Russell Brand has been keeping a lower profile lately, but the famously loquacious actor-comedian is trending on Twitter today thanks to a fascinating profile in The Sunday Times.
In the interview by Decca Aitkenhead, Brand praises the #MeToo movement, calling it a "really a really positive change" and "a sign of real awakening". But his comments on parenthood have sparked a raft of angry and incredulous responses on Twitter.
Brand tells Aitkenhead he has never looked after his two young children, daughters aged two and six months old, for a 24-hour period without help from his wife, Laura Gallacher.
"She wouldn’t go away for 24 hours, Laura. She respects and cares for their safety too much," he explains. "Yes, I’m very, very focused on the mystical connotations of [my daughter's]’s beauty and grace. Not so good on the nappies and making sure that they eat food."
Brand adds later: "Laura’s able to sustain and maintain domesticity in a way that’s astonishing. I didn’t have much experience of how to organise domesticity. I do whatever I’m told."
Asked why he doesn't do more of the practical parenting, Brand replies: "I’m still of a romantic and reflective and, possibly, to give it it’s proper name, a religious disposition. That’s my world view. That’s not necessarily what you want organising pragmatic, bureaucratic, managerial stuff."
On Twitter, Brand's comments have prompted some pretty strong opinions. "He is wrong and needs to grow up and do some actual fathering," wrote journalist Niece O'Keeffe.
Check out a selection of responses below.
Decca Aitkenhead's Russell Brand piece in the @TheSTMagazine will make your eyes roll clean out of your head. I cannot BEAR men that openly admit to not doing their bit with kids and dressing it up as "oh, you know me, I can't do that stuff!!" "She's so much better at it!"— Jamie East (@jamieeast) January 20, 2019
I’d love to sit Russell Brand down and kindly and patiently explain to him why he is wrong and needs to grow up and do some actual fathering. But I’ve stuff on.— Niecy O'Keeffe (@NiecyOKeeffe) January 20, 2019
Eeeurgh. What a load of cobblers. Imagine if mothers (and Russell Brand’s partner) refused to change nappies, remember snacks for their toddlers & do BASIC PARENTING because of being ‘romantic & reflective’. Turns out Russell Brand is just a big old fashioned sexist. https://t.co/FEdHpfZIEi— Rhiannon Clapperton (@HughesyRhi) January 20, 2019
Though Brand's comments are phrased in a way only he would choose, it's likely that they reflect, at least to an extent, the reality of day-to-day parenting for many heterosexual couples. A 2018 survey found that two-thirds of women do the lion's share of childcare, compared to just one-third of men.
Meanwhile, research also published last year found that just 2% of eligible couples are taking advantage of the government's Shared Parental Leave scheme, which allows them to divvy up statutory leave between them as they see fit.