Why does Chris Gayle think sexual harassment is a joke?

Published: January 6, 2016

Chris Gayle during the Big Bash League flirted in the most unabashed manner with Mel McLaughlin, a reporter with the official broadcaster of the league. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

Chris Gayle made headlines a couple of days ago that had nothing to do with his batting achievements. In fact, he is being chastised all over the world for misbehaving with Mel Mclaughlin, a reporter from the official broadcaster of Big Bash League. He flirted in the most unabashed manner; called her eyes beautiful and then threw in an offer for drinks later.

Imagine being confronted with this sort of behaviour at a social event. You would cringe, roll your eyes and decisively walk the other way in disgust. Now think about having to face this conduct in a professional situation – on live television, with millions of people watching, and the possibility of it ending up on the internet that could leave an imprint for digital eternity.

Can you imagine the inexpressible indignation that would wash over you?

Well, then you know how Mclaughlin felt.

This illustrates the tendency celebrities have of behaving ‘inappropriately’ with media personnel. Reporters talk to them with an enthusiasm that their job requires, but does that legitimise such crass behaviour? Behaviour that is deemed inappropriate even in naturalised social settings?

We are still reeling from the Richard Gere-Shilpa Shetty debacle of  2007. Gere dipped a startled Shetty and stole a kiss at a fundraising event in India. It was a televised event and created a cultural scandal in India. It raised questions of whether this kind of conduct is actually ‘workplace sexual harassment’.

Is it okay for a man to ‘flirt’ with a woman under the guise of humour on a professional platform?

Would he behave in an unprofessional manner with a man?

Another media incident that screamed of social inappropriateness was the compliments Asif Ali Zardari’s showered on Sarah Palin back in 2008. He told a Vice Presidential candidate of the United States that she is “gorgeous”.

It was one of those rare moments in time when an entire nation face palms in unison.

What is it that kept Zardari from talking to Palin about abortion or foreign policy issues?

What is it that drives men to judge a woman’s worth by her physical appearance? Why do they react to the way that a woman looks instead of reacting to what she has to say?

Nabil Gabol’s flirtations with Reham Khan, ridiculed by Hamid Mir in his program, also garnered significant media attention.

Not to mention, Aamer Liaquat’s flirtatious efforts with Sanam Baloch and Neelum Munir on live television.

The distaste in these cases is just not felt by the woman subjected to this nonsensical behaviour but also the audience. It can also be damaging to a female’s reputation in certain cultures where she is blamed for instigating the ‘praise’. This has been true for the Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty episode where she was criticised vehemently by the conservatives of the Indian society.

As a woman, I understand how hard it is to stay on message when all a man can talk about is how you look. The notes you had prepared for the meeting/interview/any professional situation go out the window, and it all becomes about politely turning the man down.

This kind of sexual harassment ranges from ogling to insulting catcalls, even to unnecessary ‘accidental’ touching. Being objectified by male co-workers causes psychological stress which proves to be damaging to the entire workplace environment. This inhibits a large section of the female population of Pakistan from participating in the professional world, thus reducing the overall productivity of the country.

There is a need for maturity in the way we approach each other in the public life and the way we behave professionally. Chris Gayle has dismissed all the admonishments by saying that his comments were a “simple joke”. Nobody is laughing, Gayle. Not your fans, not me, and certainly not Mel Mclaughlin.

Do you think Chris Gayle's remarks could amount to sexual harassment?

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Tara Kashif

Tara Kashif

The author holds a Master's degree from University of London. She is passionate about reading and cooking.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Rights for both gender !!!

    I hope there is a world where women just remain single and leave us man alone..!!!

    Women rights is a serious issue. There is no doubt that there are fields where women empowerment is utmost essential. But this case was not one of them.
    I would like to ask the reporter, how else does she find a partner in Australia. Last I checked out they were not performing arranged marriages. The guy asked a girl out nothing else nothing more.
    So please, may be you come from a different culture and it is awkward for you. But the culture which Mel is grown up in !!!Recommend

  • Ralf.Fischer

    Dear Author,

    this was not sexual harassment at all !!!

    You can bash me but sorry wht is right is right. In many cultures you ask a girl out to know her or to marry her ! Chris and the reporter are from that culture ! Chris asked her out..He did not disrespect her or used any foul language or the worse touch her. If she would have said yes it would have become the story of the year.

    Australian board has blown this case out of proportion! Please check out, kind of remarks football players have given.

    By the way I have asked altleast 50 men and women in Germany, who are in my friend circle and none of them considered it as SEXUAL HARASSMENT!!!!

    Nevertheless many will now bash and say it is a mans world blah blah..No! I am completely against sexual harassment and I support women rights. But tht does not give a women a right to ridicule men for no reason.



  • Ahmed

    Would love to know the author’s opinion on Maria Sharapova flirting with an Aussie journalist during the 2014 Australian open .Recommend

  • Parvez

    Can’t disagree with you because you’re right……..but I’ll say this, that if women don’t lighten up a bit and try to understand men and their oddities, men may just get scared and the balance of the universe would get upset….and we don’t want that to happen.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    No. Disagree. In this day and age sexual harassment is a big
    deal in the West. Specially if you are a sport celebrity. Even in
    a run down, two bit country, like England. that gave us the
    Magna Carta. [but do understand your tongue in cheek humor!]
    This man should get the Jam Tamachi justice. [[former ruler of Sindh.]
    Shave all body hair. cover with tar. Hang upside down in the chowk, til
    sunset. [Trafalgar Square, would do]. cut loose and give 25 hard lashes.
    Then recite the Kalma 1000 times.[in this case the Lord’s Prayer]. finally
    allowed to go home. The famous Jam reserved this punishment for anyone
    who cheated him or took advantage of his court, family, or subjects. All
    the bunyas in Sindh knew the Kalma.
    The revered Jam is buried in Thatta. The same one who had a famous love

    affair with Noori. She is buried on an island, in Kalri Lake, Sindh. This was
    the Sindh version of Anarkali.Recommend

  • Men hav no life

    That is allowed. Because women have the right to do any thing. Hit a guy on the streets and people will just stay there and laugh…Women rights are important no doubt but please dont start punishing man for no reason.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    It’s tough being a man these days:)Recommend

  • IndianDude

    Why does Chris Gayle think sexual harassment is a joke?
    May be because since he joined PSL, he wants to fit in.Recommend

  • Furqan

    It was a joke. It was something that put the reporter on the map of this world. Grow up. Stop propagating every thing. He joked. End of the story.Recommend