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Why am I crying?

Even before Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame stood up to speak at the National Press Club today, I found myself shaking. Not in excitement at what these amazing young women might say, not in anticipation of any criticism or suggestions they might make, not because of any particular personal memory – my mind was blank, the feeling was visceral.

As Ms Higgins spoke, my breathing became more ragged. The tears that had been welling up in my eyes overflowed. Ms Tame took the floor and the tears kept coming accompanied by the occasional sob.

I wanted to listen to them but found I wasn’t actually paying attention to their words. I, along with the rest of the country, already knew the most intimate details of their trauma. I knew how both of these young women had been let down. I knew the attempts to silence them and to then use them as political pawns.

And I cried.

I cried because their experiences should never have happened – they should have been safe.

I cried for all the women and children who should have been safe.

I cried in anger and frustration at our failure to make them safe – to prevent the dehumanising harm that endemic violence causes.

I cried that power is wasted on those whose only aim is to stay in power by whatever means it takes.

But mostly…

I cried with pride.

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42 comments

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  1. Anne Byam

    A very moving response Kaye … I didn’t see the speeches, but can well imagine that they were very good and hopefully productive. I can see that your tears were a very true response to the event.

    If only we could somehow get it through some very very thick male heads that a huge uptick in safety for women and children – across the whole spectrum – is somehow heeded and acted upon.

    We can but hope.

  2. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Kaye. Yes.

    Now I’m going to hold my breath while I wait for someone to accuse them of ‘playing the victim card’. Shouldn’t take long.

  3. TwainandHume

    Very well put. One astute observation I saw about these two young women, “both were impressive speakers … but Grace Tame was fierce” … I applaud them both and hope that what they said was heard and harkened to by many beyond just “the choir”.

  4. Kaye Lee

    They complement each other. They have different focus, different approach, different experience, knowledge and skill set – but they support each other in not being silent about abuse of power. They won’t be put in the same box – they won’t be put in a box at all.

    Tame was fierce but Higgins was clinical.

  5. GL

    What made me angry and disgusted was that Ruston and Hume gave golf claps and stayed seated although Payne got up then very quickly sat back down. Repulsive!

  6. Michael Taylor

    Sadly I was predisposed and was unable to watch it live. I will, of course, catch it on YouTube or iView.

    Kaye, I had a tear just reading your words. I’m clearly going to be a mess when I do watch it.

    GL…

  7. Kaye Lee

    Michael,

    It wasn’t so much what they said as the fact that they had to that really hit me.

    There was heaps of sensational stuff that I know will flood the media so I just wanted to add my quiet little voice before the inevitable furore blinds the message.

    Solidarity V

  8. Kathryn

    You can read the FULL and POWERFUL SPEECHES by Higgins and Tame here. It makes a DAMNING attack against the appalling level of skirt-lifting misogyny right throughout the ranks of the patriarchal LNP. The fact that not ONE single female member of the LNP stood up to give Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins the STANDING OVATION they deserved, speaks VOLUMES about the lack of support, total absence of empathy and not one iota of compassion for victims of appalling predators under the diabolical, callously inhumane jackboot of the LNP, truly the worst, most depraved regime in our history!

    Here Are Brittany Higgins & Grace Tame’s Powerfully Damning Press Club Speeches In Full

  9. Henry Rodrigues

    Be in no doubt. already the hunt is on to find out who threatened Grace. Not to mete out justice, but to make them disappear into ‘witness protection’ Scummo is the sacred cow who must not be damaged by anyone, so decrees Murdoch and his stinking maggots.

    As for those coalition ‘women’ Janet Hume, Anne Ruston and Marise Payne, coalition apparatchiks to their very core. They were there in the front row, only to look intimidating, Them supportive ? Yea pigs might fly, including these three.

    Grace and Brittany, true blue Australian heroes. The future of Australian women is typified by these two modern, contemporary, brave, seekers for justice. I had a lump in my throat.

  10. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, already that horrible LNP apologist Prue MacSween has spat out some venom on Twitter:

    I feel sorry for @TamePunk she always sounds so bitter and angry

    Heartless and insensitive.

    What a nasty piece of work she is.

  11. Keitha Granville

    One wouldn’t wish harm to anyone but…… those Liberal women need a dose of pain. Those two
    brilliant young women, fierce and determined, knowledgeable and smart, will drag us kicking and screaming into a new reality. I am glad that Grace thinks she’s more use outside parliament, she knows how easily you get nobbled inside a party system. Power to them, more power.

