mothers speak out about the injustices being experienced by their sons. 

She remains heavily involved in the campus kangaroo court issue, working with her group of lawyers to help male students who contact her after being falsely accused.