SO is Chris Gayle guilty of sexual harassment towards Mel McLaughlin or was he just being a grub?
Does it matter that she’s recently separated? Or what about if she was still married? Does it make if a difference if he was aware either way?
What if Gayle was gay and made similar comments towards a heterosexual male reporter? Or heaven forbid the genders were reversed and a female made similar remarks towards a male (see Sunrise’s Nuala Hafner’s flirting with a man on the beach, live on breakfast television in 2014).
Every answer is different and that’s the problem we face.
Is McLaughlin within her rights to be embarrassed, uncomfortable? Too right she is and supposedly the accounts are that she was, and that could not be more fair enough.
But was he being offensive though? He may well have been but is it too simplistic, and therefore potentially unfair, to always label someone as being offensive if someone, a recipient, an audience member, a non-party bystander takes offence?
What if McLaughlin, for whatever reason hypothetically, didn’t take immediate offence to Gayle’s ‘smooth’ advances yet a member of the viewing audience on Channel Ten did? Would that still make his remarks potentially guilty of sexual harassment because it was aired publicly?
Whilst it could be argued being offensive is often when someone takes offence at something, do they permanently run parallel?
Taking McLaughlin out of the picture and being a generalist for a moment, where does the line get drawn between genuinely being offensive to someone and another being possibly too precious, too soft, lacking resilience?
Take the Adam Goodes saga last year. It was publicly reported that because Goodes himself took the booing as racist then the booing was indeed racist. If you booed him in 2015 you were 100% being racist.
Sure, it could be argued that ‘some’ involved could have had racial motives, be it in the initial occasions or once it become the activity de jour.
It could be argued that some who did were out and out racists. Some too may have not been racists but were being indirectly and ignorantly racist, which often is just as bad.
But what about, for an extreme example, a group of Auskick participants, still yet to progress past primary school, waiting in their seats before being called down to play on the hallowed turf at half time, what if they booed because everyone else was booing and they are just being typical, easily impressionable, immature young boys?
Does their booing make them racist? Or is it then different?
And therein lies the issue.
Chris Gayle has copped it from pillar to post since the ‘incident’ and to some level he most definitely deserves some criticism, at the extreme other end of the scale his content and timing where at least unnecessary.
But to have the media come at him from all angles because he was offensive and quite possibly guilty of sexual harassment screams of double standards.
Take the Murdoch Press as one example. He was the lead story, and criticised for his behaviour. However, this is the same publication that has covered him prior as a figure to be lauded.
Columns and inches devoted to Gayle’s liberating lifestyle, all too happy to publish photos of Gayle with scantily-clad women, dancing poles in his house and him smoking cigars, all too fond of having fun with the touring Jamaican and heavily profiling the appeal of the life he leads.
What is fair to judge then? Who is fair to judge? If McLaughlin is offended is apologising to her then enough? Does he need to miss matches because the media drives a campaign saying he must?
Will Melbourne Renegades fans vote with their feet and have families and women turn away from the team if their stance isn’t strong enough? Do the masses really care or is the “offended for offended sake” few making all the noise?
What about Dustin Martin? All of those crying for suspensions, de-registration, criminal charges? Were they offended because they think the woman would or should have been? Where they present at the restaurant? Did every single opinion replicate hers because she went to her employer, Channel Seven, and not the police? Only one person can know what the ‘attack’ felt like, not thousands of talk-back callers.
Take Sam Newman too. He is often lambasted for his perceived dinosaur diatribe on any minority, particularly women who find his sexism so staggering they find Channel Nine’s decision to maintain his employment equally as much.
Now one is not in any position to defend the content that comes out of the Footy Show star’s mouth, over time all of it has a varying degree of pushing boundaries and sometimes most likely indeed crossing them.
Yet the Footy Show’s female demographic has remained strong and unwavering.
They mustn’t all be offended nor must care so much to switch off.
We must in an ever-changing world, where language considered cursing only decades ago has become mainstream without so much of a prude noticing, be careful to not confuse opinions with fact.
Just take the reaction to Shane Warne’s recent appearance in the ‘Marshall Batteries’ commercials, was the fun poked at infidelity challenging humour or downright offensive?
It is all down to subjectivity and with that attracts so much grey.
And often the grey is the same shade of the sports coat worn by the nay-saying, often-friendless, nit-pickers who lost their thick-skin and backbone somewhere at the organic food store after they called an AM radio station to complain about something that offended them so much even though they can’t really explain what the topic is in the first place.
McLaughlin is entitled to react however she sees fit and its then up to Gayle to react accordingly to the way he made her feel, inadvertently or not.
But it doesn’t mean we, or the media more importantly, are in a position to label him as ‘definitely’ guilty of sexually harassment.
Nor should all the people who booed Adam Goodes be labelled racist because he said everyone was and no-one in the media had the plums to suggest otherwise because they would then be liable to being labelled even more racist than the crowds they were judging in the first place.
What if a section of the crowd who booed Goodes had literally no racist intent? Are they then just being bullies? Now is that still offensive?
What if someone publicly said they booed Goodes but weren’t being racist one iota and therefore found Goodes’ labelling of the public offensive? Should then Goodes apologise?
Clear sexism, racism, homophobia, religious vilification and sexual harassment are completely off limits and that’s unequivocal.
But society needs to spend less time worrying about the offence they find in people, media, life, because if one looks hard enough everyone has a skeleton in their closet, everyone is human and can easily stray six inches away from living an angelic life, everyone is different
If the easily aggrieved can spend a little less time being so precious and critical of the world they live in they might actually live longer and wouldn’t that be the most joyous thing?