Deborah Hill Cone

Deborah Hill Cone is a Herald columnist

Deborah Hill Cone: Solo mums easy target for snobs

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Twice-married Sally Ridge galls critics of her new show - just by being ordinary.

There is only one thing even worse than a poor solo mother; a rich one. Photo / Supplied
There is only one thing even worse than a poor solo mother; a rich one. Photo / Supplied

I asked my Facebook friends to explain why everyone despises Sally Ridge so much. I got 74 comments. Nick Ward said jokingly: "I saw her outside SPQR once punching a kitten in the face. Hard. She kept doing it until the kitten was dead. I also saw her urinate on a sleeping homeless person while her daughter watched, crying."

Nick D'Angelo responded in jest: "The daughter was upset because she'd only just set fire to the old tramp and now her mother was putting him out."

Paul Taylor said: "I was at Chapel bar one afternoon during the Rugby World Cup - so blokeage was fairly thick on the ground - anyway - Sally and Jaime cruise up to Ponsonby Rd in a white Rangie and the crowd roars approvingly, a big blokey 'Rrrrrayyy'. And then everyone looked at each other as if they were wondering what they had just done." Very droll, chaps.

Oh, and specially for another Facebook friend, Bernard Robertson, editor of the New Zealand Law Journal, who said he had never heard of Sally Ridge, let me enlighten you, petal.

She is a twice-married solo mother who stars in a new reality TV show with her teenage daughter Jaime. And a mouse with star quality.

I, too, am a solo mother, but I have never met Sally Ridge. My serious-minded friends consider Sally Ridge a symbol of all that is vacuous and materialistic; she shows her bra straps and does not campaign against mining. I suspect she is loathed, in part, because solo mothers make solid citizens feel uncomfortable. Her marital status is a reminder: this could happen to you. Maybe even twice. And there is only one thing even worse than a poor solo mother: a rich one.

Solo fathers, on the other hand, get approving glances at the playground and fresh baked muffins. To mitigate for making nuclear families feel awkward, most solo mothers should shimmer away into the background being demure and grateful like a plain governess in a Victorian novel. But Sally Ridge is not good at being a pariah. She has been rejected by men but, strangely, she doesn't seem to be particularly bitter about it. (She has been married to two sports stars, but the men seem to be considered helluva guys.)

Sally Ridge, to her credit, does not whine about her lot or about being "bullied" on Twitter. Although her reality TV show is promoted as being a New Zealand version of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Ridge is not a tycoon, unless you can become a billionaire from doing strange craft with a bedazzler. Actually, I suspect that despite the bling and fake tan, Sally Ridge, formerly Sally Ann from Tauranga, is actually quite ordinary.

And that is the most galling thing for intellectuals who abhor her. Intellectuals find normal people offensive. Intellectuals spend ages trying to learn about culture and making themselves read boring books and struggling to show they are better than other people. Imagine how miffed they are to see those blithe, dumb ordinary types who seem quite happy doing normal stuff like having sex and putting on lip gloss.

Psychologist Alice Miller said of the grandiose person: "He or she is envious of healthy people because they do not have to make a constant effort to earn admiration, and because they do not have to do something to impress, one way or the other but are free to be average." I like being average.

Oh, I still have people I can't stand; there are always plonkers who wear expensive jeans with silly giant stitching and people with stick-figure decals on the back of their 4WD. But, Sally Ridge - sorry, I can't hate you. You don't even seem like much of a bee-artch. You are not a war criminal.

Maybe, think about getting a kitten.

- NZ Herald

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