Mel McLaughlin is proof women in sport deserve more respect

A post-innings interview between West Indian cricket player Chris Gayle and Channel Ten reporter Mel McLaughlin has highlighted that sexism in sport is sticking around like a bad smell.

The interview began after Gayle came off the field during the game between the Melbourne Renegades and the Hobart Hurricanes. It didn’t take long before the conversation moved away from cricket and onto more pressing matters, like McLaughlin’s eyes.

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“I wanted to come and have an interview with you as well, that’s the reason why I’m here,” Gayle said. “Just to see your eyes for the first time. It’s nice.”

McLaughlin looks down and appears uncomfortable as Gayle goes on: “So hopefully we can win this game and we can have a drink after. Don’t blush, baby.”

I am rolling my eyes with so much exaggeration right now it hurts, and I hope you are, too.

Thankfully, there was some uproar on Twitter by the likes of England all-rounder Freddie Flintoff who said, “Well played @Mel_Mclaughlin !! Big fan of @henrygayle but made himself look a bit of a chop there.”

More than a bit of a chop, Gayle looked like a chauvinistic doofus. McLaughlin, a sports reporter who has hosted several shows including Kick Off and Fox Sports FC, was there to do her job.

Talking about grabbing a drink after the game in a sexual manner, then telling her not to blush during a televised interview isn’t just a bit of fun — it shows once again that women in sport don’t receive anywhere near as much respect as men.

Earlier last year during the Australian Open in Melbourne, Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard was on the receiving end of another unfortunate sexist gaffe in a televised interview.

Instead of the attention being focused on Bouchard’s elite sportsmanship, it was shifted to what she was wearing. She was also asked to do a “twirl”. I just vomited a little in my mouth just then. Seriously. I can’t tell you how sick it makes me to think that people don’t view this as sexism and a lack of respect.

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Of course, following Gayle’s unfortunate brain fart, some people (actually, mostly men — think of that what you wish) took to Twitter to say how little of an issue the incident between McLaughlin and Gayle actually was. Because, of course, these men are clearly experts on being made to feel inferior simply because of their sex.

“I’m absolutely outraged that everyone’s so absolutely outraged by @henrygayle being a bit cheeky to a female TV reporter,” enlightened feminist Piers Morgan said.

“A bit of fun by @henrygayle everybody relax — no one hurt, injured or dead!” said AFL player, Tex Walker.

I think you’ll find, Mr Walker, that yes, people are getting hurt. Women are featured in only 7 percent of sport coverage in Australia, which means horse racing receives more coverage on the news than women’s sport does. Yes, horses.

Women on teams like the Matildas earn $22,000 per annum while their male counterparts can earn that just for sneezing, or doing a few group-stage tournaments. Can I also remind everyone that $34,158 is the annual minimum wage in Australia?

So, yes, women do get the raw end of the deal. Not only when they’re playing sport on the field, but when they’re commentating it, too. Because clearly a woman’s currency is what she looks like, not what she has to contribute physically or mentally.

That’s the message people are sending when they laugh at things like this or claim it was just a bit of cheeky fun. It’s not funny; it is degrading and the sporting arena needs a good kick up the bum so women are finally taken seriously. Not most of the time, not some of the time, but all of the time.

What do you think? Do women in sport deserve more respect? Let us know.

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