With public universities spending tax dollars promoting and screening The Hunting Ground it’s only fitting that the ABC is spruiking the “documentary” in a piece titled “The Hunting Ground: Is there a rape culture on our campuses?”
A film being screened at universities and colleges across Australia looks at sexual assault on American campuses.
Called The Hunting Ground, it paints a picture of American universities as dangerous places where college sports stars rule, frat houses fuel a misogynistic culture, and one in five women are sexually assaulted.
This figure is disputed (the Department of Justice says it’s far less) and the film itself has been accused of being agenda-driven propaganda, but despite this it’s been shown at the White House and shaped public debate about sexism on campus.
Despite universities being populated by Australia’s best and brightest, “general misogyny on campus” is apparently a huge problem. The Hunting Ground is touted as a valuable means of generating discussion about men’s mistreatment of women.
There is a very real possibility, however, that the biased and inaccurate The Hunting Ground is, along with the media incessantly hammering the violence against women “national crisis” message, creating a self-fulfilling prophesy whereby women expect men to behave badly and men oblige.
Madman Entertainment, the film’s distributor, elevates the stature of The Hunting Ground by mentioning the Australian Human Rights Commission and the UNSW Australian Human Rights Centre in promotional material so I emailed both straightforward enquires.
The communications unit at the AHRC didn’t respond so I emailed Sarah Bamford directly:
This is a followup to an unanswered email sent to the Communications Unit on 11 March 2016. Please internally forward my queries to the appropriate response person.
Madman Entertainment, in promotional materials for The Hunting Ground, mentions the Australian Human Rights Commission’s involvement in The Hunting Ground Project. This implies AHRC endorses the film as an accurate “exposé of sexual assault on American university campuses”, these alleged crimes occurring in a purely hypothetical “rape culture”.
Does the AHRC accept the validity of the ill-defined term “rape culture” as used in the film’s promotional materials? If so, please define rape culture.
Is the AHRC satisfied the sex assault statistics cited in the film are accurate?
Is the AHRC satisfied the sex assault allegations in the film have been adequately vetted to ensure validity?
What is the total estimated cost of developing, administering and interpreting the mentioned survey?
What amount has The Hunting Ground Project contributed to the cost of the survey?
If The Hunting Ground Project is not covering the full cost of the survey where will additional funds come from?
Thank you for your enquiry.
The Australian Human Rights Commission is working with the University sector to implement a survey that will provide prevalence data in relation to sexual harassment and assault in Australian universities. The results will be publicly available later in 2016.
This survey forms one part of a larger outreach program developed by The Hunting Ground Project Australia, for more information on that project please see www.thehuntinggroundaustralia.com.au
The UNSW AHRC did not respond so I emailed director and The Hunting Ground promoter Andrea Durbach, who also failed to respond:
This is a followup to an unanswered email sent to UNSW AHRC on 10 March 2016. Please respond.
UNSW Australian Human Rights Centre is currently working in partnership with The Hunting Ground Australia Project.
Does UNSW AHRC accept the validity of the ill-defined term “rape culture” as used in the film’s promotional materials? If so, please define rape culture.
Is UNSW AHRC satisfied that sex assault statistics cited in the film are accurate?
Is UNSW AHRC satisfied that the sex assault allegations in the film have been adequately vetted to ensure accuracy?
The AHRC and UNSW AHRC refusing to support the veracity of The Hunting Ground speaks volumes about the film’s worth. Universities should not be spending tax dollars screening a biased and inaccurate indictment of men, and the ABC shouldn’t be helping Madman Entertainment make a buck.