An Open Letter to Chris Gayle
I guess you’re kind of sick of seeing your name in the media as of late right? I’m sure you’re thinking that you made a harmless, even flattering comment to Mel McLaughlin and this has sent hysterical women all around the world into a frenzy. Geeze those feminists – always looking for a chance to play the victim right? That can’t be a lot of fun, especially when you’ve done some much more news worthy things as of late. It was a joke, alright perhaps in bad taste, but a simple, silly harmless joke right?
Sorry Chris, but the issues is that your comment is far more than a one off comment that people need to forget about. It’s an example of the kind of things, in varying degrees that women and men suffer from every single day. It’s an example of an incident that contributes to a much larger issue, and a very warped society where sexual advances, attraction and sex itself is used as a weapon. It’s a part of a problem where women sit in boardrooms and face comments on the size of their breasts, to be told they are being ‘hysterical’ when they express displeasure. It is part of a problem where we walk on the street, and no matter what we wear are hollered at, hear whistles, cat calling, and even being groped.
You see Chris, we are tired and angry. We are tired of being told that this is a non-issue, we are tired of harassment being mansplained to us, we are really tired of men (and women) making jokes and saying things like ‘oh guess I should never hit on/ask out anyone again coz that’s harassment’. We;re tired of pretending we have a husband/boyfriend or being accompanied by a man to avoid unwelcome advances. We’re really tired of the issue being avoided.
Because the issue is this Chris – somehow we have ended up living in a world where women can vote, work, drive etc. but are still hostages of their own sexuality. I can’t count the number of times a man has leered at me and I have wondered if I wore something different it wouldn’t have happened. Or been afraid to travel at night for fear of what someone would do to me. Or been told what ‘as a woman’ I am expect to do and not to do. And this is suffered by women and men across the world in so many ways and degrees – to the point where victims of rape are told they shouldn’t have been drunk/walking alone/dressed that way, implying it was their fault.
I understand that Mel has said she’d like to ‘move on’, and you may wonder why if the person to whom the comments are directed at is fine then what is everyone else still harping about? You did apologize didn't you? But Chris this problem is not just about you and Mel. It’s much, much bigger and far more complex than that. This problem is interwoven with your alleged previous behavior of this nature to other women, with the way women are objectified in the media, and the way young girls (and boys) grow up thinking that this is how you talk to and treat people.
You may have a daughter someday, and wouldn’t you want her to grow up knowing she is a person whose value is far more than her body or looks? You may have a son, and wouldn’t you like to not wake up and realize he takes from women what they were not willing to give? We want it too Chris – but when things like this keep happening we see more young girls thinking all they are worth is their sexuality and more young men thinking it’s their right to have it.
Do think about this. You are more than an ordinary guy – you are a sporting legend. And this means that dozens of young kids will grow up watching and idolizing your every move. For their sake, the next time you want to say something inappropriate or see it happening – stop and call it out. The women and men whose children won’t suffer as a result from what we did suffer will thank you.
Good luck with the rest of the games and your career.