Chris Gayle's behaviour was inappropriate
Where do I start when it comes to this ongoing Chris Gayle saga? Well, let's start by saying I appreciate that we will have differing opinions on his interview with Mel McLaughlin during which he clumsily flirted with her, made her feel uncomfortable and, in so doing, distracted from the purpose of the interview - his 15-ball 41 that helped secure a win for his team.
Since the interview occurred before a live television audience numbering in the millions, or perhaps even tens of millions, it is really hard to ignore, especially because there are so many layers to what had transpired.
First things first, Mel Mclaughlin is a professional broadcaster, working in her space as a journalist. Gayle is a professional cricketer, working within his space as one of the world's best T20 batsmen.
However, it was a completely professional environment and should have been treated as such. It was certainly not the time or the place for extremely clumsy flirting.
McLaughlin's body language screamed that she was uncomfortable. Her face was flush, and you could see the sweat pouring from her forehead.
Gayle pressed on pushing his foot further down his throat. "Don't blush, baby," he said.
She is not his baby. Such terms of 'endearment' are not appropriate for such an environment. There are a couple of other factors to consider here.
1) If she has a boyfriend or husband, can you imagine how she would have felt knowing he was watching this?
2) Even more importantly Gayle does a girlfriend/fiancÈe? If so, how did she feel, seeing her man openly flirt with another woman before an international audience?
3) Also, a woman should be allowed to perform her duties without having to encounter unwanted sexual advances. It's as simple as that.
Gayle did not respect the woman as a professional trying to do her job or the fact that she might be in a relationship.
People who have jumped to his defence, claiming tennis star Maria Sharapova committed a similar offence with a male Australian journalist a year ago, only serve to cloud the issue, but there are a couple of major differences with the respective interviews.
Sharapova's comments did not generate similar backlash for a couple of reasons.
1) The journalist did not feel threatened or uncomfortable because of her remarks. You see, a compliment or any attempt at one only works when the recipient is willing to accept it. Otherwise, it is simply an intrusion.
2) Second, men do not usually see women as physical threats, hence her words would not have had a similar effect on the recipient as Gayle's comments had on McLaughlin.
3) The language used by Sharapova was completely disarming. "You have so much good self-esteem it is really nice. What was the question? I was just admiring your form," she said. See the difference?
How we use words can make a big difference between how those are perceived. Gayle might be a skilled batsman, but his skills as a wordsmith fell well short of the required standards.
Some of us apparently still have a lot to learn about how the world has evolved since the days when women were not allowed to work, and were viewed mainly as housewives to be seen and not heard.
It became increasingly apparent when I heard a sports broadcaster this week saying Gayle did nothing wrong, as a man must be able to look a woman any time or any place.
To me, such opinions have no place in modern society, but they do explain the high incidence of sexual assault, verbal and otherwise women experience in Jamaica today.
Many men believe they can say or do anything to a woman, just because she is a woman. There are those who also claim Gayle has come in for this backlash because he is black. I won't deny that there might be some truth to that, but it doesn't and should not obscure the fact that what he did was inappropriate.
If a black man kills a man and a white man kills a man, they both commit murder. Depending on the society they're in, the punishment might be different, but the crime was still committed.
There are so many other things I could say about this, but the last one I want to mention speaks to a broader issue, and that is our apparent willingness in this society to accept this kind of behaviour.
That Gayle believes that his behaviour was 'funny' or was 'a simple joke' tells a damning tale of how far our society has regressed where boorish behaviour is accepted as norm, so much so that many of us are unable to differentiate between what is acceptable and what is not.
I don't believe Gayle to be a bad person. I think he has a good heart and is a great batsman but, because of his profile, his flaws have been exposed on the biggest of stages and, to be honest, it reflects badly on all of us.
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