Russell Brand Wasn’t an Anomaly

The former TV host and actor was a mascot, at best, for a media culture that routinely dehumanized and hypersexualized young women.

By Sophie Gilbert

In the summer of 1999, when I was 16 years old, I remember walking to a train station in West London from a babysitting job when a 40-something man in a Range Rover pulled up, told me he was on television, and then announced to his young son (also in the car) that I was “Daddy’s new girlfriend.” I don’t know who the man was; I didn’t get in the car, not because I was afraid but because I’d just bought Californication for my minidisc player and wanted to listen to the album on the way home. But what he did wasn’t abnormal for the time. This was two years before the 35-year-old TV presenter and radio host Chris Evans (not the actor) married the 18-year-old pop star Billie Piper in Las Vegas, after a months-long relationship that started when he gave the teenager—so young, she hadn’t yet learned to drive—a Ferrari filled with roses. A year later, in 2002, the BBC Radio 1 host Chris Moyles offered, live on air, to take the singer Charlotte Church’s virginity on her 16th birthday, claiming that he could “lead her through the forest of sexuality” now that she was legal.

I’ve often wondered how Millennial women in Britain survived the aughts: not just the incessant fat shaming and the ritualized alcohol abuse, but also the cheerful, open predation that was everywhere in popular culture then. This weekend, the London Times and the TV documentary series Dispatches revealed coordinated allegations that the TV star turned conspiratorial wellness personality Russell Brand had victimized multiple people from 2006 to 2013, including a 16-year-old girl who says he picked her up on the street when he was 30, referred to her as “the child” and cradled her like a baby when he found out she was a virgin, and then later choked her with his penis until she—fearing she would actually suffocate—punched him in the stomach. The dual reports also allege that Brand raped a woman he knew at his home in Los Angeles and attempted to rape another until she screamed so hard that he flew into a rage. (Brand has said he “absolutely refutes” what he describes as “a litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks.” [ . . . ]

Annie Lennox: To end violence against women we need global cooperation from our world leaders

Assault and violence is a living reality for millions of women in every corner of the globe

Consider the fact – recently revealed by the World Health Organisation – that one in three women face physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Keep repeating this fact until it settles into your mind. Take a moment to reflect on what this means. It is beyond the realm of our worst nightmares, but it is a living reality for millions of women in every corner of the globe.

Assault, violence, and violation is taking place in a country, a city, a town, a village, a public space, a school, a college, an office, a street, a house, an apartment, or a room near to where you are right now.

If we are to truly end violence against women, then we need a truly global approach. Although I am encouraged to see the recent outcry, new conversations, protest and debate following Sarah Everard’s death, it pains me that it takes a particularly horrific act to trigger a public outrage.

The culture of violence and rape against women has been ‘normalised’ for decades in many countries around the world as these statistics show.


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It’s just not Woking: Prince Andrew has already ruined The Crown 

The thought of having to wait a decade for the Netflix take on the most staggering spectacle of our time – Prince Andrew’s interview – is torture

Does anyone else wish The Crown would get a bloody move on? Because, sure, despite the new intake of actors, the third season of The Crown is exactly the same as the previous two. It’s slow and staid and sumptuous, and largely about a very rich woman who basically has a very nice time without any sort of incident most of the time. It’s good and impressive and all, but there isn’t exactly a lot of high drama.

I can’t speak for everyone but the reason I keep watching is because The Crown is, to all intents and purposes, Better Call Saul With Corgis. The drama isn’t in what we see onscreen, but what we all know will definitely happen later. There will be death. Divorce. Windsor Castle will burn down. Prince Charles will get married to Princess Diana, but declare his wish that he was another woman’s tampon. Prince Harry will dress up like a Nazi. And Prince Andrew will deny having sex with a minor at the behest of the world’s most notorious billionaire paedophile shortly after having a pizza in Woking.

This last one has prompted the biggest crisis the monarchy has had to face for over two decades, and there’s a real sense that the whole thing will end in total disaster if it isn’t handled with extreme care. Everything is going wrong, and we still cannot rule out the possibility that The Crown will end with Queen Elizabeth undertaking the royal equivalent of opening a Cinnabon in Nebraska. That’s dramatic tension, not countless scenes of Prince Philip demonstrating an appropriate level of excitement about the moon landing. Continue reading