Just over a week ago, a few words by one of the best known cricketers in the world reverberated around the world. Batsman Chris Gayle sparked a global debate when, in answer to a female reporter’s question relating to the batting surface he was about to play on at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds he said, “Well I haven’t touched yours yet, so I don’t know how it feels.”
The supporters and the critics came out in droves, not just in little Antigua where the comment was made or just in the locale where the Caribbean Premiere League is staged but around the world wherever the very popular game of cricket is played and Gayle’s name is quite well known.
Now, see for yourself, possibly for the first time, a video of that infamous press conference and judge whether Gayle is caught in a moment of sexist indiscretion or has been unduly chastised for answering a direct question – both positions being the ones taken by his critics and supporters. This video clip starts with Observer Reporter Neto Baptiste asking Antigua Hawksbills Captain Dwayne Bravo and his Jamaica Tallawahs counterpart, Gayle, about day games as opposed to the night games the CPL ran in its debut year, 2013.
The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) on Wednesday 16th July, 2014 said no malice was intended as a women’s rights group condemned “sexist” remarks made by Jamaica Tallawahs Captain, Chris Gayle, to a female reporter.
“How does the pitch feel so far in terms of the training (and) the weather,” was the question asked by the female who did not identify herself during a news conference here on Wednesday.
“Well I haven’t touched yours yet so I don’t know how it feels,” was Gayle’s response.
The woman laughed uncontrollably at which point the Tallawahs captain remarked: “I like your smile; that’s nice.”
At that point, someone at the head table whispered to Gayle “stick to cricket” and “press conference, please.”
In an email, later, the CPL spokesperson defended Gayle’s action saying “Chris is excited for the tournament and was having a laugh with a journalist, who had a laugh back; there was no malice intended.
“The lady in question had a jovial goodbye chat with him and we don’t believe this was the action of someone who was offended,” the spokesperson added.
However, gender equity advocate and head of Women Against Rape (WAR) Alexandrina Wong has blasted both the CPL for their response to the situation and Gayle for making the “sexist” remarks.
Wong said, “What it’s implying is one person’s power over another in the use of the language and so we can either say it’s sexist and hegemonic.”
She told OBSERVER media that the response from the local reporter “indicates that she obviously doesn’t know her right to autonomy.
“She obviously doesn’t know her right when it comes to agency of body so that she can identify certain types of language, how they allude to her biology and what its saying about her as a person,” Wong said.
Wong has called on Gayle to offer a “public apology and added “CPL should demand it from him because as senior officials they ought to know and to behave better when it comes to gender equality.”
Gayle’s comments were made at a news conference at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds ahead of the Jamaica Tallawahs taking on the home team, Antigua Hawksbills here today.
The home team will play the Barbados Tridents on Saturday the Red Steel on Sunday.