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What is required of a woman if she wants a seat at the powerful men’s table? That she smile.

2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame yesterday met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and she did not smile at him.

In fact, Ms Tame used powerful body language and a steely side-eye to convey her disdain and contempt for the man.

Watching this act of subversion from Ms Tame was liberating. Like many other women, I recall, with equal parts rage and sorrow, the times in my life I have smiled when my true feeling was fury, or hurt, or shock or despair, or even just excruciating boredom with the men. To smile in such circumstances always cost me because it was a denial of my truth, and my authenticity. Nobody can deny their truth and authenticity without paying a price, and this particular price is extracted from girls and women from the moment we are born, and does not cease until the day we die.

Predictably, Ms Tame’s stance aroused the self-righteous ire of the civility police, notably academic and Murdoch hack Peter van Onselen, best known for using the intimate writings of the deceased alleged victim of his best friend, alleged rapist Christian Porter, in a most uncivil attempt to invalidate allegations of anal rape by the former federal Attorney-General. This gives you some indication of the man’s ethics.

Pete van Obsolete rushed to produce a thundering column in The Australian ($) decrying Ms Tame’s refusal to play the game a woman is expected to play when encountering the Prime Minister, or just about any man, to be honest. Juvenile, lacking in manners, childish, attention seeking, brazen, are just some of the adjectives Pearl Clutcher Pete used to condemn Ms Tame. He then went on to state in an interview later that evening that if Ms Tame couldn’t smile she shouldn’t have gone, and there we have it, in a nutshell.

What is required of a woman if she wants a seat at the powerful men’s table? That she smile.

This knowledge comes as no surprise to most women. What is surprising is that a man actually says it out loud. Thanks, Petey. You’ve confirmed what we’ve always known and now we can quote you.

Certain men require that women perform their ideal of femininity, an ideal that has at its centre a compliant woman. If we smile (though our hearts are aching), smile (even though they’re breaking) our smile reassures these men that whatever vile thing they’ve done to us is not really that bad because look, we are smiling!

A woman’s smile is an essential tool in the ongoing patriarchal project to minimise and deny the rampant misogyny that continues to control the lives of women and girls. A refusal to smile is a refusal to accept the status quo. It is a refusal to play the game. It is a refusal to enable and minimise our own mistreatment and the suffering it brings. That is why they want us to smile, and that is why they are so enraged when we don’t. The refusal to smile is the refusal to be complicit in our own oppression.

Ms Tame campaigned last year for the recognition of victims of sexual assault. Scott campaigned last year for the protection of alleged rapist Christian Porter whom he (erroneously) declared to be “an innocent man under the law” Scott has also been accused of covering up the alleged rape of Ms Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in 2019. I can’t think of one reason for Ms Tame to smile at Scott.

What Ms Tame demonstrated is that it is not necessary for women to play nice with powerful misogynists. With one gesture, she smashed through conventions that only serve to keep women subjugated. The outpouring of support for her stance only proves that we are more than ready for this moment.

Those men (and women) condemning Ms Tame for what they perceive as her incivility, her lack of manners, and her impoliteness need to get out of the way, because their opinions are obsolete. Women increasingly understand how demands that we smile (and I use this as a metonym throughout this piece) work to oppress us, and are indeed designed for that outcome.

I’m not smiling. I’m baring my teeth.

 

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30 comments

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  1. Kerri

    Grace simply refused to be a prop in his marketing game!
    As is her right.
    She has the right to smile, when there is something worth smiling about.
    Like her selfie with Dylan Alcott.

  2. GL

    Neo-Victorians like Scummo and the rest of his coterie simply can’t stomach the idea of a woman who won’t put up with their macho, smug, superior bullshit. It scares them.

  3. John Hanna

    Good for her, the man is a prick.

  4. Stephen

    Love that Ms Tame won’t “fake it” for anyone.

  5. corvusboreus

    In Grace’s eyesight.

    An over-empowered male person with a rictus gladhand who had:

    *Favouringly sponsored his moral mentor & hymn-buddy Brian from hill$ong, a fleecing shepherd who is currently on trial for helping conceal the rape of children.

    *Defended the positional tenability of ministers/members/staff accused of serious sexual misconduct/crime. (Including in the case of Grace’s friend Brittany)

    *Supported the awarding of an orderal medal to BArndt, the trash-talking sex-shrink who used her media platform to conduct a more-than-sympathetic invite-interview of the gloating man who exploited power imbalance to sexually abuse Grace, featuring Bettina broadly chiding girl-children for luring adult men into comitting criminal sex offenses .

    ‘Scomo’, Mr Pretentious Humility, looming before her offering condescendingly marketed wordpats from behind a leery smirk, with greasy palm poised to pounce and grasp.

