Erin Costelloe

Blowing Gayle, not Branson: Our harassment double-standard

This week, Richard Branson openly flirted with a female anchor on air, and we were cool with it. We weren’t cool with Chris Gayle doing the same. So, what gives?


Back in the year of our lord, two thousand and sixteen, a figure with throwback charm and cocksure elegance swept upon these shores to launch a cricket ball over a fence for our intoxicated enjoyment. His name was Chris Gayle, and our exotic holiday romance didn’t last, as the Commonwealth rose in collective derision when the Jamaican openly flirted with Mel McLaughlin live on air, cooing ‘Don’t blush, baby’. He was fined, and some believe that he should have been dragged through town tied to the back of a horse. Gayle’s teammate, Chris Rogers, likened it to workplace harassment. And he’s right, there’s no room for that kind of behaviour in the modern sphere.

The Gayle situation should have served as the national standard. Talk shit, get banged. But, sadly, this is a falsehood, after all, how do we explain the difference in reaction to Richard Branson pulling the exact same stunt this week, stating that The Project’s Sarah Harris ‘must have a crush on him’. The response from the panel was all joviality and good time lols, I wouldn’t be surprised if the positive sexual energy in the room resulted in an Eyes Wide Shut style masked orgy. It’s all good, Richard. She likes you back. Good job.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the positive sexual energy in the room resulted in an Eyes Wide Shut style masked orgy. It’s all good, Richard. She likes you back.

So, the obvious difference is that there is no difference. Richard did a bad bad thing. So why did we let Branson off the hook and not Gayle? Is it because he’s the first man to put a Virgin in space, so we trust him with our bodies? Or is it because he’s 66, not 37, so we give him a pass in the same way we do the elderly gents in drinking establishments who openly flirt with you, but we laugh it off because he’s harmless? I call bullshit. Even in jest, both Branson and Gayle were thinking of the underpants Charleston, and given the opportunity, they’d drive pretty strongly to the hoop. Mel McLaughlin and Sarah Harris were just women they both wanted to fuck. So, as Branson flies into the sunset on the jet stream of good vibes, his pristine veneer not tarred with the same brush as Gayle. Which, almost hilariously, makes me feel bad for Chris Gayle. Yes, he deserved what he got, but now I feel he’s a victim too. A victim of us.

As the minds of Spinal Tap espoused ‘it’s a fine line between clever and stupid’, perhaps the key lies in the response from Harris, who giggled, which made it ok, whereas McLaughlin was visibly awkward, which made it awkward. However, stating that harassment lies in the eye of the harassed is a cop out answer, as a woke nation who dealt with it twelve months ago, should see it as an objective fact. Harassment is harassment. Either let all of it occur, or allow none of it.

You can’t have both. Even if you’re Richard Branson.

Erin Costelloe

Erin Costelloe is an avid lover of Australian wildlife. She studied science and education to help teach the next generation the importance of our conservation to safeguard our unique landscape.

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