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It's about decency and respect

06 January 2016
Our voices

An important conversation about sexism in sport has started. I hope it will make some people think and act differently

Unless you've been holidaying in a cave or meditating in a desert somewhere you'll be well aware of the Chris Gayle interview.

And you will have a very strong opinion on it either way.

However, in this day and age there should only be one way to view this.

Moving on: McLaughlin accepts Gayle apology

Gayle's behaviour wasn't harmless fun or clever. Whether he intended it or not, he was disrespectful and demeaning.

You would hope we've moved on from the Pepé Le Pew School of Charm, where subtlety and sledgehammer fall firmly in the same sentence.  And most of us understand Mike Myers was being ironic when he created Austin Powers and added 'baby' to the end of his one-liners. Outside of a relationship no one wants to be called 'baby', unless you actually are one – the nappy-wearing kind.

You don't need to have written a thesis on body language to see that Network Ten sports journalist Mel McLaughlin was uncomfortable.

Surely the fact she was uncomfortable is reason enough to stop and make people think?

McLaughlin reacts to Gayle's comments on air // Network Ten

By turning the conversation into one about her attractiveness and availability Gayle effectively belittled her as a journalist.

She should not have been made to feel uncomfortable in her workplace, doing her job.

In sport, we're not talking about the odd throwaway line, casual sexism is rife.

When you stack up all the "jokes", innuendos, asides, double standards and discrimination you have a systemic problem.

That's why it's so important not to view Gayle's behaviour in isolation. Only then can you understand why so many people were offended.

Quick Single: Gayle sanctioned for TV comments

To the parade of commentators who lined up to say, "calm down" and "lighten up" – you have missed the point.

This is not "political correctness gone mad" and it's not about taking personality out of sport.

It's about decency.

Unless you're a woman trying to carve out a career in a male-dominated industry you don't really know what it feels like.

If you think it's funny to watch a woman squirm and look uncomfortable you need to take a good hard look at yourself. You are part of the problem.

WATCH: Gayle addresses the media at Melbourne airport 

This has nothing to do with not having a sense of humour and everything to do with respect.

It has to be viewed as part of a much bigger problem. Sport is a microcosm of society.

What happens in sport is up in bright lights for all to see because we're a sports-mad country. Sportsmen are role models whether they like it or not, and with that privilege comes responsibility. Boys and girls take their cues from their sporting heroes.

I'm sure all fathers would want their daughters to be valued beyond their looks, treated as equals and treated with respect in all areas of their life.

Gayle has offered an apology of sorts; McLaughlin has accepted it and he's been fined $10,000 by the Renegades, which will go to the McGrath Foundation.

Whether Gayle understands that he crossed the line remains to be seen, but some good can come from this.

WATCH: Gayle 'not cool' says Sutherland

Another important conversation has started about sexism in sport. I'm hopeful that it will make some people think and act differently.

I'm an optimist. Attitudes change. People change. Society changes. Education is the key.

We're in the middle of a history-making summer of cricket. We want the talk to be all about the cricket. We have the Rebel Women's Big Bash League, people are flocking to the games and there's a genuine feeling of goodwill in both competitions.

The KFC Big Bash League has worked hard to create a family atmosphere. Children really have been the backbone of this series and we want them to be inspired for all the right reasons. 

WATCH: Mark Howard responds to Gayle's comments

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