Gayle, Briggs and the ongoing battle of women to be

Let us take a moment to reflect on a couple of news stories of the past 24 hours.

Both have men acting as entitled, dominating, arrogant and predatory towards women.
Both have drawn a mixture of outrage and dismissiveness, even encouragement.
(e.g. Ten’s tweeting of “#smooth.”)

The first is the case of a Minster of the Federal Government, Jamie Briggs, and his behaviour towards a female public servant, doing her job.
The second is the case of cricketer Chris Gayle and his behaviour towards reporter Mel McLaughlin, doing her job.

This is not the place to re-hash details.
Check your local guides (for example here, and here).

But it is a fair place to promote the conversation around both of these incidents.
For what sort of a world would you like to see?
What is your Utopian ideal?
Should a person feel safe at all times?
Should a person, regardless of gender, be free to do their job, walk their path, do their thing, without objectification?
Without unsolicited sexual advances from people in positions of power?
From anyone?
Should a journalist, or public servant, reasonably expect not to be preyed upon in the course of their employment?
Should a sister have exactly the same opportunities for safety as a brother?
For career advancement?
For treatment as a person?
Should a daughter be valued by society for who she is and what she does?

The world is stacked against women and girls.
It’s everywhere and it’s ingrained.
The whole “Friends” Lego, in pink, purple, with house sets, kitchen sets, and Lego figures of impossibly thin waists is one example.
Greetings of “what have you been doing?” to boys versus the “that’s a nice dress” to girls is another.
Employment expectations around childcare responsibilities is another.
Household maintenance responsibilities is another.

Women are starting from a long way back.

Yet change is happening.
We can see that in community attitudes; by the fact that a ruckus has even been raised by these two stories.
But there’s a long way still to go.
Change needs leadership and it needs maintaining.
And given that men hold most positions of power and influence in this world, that may take time.
Until then, it’s right to call out the laggards.

 

Check out Dan Brettig’s great piece on cricket’s sexism written last night.

 

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Cat from the Country says

    Thanks David for supporting women!
    Maryborough Rotary started a conversation about family violence 2 years ago to create awareness of this behaviour. It is not only physical violence, it is also emotional, financial and verbal.
    If you would like to see more of what Maryborough Rotary has done and is doing, consider going to our website and have a look.
    Maryborough Rotary Vic will find us.
    During the Royal Commission on Family Violence, Maryborpugh Rotary pushed for a one day sitting locally, they tendered a written submission and Past President Garry Higgins was the representative of the only community club to be asked fo give a verbal presentation.
    We have also developed a SAFE campaingn which is on Twitter #SayNo2familyviolence and used the hashtag words on bumper stickers and 3.5m ones on the back of local buses.
    Recently a local harness racing day was sponsored by Rotary with each race named something respectful. Winners were presented with our beautiful blue horse rugs with #SayNo2familyviolece embroidered in gold. All races were viewd at all Australian TABs and the last four races beamed to Singapore and France
    Our small project of wallet cards and posters around our town has grown legs and is running all around Victoria.
    It has been an incredible journey and now as President I am proud of the work we have done and the respect we have received.

  2. Thanks Cat.
    That’s some real action you’re taking; making a real difference. Very well played.

    Russell Jackson has posted this extraordinary account of Blokesworld in sports media.
    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/jan/05/its-not-just-chris-gayle-sport-medias-blokesworld-mindset-needs-to-change

  3. John Butler says

    Some excellent questions posed here E Reg. Ones we might all profit from giving some consideration.

    To judge from Mr Gayle’s airport presser, they’re questions to which he is yet to apply much critical thinking.

  4. Cathryn McDonald says

    Thought I’d weigh in on this one… I disagree with James Sunderland’s comment in the link that “the biggest thing that needs to change in women’s cricket is how men think about it”. Instead, I would suggest that the biggest thing that needs to change for women in sport is that the sporting community needs to be interested in what women think.

    After all, we are 50% of the fanbase and good sports administrators know that the fans are always right. People are turning up to the WBBL, people are tuning in in large numbers, so it deserves better timeslots, TV coverage and promotion. And whether or not all men can understand why Gayle’s comments were inappropriate, it’s obvious they’ve upset a lot of fans, something that no club can afford to have their stars do.

    Unfortunately, the sections of the sporting community who talk publicly about sport are far more male-dominated than the fanbase, and those women who are a part of these sections are not necessarily in the best position to “rock the boat”. So the views of female fans don’t necessarily get given the same gravitas as those of male fans.

    So, to answer your question… in my ideal sporting world, women would have greater representation in the ranks of administrators and the media, in a way that’s more reflective of the fans they serve. Articles about sexism in sport would be most often written by women, without having to be filtered through the experiences of men to be taken seriously. Appealing to female fans (including young women and teenage girls) would be taken as good sporting stewardship rather than populism. And male fans would listen to female fans as equals in sporting discussion.

    This is something the BBL has done well in my opinion and it shows in how seriously they’ve treated this issue.