  12. GL

    Why do I get the feeling that the nasty call about not upsetting poor ickle Scummo is a ““senior member of a government-funded organisation”” came from with in the PMO and the so-called investigation will become the now usual whitewash and buried as fast as possible.

  13. The AIM Network

    I’m not surprised.

    Not one. Little. Bit.

    But angered. Yes.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Michael,

    Prue McSween “runs her own PR company”.

    ” I actually think it is a good sign when people don’t like what you do, because regardless of if they hate you, they will read everything you ever write and watch everything you ever do. I actually love it when people hate me, I am one of those polarising people where people either love me or hate me and I like that and would rather be like that than be grey.”

    How can I put this nicely…….she’s shallower than a spit in the gutter and just as loathesome.

  15. Cynthia Mitchell

    I recall the “Ides of March” when Morrison told the women of Australia “They were lucky they were not shot” for assembling outside parliament.
    Well, 51% of the population have been looking forward to this coming election.

  16. Michael Taylor

    Kaye,

    She’s certainly doing everything right if she wants people to hate her. It’s working a treat.

    Carol tells me that many people call her Prune McSwine. Yeh, that fits.

    But seriously, how can you not feel sadness or sympathy for any young girl who was brutally raped or sexually assaulted in some way? What a cold heart Prue has.

  17. Florence

    Methinks the PM threw to the dogs a great future politician Brittany Higgins. Beasley sure had it right when he spent twenty or minutes trying to persuade Grace Tame to enter politics. They both showed the PM how to play politics today. So much of what they had to say will hang over the Coalition campaign to election day.

    Rosie Batty’s name was raised by Grace & Brittany more than once. I wonder if she will join the fray again.

    I have never heard anyone describe how sexual abuse of children works better than Grace. This comes from a woman of eighty who spent too long in a domestic violent marriage, whose daughter was sexually abused from at least seven until fourteen. Even pregnant at twelve.

    The message Grace is sending out, is what I, over time, even returning to university. I have never found the words as she has. Applies to domestic violence as well.

    What I do know, is it is a message most who claim to be experts want to hear, even when they are your workmates. It is not about sex or love. It is about hate & control.

  18. Florence

    Michael, it was not meant to tear at the heart straps. Much stronger than that. It was about getting a message across that most find hard to hear. I have no idea why have spent since the 1980s trying to work it out. What we see is are very strong women who are not going to stop until children are safe in the community, in their families.

    Is it my imagination the audience found it hard listening to what they had to say? Most come across being uncomfortable, sober face, wriggling on their seats.

  19. Michael Taylor

    So many lives can be shattered.

    My secretary’s 16YO daughter was raped.

    The constant police interrogation, the lies and allegations from the alleged rapist, the trial, the acquittal… it destroyed the whole family.

  20. GL

    If Scummo was an olympic pool his charisma would be a teaspoon of water in the bottom of it.

  21. Sue Russell

    My first reaction was PMO interference to Australia Day Council. To clarify – the message is threatening if the listener feels threatened. I’ve already read upon the Herald that nobody threatened Grace. I believe Grace’s actions spoke louder than words at the photo op and now we know why she didn’t want to speak. Absolutely disgusted in the behaviour of LNP stooges –
    Proud that Ms Higgins acknowledged Ms Miller. Also that Zali Steggall got them invited to the acknowledgment.
    Once again it is the power of women working together that needs to be heard loud and clear. their courage, determination and pursuit of their values is inspirational

  22. Henry Rodrigues

    GL. If Australian politics were a cesspit, Scummo and the fornicator would be those brown pieces of excrement navigating the bottom, being moved along by the current but never rising to escape their fate.

  23. Max Gross

    We can’t afford to cry. We must get angry. We must – as Grace Tame declared – MAKE A NOISE!

  24. Jon Chesterson

    Anyone with human insight and empathy would have felt similar. I felt all these things and the swell of grief in my eyes, but I also felt anger, frustration, a sense of both resignation and hope, in conflict all at the same time. As if I or they might choke on their own words and experiences, as how could either of them not help but re-live the moments then and the relentless deaf ears, criticism and coercion thereafter? When those emotions legitimately play out in our heads as we speak, it arrests and silences our minds, it shuts us off from our own courage and skills, our constructive and responsive repertoire, and we stumble in public, taking our breath away, risking, re-living that projected failure, shame and pain, sharing the burden. There is no shame in wanting a better world, it is the noble and humbled being within us who feel and act this way.

