Many people still seem to think the Chris Gayle/Mel McLaughlin on-air Big Bash propositon wasn’t that offensive, that it was just a joke we’re all taking far too seriously. They share Chris Gayle’s genuine bemusement at the outcry.
Just yesterday, I caught a bloke I like and respect saying “geez, can’t a guy even ask a girl out anymore?”. He’s not alone. More people believe Gayle’s $10k fine was "too harsh” than “too lenient”, according to one poll on a respected masthead.
If you’re in the “too harsh” camp, and if you just don’t get the outcry, there’s something which might change the way you feel. It’s the recording (and transcript) of an interview which took place this week at the SCG.
The host was Gerard Whateley and the guests were journalists Neroli Meadows (Fox Sports), Melinda Farrell (ESPNcricinfo.com) and cricketer/broadcaster Chris Rogers (ABC Grandstand). Here are some of the thought-provoking bits:
Neroli Meadows, on Gayle’s past form:
“I knew straight away he was going to do it, the moment he got out I knew he was going to go off and was going to say something to that effect because he has done it before, he's done it to me, he's done it to several women.
He does this constantly. He is a creep. He has creepy behaviour and the way that he did it to Mel was just that. Mel knew it was going to happen, you could tell by her body language as somebody who has worked with her, she pulled away, you could see in her face: 'Yeah okay mate, righto, we knew that this was going to happen'.”
Melinda Farrell on why you laugh it off when deep down you're hurting
"What's also interesting is the initial reaction, where you could hear laughter and everything else. It's a bit hard to say whether or not people genuinely realised at the time how uncomfortable it was.
Even the throwback to the studio where it was 'You've just heard one of the most extraordinary interviews you'll ever see' - well, yeah, it was extraordinary for all the wrong reasons. It didn't come across that way.
I know that Channel Ten probably had someone very inexperienced on social media who tweeted the incident with the hashtag 'smooth', and then that was deleted and I know that there was a swift kick up the bottom for that person, and all of that was removed, because there was an understanding that this is really not ok.
The thing is, when that stuff happens, everyone's uncomfortable. Sometimes people will sort of laugh their way out of it, and that's what happened with me as well: I think that's why my colleague came up to me and said something about a recent incident here, where I think we both - you try to deflect and laugh your way out of an awful lot of things.
You just don't know, you question everything: maybe I am wearing the wrong thing today, maybe I shouldn't have laughed then, maybe that's encouraging. What do you do? You just just question yourself."
Neroli Meadows on why the outrage is anything but confected
What really disappoints me is the fact that people will still laugh, and the fact that when somebody like myself or Mel says it's not okay, people say "Oh, it's free speech, oh it's a bit of fun, don't take it so seriously."
It happens - situations like that - 10 times a day when you are female in the sports industry and that's just a fact.
Whether it is the fact that the women's toilets aren't open and the men's toilets are, whether it is somebody saying something slightly inappropriate to you as you walk down the hallway, 10 times a day without fail.
We don't need that to happen to us in our workplace because that's what it is: it's our workplace. And Mel has been doing her job for 10 to 15 years and she has done it with respect.
Her career now gets defined by this. The same thing has happened to me, the same thing has happened to Yvonne Sampson from Channel Nine, the same thing to Erin Molan at Channel Nine.
We have successful careers and they get defined by idiots saying the wrong thing inappropriately and other people laughing as though it is the one thing that has ever happened. Of course it is not. It is, as they say, they tip of the iceberg.
Melinda Farrell on just how common this sort of thing is
It is so normal that you don't say anything, because if you did you'd be jumping up and down all the time. So, we probably accept things that we shouldn't because nobody wants to be that girl.
Nobody wants to be that girl in the Jamie Briggs incident where all the attention is now focused on that person and what they did.
No one wants to be the girl who brought the case in the [David Jones] incident.
You don't want to do that. You just want to get on with your job. That is what you are there to do and you want to be judged on your work.
Neroli Meadows on why you should listen to her, really listen, just this once
It is just this thing - perhaps, for one second, just trust us. Rather than saying what a bunch of whingeing women, just trust us that maybe we're telling the truth and maybe it is upsetting and it does happen all the time, and it's not OK. Maybe just back us in on that, just once. Just back us in.
Because Chris did this to me, I think it was five or six years ago when he first joined the Thunder. It was an entirely filled press conference because it was big news in Sydney, and the entire squad was in the back of that press conference.
He went at me once in the press conference - OK, fine, whatever, you're having a laugh, you're Chris Gayle, everyone laughs. He did it again, it's cringey, you could almost hear the cringing, it's not OK, and then to come up afterwards, stand over me: "So when are we going for this drink." It makes you - he's a big guy, it makes you feel intimidated, and it's just not OK.
And not forgetting the blokes, here's Chris Rogers on being Gayle’s teammate, and on why the big Jamaican should probably listen for a change
Oh, I would have liked to have been on air. I wouldn't have laughed. I know this guy. Bit difficult, because he might be playing at Somerset, where I'm going to be playing this coming year but - from my time at the Thunder I was very disappointed in his attitude and his behaviour, and I've never been a fan since.
I would go out with him socially or in a group, as you do in a team, and I'd probably distance myself from him. And the other thing is I was very wary of the role he was setting for the younger guys, and I spoke to them quite a bit about, 'Do you think this is good behaviour, would you do this kind of thing.'
And all of them, all the young guys to give them credit were like 'No, we don't think this is right.'
It's interesting about what Mel said about the comments. I read the comments as well, and a lot of them are defending him but, they probably only see these one-offs. But this is a pattern of behaviour. That if you know the guy, you see it over and over.
And it's not just him, there's a lot of this stuff in the sporting industry, and to defend it I think is not right at all. Like I said, I listen to that and I don't see it as funny at all. He says it's just a joke - it's not just a joke, is it?
And his apology, he's basically saying 'Oh well, if she feels bad about it well then I'm sorry about that,' but he's not actually saying that he's sorry that he said it, and that is disappointing because he has to realise at some stage - you know, I'd be the first one to admit that there's been times that I probably let myself down with my behaviour, but you grow up.
You start making better decisions, and he needs to start making better decisions.
As mentioned, no one’s saying a bloke can’t ask a woman out in 2016. In an age where everyone uses dating sites or Tinder, it’s almost refreshing to think about the lost art of chatting someone up.
Not in the workplace, though. Not in front of a million people. And not in a sleazy way. Those are the main three messages this week.