Chris Gayle isn’t flirting in the workplace, he’s intimidating women
He did everything he could to put Mel McLaughlin in an awkward situation
Cricketer Chris Gayle has been fined nearly five grand for attempting to flirt with reporter Mel McLaughlin on live television. She plays the excruciating encounter off like a champ while he says things like “don’t blush baby” and “I wanted to get this interview so I could see your eyes for the first time”. Gayle has been accused of sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace, and rightly so.
Mel has done well to get so far in a very male dominated industry. As a sports interviewer, I’d bet my life on this encounter not being the first of its kind, and the way she coolly played it off makes it obvious she’s pretty used to stuff like this. But why should she be? Just because she’s a pretty girl that has to interview sports stars doesn’t make Gayle’s comments more acceptable than a creepy neck rub from your stereotypical office job boss. It’s still a job.
A lot of guys are saying the criticism of Gayle is “political correctness gone wild”, laughing it off as “harmless flirting”. Who knows, maybe that’s what Gayle intended. But you can see from the video Mel is embarrassed, and the things he says to her are demeaning (he references her cheeks, eyes and ass all within 30 seconds). He continues nonetheless, as she becomes more curt, before eventually cutting off the interview altogether.
Now, I’ve no idea if there were any repercussions for Mel here as the backlash has centred around Gayle so far, but imagine if Mel’s boss had fired her for not providing the interview he wanted. Gayle completely compromised Mel’s professionalism here, and his flirtatious answers gave pretty shitty responses to the questions she had asked, as they were all focused on her aesthetics.
On live TV, Mel clearly had nowhere to hide and had to keep a brave face. If he had taken her aside and asked her out after filming that would have been fine, it would have been professional and would have given her room to “escape”. Instead, he knew whatever he said she would have to stand there and take it to keep up appearances for live TV.
Mel was “supposed” to laugh this off, because the workplace is an unequal environment for women. Mel wasn’t “supposed” to have shown her anger and disappointment quite so obviously on TV (“I’m not blushing”). She was supposed to giggle along nervously and flirt back.
Yeah, Chris Gayle apologised. Of sorts. He essentially said “I’m sorry she was offended”, rather than “I’m sorry I was a dickhead”. So no, this isn’t PC gone mad, this is a tale as old as time, featuring men who don’t show any signs of learning from their mistakes.