    We owe them both more than a debt of gratitude.

  25. Michael Taylor

    Jon, well said. Brilliant even.

    I wish I had your words.

  26. Kate Ahearne

    Max Gross,

    No. We can’t afford NOT to cry. We can’t afford not to feel, especially to feel with the suffering and the courage of others. The sorts of people who don’t or can’t cry at such moments are part of the problem.

    In any case, it’s not an either/or situation. There’s no reason why we can’t cry and feel anger at the same time.

  27. Kathy

    Their speeches were moving and powerful and I hope that now it’s so out in the open that it can move things forward with resolving the DV in our country but I fear that it just will go away and again nothing will be done.

  28. Phil Pryor

    Who or what is this Mc Sween? Is it merely a streak or stain in the abused g string? And the P M, what kind of globule is it, a stain on the Australia political jockstrap after lying energetically? We get such manifestations of impure shit in local politics, and B Joyce is another such plague…

  29. wam

    my darling and I watched. We applauded every word, every disparaging gesture and we cheered at their courage. “billions for subs but: “…..cited an upcoming 10-year plan for women’s safety, among other measures. Higgins said the plan’s “aims are so lofty and vague that it’s impossible to disagree with and equally difficult to examine”. Tame called for more funding for consent training in schools. She said between 2020 and 2022, the government “planned to spend 11 cents per student per year on prevention education”. What a clincher to their argument: “all anthony needs to do is none of the things morrison did” Go for him Albo and Tanya, Chalmers go for his and fryers economic failing. These women showed the way and they were proud of their NOISE so don’t let the silence back in, albo, call out the naysayers in labor, in the media and in the government.
    ps
    Don’t let the chance to highlight the ego of the government members who boycotted stephen jones yesterday

  30. Kerri

    Well said Kaye Lee.

  31. Phil Lohrey

    I cried too for their bravery, their power and honesty. I felt a stirring of hope for humanity in this country, as their message reached so many journalists and politicians – even if men, including the country’s leader, were conspicuous by their absence. More power to Brittany and Grace. More power and safety for women and children. More awareness for men.

  32. Terence Mills

    When the assembled audience spontaneously gave these brave young women a standing ovation, the Liberal women in attendance together with Simon Birmingham chose to remain in their seats (although a hapless Marise Payne almost got to her feet but when she saw that her ‘gang’ were not doing so, she stayed in her seat).

    This blind allegiance to their political master was also on show in the House of Reps last night during an all night sitting to force through Morrison’s unnecessary and poorly conceived religious discrimination legislation : it didn’t all go his way though, five Liberals crossed the floor but finally the Bill got through – the senate may be another matter.

    It struck me as Morrison’s last stand. At a time when the parliament has much important work to do in the final days of this parliament Australia has been held ransom to Morrison’s stubborn insistence that his will be obeyed and he will crow about it – just wait and see.

    He has to go !

  33. Consume Less

    A massive well done to Grace and Brittany.

  34. wam

    here’s a retired journalist view from my fb: Grace is certainly not tame when it comes to showing her political beliefs. Her comment that knocked the PM and directed more or less that Albo was the man to vote for is not what I think the Press Club is supposed to be about.
    There were many agreeing with his sentiment.
    Here is one answer from an Alice Springs woman: “I saw her and that other female at the Press Club. It made me sick at her behaviour. It’s not helping others, only getting her a name which she loves. She is an attention getter for herself. If I ever see her again, I will be turning off.”
    Wonder why there were so many so willing to miss the point?

  35. Steve Day

    wam, the Alice Springs Woman is of course a Rural Woman. And I would venture of Mature Age. I have a wife of a similar Ilk. We both live in a “Third World Nation”. We are Australians born and bread, but now watch The Western Society from the outside. A bit like watching Gold Fish in a Bowl. You actually see more from the outside. Because of where we live we do have a different perspective. To quote my wife of 28 years. “Do these women not understand that the Abusers were mostly raised by Women”. Is there not a possibility that the Modern Women’s desire to “Replace” men, in every field contributes to the problem. I watched those 2 young women speak. I as a father of Daughters have sympathy for there pain. I also admire their passion. I agree that they need to make some “Noisë”. But women are attacked and abused by Ängry Men. Anger begets Anger. Violence is the child of anger. Violence Begets Violence. Women bear our children, they nurture our children. Women are NOT supposed to be Warriors. Nor may I say should they be Subservient. In todays WOKE World we ban words, and yet we demand for womans rights to be like Men ????. Please Ladies you do not have to act like men to replace them.

