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I called Chris Gayle a dickhead on social media last night.
Chris Gayle's interview fail
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Chris Gayle's interview fail
West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle has been slammed for making 'inappropriate' comments during an interview with Network Ten journalist Mel McLaughlin.
Apart from disappointing my mother with my choice of language, I attracted plenty of abuse from Twitter trolls.
I was sent to interview Chris Gayle a couple of years ago. He said no to the interview before hitting on me. Dickhead is his default mode.— Fleta Page (@FletaTheTweeter) January 4, 2016
After Gayle made a pass at Mel McLaughlin on the BBL coverage, I tweeted that I'd also been hit on by the West Indian cricketer after being sent to interview him.
It was a few years ago, I'd hijacked him on the West Indies team's day off, so it came as no surprise he refused to be interviewed.
To be honest it wasn't really a surprise that he followed it up with a sleazy comment (I can't remember what it was exactly but included getting a drink and chatting without a notepad and recorder), even if at the time it left me feeling awkward.
He has a bit of a reputation as a "smooth talker" after all. But that doesn't make it any better or more forgivable.
I went back to the office, mentioned it to my colleagues then laughed it off. I'd be an angry person if I couldn't move on from such things. It's not the first time and likely won't be the last.
But we should be able to call it out, whether it's a federal minister, a high profile athlete or Bob from marketing, without being the subject of witch hunts or abuse, or told to just laugh it off.
There are plenty of people saying Gayle's interaction with Mel McLaughlin is "just a bit of fun", "she should take it as a compliment", but unwanted sexual advances at work aren't cool or "a bit of fun".
They're not cool if it's a sleazy client, they're not cool if it's your older boss, they're not cool if it makes you feel awkward and uncomfortable while doing your job. It's harassment.
On Monday night, after a number of tweets implying I was lying about my interaction with Gayle - obviously, because I'm not attractive enough for anyone to hit on - I turned off the notifications.
After a night of contemplating how I could make myself more attractive to invite future Twitter creeps and sexual-harassers, a friend pointed out there is a cultural difference when it comes to gender relations here and in the West Indies.
She's an expert in gender and cultural studies, and made the observation after visiting Jamaica and Trinidad in a professional capacity, so I think she's likely on to something.
So perhaps I'll apologise for saying "dickhead is [Chris Gayle's] default mode", and cut him some slack, as I wonder if anyone has ever specifically told him that it's considered inappropriate for him to hit on women when they are dealing with him in a professional capacity.
In Australia, that message seems to be slowly getting through to most athletes.
While many laughed at Gayle's interaction, and even applauded it, the speed with which it was condemned by Channel 10 and Cricket Australia was pleasing.
Hopefully we'll see less of those 'antics' from Gayle in the future.
BBL commentator Mark Howard's slightly awkward, but genuine public apology to viewers was very heartening. I genuinely don't believe that would have happened even two years ago.
The day women are completely welcome in sport is getting closer.
It's a shame we can't say the same for Twitter.
The readiness of people - and it wasn't just the anonymous egg accounts hurling insults at me - to behave more atrociously than the people they're defending suggests we still have a long way to go.
There is something insidious about the social media culture which lends itself to silencing women.
If we did a pop quiz of female journos - in sport or otherwise - who've had similar experiences with an interviewee, I reckon the rate would be close to 100 per cent.
You won't see most of them writing about it on social media, but it's time we stopped feeling the need to stay silent.