// 18 March 2008

It’s been almost impossible to avoid the media’s coverage of yesterday’s divorce settlement between Heather Mills McCartney and Paul McCartney, and two random points have occurred to me:

1. The newspaper headlines always seem to be defining her in terms of her ex-husband’s songs, particularly irksome today is “The Long And Whining Road”. Needless to say, there’s also the other strand that seems to imply that she’s a gold-digging so-and-so who’s out to steal every last penny from her ex: “Where’s there’s brass, there’s Mucca” was the other unimaginative headline I noticed this morning.

I’m neither a Beatles fan, nor a McCartney fan, nor, to be honest, a Mills-McCartney fan, but rilly

2. I forget the figure, but I seem to recall she mentioned that she needed many, many thousands of pounds a year to bring up her child (children?) and I can’t help but wonder how someone on state benefit would feel on hearing that.

I think I must be missing something here, but her need is greater than theirs because why, exactly…?

* With apologies to Tammy Wynette but I just felt strangely compelled to use it on this post…

Comments From You

Louise // Posted 18 March 2008 at 11:14 am

My sympathy for Heather Mills has runneth dry.

I agree with you about the headlines in the newspapers and the usual stench of sexism but as you say so many women have to exist on a meagre wage and/or on benefits.

Charlotte // Posted 18 March 2008 at 11:25 am

Only one child, but clearly a very, very special one. It’s all a bit much, isn’t it?

Nicola // Posted 18 March 2008 at 11:58 am

I find it hard to feel much sympathy for her too. I think she’s come across as rather greedy throughout the whole thing.

Britney Blonde // Posted 18 March 2008 at 12:04 pm

Heather’s need is greater than people on state benefits because she’s got a lifestyle to keep up and she also needs to employ bodyguards after being married to old wrinkly Macca and getting persecuted by the world’s press. Don’t you SEE that?

We all need money for our own purposes. Or think we do.

If you were offered 24 million quid you wouldn’t chuck it back in your sugar daddy’s wrinkly gob, would you? No way.

Leigh Woosey // Posted 18 March 2008 at 12:29 pm

While it is hard to feel a great deal of sympathy for Heather Mill McCartney we must all bear in mind that UK divorce law entitles spouses to a portion of the family income and wealth even after divorce. She in not less entitled to that because in her case that portion is a larger amount of money and confers a different lifestyle.

Amity // Posted 18 March 2008 at 12:34 pm

You know, I used to defend Mills to people and say we didn’t know the facts, shouldn’t point the finger, call her names, etc..And then this morning I watched her speak to reporters and she said that their child is getting “only £35k a year, which means she’s getting a ‘B’ ride while her Daddy lives an ‘A’ lifestyle.” Cue my jaw dropping.

All of my sympathy melted away as I listened to how entitled she felt and how £35k for a bleedin’ four year old isn’t enough for her, plus all of the millions she just inherited? My entire family lives on not much more than a toddler with millionaire parents will be and I’m supposed to feel sorry for her? That would be a negative, ghost rider.

Liz A // Posted 18 March 2008 at 2:32 pm

As I understand it, her need for lots and lots of money to raise the child is so that there won’t be too much lifestyle disparity between when McCartney looks after her & when she has her, (if they share custody). It still doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, since she had her own money & career before she married him and must have the opportunity to make plenty of money in the aftermath of all this publicity.

I saw from an article that she’s arguing that McCartney actually has 800 million fortune as opposed to the 400 million the judge accepted. But when we’re getting into those sorts of figures, my mind just boggles…

Evie // Posted 18 March 2008 at 4:16 pm

I met her once. I was doing a slot on early morning tv on something unrelated, and in came Ms Mills to the makeup room. A very young runner followed after, with a glass of water. After taking a sip, Ms Mills began shouting and berating this poor child because (guess what?) the water wasn’t at room temperature.

So I’m not surprised to hear that Justice Bennett pointed out in his summing up that “there’s no evidence of her charitable giving in her tax returns”.

B // Posted 18 March 2008 at 4:59 pm

See, I have no strong feelings about either party, but I read this at the weekend and it made me stop and think. I was vaguely uncomfortable about all the vitriol flung her way before that, and I don’t really think the article gets to the bottom of why – but it’s a start.

She doesn’t seem to be the nicest person I’ve ever heard of, but why do people need to imply she’s a money hungry whore rather than a woman (however misguided she may or may not be) who’s wanting a fair settlement for her child?

I feel sorry for said child. What’s she going to think when she grows up enough to understand it all? She’s the real victim there (out of the three directly involved; ignoring mothers trying to survive on benefits because that would be a far longer comment that I don’t have time to write right now.)

