If Martha Were a Man

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If Martha Stewart were a man, she would not be in jail. ThatÂ?s the opinion of more than 9,000 people responding to a poll on http://www.TheMarthaPrisonGiftShop.com. When asked "Would a MAN receive the same punishment as Martha?" an overwhelming 85% responded "No, a man would not be in jail.Â? Only 15% said "There is no gender bias.Â?

If Martha Stewart were a man, she would not be in jail. That’s the opinion of more than 9,000 people responding to a poll on http://www.TheMarthaPrisonGiftShop.com. When asked "Would a MAN receive the same punishment as Martha?" an overwhelming 85% responded "No, a man would not be in jail.” Only 15% said "There is no gender bias.” More than 9,000 people voted during the first week of the poll.

The Martha Prison Gift Shop has become a platform for people expressing outrage at Martha's imprisonment. The shop's most popular item is an apron with the wry message: "Alderson Prison, protecting you from homemakers". Martha has been confined to Alderson Prison since Oct. 14, 2004, and a lot of people aren't happy about it.

E-mail from all over the country streams into the gift shop site. Debra from White Plains writes: " I think it's awful that our society, run by men, feels threatened when a woman becomes so successful. Do you mean to tell me that Mr. Trump is without integrity flaws? I guarantee he made plenty of 'shady deals' to get where he is. 'Absurd' is too mild a word for this situation. If a man is 'driven', he's admired. If a woman is driven, she's a b***h. Well good for the b***hes! I say thank God there are women like Martha for us to admire."

Mindy from Berrien Springs writes: " Martha doesn't deserve to be in prison. It's a man's world out there and I feel men are threatened by her. No one is perfect. People have done worse things than telling a lie, and they didn't go to jail. Women, men, and children look up to Martha. Putting her in jail was a mistake and she doesn't deserve it. Martha has done so much for our world, culture, American homes, and families...and this is how they thank her? They should be ashamed of themselves.”

But not all of the messages are supportive. The Martha Prison Gift Shop gets an occasional slam for some of its pro-Martha products. Gloria from Port Townsend writes: "I can't believe you have a site selling items about Martha. She was found guilty by a court of law and is serving her sentence in jail. She doesn't care at all about the little people and is only interested in herself. She has lied and is paying for it now. I would not buy anything from your site regarding Martha Stewart."

Martha clearly inspires strong feelings. But love her or hate her, there's no denying the public perceives a gender bias in her punishment. Perhaps they have noted the fact that Martha, a woman, sits in jail while alleged corporate bad guys Ken Lay and Bernie Ebbers remain free.

http://www.TheMarthaPrisonGiftShop.com provides a wide variety of aprons, sweatshirts, buttons, and many other products featuring original designs inspired by the imprisonment of Martha Stewart. In January 2005, the site will run a new poll that asks "Do you think Martha is a good role model for children?"

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Shay Roberts

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