Guardian writer Russell Jackson's "Blokesworld" column on the Chris Gayle affair has caused a stir worldwide. Courtesy of the Guardian, we reprint the column below.
One great thing about working in sport media, beyond the blindingly obvious, is that each time you turn up for work the people whose deeds you're there to report do unexpected and often wonderful things, some of which can be foretold but enough of which are sufficiently unpredictable that the whole thing's a hoot.
A member of the media in front of me was tabbing between his match report and a constant stream of hardcore pornography
Off field though, there are also a lot of things you see that aren't much fun. Last week in the Melbourne Cricket Ground press box I was staggered to note, on the third morning of the Test and for the entire day thereafter, an accredited member of the media sitting in front of me tapping away at his company laptop, but tabbing between his match report and a constant stream of hardcore pornography.
I could barely believe what I was seeing. The thing that initially staggered me was the sheer audacity of it, that the presence of both female and male colleagues, who were sitting metres away with clear views of his screen, hadn't been enough to deter him and that he felt perfectly comfortable doing it in full view. Welcome to Blokesworld.
Eventually, as the second day of this bizarre routine kicked off, this fervent porn consumer had to be awkwardly approached and told by an administrator of reasonable authority that not only could those female and male colleagues see what he was doing but that they'd appreciate it if he stopped. He did, admirably restraining himself for the rest of the day.
Personally, I don't subscribe to every arcane and unspoken law of the press box, but find the one that precludes any of us from spending eight hours on the verge of public masturbation is generally observed by all.
I mention this admittedly extreme but also entirely truthful account of the scenario primarily to set a scene - one, in my experience, that plays out in any number of workplaces where men still outnumber women. It's a scene of male entitlement and arrested development.
And here's the thing; the situation above, as it was unfolding, did also prompt chuckles from both women and men present, but once they subsided, mostly it just made people feel uncomfortable. In many workplaces, just as in life itself, women are made to feel uncomfortable every single day.
On Monday night you could see that look of discomfort on Mel McLaughlin's face as she was crudely propositioned on live international television by cricket's leery creep-in-residence, Chris Gayle. I'll tell you what you also saw there; the face of all of the female sports reporters to whom this sort of stuff has happened far too often and which, for reasons that entirely escape me, still happens to them in 2016.
2016. Not 1974. Not as the sneakily-damning feminism-in-media subplot of Anchorman. 2016. Almost everything about sport has improved in the past few decades, yet still women are unable to simply turn up to work and do their job properly without being slobbered over by lecherous simpletons like Gayle.
Gayle has form of course (more on that in this excellent and sadly necessary post by ESPN Cricinfo's Raf Nicholson), but his utterly boorish shtick has also long been encouraged both in the media and by the T20 franchises who continue to see his waning talents as an appealing "package" deal with a persona that presumably appeals hugely to a knuckle-dragging subgenre of cricket fans.
Before a Caribbean Premier League match, Gayle was once asked by a female journalist: "How does the pitch feel so far, in terms of the training and the weather?" His response: "Well, I haven't touched yours yet so I don't know how it feels."
Never mind that the stated aim of the Big Bash, when it was conceived, was to attract a broader array of Australians to the sport and the women and children who'd perhaps been alienated in the past by the game's rougher edges and blokier aspects. Nor that this year's introduction of the Women's Big Bash has been a roaring success.
There's still apparently a marquee slot in the competition's increasingly slick scene for a grown man who calls himself "World Boss" and apparently views women as sex puppets, there to pleasure him after he's hit a couple of sixes, holed out early and uttered a few monosyllabic, unenlightening responses to questions from the commentary box.
If anything, surely he's the least charismatic West Indian cricket superstar in memory.
Sadly, Gayle is not a lone ranger. In the past couple of years I've watched greats of sport - men with OBEs and legions of fans - boldly and publicly sleaze on to female members of the media with no shame. It makes me wonder what they're like when the veneer of professionalism is removed altogether and they're operating out in society. Lock up your daughters? More like arm yourself with mace.
And incidents like Gayle's comments last night are only the stuff that fans actually see.
Behind sport's showbiz curtain there's day after day of it at the back of broadcasting booths, press boxes and interview cattle calls. Current players, former players, members of the media and also members of the public are the perpetrators.
Those on the receiving end mostly brush it off and rarely write things like this, because making a fuss of it opens up layers of hassle and angst that male counterparts simply never have to encounter. Just for doing their job.
The viewing public are not without blame for encouraging the Gayles of the world, nor for their own behaviour. When you watch a sports-focused news report or vox pop conducted by a woman, what you don't see is the many abandoned takes where cretinous men walk into the shot to say things like "f*** her right in the pussy" (an ongoing internet meme that seemingly won't go away) and in some instances, grab and grope at the woman in question.
Again, this is the treatment they receive simply for turning up to work and doing their job.
When they leave at the end of the day they can settle in for a scroll down their social media mentions, which run the full gamut of the deeply broken male psyche.
If you think this is all a bit extreme as a reaction to the comments of a known oaf, consider the fact that if a female member of the media wrote the exact same piece - and really, this is just a list of things that happen every day in a lot of workplaces - it's highly likely that they'd cop unhinged abuse as a result.
If this receives a little bit of the same for one day, I guess I'll see what life is like the other 364 days of the year for virtually any woman with an opinion on sport.
Also know that what goes on in cricket is at the milder end of the scale. I worked for a number of years around the motorsport scene, where employment opportunities for women then focused most densely on stripping down and being displayed like cured meat in a butcher's shop. I once asked a guy whose responsibility it was to hire grid girls about this truly cringeworthy task and the comment he (of course he) made that really stuck with me was that it was imperative to identify and maintain the services of women who were "good sports".
That, I felt, was a statement loaded with two distinct meanings; firstly that a good sport was someone at least willing to silently accept being sexually harassed for days on end in order to be paid a wage comparable with that of the men and, secondly, that a bad sport was probably someone that wouldn't be getting much more work.
Every day in sports media there are women being asked to be "good sports". It shames the rest of us that it's so.
- reprinted by permission from the Guardian.