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Don’t call me Martha.

June 1, 2009

I continue to be suspicious of Martha Stewart.

My mom and I used Martha’s early holiday specials as potential entertainment. We laughed ourselves out of our chairs each time she uttered “all you need to do is just…” which she always followed with the most complicated task in history. My mom– a woman who went back to school, held a full-time job, raised three children, sewed, and is an amazing chef– scoffed at Stewart’s insistence that all women have time for her complicated tasks. Now as an adult, working woman who went back to school, I finally really get it. I do not dislike Martha for her white collar crime, her pimping of her brand name on her show, or her general idea of creating quality thoughtful goods from scratch. The problem with Martha Stewart is she projects an image of feminine homemaker which traps women into an impossible ideal. The woman sleeps three hours a night, which explains her testy demeanor. As a fellow insomniac, I do not trust a woman who irons with a Milele Rotary Iron at 4 am; when I wake up that early I can hardly manage a book or the remote. Entrenched in upper-class, white values, Martha recreates the 1950s myth that women can/should keep a perfect home. However, she is not old-fashioned, Martha believes women should work as well. Her well-sculpted image traps women in an ideal of material perfection. However, Martha’s modern domestic loses the point of the various activities because they focus on image, not enjoyment. A home is not a place to outfit with perfect Pottery Barn furniture, Williams Sonoma kitchenware, and a scrap booking room. A home is a collection of memories which meld together to create a mosaic.

What I hate even more? Being called Martha Stewart. Yes, I cook, sew, and garden, but I don’t think these activities should trap women into a 1950s myth. For a man to participate in these activities, he is modern and strikes interest of all in conversation. For a woman, she is Martha. A man who cooks at home is a gourmand, a woman is just fulfilling centuries of domestic separation. A man who sews should be on Project Runway, a woman Holly Hobby. A man who gardens is communing with the earth, a woman is beautifying. I cook because I enjoy excellent food. I sew because I can make gifts/clothes/bags better than what I see in the store. I garden because I want fresh ingredients for previously mentioned excellent food. What is lost on many Americans is the enjoyment of slowing down activities and becoming a part of the process of creation. Many of my friends say “I don’t cook” or sew, or embroider, or garden because there is a negative image attached to doing formerly domestic activities. It is time to remove the gender from the activity, and understand that creating is something everyone can do. So no, I do not read Martha’s magazine, buy her goods, cook her recipes, search her website, or watch her show. I refuse to believe that her image is the modern solution to the female domestic past.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2009 2:31 am

    not sure about your thoughts on julia child, but i suggest we catch julie and julia when it comes out this summer. you just never know where a blog can take you! bud, marcela

  2. June 16, 2009 3:20 am

    I love Julia! She removed the pomp and circumstance from the pomp and circumstance. Lets definitely go!

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