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Frenzied outrage over Chris Gayle's laddish comments is over the top

My view

By Laure James

Published 06/01/2016

Mel McLaughlin
Mel McLaughlin

Firstly, let me outline my position. In no way do I condone sexism, as with any other marginalising and discriminatory behaviour.

This, however, may shock: I'm no feminist. I am privileged to work with extremely talented and capable sports journalists of both genders. Yes, it's male-dominated, but there are great opportunities for the right women. Mel McLaughlin is one of those.

Chris Gayle's cheeky/laddish/derogatory (delete as inappropriate) way of addressing McLaughlin was unnecessary.

But does it warrant the frenzied outcry we're now seeing? I'm not so sure.

His short-sighted sleaziness - and it was sleazy - prompted outrage, but has also, to some extent, divided opinion. Among those most up in arms are men. Maybe this is because they find Gayle's seduction method, both lacking in subtlety and success, a bit unnerving. As a female sports reporter, the reaction strikes me as slightly excessive.

Read more:

Chris Gayle apologises and says he regrets TV date 'joke'  

Chris Gayle: It's about time this oaf has finally been exposed  

What isn't up for debate is how McLaughlin handled the situation - perfectly. She steered the interview back to her agenda. At the point Gayle told her, "don't blush, baby," I would bet she had a live producer calling, or floor manager gesturing, for her to quickly wrap it up.

McLaughlin did so without fuss, and, perhaps then, unable to predict the public fallout. Because, frankly, it probably wasn't the first time she had been thrown a misogynistic curve-ball. Her brief sigh was more of resignation than disbelief.

Further accounts have come to light indicating a worrying pattern in Gayle's behaviour, which is a genuine concern. The public humiliation, and professional reprimand, may teach him a lesson, or it may not.

Fundamentally, it was an unsavoury interview which, had I been in her shoes, I would sooner forget than see endless re-runs of on social media.

Belfast-based Laure James is a Sky Sports television presenter.

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