Margaret Thatcher - Feminist Icon?

(244 Posts)
OnlyANinja Mon 09-Jan-12 11:06:58

The Guardian asks a number of influential women (apparently) but I'd rather ask MNers.

IslaDoit Mon 09-Jan-12 11:50:44

<buffs English degree>

<resists temptation to point out one would look up "mock" not "mocking" because the verb is "to mock">

LittleGnu Mon 09-Jan-12 12:08:53

IslaDoit In a comprehensive dictionary, you can look up either "mock" or "mocking". I used the word "mocking" as that was the word used. But if you really need to look that word up, this is all rather irrelevant. But carry on making yourself look a fool by all means...

IslaDoit Mon 09-Jan-12 12:16:08

LittleGnu I've said everything to you that I want to already. Perhaps re-read my and the other posts because you don't seem to be understanding it is you who looks a fool flinging around your insults.

LittleGnu Mon 09-Jan-12 12:18:24

re-read my and the other posts

That about sums you up...

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 09-Jan-12 12:19:24

Not a feminist icon, but definitely a female icon.

She benefitted from feminism, being the right person at the right time. Ten years later or ten years earlier she wouldn't have been able to do what she did. The women's movement offered an opening of possibilities for women at that moment that hasn't quite been repeated, although women are still making great inroads. She would also probably never be able to admit to that - she had to imagine that she did it on her own.

She also demonstrated in a very concrete way that women could be leaders, women could make decisions, and that women were competent. Something that sexists had been disputing for centuries.

One feminist thing she did was put pressure on the police investigating the Yorkshire Ripper case because she thought they weren't taking it seriously enough because the victims were prostituted women.

It's not possible to write her off completely.

witchwithallthetrimmings Mon 09-Jan-12 12:24:13

two points, she was no feminist but the pure fact of her being a woman must have changed people's views of gender roles.
I did see quite a bit of mysogyny on the left though in the attacks on her. It appeared that her crime was being a strong and strident women as well as dissmantling the welfare state

IslaDoit Mon 09-Jan-12 12:30:01

I would agree with that witch. I do think she gets treated extra harshly because she is a woman.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 09-Jan-12 12:45:35

I'd cite her as an iconic woman and I'd put her in the same bracket as Barbara Castle and Shirley Williams ie. women that got to the top of politics at a time when it was even more male dominated than it is now. I'm old enough to remember how dismal the UK was in the early/mid seventies and what a breath of fresh air it was to have someone in the top job that wasn't some identikit ageing, white male. She didn't push an overtly feminist agenda - with the country being so far in the shit maybe she had bigger priorities at the time? - but I don't think that stopped her being an inspiration to other women. Same as Obama in the US at the moment might not be pushing the black agenda as much as some would like but who is still, by his sheer presence, an inspiration to black Americans.

I think a lot of the criticism levelled at the Thatcher government has a misogynistic element. She famously ran rings around men and they are still smarting about it. All political careers end in failure and Mrs T certanly fell victim to hubris and an over-reliance on ideology in the end, but I think a lot of nastier comments simply wouldn't apply if it had been 'Mr Thatcher' in power.

Will they be making 'John Major: The Movie' or 'Tony Blair: The Iron Man' in a few years' time?..... Says it all.

Chandon Mon 09-Jan-12 12:53:52

agree with thunderbolts!

LieInsAreRarerThanTigers Mon 09-Jan-12 13:00:54

Well I couldn't stand the woman myself but I think you could be a feminist icon without being a feminist yourself - isn't Judy Garland a 'gay icon' for example?
I think the film might make some Americans and younger Brits think 'wow what a strong woman, pioneer in a man's world, etc etc) but those who know more about her record and attitudes to feminism probably aren't going to change their minds.

LieInsAreRarerThanTigers Mon 09-Jan-12 13:03:00

Cogito I think they could well make a Tony Blair movie. They have already done a TV drama. He wasn't our first male PM but he was the youngest (wasn't he?)

TheBreadstick Mon 09-Jan-12 13:08:11

I don't think she was a feminist icon. Policies aside, she never promoted one woman to her cabinet.

I think the 'right to buy' for Council tenants was about the only good thing she ever did, but failed to follow up the offer with building more affordable/social housing stock to replace that which was bought.

onelittlefish Mon 09-Jan-12 13:08:32

Not one to comment on feminism usually, however, how can anyone dispute the fact that she is a feminist icon? She made it to the top in a time when there were hardly any women in politics - I am sure she contributed a lot to women saying "I can do this", I can make it" even if you don't agree with with the politics or what she did.

Also I agree with shakey - she has Alzheimers and is really sick. It is an illness I would not wish on my worst enemy (I have seen loads of people with it) so I strongly resent people using it to suggest how convenient it is that she can't recall her decisions.

WinkyWinkola Mon 09-Jan-12 13:11:27

I think as a woman to get as high as she did, she did amazingly.

