MCLAUGHLIN AND THE PERILS OF BEING A WOMAN IN SPORTS

 

In 2015, we saw that if you’re a female sports reporter you might have a hard time getting in certain locker rooms.  Well, 2016 has picked up right where 2015 left off with a stark reminder that it STILL takes some pretty thick skin to make it as a female in the sports world.  The reminder this time comes from way across the pond in Australia.  On Monday, Reporter Mel McLaughlin was tasked with interviewing Jamaican cricket player Chris Gayle.  What started of as a pleasant interaction quickly went way, way left.  I’ll let you see for yourself:

Gayle went from complimenting McLaughlin to propositioning her to calling her “baby” in a matter of seconds.  There was no interview just Gayle unprofessionally objectifying a woman who was trying to do her job.  Gayle’s team, the Melbourne Renegades, fined him $10,000 AUD (about $7168 USD) and condemned his behavior.  When given the opportunity to rectify the situation at a press conference, Gayle (rather than provide a sincere apology) basically told everyone to lighten up because he was just joking.  Gayle’s weak attempt to spit game at an inappropriate time; his tired, disingenuous apology; and his suggestion that everyone else had blown the “interview” out of proportion just shows how clueless he his.

I get that Gayle is a man and that it may sometimes be difficult for men to sympathize with women.  And I get that sometimes men and women have different senses of humor, but his actions aren’t being scrutinized because of the differences between the sexes.  This situation isn’t about men not being able to see a woman’s point of view or women not being able to take a joke.  The uproar is about his failures to be a professional and to control his carnal desires which in turn placed McLaughlin in an uncomfortable position.  No one, not a man, not a woman, wants to work in an environment where they aren’t taken seriously.  Gayle wouldn’t appreciate it if during interviews reporters spent time asking him about his love life and clothes rather than his skills and his team.  You (whoever you are) don’t want to work on a group assignment only to have your colleague completely ignore the task at hand to have discussions about your appearance and dating you instead.  Objectifying people (especially in the professional environment) is disrespectful and demeaning, but that’s what Gayle did to McLaughlin.

Far too often, women in sports have to deal with Gayle’s kind of behavior.  The extra, unwanted conversations about their sex lives, their bodies and their good looks are placed on their plates simply because they’re women.  I don’t think most reporters, athletes and writers are trying to be intentionally sexist or to intentionally harass women, but their motives really aren’t the issue.  The effect of their behavior is the issue.  Whether it’s a reporter asking a professional tennis player to give the audience a twirl or a professional player asking his female counterparts to be half-naked when they go to work; the effect is damaging.  It bruises the egos and undercuts the hard work of the women who are the targets of the objectification.  And it’s harmful to women and society in general because it sends messages that it’s ok to hold women to different standards and it’s ok to overstep a woman’s personal boundaries.

Well it isn’t ok.  Women in sports shouldn’t have to be ready and willing to have their bodies or beauty as the subject of talk if that’s not their desire.  Women should be able to report on sports, play sports, officiate sports and regulate sports with the same dignity as their male colleagues.  And this goes for society as a whole.  Stop with the catcalling, the extra-long hugs, and the brushing up against women who have made no suggestion that they want your attention.  And no, wearing a tight skirt and make-up is NOT asking for your attention.  Let women, in sports, at the bank, on the street, in the car next to you, be women without you making them uncomfortable for it.

What are your thoughts on the interview? Did Gayle take it too far or are we all being too sensitive?  Leave us your comments!  And don’t forget to follow GladiatHers on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

7 Comments

  1. pba257 says:

    The title of your article again only reflects a half truth that is an ongoing theme. The article should perils in men’s sports. Why don’t you spend time writing articles about the never ending line female groupies that chase these men and lowering the respect factor for other women and blurring the line between the two. I can guarantee you that he has had a number of groupies who have looked exactly like the reporter, it’s make more sense if you would concentrate on these women who in reality are perpetuating the situation. My advice to male athletes would be to avoid the possible problem and always be too busy to give interviews with female reporters, it’s just not worth it.

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    • gladiathers says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting, but you sound like you’re saying that because one group of women exists that excuses him from treating another group of women with respect. It’s a part of his job to do interviews. There’s no excuse for not giving all of his interviewers the proper respect.

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      • pba257 says:

        You’re wrong an athlete is not obligated to grant all interviews. I would think that the main concern would be uncovering an exposing the root cause, you can’t have half the female gender glorifying being sexual objects and not expecting there to be some spill over. women
        need too clean their own home first. I’m not saying what he said was right but to protect himself in the future he should eliminate these types of interactions.

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      • gladiathers says:

        First, I didn’t say all, but we both know that many pro athletes who play team sports and have sponsors obligated to do so. Second, “clean their own home”…really? What does that even mean? It’s not one group of women’s job to police other women and dictate how they live. Just like it’s not your job to make so other grown men live by your standard. Third) So rather than show maturity and restraint, just don’t do a part of your job? Come on now, that’s no bueno. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal to ask people to be professional. No one is saying no never try to talk to women, but the point is that there’s a time and place for everything.

        Btw, did you see that he got banned? Even I think that was way too extreme of a punishment.

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      • pba257 says:

        Yes I did see that he received a pretty substantial fine but that is the consequences of his comments.

        The clean their own home first comment doesn’t mean policing but recognizing that a major part of the respect issues for women functioning in the male dominated sports industry is how a large number of women openly flaunt their sex strippers, escorts, groupies and I defy you to find one article where a female writer’s even mentions how this behavior hurts them in their job futons

        You also mentioned maturity on the part of the athletes. I agree this is a huge issue but today’s male athletes are much younger and much richer than even before and have an attitude of entitlement, so we’re talking about 18 to 25 year old pampered inexperienced real world kids.

        What these athletes must realize is that they not sponsor’s, agent or even team owners should determine their brand and whom I allow to be intreviewed by. This is the norm in every other entertainment industry as you mentioned the consequences can be very severe. Great post very thought provoking.

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      • gladiathers says:

        The BBL actually went so far as to ban him in addition to the fine. There are definitely some women who try to blame other women’s behavior for the way men act…most of them just aren’t credible writers. Lol And thanks for your comments and being willing to engage. Even though we don’t always agree, I’m glad for your support and our back and forth! Happy New Year!

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  2. pba257 says:

    Sorry paragraph 2 should be functions not (Futons)

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