An image of Parramatta Eels sports scientist Tahleya Eggers made headlines over the weekend.
It was her undeniably unimpressed facial expression, as she stood in an NRL changeroom watching Prime Minister Scott Morrison congratulate Eels players on their win, that spoke to women all around Australia.
This woman’s energy is so fierce this photograph is art pic.twitter.com/LVp2vGI5bS— Samantha Maiden (@samanthamaiden) March 28, 2021
“Proud to claim this one,” Eggers wrote on Twitter, confirming that she was anything but pleased to see Morrison at the game.
“I will not respect a man who has time to shake hands of men who have won a football match but is ‘too busy’ to attend the March for Justice.”
She is all of us pic.twitter.com/SHLecsnPMX— Social Kristancing (@DesignedToFade) March 27, 2021
As Eggers so rightly pointed out in her now-deleted Twitter post, that Morrison had the time and incentive to attend the NRL on Saturday – the same day that he had ordered disgraced Liberal MP Andrew Laming to undergo “empathy training”, is hard to fathom.
When the Prime Minister said he was too busy to attend the March 4 Justice two weeks ago, but then managed to make ample time to attend the rugby league, it gives us a clear indication of who Morrison sees as important and worthy of his time.
When the Prime Minister said those who attended the march were lucky because they weren’t “met with bullets”, but then personally congratulated NRL players on their Round 3 win, it sends another message about who and what is important to this government.
That Morrison so blatantly chose to prioritise the football this weekend, while women – and men – all over the country are crying out for action from the Prime Minister, speaks volumes about his disregard for actually improving the lives of women.
While Andrew Laming has gone on medical leave and said he will not recontest his seat at the next election, Morrison – clearly worried about his one seat majority in parliament – has chosen not to kick Laming out of the Liberal party on the spot. His choice not to do so sends a message to other men that if they behave in the same way as Laming, they will receive the same lenient treatment.
On Sunday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg went as far as to say he believes Laming “should stay in parliament”, despite his abysmal conduct towards women and an allegation of upskirting.
All of this comes as the Morrison government continues to face pressure to take action to improve the lives and safety of women in parliament and around Australia.
It comes as the Gaetjens inquiry into what the Prime Minister’s office knew about Brittany Higgins’ alleged rape inside parliament has been “paused” for over three weeks, and as Attorney-General Christian Porter, in the face of an historic rape allegation, retains the support of the Prime Minister.
Last week, Morrison told Ray Hadley on 2GB that he didn’t want to see “gender become a defining thing in this nation”.
“I don’t want this to be a women-versus-men, men-versus-women issue,” he said.
But the more Morrison chooses to blatantly disregard the needs of women, including their right to be safe in their workplace, on the streets and at home, the more gender becomes “a defining thing”.
Tahleya Eggers, the only woman pictured in the Eels’ changeroom on Saturday, knows it. So does every woman in Australia.