Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Martha and Hillary - Feminism's Great Divide

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Martha and Hillary - Feminism's Great Divide

Article excerpt

Hillary Clinton and Martha Stewart are both driven, powerful, talented, blondish women. Both have suffered marital woes, both have one daughter. Both find their every move vivisected. With so much in common, it's odd how far apart public perceptions of them are.

Martha, indicted Wednesday in connection with an insider trading scandal, has been demonized. And even before her legal woes began, her leftover Hanukkah-candle bikini waxes were fodder for comics everywhere, a unifying factor in a world of conflict. Feminists derided her for the double whammy: making women feel inferior if they couldn't keep up with her horrifying combination of skill and energy, and suggesting - oh, the humanity - that looking after a home might be a worthwhile pursuit.

Hillary is about to release her mightily remunerated autobiography, "Living History," the cover of which looks like a self-titled debut album. But she's no frivolous entertainer, of course. She's devoted herself to worthwhile causes - her husband's career, her career - not silly nonsense like baking cookies and hosting teas. She has made that abundantly clear.

And overall, she has been treated generously, kindly, even fawningly at times, by the same crowd who gleefully tear into poor Martha. To be sure, Hillary has her critics, but the attacks on her nowhere near approach the vilification Martha has suffered - unjustly, I feel. And the curious combination of victim/aggressor Hillary appears to go mind-bogglingly unchallenged.

Breathless celebrities extol Hillary's value as a role model for young women, but only occasionally will someone uncomfortably admit they like Martha. Had I a daughter, I don't know how I'd feel about her looking up to the former first lady. To willingly continue in a marriage where you're routinely humiliated as your husband gropes about outside your marriage is an odd thing to emulate. Hillary may well have her reasons for sticking it out with Bill. There can't be any question they're devoted to (now adult) Chelsea, but surely children are better off not living a lie.

It has been suggested that Hillary's primary motive for hanging on to the mister has to do with ambition and appearance. …

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