[I]t's hard to stop talking about [Stewart] because she's a Rorschach test, an inkblot for Americans to interpret as threat or validation, inspiration or rebuke. She tells us something about our society and, in particular, about the unresolved question of what women are or should be.No. No she doesn't. She just sells pretty things, and shows other people how to make pretty things. Why do people insist on making anything more of it than that?
As our regular readers know, I am quite a fan of Martha. I love her magazine, mainly for the recipes but also for the little hints on how to make life prettier, more comfortable, more efficient — she calls them "good things."
It may not be your scene, but I beg you — if it's not, please spare us all this bitter kvetching:
If women sometimes bridle at aspects of her public personality — her perfectionism, her lack of irony or self-deprecating humor — they sometimes also seem to fear that she's not so subtly urging them back into the box from which they only recently escaped.... One could argue, as John Small of SaveMartha.com does, that her opponents should ignore her. But one could also argue that given continuing attempts to restrict legal abortion, overturn affirmative action and otherwise erode women's political gains, her opponents are not entirely paranoid.So... these opponents should do what, other than ignoring her? Stage a boycott? Burn her magazines? Try to shut down her company? ("C'mon, people — we can't just sit around and let Martha Stewart overturn Roe v. Wade!")
I am hardly the first person to say this, but: Why can't baking a cake just be baking a cake?
I enjoy cooking. Call it a hobby — it's something I like to do to relax, something I want to learn more about so I can be better at it, something I like to read about in my spare time. Some people have golf or NASCAR; I have cooking. But because I'm female, people insist on reading a broad political/cultural implication into every hour I spend in the kitchen, and that's just crazy.
To all the women who think Martha Stewart's mission in life is to make you feel inferior: it's really not, and if she does make you feel inferior, ask yourself if maybe you're the one clinging to the antiquated notion of femininity. So you couldn't make a pie crust if your life depended on it? Big deal! It shouldn't bother you that some women make pie crusts, and care about their pie crusts, and want to make better pie crusts — unless, deep down, you're insecure about your own unfamiliarity with the pastry world.
I submit that there are two legitimate ways to deal with feelings of inadequacy on this score. You can 1.) wise up, remind yourself that you're a modern woman with many amazing talents and that store-bought pie crusts taste just as good anyway, and throw your insecurities out the window, or you can 2.) learn how to bake your own pie crust. (Martha's step-by-step instructions make it easy!)
What you may not do is scorn pastry-making as a pathetic little pastime the pursuit of which kills brain cells and threatens to undo all the progress of the women's movement. That's absurd. Nobody's chaining me to the stove, I assure you, and my pie crusts are not setting back the struggle for women's rights — so back off and leave me alone my KitchenAid mixer and stack of Martha Stewart Livings.
And stop complaining that Martha and I are conspiring to make you feel insecure. It's not about you; it's about us and our hobby.
UPDATE: Offend feminists on multiple levels with the "Save Martha" baby doll tee.