Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 9th 2015 Contents A22
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, January 9, 2016
By now, most of us are aware of the recent
controversy surrounding Chris Gayle s com-
ments to reporter Mel McLaughlin as she
attempted to conduct a sports interview with
him. On this side of the world, many of us have
our opinions on the matter and it tends to cen-
tre around the perspective that "it s no big deal."
This really should not surprise us. The divide
between developed and developing nations
always seem to be highlighted when issues such
as these surface, and sadly many Caribbean
nationals seem to hold this "no big deal" view.
But behold! Like an iceberg, there are enor-
mous underlying issues hidden in this seemingly
In order to understand these expansive issues,
we are required to think critically and at depths
that seem to evade the vast majority of our peo-
ple---and I blame our poorly-constructed educa-
tion system with our emergent degree mills that
churn out individuals who memorise and regur-
gitate information, and are only able to offer
shallow, non-progressive and narrow-thinking
comments to issues such as these.
Some of us have been able to see that Gayle s
comments were unprofessional, given the context
within which they were made. But we need to
examine more widely and we need to go deeper.
Firstly, his comments were of a "hitting"
nature...on live TV...in the middle of her doing
No rational-thinking, intelligent and drug-free
man, who is serious about his interest in a
woman, would approach her on live TV while
she is working.
Such an action is not only unprofessional, but
it also shows complete disregard for the discom-
fort such comments would have caused.
So why would a man act with such disregard?
It really all boils down to Caribbean male
machismo, perceived female sexual currency and
a bit of arrogance. After all, he is a popular ath-
lete---a fact that may lead to him believe that he
can make a pass at any female, coupled with a
society that seldom takes women seriously.
What we need to be cognisant of, is that this
incident is representative of the struggles that
almost all professional women face, especially
those in male-dominated fields. The struggle to
be respected as a professional with expertise,
rather than a piece of meat, is a real one for
thousands of women.
As a society, we have created an almost micro-
scopic, oppressive prison box within which we
demand women exist. We see evidence of this
often in our casual conversations---when a
woman is assertive, focused and driven in the
boardroom, we call her a bitch, yet a man with
similar traits is labelled confident and assertive.
When a good-looking woman lands a great
job, we often trivialise her accomplishment as
the recruiters seeing "a pretty face," or we may
wonder who she slept with to get that job.
We undermine her intelligence with comments
that subtly assume the notion that physical
beauty and intelligence are polarised opposites
and as this incident showed, we force women to
constantly struggle to be respected and taken
seriously in the professional world.
Decades after we removed the physical barriers
and allowed women to enter the world of work,
we have not yet removed the invisible constructs
that she faces when she gets there.
Coming off the recent issue of Shannon
Gomes being denied entry under the advertised
female price at a nightclub because she was not
"portraying herself as female" (aka dressing for
male sexual consumption), the Chris Gayle s case
shows that women that do dress "female" as
Mel did, are then treated unprofessionally, not
taken seriously and subjected to sexual harass-
ment and sexism.
In one case it s a matter of "if you dress like
man, take price like man," in the other case "it s
not a big deal...so just get over it."
Taken collectively, the message to our women
is that they need to stay in their prescribed
boxes and everything will be just fine. The intel-
ligent person can connect these seemingly dis-
parate dots to manifest the collective oppression
and misogynistic culture we have created.
Gayle s so-called apology sadly showed that he
too couldn t comprehend what the big deal was
Perhaps, we cannot blame him when we have
created and continue to perpetuate a culture that
teaches men that women are something to "get."
It is quite disconcerting that our wider society
also does not comprehend the bigger issues
inherent in this incident, but it is absolutely
frightening that some of our degree mill gradu-
ates cannot see why this is a critical issue that
needs to be discussed and not swept away.
Our education system clearly needs revamp-
ing---and that s part of the issue as well.
So while the cricket authorities debate over
reprimanding Gayle for his comments, we need
to begin holistically educating our people.
Our region is in dire need of a conversation on
what masculinity really entails, in the absence of
oppressing and objectifying women.
We cannot progress as a nation, if we continue
to oppress and disregard half of our population
because of their genitals.
We cannot progress by moving our left leg
only. The right leg must also move simultane-
ously and in synchronicity if real progress is to
We need to start respecting women, because
believe it or not, they are people too.
It certainly will not be a happy new
year for the West Indies team and
management currently touring down
under. And the same applies for all the
WI fans, what little is left of them, that
is. I, for one, can recall the heady days
of a distant past when the WI team
was an all-conquering force in world
cricket. Arguably the best Test team
ever, Clive Lloyd and his bunch of
merry marauders made other teams
grovel at their feet. And they were the
biggest box-office draw even when
playing abroad. Everyone wanted to
see Richards, Greenidge, Haynes, the
aforementioned Lloyd and the four-
pronged pace attack of Roberts, Hold-
ing, Croft and Garner initially.
But those days are long gone and all
any die-hard fan has to look forward to
is one humiliating defeat after another.
And the West Indies Cricket Board can
try to shirk their responsibility for the
disaster that is WI cricket, but if you
are tasked with managing the game
regionally and cannot produce results
then whose fault is it?
The latest from the WICB is, of
course, that they will not be dissolving
"themselves" any time soon. Not unex-
pected but the sheer arrogance to lay
blame everywhere else is quite amaz-
ing. No looking in the mirror for Dave
Cameron and company, no way.
The Caricom committees have got it
all wrong, did not look at all factors and
if they, the board, have provided
enough compensation, facilities, train-
ing and resources well then it is the
players who shoulder the blame.
What a cop out! To reiterate, the
WICB is charged with running the
game regionally. If results are not
showing on the field and it is the play-
ers at fault well, who develops and se-
lects the players in the first place?
There is no way the WICB can escape
the responsibility and no one in the WI
will buy that.
The Caribbean people recognise that
things have changed. They know
money plays a most important role in
cricket today. They will even acknowl-
edge that the crop of players today
don't have the same motivation and
mental strength that is required to
compete at the top level of the game.
But if that be the case they also know
that the WICB is the organisation that
is supposed to change that paradigm
and develop better prepared cricketers.
So no pass for the WICB and they are
not fooling anyone with their rhetoric.
No "happy new year" and I am not
surprised at the results in Australia. If I
were a betting man I would be wager-
ing on how fast the WI would lose
each Test. I could have been rich since I
knew it was well within three or four
days. The question is where do we go
Since the board has no intention of
being held accountable by Caricom
then I suggest that the only recourse
for the Caricom governments is for
each independent nation to withhold
any funding from the territorial boards
until reform is forced to happen, ie the
dissolution of the WICB.
If I am not mistaken no territorial
cricket board can survive without
some kind of government subventions.
And this would be the vehicle which
could ensure necessary changes begin
to take shape.
Whether or not the respective gov-
ernments take this approach is left to
At this point I do not see too many
options for them and if they do not act
forcefully then it will be just business
as usual with the resultant humiliating
defeats continuing to overshadow the
once proud cricketing tradition of the
It was amaz-
ing and amus-
ing to hear
to the defence
of a foreign
was hit upon
by Chris Gayle.
I find it very
one of our own
ing to check
out her tattoos
while she was
on an interview
with him, no
MATT said a
our local Gayle
got a free pass
media are a
bunch of hyp-
ent strokes for
For too long
they can do
want and its
okay, and its
on this PM to
islation to pro-
the hen house?
BIG DEAL IN A SMALL INCIDENT
Television reporter Mel McLaughlin with Chris Gayle.
Cannot be business as usual
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