RENEGADE cricketer Chris Gayle's public demeanor suggests he has learned little from this week's furore about his flirtations toward a female reporter. Seems to hardly have made a dent in his playboy persona.
When all the hype fades, what will we have learned?
Gayle has been fined and all-but banned from future Big Bash League seasons in the fallout from the flirt. Ok, but that hardly scratches surface on deep-seeded cultural issue that, unless challenged will once again flare up when the next “Universe Boss” (as Gayle calls himself) oversteps the mark.
Once again, we will have those yelling for a Gayle-like head competing in volume with those wailing and hashtag-ing to save a Gayle-like victim they believe has been pilloried by political correct madness.
Again, we will have those who do not see what the fuss was about. Those who felt there was nothing wrong with Gayle's actions. The ‘time to move along bunch’. After all, what was the real harm in a joke from a seemingly playful cool dude? He just made a misstep, right?
Strip all the sexist arguments back and put yourself in reporter Mel McLaughlin’s shoes for a moment. A proven professional doing a job, asking the right questions, and not being taken seriously. Mocked, even. You feel uncomfortable and embarrassed in your workplace. Your reaction scrutinised before a huge audience.
There is a snicker in the commentary box. A chuckle from those watching at home. Smirks from other guys – and gals.
Should McLaughlin have to lighten up or suck it up because she was venturing into the team’s domain?
This is about respect.
Respect goes both ways – McLaughlin was doing her job professionally – and respect starts at the top. A team’s most prominent players and coaches set the tone in any code or level sport. Gayle is a Renegades’ headline act. He made no move to even look slightly remorseful in his airport press conference or remotely apologise if he had caused offense. Even if it bruised his ego a tinge.
McLaughlin’s own teammates let her down by not having her back immediately. Effectively, their initial reaction, snickering, endorsed Gayle’s behaviour.
Seemingly harmless remarks are not confined to sport. Federal ministers were in hot-water this week for boyish slip-ups, like Immigration minister Peter Dutton’s ‘mad witch’ text about a reporter he inadvertently sent to the reporter.
Constantly accepting it as a mere misstep only perpetuates a cultural issue than has a longer-lasting impact.
Gayle’s alleged track record dealing with women in sport had been pretty much swept under the pavilion until this incident. This is in a league proudly spruiking the women’s game and proven broader appeal for families. All questioned by a batsman playing for cheap laughs.
Laddish behaviour is outdated and inappropriate. Gayle was inappropriate. We, as a society, do not have to tolerate ‘boys being boys' mentality in any code or because it is time those boys – and all those who view Gayle did nothing wrong – need to grow up. Show some respect.