Anne Onne // Posted 18 March 2008 at 6:53 pm

I find it hard to talk (or write) about this fairly, simply because it’s hard not to be biased. Society encourages women to marry rich, find a man who will ‘support them’ and so forth. They are then pressured to some extent to stay with their children and be financially dependant on their spouse. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with staying at home, rather that the risks and what is being given up should be recognised. Then, if the couple break up, somehow wives are always claiming too much and are golddigers. It’s hard to analyse the case from an unbiased point of view, because we’re socialised to see women as golddiggers.

On one hand, I agree that she did get awarded a lot of money, and she doesn’t necessarily ‘need’ a fortune. On the other hand, her ex-husband is not a poor man, and even if he’s only got £400 million (only?), she still gets less than 1/16th of it.

Here’s what I really personally care about: how society will use rare, high-profile cases to judge all the other women divorcing.

I don’t personally think that any partner should be entitled to 50% of what was earned before they had a relationship, because they had nothing to do with that money. Whatever is earned afterwards should be split evenly, in my opionion. either that, or get the working spouse ot pay the stay at home spouse for their time and work. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up beign more than 50% of the shared assets in value. I’m mainly concerned that there is still this MRA kind fo fog hanging in the air, where the work that many partners (mostly women) do is not recognised and valued. I’m not saying that Heather was some hardworking housewife, but it doesn’t matter – it feels like all women are being judged when your average ‘golddigger’ trial comes into town.

I can’t say how I’d suggest the judge decide how much money to award in a case like this: where the money was predominantly earned (by which I mean the songs recorded and written) long before the marriage, but is very sizeable, and where the marriage was brief and resulted in one child. I don’t know whether I consider her settlement ‘enough’ because I don’t know the law well enough to know how much a spouse is entitled to, and under what circumstances. I just feel that given how much money there was in the relationship whilst they were together, we are all very quick to judge that she’s got quite enough, thank you.

Yes, most of us won’t have nearly so much money, and earn less than her daugter will get in a year. That doesn’t mean that under law, considering the circumstances, she shouldn’t be entitled to it. she can even be a nasty person and still be entitled to some mimimum amount from her marriage.

I think a letter I saw in some paper (probably the Mail…) says it all about this case. The woman wrote in chastising Heather Mills at the time the trial was running, saying ‘how dare she’ talk about a ‘national treasure’ like that. It’s really sad that in any game of he-said she-said we always side more with men, as a society, and in this case here were lots of people siding with him simply because he was some sort of star, an idol of theirs.

Never mind that music he wrote or co-wrote 40 years ago has nothing to do with what kind of person he is, everybody rushed to his defence as if he was their brother. It reminded me a lot of rape allegations, and how everybody starts defening the guy, saying ‘He looks like a nice chap’ and ‘she’s probably lying’. So, although I’ve never been a fan of Heather, I’m trying not to heap more scorn on her. The public do enough of that already.

Lynne Miles // Posted 18 March 2008 at 9:41 pm

B – This is a really great article and sums up a lot of the unease I feel about the way HMM is treated by the press. She may or may not be a nice person, but the press is just falling *over* itself to rip her to shreds. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I particularly liked this passage:

It cannot be right that such women should be presented to us as base characters, females whom we are permitted to hate without limitation, because an aspect of their nature, or an act or two in their past, is considered deviant from the ideal. Such depictions are at odds with today’s more equal society, and it is lazy to think that it is good enough to show only the warts and not the all.”

Holly Combe // Posted 18 March 2008 at 10:10 pm

Ouch… I just read Evie’s post. Heather Mills certainly doesn’t do herself any favours does she? That said, the more problematic side of her character is clearly the very thing that has enabled the tabloids to victimise her. They’ve made it okay to hate her and, while I’m sure it doesn’t matter to Heather what a load of people she doesn’t even know think, I’m not surprised she wanted to speak out about the tabloids’ treatment of her. You’d need to be pretty thick skinned not to let that get to you at all.

Personally, I think the tabloids help foster the sort of mentality in people that leads to bullying in schools and workplaces. Difficult characters are easy targets to bully aren’t they? They make it easier to get away with because everyone will say “oh, they aren’t very nice so it’s understandable.”

EBaezaChavez // Posted 18 March 2008 at 10:38 pm

I agree with Holly’s comment. Just because she is an awkward character doesn’t make it right to abuse her so roundly.

Can it really be fair to rip her to shreds over her alleged or otherwise charitable work/giving? (There is no evidence of my “charitable giving” in my tax returns, either). I’m sure she still does a hell of a lot more for her charitites than most ordinary people and yes, she wants the best and the most for herself and her child, why not? Don’t we live in a competitive, capitalist society? If this was a man it would be all be called ambition.

I think the vitriol directed at HMM, just shows you how cruel and vituperative our gutter press are. If this was a man, who had overcome serious disability and hardship to marry well and have a child, they would be singing his praise from the rafters. Love or loathe Heather you have to admire the sheer force of will and personality that have survived and thrived against great adversity.

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