Poor Martha

Yesterday the New York Times had a very interesting article about Martha Stewart’s recent unfortunate difficulties being accused of insider trading. (Martha Stewart’s To-Do List May Include Image Polishing) It gives a good history of how she built her empire on connections with friends, and how lots of powerful people would like to have her taken down a peg. There is much more than a hint of the discrimination that powerful women receive compared to similarly powerful men. Men are “assertive”; women are “bitches.”

As a subscriber to her magazine Martha Stewart Living, I continue to be astounded by the Martha phenomenon and wonder if people really do all this stuff. Sometimes the articles almost seem like self-parody. Do people really take these things seriously? My personal favorite was a couple of years ago when her cover story was an “Iowa picnic,” in which she moved tables and chairs out into the middle of a field for a banquet. Well, I don’t know where these people were in Iowa, but where I come from, it would have been hot, dusty, dirty, maybe muddy, there would have been flies and other kinds of bugs. In other words, it would have been nasty. I can’t imagine any family willingly subjecting themselves to such a thing, except perhaps to appear on the cover of MSL. When I was growing up, it was desirable (and preferable) to eat inside, because my dad worked outside all the time. He wanted to be as cool as possible on his breaks. Having a picnic, except on special family outings, was not a treat.

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