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The response to Jude Law’s fatherhood news highlights a sexist double standard

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Kayleigh Dray
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The response to Jude Law’s fatherhood news highlights a sexist double standard

Jude Law is reportedly due to become a father for the sixth time – and we can learn a lot from the tabloid headlines.     

Here we are again, eh? The tabloids have, with nary a word of confirmation from Jude Law or his wife Phillippa Coan, announced that she is pregnant. This means that, if anyone’s counting, the actor is due to become a father for the sixth time. Hurrah for him!

As we’ve pointed out before, baby news – verified baby news, that is – is a blessing, especially in our current 24/7 news cycle of doom. So we completely get why media outlets have leapt upon this shred of hope like dogs on a bone.

But, while we’re rolling our eyes extravagantly at the fact that they’ve run the story without waiting for Law or Coan to confirm that they’re expecting a child, we can’t help but be surprised by the congratulatory tone they’ve all struck when falling over themselves to report on this celebrity news scoop.

After all, they haven’t shown the same courtesy to those women in the public eye who, like Law, have welcomed children with, say, more than one person.

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Oh yes. 

Over the years, we’ve seen famous women mocked in tabloid headlines for their perceived reckless procreation. Ulrika Jonsson was cruelly dubbed a 4x4, Paula Yates a 4x2, Kate Winslet a 3x3.

Kerry Katona, Katie Price, and Natasha Hamilton, likewise, have been raked over the coals for “multi-dadding” by the public and the press. They, too, have been subjected to the same “4x4” nickname – which is, let’s face it, a sexist slur.

Jude Law and Phillipa Coan attend the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in July 2016. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Jude Law and Phillipa Coan attend the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in July 2016. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

“I feel I would have been a worse mum staying in relationships that were detrimental to me and my children’s happiness,” Hamilton told The Mirror, in response to the depressing ‘4x4’ narrative swirling around her.

“Sometimes you have to walk away. I stand by all my decisions and feel I made the right ones.”

Law, of course, has three children with first wife Sadie Frost, as well as two children from his previous relationships with Samantha Burke and Catherine Harding. If today’s tabloid rumours are true, he’s expecting his sixth child – his first with Coan.

But has the Fantastic Beasts star been labelled a 6x4? Of course he bloody hasn’t. Men, it seems, are immune – absent, really – from this toxic narrative. Women are 4x4s. Men are… well, they’re just men.

It should go without saying, here, that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having different children with different partners. Law can have as many kids as he wants, with as many women as he wants, so long as all of those kids are loved and cared for.

And, indeed, the Contagion star told The Daily Telegraph earlier this year that he would love to have more children.

“I’m fortunate to be with someone where I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had in my life,” Law said. 

“We have an incredibly stable and healthy, wonderful family existence. And that involves my kids who are young adults… and then the younger ones are just so much joy and so much fun.

“I love it, so absolutely, why not [have another]? I’m very lucky to be involved with someone I’m madly in love with. So the idea of having more children would be just wonderful.”

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Like I say, the problem doesn’t lie with Law. At all. 

Instead, the problem lies in the fact that women who have multiple children with multiple partners are treated incredibly differently to those men who do the same. 

And, as we continue the good feminist fight for gender equality, we’d like to see all the Kate Winslets and Ulrika Jonssons of the world shown the same respect by the tabloids as Law has been.

Is that really so much to ask? No, we didn’t think so either.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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