  5. Thanks Cathryn.
    Much has been written today on this topic – and I agree with your views of Utopia. To help redress the male-imbalance here, here are some links…
    Tracey Holmes today: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/05/chris-gayle-if-mel-mclaughlin-had-bright-red-cheeks-she-wasnt-blushing-she-was-angry

    And an interview today featuring Neroli Meadows, Melinda Farrell, Gerard Whateley and Chris Rogers was broadcast on ABC radio. A link appears in this story.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-05/chris-gayle-labelled-a-creep-after-controversial-interview/7068316?section=sport
    Transcript here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-05/transcript-chris-gayle-neroli-meadows-melinda-farrell/7068652?section=sport

    Erin Riley wrote a piece in the SMH today: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/chris-gayle-mel-mclaughlin-and-why-we-fight-20160105-glzllc.html

  6. Really important issue well raised David. Particularly in the context of how would we want the world to be for our daughters and sisters in all aspects of their personal and professional lives.
    I think that is where the double standard of the boofheads/creeps like Gayle and Briggs becomes apparent.
    And lets not forget our own Gold Medal winner SK Warne. Anyone see his Xmas card/instagram thingy with the bikini girls the other day? Vomit.
    And the gambling ads on free to air with the lucky winners surrounded by adoring babes. Come to any mental health or counselling service and meet the thousands of “lucky winners” sleeping on the streets because their “adoring” partners got sick of their “boys will be boys” behaviour. We don’t look so clever then, once the media mirages have evaporated.
    We don’t want to be humourless and po-faced about relationships between the sexes, but the things many men like these don’t get are about power status and REAL consent. I can joke/mildly flirt with a middle aged female colleague that I have known for a long while in a way that I never would either with a younger woman (because its sleazy) or with someone I had just met (no context and shared understandings).
    One of my heroes CG Jung was asked at the end of his life if there was anything he regretted. He said it was his tacit complicity with the Nazis. He thought that the whole German race (he was Swiss German) had an excessive respect/obedience to the masculine/father. In losing touch and respect for the caring and relating (feminine) side of their nature all Germans had allowed an immense atrocity to be perpetrated.
    You still see the same thing in fundamentalist groups of all kinds – from Isis to Trump.
    Unquestioning belief in the alpha male. That way lies madness, exploitation and destruction. Often corrosively and imperceptibly over time – which is why the cultural shifts like journos speaking out and Maryborough Rotary (top marks CC) are so important. Deal with it while its a problem – its too late once its a crisis.

  7. Thesaurus Rex says

    At his brief press stop where Gayle made his “apology for an apology” he made reference to it again! Apart from anything else the guy seems to have some kind of fetish about eyes! He started off by removing his sunnies & mumbled something like “I’ll take off my sunglasses so that everyone can see my eyes & that I’m speaking the truth” … seemed to be what he was uttering.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Well said D.Wilson. And D.Brettig, a superb response. While we still get setbacks like this, progress is being made. As the outrage over Gayle’s comments show.

  9. yes, brother. well said!

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Cat from the Country- just had a look through Maryborough Rotary website. Well done, doing great work.

  11. Steve Fahey says

    Nicely said David and others

    In 2016 you just have to shake your head, or wonder whether you have fallen asleep and are replaying an episode of Mad Men. On the positive side, people are talking about this and the outraged far outweigh the others.

    The key question, as espoused by Peter B is “how would we want the world to be for our daughters and sisters in all aspects of their personal and professional lives”, with one slight change:

    How DO we want that world to be, starting right now ?

  12. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great stuff ER. Peter B, I thought I was the only Jungian Almanacker! Sage words gents. I think Mel’s expression said a great deal. She seemed embarrassed for Gayle, yet utterly powerless. It’s 2016. No more of this shit please!!

  13. Thanks all.
    PB – I particularly like your ability to cut through with one-liners. “Deal with it while its a problem – its too late once its a crisis.”

    Gabrielle Jackson has written a suitably strong piece in The Guardian on sexism in the past week in Australia.
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/06/enough-platitudes-and-excuses-here-is-the-truth-about-this-week-of-sexism

  14. Malcolm Ashwood says

    OBP there is no doubt that society in general is making massive strides towards equality re both sexes
    I think tho the massive way over the top unbalanced hysteria re Gayle has not helped and if there had been some more balanced reaction he would not have received almost universal support last night

  15. Told myself I wouldn’t engage again but here we are. If silence is considered assent then we must not be silent. Malcolm, you keep saying massive overreaction and citing universal support for Gayle:
    1. Bullcrap – because some (mostly) men are vocally asserting themselves is an indication of the problem. A self-selecting facebook poll is not worth the digital paper it is printed on and is irrelevant.
    2. I think people who are commenting on every single news story calling it a hysterical overreaction are hysterically overreacting.
    3. How can it be an overreaction to point out that a law has been contravened? Before you call it an overreaction again please highlight in which way the incident was not in contravention of the 1984 Sex Discrimination Act which outlaws sexual harassment in the workplace. “Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.” In the definitions flirtation which is not mutual or consensual is considered unwelcome sexual behavior. You could call this textbook sexual harassment because IT IS LITERALLY IN THE TEXTBOOK. You don’t like the law contact your local MP, don’t defend Gayle.
    4. This is not about a single incident, rather a pattern of behaviour – this is about a man who sexually harasses female journalists doing their jobs at every single opportunity. They have a right to expect to be protected from this in their workplace. As a protector of people’s rights in their workplaces, you of all people must understand that.

    I hope to raise a daughter that, if faced with such behaviour as Mel encountered, would now be sporting a new pair of testicle earrings. I hope even more that she is never sexually harassed in her workplace (or anywhere else for that matter). As ER suggests where she might be as comfortable to be as her brother.

  16. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Dave I no strictly speaking to the letter it was sexual harassment in real and honest terms was it no.
    The applause,signs and overall society support was behind,Gayle I an over and out on this one agree to differ thank you

  17. George Callum says

    This has been a divisive issue. The court of public opinion as expressed through social media, as noted by Rulebook, is firmly with Chris Gayle because the public is sick of being told how to think. They don’t like PC

    Good perspective by Brendan O’Neill in the Weekend’s Australian. He contends that the PC anti-sex culture is demeaning to both men and women. Worth a read.

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