This is about respect. Nothing more, nothing less.
On Monday night, sports reporter Mel McLaughlin interviewed Chris Gayle, a cricket star who plays for the Melbourne Renegades in Australia. As McLaughlin attempted to do her job and ask questions related to the game and Gayle's performance, the athlete responded that he wanted to come on the interview "just to see [McLaughlin's] eyes for the first time." He then stated his hope that she join him for a drink after the game.
It gets worse.
As Gayle realizes McLaughlin has clearly become uncomfortable, he says, with a chuckle:
"Don't blush, baby."
This is wrong on so many levels.
Unfortunately, I know a plenty of women who experience discomfort like this on a daily basis. I bet you do, too. Most likely, Gayle's actions wouldn't be deemed "sexual harassment" by most courts--but it's indicative of a problem for women (and no doubt, some men) everywhere.
Still, there are a number of people who think this is no big deal. For example, outspoken television personality Piers Morgan had this to say:
Morgan's certainly entitled to his opinion. And I know that society can blow political correctness out of proportion. But really?
If you happen to agree with Morgan, please consider the following:
This was the wrong place and wrong time.
Are you really romantically interested in someone you work with? Okay, that happens. But if you're going to express that interest, use some discernment.
In this example, Gayle completely ignores the reporter's attempt to do her job. (You know, the express reason why she's there in the first place?)
He wrongly took advantage of the situation.
Essentially, Gayle asked McLaughlin out in front of a live television audience.
Was he serious? If so, he should have asked (and given her the opportunity to reply) privately. Was he joking? (He claims that he was.) Then he trivializes her work and puts her in an embarrassing situation, just to get a few laughs.
His remark was sexist and completely inappropriate.
"Don't blush, baby."
There's simply no place for this statement in the workplace. Ever.
To be fair, Gayle did offer an apology, as reported by the New York Times:
"There wasn't anything at all meant to be disrespectful or offensive to Mel and if she felt that way I'm really sorry for that."
Was he sincere? Time will tell. (He was also fined 10,000 AUD by his team for his remarks.) And to be clear, I'm not judging Gayle, only his behavior in this scenario. I honestly believe he committed a crime we're all guilty of at one point or another--not thinking things through.
And of course, much respect to Ms. McLaughlin: Although she clearly didn't approve of the incident, she handled it like a true professional. (It's been reported that she's accepted Gayle's apology.)
In the end, I think English lawyer Sophia Cannon summed it up better than I can: