Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Carolyn Cooper | Chris Gayle’s penis underexposed

Published:Sunday | November 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Sexual harassment is a deadly serious affair. Just ask the notorious Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. And his victims! On October 5, the New York Times published a report claiming that Weinstein had been harassing women for more than 30 years. He issued an apology and was forced to take immediate leave from the company he'd co-founded.

The charges against Weinstein kept piling up. Three women accused him of rape. By October 8, he was fired. On October 10, his wife, Georgina Chapman, announced in People magazine that she was leaving him: "My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions."

Weinstein's response was rather optimistic: "I support her decision, I am in counselling and perhaps, when I am better, we can rebuild. Over the last week, there has been a lot of pain for my family that I take responsibility for."

Weinstein seems to see his behaviour as an illness rather than a matter of morality. His sexual offences are not the result of individual choice. Counselling will, presumably, make him a better man. But can it?

Weinstein's case has precipitated a global outcry against men who harass women. #MeToo continues to inspire victims to speak out. It's not only women. Men have also been telling their stories of abuse. Kevin Spacey, Hollywood actor, director, screenwriter and producer, has been accused of harassing several men, including at least one minor.

 

THE 'METOO' EFFECT

 

So what does all of this have to do with Chris Gayle's penis? It's the 'MeToo' effect. Masseuse Leanne Russell accused Gayle of exposing himself to her in 2015 in the dressing room of Drummoyne Oval while the West Indies team was on tour in Australia. According to an ABC report, updated on October 25, 2017, "Leanne Russell ... contacted The Age newspaper last year when she was angered by a TV interview in which Mr Gayle told a reporter 'Don't blush baby'."

Serves Gayle right. If he had not propositioned Mel McLaughlin on air, Leanne Russell might not have accused him of indecent exposure. Does the 'MeToo' movement encourage women and men to make false accusations? Just to be part of the action! Social media campaigns have a way of getting out of hand. They encourage mass hysteria.

According to a report published in the UK Guardian on October 25, 2017, the dressing room conversation between Russell and Gayle, who was wearing a towel, went like this: "Chris asked me what I was looking for," she said. "I said, 'A towel'. And he said, 'Are you looking for this?' I saw the top half of Chris's penis and I shielded my eyes and left the room. I said 'No' and I walked out."

I can't help wondering how Russell knew so precisely that what she saw was the top half of Gayle's penis. Exactly half? How many inches did she 'sight' before shielding her eyes? Her choice of the word shield suggests a blinding object from which she needed protection. It's the stereotype of the hyper-sexed black male in all his dazzling glory or threatening monstrosity.

According to the Guardian report, Russell "cried uncontrollably after the West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle pulled his towel up to expose his penis".

By my calculation, if Gayle had really pulled the towel up, his entire penis would have been on view. Russell would have actually been able to see much more than the top half of Gayle's penis before it blinded her. Certainly the bottom half! But, perhaps, because Australia is 'Down Under', Russell's sense of direction was distorted.

 

NASTY EXPERIENCE

 

Russell's story seems to be a sensational attempt to discredit a cocky man. But even if Gayle did not flash his penis at Russell, he certainly did expose himself brazenly to negative press. Not a blush! In January last year, Russell's accusations were carried in several of Fairfax Media's newspapers: The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times.

Gayle sued the media group for defamation of character. His barrister, Bruce McClintock, argued that Russell was "plainly neurotic", "bitter" and "vengeful". Last Monday, Gayle won his lawsuit against Fairfax Media whose 'facts' now seem far from fair. By all accounts, the jury concluded that it was malice that made Fairfax publish those damning stories.

As if that wasn't enough, Fairfax Media issued a statement claiming that the trial wasn't fair. Gayle's barrister responded swiftly: "It is a repetition of the defamation ... continuing the harm to my client's reputation". The judge, Justice Lucy McCallum, was not amused. She said, "It seems to me to be a clear criticism of the court". A story in the Sydney Morning Herald, owned by Fairfax Media, reported that, "Justice McCallum said she would have to consider whether 'any steps' should be taken about the statement".

So what, if anything, has Gayle learned from this nasty experience? He told the court that, in public, he's very reserved and scared around women. He should also be very careful in private. Puss an cock no have di same luck.

- Carolyn Cooper, PhD, is a specialist on culture and development. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and karokupa@gmail.com.