As more details emerge, it is becoming clear that Chris Gayle’s comments to Channel 10 reporter Mel McLaughlin weren’t just a “simple joke,” as he claims. The sporting world rightly cringed when during a live TV interview, he responded to a work related question from McLaughlin with, “To see your eyes for the first time is nice. Hopefully we can have a drink afterwards.”

Noticing the aversion on McLaughlin’s face, Gayle added icing to this distasteful cake with the words, “Don’t blush, baby.”

Chris Gayle comments cause uncomfortable Big... by songsbestie

Gayle, also a part time off-break bowler, may have been able to spin his initial sentences, but to patronizingly reduce a woman from an equal to ‘baby’ while invalidating her feelings with the words ‘don’t blush’, in the context of the conversation’s setting, was undeniably sexist.

As the world rightly condemned the incident, with outrage on the internet, officials fining Gayle $10,000, and McLaughlin herself expressing disappointment, an interesting backlash to the backlash began to develop.

Across the world, many expressed sympathy for Gayle, claiming his comments were innocent. TV presenter Piers Morgan, for one, launched a staunch defense for the Jamaican cricketer on Twitter, while Charlotte Gill wrote on the The Independent, “…it almost makes me feel sorry for Gayle. Clearly bowled over by the interviewer’s beauty, he splutters the invitation out like a nervous schoolboy. And as she frowns at him, and he responds “Don’t blush, baby”, you sense that it’s actually him who’s shrivelling up inside.”

Gill went on to say, “But, come on, we all know that asking someone on a date is not a crime – otherwise there’d be no such thing as procreation.”

Clearly, many fail to realize that the crime wasn’t the act of flirtation itself, but the environment in which it took place. Mel McLaughlin wasn’t at a party, a nightclub, or a pub… she was working. And although some workplaces allow dating, flirting with a woman conducting an interview on live TV is similar to passing sleazy comments during a business meeting at work with the whole boardroom watching.

Think about it. How would you react if someone downplays your disgust at their unwanted advances with the words, “Don’t blush, baby”?

As for those who believe Chris Gayle is a babe in the woods, the cricketer certainly has a pattern of perverted behavior. A female staff member has accused Gayle of flashing her with his penis when she went inside the dressing room to get a sandwich at a time she thought the team was out on the field. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the cricketer said to her, “Are you looking for this?” as she searched for food.

Meanwhile, Fox News reporter Neroli Meadows has called Gayle a ‘creep’. A news.com.au report shares her reaction, ““He’s done it to me, he’s done it to several women. He does this constantly. He is a creep. He has creepy behaviour, and the way that he did it to Mel was just that. I’m a cricket fan. I love the fact that he’s an entertaining person. But guess what? You can still be entertaining without humiliating somebody else. And that’s why he does it — to humiliate. He does it to get a reaction from the boys. That’s the only reason he does it. For one second — just trust us. Rather than saying ‘what a bunch of whingeing women’ Just trust us that maybe we’re telling the truth and that maybe it is upsetting and that it does happen all the time and it’s not OK.”

Unfortunately, this is how sexism works, especially at the work place. Using the guise of ‘humor’, some deliver crude sexual comments much to the discomfort of their targets. When they don’t earn the responses they seek, or the issue is reported, their behavior is defended with, “Why are you overreacting? It was just a joke?”

No, I am afraid there is nothing humorous about casual objectification.