Martha

(I actually wrote this back in December but only now am publishing it.)

I am currently in the land of Martha. I don't really pay much attention to her when I'm in Brooklyn, but spending time in the 'burbs for the holidays made me realize that you can't escape. She's everywhere - on TV, magazines, the radio, the grocery stores, the mall. The past few days have been a barrage of decorating tips, makeovers, recipes, and craft ideas. And damn is it alluring. I totally got sucked into reading the past two issues of Martha Stewart Living from cover to cover, and thinking, wow, these are such great ideas! I should totally do that! Why haven't I thought about making little velvet Christmas trees? Why haven't I invited people over for a dignified brunch with poached eggs and croissants? Why don't I have a nicely painted pegboard of craft supplies? And I could make so many awesome labels!!! I couldn't get enough of it.

But after a couple of days Martha started bugging me. I couldn't figure out why at first, it was just this sense of uneasiness that I couldn't pin down. As the parade of decorating experts came through on her radio show, I realized that I disliked the way it made me feel. It gave me this sense of inadequacy - if only I was a crafting wizard and expert chef and the perfect hostess could I be happy. Because it's all about impressing other people. She's tapped into this desire that women have to be seen as the perfect homemaker - beautiful, classy, practical, ingenious. Even I can't escape from feeling like I want that when I flip through her magazine - who wouldn't drool over those shots of her home and all of the beautiful things she has and makes?

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My militant feminist side starts screaming, "What the hell?!! Didn't women's lib happen already? How could you even get sucked into this crap?!! You're already beating your own drum, why feel like you need to even care about this?" But it's still there, no matter how hard you fight it. Martha's just a manifestation of what our culture values. How else could someone go to jail for like two years and get back on TV like nothing happened? If anything she's tightened her hold on her empire. If you wanted to, you could live in a Martha fantasyland 24-7. And that's what makes me feel uneasy more than anything else.

I could see how easily I could get totally submerged in yearning after a proscribed Martha Stewart life. If only I had xyz it would make me happy. If only I had a bigger house to hold my Martha crafts and to cook my Martha recipes and to throw my Martha parties. Instead, I'm going to resist dropping one of the five million subscription postcards that fell out of the magazine into the mail and look forward to returning to my non-crafty home in Brooklyn.

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