    Yeah, probably some sincerity behind the hostility in Grace’s glare.

    I am a male never sexually abused, and I’d spit on my hand if confronted with that.

  6. Michael Taylor

    I doubt very much that I would smile in the company of Scott Morrison. I can’t raise a smile when I see him or hear him on the TV. I don’t smile when I read about him, hear about him, or think about him.

    I’m not smiling now.

  7. corvusboreus

    MT,
    As I spill-chucked my own last missive, i realised i had done the presumptive use of first name thing.

    Not Mssrs Tame and Higgins, but Grace & Brittney.

    Can be considered situationally disrespectful until familiarity relaxes conventions.

    Bad habit I picked up from Scott the ‘hardsale handshaker’ (call me ‘scomo’).

  8. Seda

    What a send-off from journo PvO and all the other ‘wokes’ who later piled on.
    I doubt if GT will have much to do with the media from this day forward.
    She can do good work without their hinderances and guilt-trips.

  9. Pagnol

    In fact, Ms Tame used powerful body language and a steely side-eye to convey her disdain and contempt for the man.
    – Good on her. I would have loved the chance to do the same as I am sure would many, many others.

  10. Kathryn

    WAY TO GO, GRACE TAME – GOOD FOR YOU!

    I hope Grace Tame counted her fingers after she shook hands with this disreputable, repulsive, smirking, pathological LIAR and totally corrupt political psychopath! Morrison is the worst, most shameful, internationally condemned and arrogant, non-achieving political parasite since the last ones the LNP vomited up: Tony Abbott and John Howard. The ONLY reliable thing about the unconscionably corrupt sociopaths in the LNP is that they will continue to lie, lie and lie and continue to THRIVE on division, conflict, racism, misogyny, homophobia, hate, fear and WAR!

    Morrison’s delusion and megalomania knows no bounds. When Grace Tame – who became Australia of the Year in 2021 for her work to alleviate the suffering of victims of sexual assault – clearly displayed her justifiable contempt for this misogynistic grub who did NOTHING to curtail the skirt-lifting misogyny by the hard-lined predators in his party, naturally Tame is going to treat the revolting Morrison with the contempt he richly deserves!

    When Tame gave him the cold shoulder, Morrison had the stratospheric HUBRIS and arrogance to put it down to the ridiculous assumption that she was dazzled and intimidated at meeting him by saying: “It’s not every day one gets to meet the PM of Australia, eh?” – what staggering arrogance by an insignificant, non-achieving, blood-sucking political parasite who was was totally ignored, avoided and ostracised at the G20 Summit in Rome recently! Morrison brings NOTHING to our nation except for destruction, bible-thumping hypocrisy and cringe-worthy embarrassment on the world stage!

  11. corvusboreus

    GL,
    In terms of percentage toxicity, that’s a smallish-serve of racist-standard shandy-strength poison-grub in terms of the Oxleymoronic chip-shop menu.

    Remember when that contaminant-compromised crackety-plastic smega-crusty shit-sauce dispenser called for police to cattle-prod juvenile ‘extinction rebellion’ protesters?

  12. Keitha Granville

    Grace was demonstrating what we all think. Those of us with any kind of brain anyway.

  13. pierre wilkinson

    Funny how she can say what everyone else is thinking, without saying anything.

  14. GL

    Is it me or does that little boy look at Scummo as if he was a creepy man who crawled out of a sewer?

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/

  15. corvusboreus

    Seda (4:05 pm),
    Please help me to linguistically clarify by defining “wokes”.

  16. Ill fares the land

    I see both sides of this, but in the end come down on Grace Tame’s side. Yes, it is appropriate to show more respect to a PM. But when that PM is an exemplar of male ignorance and mediocrity like Bargearse-McSmirky, who has shown nothing but contempt and disrespect for women in 2021, he isn’t deserving of ANY respect from a woman, ‘though I am surprised how many women still think him to have done a great job as PM and are happy to overlook his appalling behaviour on matters such as the Brittany Higgin’s “debacle” – I am surprised at how many women still think that Higgins played a big role in what happened to her and hence was complicit in her own fate. This is an excuse for a PM, who has failed in every professional role he has held and somehow conspired to fail upwards, all the while talking his way into jobs he is incapable of doing. Moreover, his perpetual electioneering and his nature compel him to treat every problem as a PR issue that can be managed with distractions, vacuous announcements and faked empathy. His nauseating comments typified by “..I spoke to Jen..”, “…protests being met with bullets…” and his despicable attempt to shame Samantha Maiden (not mentioned, but she was his target) with his rant on “harassment in a toilet” (that never happened) show his innate misogyny, his complete lack of empathy and innate belligerence. In my view, when Bargearse mentions his family, it is an acting tool to make him sound emotional, when the underlying reality is he just fails to connect on an emotional level. Grace Tame has called out Bargearse regularly and she knows very well that Bargearse talks about “solutions” when his words, deeds and inaction show he is part of the problem, as is Van Onselen.I suspect even Bargarse’s supposedly “deep” faith is superficial, albeit I’m sure he thinks he actually “feels stuff”. And let’s also not forget how he routinely turns his back on Labor speakers and checks his phone when they speak in the Parliament. I don’t see Van Onselen getting outraged by that – even when the Labor speaker is a woman (there is a telling shot of him with his back turned on Plibersek). This really smacks of one standard for a man; a totally different and harsher standard for a woman.

