I’ve written a short series of blogs on gender and sport (part 1 is up already). Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t care about sports so it’s not relevant to me” but hopefully I’ll be able to convince you that it is relevant and something that you might just care about after all.
The recent news coverage of Chris Gayle and Mel McLaughlin drew world attention to the way women are perceived by some within the sports arena. There have been calls for him to be banned from world cricket on the one hand, whilst others think that the widespread lambasting of Chris is patronising to Mel McLaughlin–she is capable of looking after herself. I don’t think the comment by Gayle meant that he didn’t take McLaughlin seriously as a sports reporter, nor do I think that a little flirtation is necessarily harmful in the workplace (after all, a lot of people meet their partners at work). But if the person on the receiving end is uncomfortable then it needs to stop. And anyone watching the video can see that McLaughlin is giving a pretty clear warning - so maybe Chris Gayle’s main failing is that he lacks the emotional intelligence to realise that his romantic attentions are way off the mark? And I must admit that each time I hear the audio clip “Don’t blush, baby” I feel ever so slightly nauseous.
Do we all speak out when in receipt of such attention? I have to put my hands up here and admit that during a recent trip in a taxi–no, I didn’t. Now, maybe if Aidan Quinn had been my taxi driver I would have had a very different perspective, but he wasn’t, far from it. Despite the initial chat with the driver when I had told him I was married (he’d asked), he still suggested that I should go out for a meal with him. To sweeten the deal he commented that he had several cars, not just the taxi, and that he even had a sports car!! I felt somewhat disquieted that a) he thought the mention of his sports car might clinch the deal and b) he proceeded to tell me he’d seen me in the gym (where he is also a member) and that if he saw me going swimming after working-out he’d join me. Not an experience or vision I would look forward to! But what did I do? I just tried to laugh it off and ignore it rather than tell him straight that I didn’t think his behaviour was appropriate. And now I am just a little scared every time I call for a taxi or pop into the gym… I need to grow some big hairy ovaries!!