Grace Tame breaks silence over THAT photo with PM: 'Hypocrisy'

Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame has spoken out about her divisive meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week after photographs of the awkward moment went viral online.

Ms Tame, an advocate for sexual assault survivors, was pictured greeting Mr Morrison at the 2022 Australian of the Year Finalists Morning Tea at The Lodge in Canberra last Tuesday.

The 27-year-old appeared reluctant to shake the prime minister’s hand and and avoided eye contact with him.

Social media users were quick to notice her discomfort, and photos of the event were soon shared widely over Twitter and Facebook, resulting in a mountain of support – and also condemnation – for the activist.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison smiles next to 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame, who looks uncomfortable and refrains from smiling.
Photos of Grace Tame's frosty meeting with the Prime Minister quickly went viral. Source: AAP

Taking to Twitter eight days after the meeting, Ms Tame broke her silence and addressed critics who slammed her for not smiling.

“The survival of abuse culture is dependent on submissive smiles and self-defeating surrenders. It is dependent on hypocrisy,” she wrote.

“My past is only relevant to the extent that I have seen — in fact I have worn — the consequences of civility for the sake of civility.

“What I did wasn’t an act of martyrdom in the gender culture war. It’s true that many women are sick of being told to smile, often by men, for the benefit of men. But it’s not just women who are conditioned to smile and conform to the visibly rotting status-quo. It’s all of us.”

Grace Tame’s statement sparks controversy on Twitter

Just like the original moment, Ms Tame’s tweets sparked a flurry of opinions – many in support of her statement but others claiming she should have been “civil” in her meeting with Mr Morrison.

“100% support for you Grace. I think Australians have been able to see who you are & what you stand for over the last year & the vast majority are enormously grateful you're here. You don't need to explain yourself EVER. You should feel safe to act & speak however you think fit,” one person wrote.

“We need to stop enabling people's horrific and hurtful behaviour by continuing to act as if everything is fine,” said another.

One man thanked her for “standing up” so courageously.

But among the support came the critics, who once again berated her actions.

“You chose to make yourself the centre of attention on a day that was meant for others to have that honour. That disappoints me. I’m not knocking your cause nor your commitment to that cause, but the world is not just about you. Keep pushing your cause, but with civility,” one man wrote.

“Oh FFS please. You smile every day at strangers you pass in the street. It's called being civil,” another person said.

Scott Morrison responds to awkward encounter

Mr Morrison addressed the viral moment in an interview with Queensland radio station 4BC on Friday, and said he continues to support Ms Tame.

"When Jenny and I invite someone to our home, we greet them with a smile and they're always welcome, and that day was actually about all the finalists we came to celebrate,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison shakes the hand of Grace Tame, as she avoids eye contact.
Mr Morrison addressed the moment, saying he continues to support Ms Tame. Source: AAP

"I haven't raised any issues about (the incident) – all I'm saying is we were there that day to celebrate those who had done an incredible job for our country.

"Look, Grace is a passionate person who's raised important issues. She's had a terrible life ordeal ... the abuse. It's just awful.

"And I know a lot of Australians, me included, support her efforts to ensure that these issues can be raised and addressed.”

Ms Tame has criticised the prime minister over his handling of issues surrounding the treatment of women in the past, speaking out about his comments following Brittany Higgins' sexual assault allegations.

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