martha, gwynnie, conscious (un)coupling + cat fights


so’s i was casting about today on the daily mail looking for something to write about and i stumbled upon news of the brewing cat fight between martha stewart and gwyneth paltrow.

and i thought YES. i will write about the brewing “cat fight” between martha stewart and gwyneth paltrow. but the problem with writing about the brewing cat fight between martha stewart and gwyneth paltrow is that you have to practice what you preach. and if i were to write about the brewing “cat fight” between martha stewart and gwyneth paltrow, i wouldn’t be practicing what i preach (feminism! female narratives! LOVE!) so much as just be towing the narrative line of the daily mail.

which ain’t cool.

beginning at the beginning, what’s the deal?

WELL. y’know how gwynnie is all goopy?


and cookbooky?


and life-styley?


well, um…

msh ASME2009_25LOOP_FINAL.ppt


so martha stewart (which, speaking of… remember?

NEVER FORGET!!!) is actually responsible for most of this “cat fight” business.


because she’s a bit verbose and a bit of a trash-talker when it comes to her “competition.”

blake lively, for instance, whose wedding she featured in her magazine.


speaking of lively after the debut of lively’s website, stewart’s senior VP said: “I don’t get the sense she’s credible.”

waaaaaaaay back in july, stewart said of lively: “I mean, it’s stupid, she could be an actress!”

a statement that reverberated around the internet, but it’s a quote taken out of context in a huffpo article heavy on how stewart lives down the road from lively and ryan reynolds and they’re all chummy. here’s the comment in context:

As for what Stewart thinks about Lively becoming “the next Martha Stewart,” the mother-of-all-how-to’s said, matter of factly, “Let her try.”

“I don’t mean that facetiously!” she continued, laughing off the comment. “I mean, it’s stupid, she could be an actress! Why would you want to be me if you could be an actress? I just did a movie yesterday, though — I can’t even tell you about it — but I want to be Blake Lively,” she joked.

which makes it a bit less harsh. they are friends. as lively told vogue: “I’ve only ever found her to be completely generous and kind. She’s one of those people who connect people with each other. She’s there for you.”

this idea of but you are a movie star! the sense of why are all these movie stars moving in on my territory? is one she circles back around to again with paltrow.


of paltrow: “She just needs to be quiet. She’s a movie star. If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn’t be trying to be Martha Stewart.”


she’s insistent that these women not try to be martha stewart.

lively responded to stewart’s comment, saying, “Who doesn’t want to be Martha Stewart?” she added. “Martha Stewart has been a huge inspiration to me my entire life. She’s a huge source of inspiration for my mom. She’s how I came to know and love Martha. I always say that Martha Stewart Living is the only magazine I ever had growing up. I never had Tiger Beat or any of that stuff.”

she had martha stewart. we have all of us had martha.

(there’s a whole other post to be written on parallels between the press of martha stewart and HRC…)

but there’s an interesting disconnect here. much like all the models who complain the actresses are getting all the fashion mag covers, so stewart complains that paltrow and lively aren’t doing their jobs (acting) and, instead, are doing something at which they are less adept and, in so doing, encroaching on her territory.

but then she also is a champion of the entrepreneurial spirit.


of sheryl sandburg:“Too much time is spent . . . Isn’t ‘leaning in’ spending a lot of time? . . . I think being entrepreneurial is something women should strive for, rather than working up the corporate ladder.”

which is, when seen in a certain light, precisely what paltrow and lively are doing. both are juggling children and careers and there are, after all, always limited roles for women.


lively certainly sees herself as such, as she told entrepreneur magazine: “I think I’m very much an entrepreneur but I know I have the ability to start a company in a lot of ways than other people who are more qualified because I have this existing brand as an actress.”

paltrow, publicly at least, presented stewart’s comments as galvanizing. at the most powerful women summit, after the moderator read the comments and went “meow” (which, well, YUCK), paltrow, whose company just poached stewart’s former CEO,  said: “If I’m really honest, I’m so psyched that she sees us as competition. I’m so psyched. I really am.”


the thing is both paltrow and lively are making use of a business model that stewart pioneered. lively, blatantly and consciously (though she initially sold it as something that no one in the world had ever dreamed before). paltrow less completely, but goop is nonetheless like the website love child of martha stewart living and the oprah show. so both are indebted.

honestly, i can make no sense of this. i wanted to write about it to see where it led and it’s kinda just led to meh.

honestly, it strikes me as a generational thing. stewart is 73. paltrow is 42. lively is 27. (it is RIDIC that i did not have to google that.) these are women of different generations operating now in a similar(ish) line of work.

perhaps that is what irks stewart?

or, perhaps we are being punked?


perhaps she’s just drumming up publicity by saying slightly wacky, critical things. everything she’s said so far seems to have a slight smile behind it, like she’s daring us to take her seriously. perhaps she knows that, as the expert in her field and most especially as a woman, every time she offers criticism, it will be labeled “catty.” that, in repeating her remarks on stage, a moderator will accompany them with a meow.

(btw, I HATE THIS. the fact that, as a woman and as an expert in my field, when i make a legitimate critique of another woman’s work, it is immediately labeled “catty”. and that, in making this legitimate critique, i am said to be picking a “cat fight.” people, NO. it’s hard enough as a woman to speak your mind. we need to stop shutting down legitimate critiques of important topics with knee-jerk bullshit like that.)

this, in particular, makes me wonder:


because that is brilliant. and it looks delish.


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