Russell Brand, Typical Dad
When I say typical, I mean stereotypical.
In a recent interview, he talked about becoming a father and the practical side of parenting. That being the side that rarely engages in, apparently. Russell Brand parenting is something much more otherworldly and sensitive. Or something. Isn’t it amazing how fast you can lose respect for someone you admire?
Russell Brand pitching himself as some New Age, all new, mature and sensitive dad – and then saying he’s too sensitive to do any actual parenting is the most Russell Brand thing I’ve ever read in my life pic.twitter.com/T0KSObnWXo
— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) January 20, 2019
Has he ever looked after his children for 24 hours on his own? No! Because his wife, Laura Gallacher, “cares too much for their safety” to go away for that length of time.
Is he is really so inept that his kids aren’t safe with him? He does say he wouldn’t remember to feed them and is “not so good at nappies”. Is anyone that clueless, really? Or are we seeing the learned and cultivated helplessness and uselessness that some men routinely employ to remove themselves from the obligations of parenting and running a home? He is, he says,” too focused on the mystical connotations” of his daughter’s “beauty and grace”. Errr…. Beauty and grace? She is 2. At 2, my kids were adorable, sure. They were also demanding, energetic, hilarious, curious and a lot of work. Less work, I suppose, if you just gaze at them from time to time and don’t change nappies, make snacks, comfort, cuddle to sleep and all that palaver, I suppose.
Too spiritual to parent, how relatable!
Russell Brand says he is too “romantic”, “reflective” and “religious”. He’s unable to cope with the “managerial”, “pragmatic” and “bureaucratic” practicalities of packing a nappy bag. We all know those feels, am I right?
Instead of taking initiative and doing things, he just does what he is told to do (Congrats, Russ! You’re actively contributing to your partner’s mental load!) Laura, he says, is just oh-so-conveniently well-versed in the nuances and complexities of child-rearing.
Mate, no. She is not mystically and magically capable.
Your partner gets all the shit done because you won’t do it. She doesn’t just have this gift for knowing how to pack a nappy bag or feed a hungry kid. Like every one else, she has learned how to parent. Undoubtedly from her friends, relatives, parenting books and magazines and the internet. Y’know, like the rest of us. Good grief, it’s no wonder we almost hero-worship the dads that do actually get involved in the day-to-day parenting stuff.
There are heaps of Russell Brand style dads and partners out there
Crass humour and crazy hair aside, Russell Brand is an activist, he is outspoken about inequalities in society, he uses his own experience with addiction to help others and has thrown his weight behind causes. Even if he isn’t your cup of Chai, you can probably see that he’s trying to be a good person.
But he’s also proof of something: we have a long way to go.
Even the most Woke Bloke™ can still be an active part of the system that enforces gender stereotypes. Capable, intelligent, socially aware men that still adhere to the tired idea that the day to day responsibilities and practicalities of parenting and running a home belong to their female partners. They adhere to it because they benefit from it. All while being an apparently socially conscious person who tries to do good in the world.
These guys are getting out of the daily grind of changing bums and spoon-feeding and restocking the nappy bag. They’re putting their feet up and watching t.v, or something.
Russell Brand isn’t watching the telly, of course. He is far too sensitive, spiritual and aware for that. He can manage the daycare drop off (presumably if someone gets the little one fed, dressed, packed and ready in the car for him) but otherwise, it’s all just a bit much, really.
He’s got all that sensitivity and shit, you see.
Give me a break!
It’s all just a fanciful, wordy, Russell Brand way of saying he couldn’t be arsed. Because at some level, he believes it’s not his job.
He’s invested in parenting, sure, devoted to his children, of course! He’s just unwilling to get into the drudgery that comes with it. Which is why he, and the millions out there like him, simply don’t. We could rename this “Russell Brand parenting”; where you adore your kids and do very little practical stuff for them. However, he isn’t the first Dad to opt out and he isn’t likely to be the last.
They leave that to their partners and hide behind this idea that their partners are just somehow, coincidentally, naturally inclined to the managerial, the pragmatic and the bureaucratic. BULLSHIT, RUSSELL. NO ONE IS.
We just live in a culture where women are told, over and over, that the boring, exhausting, tedious, repetitive and organisational aspects of parenting and running a home are our responsibility. Men are far too busy and important to simply know that a child needs lunch or a toilet won’t clean itself. If you want their input and assistance, you have to ask for it.
In detail. Repeatedly. You terrible, nag, you. We all know how it goes.
We have a patriarchal culture that men like Russell Brand; awake, aware, sensitive and spiritual, still manage to uphold. How genuine and useful is all that awareness and sensitivity if it doesn’t even extend to the people closest to you?
Header image of Russell Brand credit: Brian Solis via Wikimedia Commons