  36. Kate Ahearne

    Steve,

    In my whole life, I have never ever come across a woman who wanted to ‘Replace’ men.

  37. Jack Cade

    I was at a luncheon a week or so ago with about a dozen people, 8 of them women, all working class (in the generally accepted meaning – my own definition is that anybody who works for someone else is working class, whether management or labourer); two of them were strident, even vicious, in their criticism of Tame for not smiling for the smirker,’our Prime Minister’.
    Nobody demurred. Not even me.
    It was like being in the presence of Trumpists.
    It was quite depressing.

  38. Henry Rodrigues

    Jack….Sometimes women are women’s worst enemies. Tragic, inexplicable, and very disappointing.

    Did they sing God save the Queen before the function ?

  39. wam

    Dear Steve Day,
    Thank you,
    The idea of women replacing men at every level was reality in the WW1/2. But the men in politics quickly reverted the the religious gender roles.
    My casual observation in the NT over the last 7 decades, 5 as a secondary teacher, is that in the great majority of vicious bad tempered boys and their parents, who landed in my office, the father was a loud mouth aggressive bully. In the 60s the worst single group in the only public high school were the RAAF kids. Women as women have the right to be treated fairly. These women were abused because the system, like religion, is run by men and the preference is for men. Women have every right to change the system and men do not have the right to act on the unfounded fear that women will do to men as men have done to women. Apart from one, all female political leaders have been admirable for not being men. To my reading the alice woman was simply repeating what I hear in the golf club from the anti-labor set(majority). They are unable to hold a conversation because they only read pro-clp, listen to the wireless shock-jocks, revere the lying rodent and are terrified of feminism, the greens and, now with scummo clutching at anything, the communist anti-christs.
    I wore pink because that is power colour and got berated by the boys, one was visibly upset enough to ashamed that a man would ‘sully the vets’ competition with pink socks.

  40. calculus witherspoon.

    I enjoyed Grace’s fire and logic.

    But I also found Higgin’s narrative disturbing., but a breakthru, because it got thru to me, the sense of an experience of powerlessness and helplessness the experience magnified by the absolute contempt and manipulation of her by staffers and politicians of her situation in the face of her distress and state of mind.

    For both, have come a reaction akin to experience of an overload of trauma then grief similar to when when someone or something near and dear; essential, dies, is ” lost” and these things take years to work around.

    I know some here have also related trauma events, but in such a hostile way that you back off in the face of it, but thinking further, Ive also hit out verbally at others when something has been intolerable so I realise I need to hone what few empathic skills I may have, having knowledge thru experience of such a frame of mind in some respects, Don’t laugh at a victim sure as eggs is eggs, comeuppance awaits…

    Now, for something complestely different…

    Every so often one of the more intelligent contributors, Kaye Lee, outdoes even herself, to the point of the exceptional:

    ” shallower than a spit in the gutter and twice as loathsome…”

    Exactly my response as to the LNP “women” at the press address- and Morrison himself in his beyond contemptible coldblooded expediency-friven approach , long term, to this hurtful . destructive problem for victims.

  41. leefe

    And once again, people (blokes, mostly) more concerned about how the message is delivered than what that message is.

    Guess what: you are the problem. As long as you deflect and excuse and victim blame (women are their own worst enemy; anger begets anger. etc) nothing will be done. Thanks heaps.

    Steve:

    No-one is trying to ‘replace’ men. We are trying to educate them. We are trying to make them better. We are trying to get them grow up. We are trying to get them to take full responsibility for their lives and their behaviour. We are trying to make them understand – and accept – that you don’t have to be a generic ‘manly’ man in order to be a real person.

    Yes, people are angry. We have a right to be angry, given our treatment. We SHOULD be angry, because that treatment is vile, despicable, inexcusable, but it has been going on for centuries and you refuse to change. Nice doesn’t change anything. Asking politely – which has been done, again for centuries – doesn’t change anything. It’s only when we stand up, toe to toe and fight that things are changed.

  42. Kaye Lee

    Steve,

    So all we women have to do is smile, be nice, bear and nurture your children, and not try to be like men, and you will stop raping us and beating us and killing us?

    You go first.

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