Opinion: Vilified for social gaffe

Cricketing superstar Chris Gayle sparked controversy following his post-match interview with Australian Channel 10's Mel McLaughlin.
Cricketing superstar Chris Gayle sparked controversy following his post-match interview with Australian Channel 10's Mel McLaughlin.

Chris Gayle – heard of him? If you have, you can skip the next paragraph; if not, then read on.

Chris Gayle is the West Indian cricketer who asked a sports reporter, Mel McLaughlin, out for a drink while being interviewed live on air. Don’t worry, the rest of this column is not about cricket.

For his indiscretion, he has been widely criticised and fined a total of $A10,000 by his team The Melbourne Renegades.

Ill-judged Chris Gayle’s remarks may have been, and I think his ingratiating smile indicated that he foresaw where his folly might lead, but they highlight a further shift in the relationship of men and women.

Using the Chris Gayle story as a backdrop, I recounted at a party a scene I had witnessed in Rome where four young men leapt to their feet when a (not particularly old) lady got onto a bus. How would the ladies at the party react in this situation?

With embarrassment, seemed to be the prevailing opinion.

What about when a door was held open? Oh yes, they quite liked that.

All of the ladies agreed that men face a dilemma in situations like this and have done for some time.

If women do not like having the door opened, or a seat offered, they can refuse.

What is different about the Chris Gayle incident is that we now have a price put on making a social gaffe. He did not harm anyone, nor did he take anyone’s property, yet he has to pay a fine.

There has been a suggestion that the interview was actually a workplace and, therefore, his behaviour was inappropriate.

Does anyone seriously believe that flirting does not go on in the workplaces of most people? Would anyone like to assert that women do not engage in it as much as men? The only difference is that this workplace is broadcast.

Yes, I know and agree that there was something sleazy about the incident, and Chris Gayle can probably afford to pay, but am I alone in feeling uncomfortable seeing someone vilified in the way he has been for an error of judgement I might easily have made myself?

In future, I might think carefully before I... Ah, yes, well, I suppose I get the 
point.