Chris Gayle may never understand sexism, but will cricket establishment do the right thing?

It would be wonderful if Gayle could recognise why his behaviour is inappropriate, but it's necessary that this is punished severely enough, so that even if the offender doesn't get it, he won't repeat it, for fear of the consequences

Tariq Engineer May 23, 2016 12:24:48 IST
Chris Gayle may never understand sexism, but will cricket establishment do the right thing?

It was only a matter of time before Chris Henry Gayle did it again. In an interview with journalist Charlotte Edwardes for the Sunday Times Magazine, Gayle opened his mouth and put his "very, very big bat" into it.

According to reports, here's a sample of Gayle's comments: The West Indies batsman said women threw themselves at him in their thousands, explaining he was "damn good-looking". The self-confessed joker boasted about having "a very, very big bat, the biggest in the wooooorld" adding, "You think you could lift it? You'd need two hands."

Edwardes wrote, "He asks how many black men I've had, goading me when I deflect the question, and whether I've ever had a 't'eesome — 'I bet you have. Tell me'." He also reportedly asked Edwardes if she dyed her hair and then shifted his gaze downwards.

Chris Gayle may never understand sexism but will cricket establishment do the right thing

File image of Chris Gayle. Reuters

Gayle's comments and actions show you can't keep a good sexist down. He clearly doesn't realise how creepy and intrusive his behaviour is, especially in a professional context. It is a reminder why despite all the progress women have made in the workplace, there's still a long way to go before they get treated the same way men do. Don't understand why Gayle's comments are an issue? Think this is all just good fun? Well, imagine if it was Harsha Bhogle doing the interview. Think Gayle would have asked him how many black women he'd had or talked about having a big bat? I'm willing to bet my life savings he would do no such thing.

As I've written before, this sort of behaviour is the very definition of sexism. Not that this is surprising, given how he defended himself following the furore over his comments to Australian television reporter Mel McLaughlin during a live interview back in January when he is was playing the Big Bash. Gayle asked McLaughlin out for a drink and said "don't blush, baby". His club, the Melbourne Renegades, fined him $10,000 and apologised to McLaughlin over the incident, but Gayle insisted that it was all a joke and he wouldn't listen to the haters.

The jokes just aren't funny, though. In this case, it's arguable they even cross the line into sexual harassment.

Part of the problem is that Gayle appears to think every single woman in the world will appreciate his attention, no matter the situation. After all, he is "damn good looking" and women apparently throw themselves at him in droves. He seems incapable of seeing the world through anyone's eyes but his own. If you don't like what he says or how he behaves, the problem is you, baby, not Gayle.

It would be wonderful if Gayle could recognise why his behaviour is inappropriate and wrong, but given this repeat performance, that's like hoping for snow in May in Mumbai. It simply isn't going to happen.

What is important, though, is that this sort of behaviour is punished severely enough, so that even if the offender doesn't get it, he won't repeat it, for fear of the consequences. It remains to be seen if the cricket establishment will rise to the occasion and do the right thing. English county side Somerset, to whom Gayle contracted after the IPL, said there are no plans to cancel the West Indian's contract. Meanwhile, his current team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, have said nothing so far.

The irony here is that while Gayle's comments are reprehensible and demean Edwardes and the job she was trying to do, they also show the world who Gayle really is, which is what all good interviews strive to achieve. That's at least some small consolation.

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