More On Martha

Martha Stewart should not have to face five months jail time and five months house arrest. What did she do that was so terrible that she has to go to prison? Is it jealousy of the masses? What is the message? Is it that this woman is evil and needs to be removed from society because she likes to boil herbs and roots so that her home smells lovely during the holidays? Is capitalism now a capital crime?

I don’t understand anything about the world of big business. Strategic planning, mission statements, financing all elude me. This is for people who wear suits and suntan
pantyhose, sit in fluorescent light all day, who have inboxes and office affairs. I have never worked in an office. It has been strictly blue collar for me. That and being an artist, which is kind of blue collar in a lot of ways.

Martha Stewart is an artist, too. Not a con artist, but a true visionary. Even if her realm, the home and/or living, is humble, it still sparked a remarkable reaction. People, mostly women, felt suddenly obliged to ignite their creativity with their housewifery. Day to day drudgery became the most exciting opportunity to make things from scratch. I have no idea why anyone would want to make anything from scratch, although I am ever appreciative whenever someone does. What is scratch anyway? It just sounds like a big bag of hay, an itchy handknit wool sweater, sandpaper to finish that glorious Craftsman dollhouse you constructed out of twigs from that long hike in the woods with your Chows.

Martha Stewart, with her artful existence, made it possible for women to exercise their own domestic divinity, and brought something of the rural state fair back into urban and suburban homes. Gift giving became a kind of pissing contest over who could be more clever, more savvy, more appropriate. An antique pail filled with cinnamon sticks and lovely, slender bits of birch and pinecones, along with long, strike-anywhere matchsticks, was a precious housewarming gift, perfect for lighting the hearth and nice to look at sitting there even when the fire had long since burned out.

Pie crust was vitally important to the state of the pie, therefore the arduous labor put into the creation of one was nothing to complain about. The very thought of a rolling pin makes my carpal tunnel ache and pop. I couldn’t ever do any of this. If I ever bought a gift for anyone in the first place, it generally comes in the bag it was purchased in, usually slightly wrinkled because it has been sitting in my car for three days. The receipt is always in there, as an accent piece, and in case you want to return it, the same reason why I leave the price tag on. I think if I ever made anything for one of my friends, like brought over jars of homemade grapefruit-cilantro sea salt body scrub or gooseberry-chanterelle mushroom marmalade, that I would be looked at with intense superstition and careful questioning about my use of crystal methamphetamine.

Secretly, I do have a craft-oriented side, but that is mostly driven by iron-on patch pajamas and customized stripper thongs, nothing too challenging because I am not that patient. I get mad and throw a fit waiting for Shrinky Dinks in the oven. Martha Stewart never got mad about pre-heating or tiptoeing around the soufflé. She may have been angry about other things, as the tell-all books and tabloids love to scream about.

If she was a bitch, who cares? If she was a mean boss, so what? There are a million and more mean bosses. Lots of people don’t take to power very well, and yet if you imprisoned all those who abused their position, you would have more people in jail than out. If she was guilty of insider trading, why do we care? Her greed doesn’t affect me in the least, besides being an example of a bad woman. Perhaps that was what was too expensive. If letting Martha off meant condoning capitalist greed for women, then of course she would have to serve time.

Instead of allowing her to be a bad example, they would rather make her an example. I don’t want Martha Stewart as an object lesson. It isn’t teaching me anything but reinforcing my belief that the society that we live in is blatantly and unapologetically misogynist.

The strange part about the whole phenomenon of Martha Stewart, is that she became a symbol for all authority everywhere. This prevailing notion that Martha could serve as an anger bank, a repository for frustration and rage against women in power is a dangerous one. What do we gain from her misfortune and loss? Satisfaction that justice has been served over bitches everywhere? There is an element of class clash as well, in that Martha appealed to middle class women with higher aspirations. They wanted to emulate her lifestyle, as if that were her lifestyle. It wouldn’t have been possible for her to make anything from scratch. She would be too busy.

I am not any kind of financial titan and barely have time to eat half frozen Stouffer’s Macaroni & Shells over the kitchen sink with my hands. I consider it the absolute height of luxury if I can put my elbows on the counter while I wolf down the leftover House of Blues skillet cornbread. For years, I thought my oven was a clock. If there was jealousy over how Martha might live compared to how we might live then we shouldn’t bother. The hectic workday of one name celebrities like her are nothing to envy. Punishing Martha is not an effective way for the have-nots to swipe at the haves. The way it is effective is in encouraging women to keep their ambitions at bay, to not reach too far, not dream too big. If society cannot out and out tell women not to be too extraordinary or successful, then it will do so by creating situations for us to learn from, and squash people in order to warn others. Making sure we know what not to be.

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