  17. GL

    cb,

    I think wokes is what Paween does in the morning when someone asks her what her morning routine is, “I wokes ups then gets ups…”

  18. Max Gross

    Ms Tame is a hero. Mr Morrison is a zero.

  19. margcal

    When the Prime Minister shows no respect for the position of Prime Minister, surely it is impossible to show respect to him.

  20. corvusboreus

    GL,
    I was under the impression thar ‘woke’ meant ‘ethically informed and politically engaged in support of social justice’.
    Not exactly a trait Peter Van Onselen displays to excess, especially in his commentary regarding Ms Tame. .

  21. New England Cocky

    I stand with Grace Tame.

    @ Michael Taylor: Consider the unfortunate situation of being confronted in the local street by a gushing Beetrooter, complete with plastic political smile, and the extreme pleasure derived from telling him to his face the he ”Was not good enough to represent the best interests of New England”.

  22. corvusboreus

    NEC,
    Your communicative messagings to your local representative member are entirely up to you.

    Were I to be approached by the deputy PM, I would tell him that he is a “gropey drunk nestfouler” then spit on my hand before proffering.

  23. John OCallaghan

    I never witnessed the incident involving Ms Tame and our misogynist / psycho PM or his equally obnoxious arrogant scribe scratcher PVO……as i refuse to watch any mainstream TV news or newspaper propaganda outlets masquerading as legitimate information. …………………………………………….. I get my information from honest trusted brokers and not from corporate lackeys/boot lickers including the Guardian/ABC /SBS who sold us all down the river for thirty pieces of Yankee /NATO war mongering pieces of silver………. But i do stand with Ms Tame for showing remarkable courage along with Ms Higgins and all women who have to interact and deal with liars/psychos and misogynists like Morrison and filthy depraved monsters like the vile evil Porter who will surely spend eternity exprriencing the unimaginable pain and suffering he “allegedly” caused his victim!

  24. Henry Rodrigues

    The best and probably only response to a narcissistic fuckwit is contempt and Grace gave to him in bucket loads with a lot of grace.

    As for that other fuckwit Onselen who owes allegiance to maggoty Murdoch, he’ll never achieve greatness no matter how much be licks the boots of the establishment. Ch 10 and its front line women presenters should tell him so.

  25. Bruce

    Grace Tame earns my earnest respect in serving the PM the public drubbing he deserves.
    However the same goes for the ‘forgotten’ people of Cobargo who lost their homes in the fires of 2020 and who adamantly refused to shake Morrison’s hand and abused him vocally when he sought favourable photo ops to prop his miserable public image (Hawaiian Holidays), despite his support for the disasterous reductions rural fire services funding.
    And kudos too for the NRL sports scientist who refused to allow Morrison share the glory her team’s victory after failing to attend womens’ justice marches that month.
    Morrison’s “respect” for women, and the rest of us, is limited and controlled by his selfish political commitments and slavish religious devotion to the bronze age family values demanded in his favourite holy book.

  26. paul walter

    And a mini-skirt.

    On the subject of genuinely crass, now long before Van Onselen stops making a jerk of his preppie self.

    MUST I despise you FOREVER?!.

  27. Cool Pete

    There is a ridiculous doctor who claims that men and women should not be platonic friends and that women shouldn’t have to act or behave like men in order to be heard. To that, I say, that doctor’s “feminist support” is little more than misogyny of a different variety. Women should not have to be demure when needing to make a point or be heard. And let us not forget that one of the most despicable women in Australia, Michaelia Cash, claims that the Minister for Women does not have to be a feminist, yet has no hesitation in screeching like a banshee in the senate! Saying that the Minister for Women doesn’t have to be a feminist is akin to saying that a Math Teacher does not need to understand geometry!
    It’s one thing to respect the Office of Prime Minister, but quite another to respect the holder of that office and quite another for the holder of that office to respect the office they hold!
    I say that Grace Tame is not just the Australian of the Year, but the Australian of the Decade!

  28. leefe

    Ms Tame showed the current occupier of the Lodge considerably more respect than he has earnt. After all, she didn’t spit in his face or knee him in the crotch, either – or both – of which would have been my response.

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