Something I put on Guardian responses when Grace Tame not smiling at the PM got her public castigation by the usual suspects. I’ve added photos and captions for context.
I just wanted to point out something regarding Grace Tame getting attacked by various people for not smiling at the PM, because I’ve not seen it pointed out anywhere in response yet (but I might have missed it) – that this is an extension of what happens in dysfunctional families, where abused kids are always pressured to “smile for the camera” in family photographs, so that the facade of “happy family” can be maintained.
If the family is healthy and supportive and genuinely happy, the kids will smile without being told. If it’s not and the family wants to create the impression that they are a healthy, happy, wonderful family – nothing to see here – that family will tell the unhappy kid to smile and fake happy body language and disparage the child if it doesn’t comply – “What’s wrong with you? You’re so rude/ungrateful. There are kids starving in Ethiopia. You don’t know how good you’ve got it.”
I know because I went through that, but like Grace Tame with the PM, who together with his party has harboured and promoted and stood by people accused of rape and abuse, and who want to charge people with libel just for pointing this out, and who have protected and enabled abusers, and are doing their damndest not to implement all the recommendations of the report by sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins while paying it lip service and wanting to be seen to respect and implement it, etc etc etc (don’t get me started), I was the girl who refused to smile for family photo opportunities, and who refused to fake a reality that didn’t actually exist, and like Grace Tame, I was made to pay dearly for it by various people with vested interests in appearances, but I think the price I paid was worth the upholding of my authenticity, and of witnessing for reality instead of convenient fiction.
Because to refuse to participate in the pretence is to stay with reality and to witness the reality, even in the face of further abuse, gaslighting, being described as “difficult” and “damaged” (by the people who damaged you, oh the irony) and all the other many predictable things. And to stay with the reality means not to be robbed of your connection to it, and not to lose your own self to other people’s fictions, and to stay relatively sane and, as a teenager, not have difficulty individuating into your own person, instead of becoming the mirror or the puppet of the narcissist.
And the same thing we see in the microcosm of a dysfunctional family, we see in the macrocosm of our dysfunctional society.
Thank you Grace Tame, for refusing to lie with your face. There are so many reasons to dislike people with a narcissistic modus operandi, and to dislike a PM who does so much to further entrench systemic injustices, whether for women or non-whites or refugees or LGBTIQ or disabled people or people out of work or homeless (or really, anyone not in the little self-serving, self-reinforcing club that has a disproportionate grip on power and resources), all of whom, behind his own smiling mask, he and his cronies spit upon and make miserable and do damage to, all the while denying it.