She did nothing to help other women though. I cannot think of any policies.

Pity her having Alzheimer's as I do anyone.

Maybe she didn't promote women because the men were better qualified or no women applied.
Just a thought!

sportsfanatic Mon 09-Jan-12 13:21:31

Those of us who were adults in the 70s, working and trying to run businesses have memories of what the 70s were like under Conservative Heath "the 3 day week" and then Labour Callaghan - Britain going cap in hand to the IMF for funds to bail us out - we were the Greece of the 70s. We were "the sick man of Europe", Jim Callaghan "crisis, what crisis?" millions of days lost through strikes, many of them wildcat, the "winter of discontent". Britain going down the toilet so fast with the Labour government completely impotent when it tried to do anything about it.

That is what brought Thatcher in - the need for tough decisions if Britain was not to sink into a morass of strikes and debt. So, yes, massive suffering via the mines, the shipyards etc. and of course there is ongoing hatred for the person who is seen as a destroyer by those who saw their livings destroyed. And misogyny too - the fact that a woman was tough enough to do what was absolutely necessary to rescue Britain from bankruptcy while the previous weak male PMs had presided over failure, didn't go down well.

As for the apparent "not interested in women's issues". It was clear why. She had the whole country to think about - the big picture. And if the economy goes down the tubes everyone, including women, suffer. A PM's job is to be PM for all - not any one class, sex or group.

She won't be seen as a feminist icon because she was not of the left. But she should be because she showed that women can succeed without special pleading, special status and tokenism.

SinisterBuggyMonth Mon 09-Jan-12 13:44:39

Does anyone remember her on Swap Shop? Setting a blinding example by saying she believed women "should remain at home with the children".

Just being female and in the public eye does not by default make you a feminist. If anything she was anti-feminist.

grumblinalong Mon 09-Jan-12 13:59:19

Thatcher as a feminist icon?

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ahem...sorry whilst I pick myself up off the floor in hysterics.

This is the woman who did the washing up at one of her vote gathering staged media hyping events so as to ingratiate herself with women voters and show she was a 'real' woman. I mean wtf? Washing up promotion being a vote decider hmm. I know it was the 70's/80's but even then surely most women would have seen right through it.

An alpha female with determination and steel resolve maybe, feminist no.

ProfessorSunny Mon 09-Jan-12 14:10:24

What enjoyresponsibly said was spot on IMO. Regardless of my personal opinion of the woman, she did that at least.

I don't agree with a lot of what she did, however she was a strong leader for this country and she did what she thought was right rather than what she thought was always going to be popular.

I'd rather have her than an apathetic bunch of loonies who can't agree anything.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Mon 09-Jan-12 14:11:08

I saw the film on Friday and didn't recognise the Thatcher I remember from their sympathetic portrayal. She set back feminism for years due to her policies. Who would ever let a woman be in charge of anything if she had to be like Thatcher? I came out of the film thinking, stab, stab, stab! blush

sportsfanatic Mon 09-Jan-12 14:16:27

Who would ever let a woman be in charge of anything if she had to be like Thatcher?

That's falling into a misogynistic trap. You might as well say "Who would ever let a man be in charge of anything if he had to be like Blair, Brown, Cameron etc."

EllenJaneisnotmyname Mon 09-Jan-12 14:26:15

No, sports. She was the first female Prime Minister. She was shite. The two should not be connected, but in any undecided mysogynistic mind they are likely to be. I hated her for failing women. I wanted the first female Prime Minister to be bloody marvellous, much like I want Barak Obama to be bloody marvellous.

IslaDoit Mon 09-Jan-12 14:27:17

Maybe she didn't promote women because the men were better qualified or no women applied.

This raises several feminist issues. If there were no women applying or who were qualified when they make up 51% of the UK population then that begs the question why?

And once you get into the why (institutional sexism and a patriarchal society), then the next logical step for a feminist in a position of power is to try to fix that problem. Thatcher didn't do that. Therefore she is not a feminist because she did not display feminist ethics or introduce feminist policy.

Margaret Thatcher was an individualist and interested in advancing the aims and ambitions of Margaret Thatcher, not women.

vixsatis Mon 09-Jan-12 14:28:37

She wasn't a feminist; but the fact of her being Prime Minister was important. It became conceivable to men that a woman could do a "man's job" as well as a man and without "allowances" being made. She would not have been allowed to get to where she was if she had seen to be interested in "women's issues"

Women are now allowed into men's worlds and to participate in men's activities and environments to a much greater extent than in 1979 and that is to some extent due to the fact of her existence and achievement.

Whilst we are allowed to participate in the male world now; and that world is increasingly and erroneously seen as "gender neutral" we are a long way from men having any respect for what have traditionally been female or feminine activities/ways of thinking/concerns. The feminine is still seen as something to be belittled and dismissed. She did nothing to assist with this; but would have been well ahead of her time if she had.

ComposHat Mon 09-Jan-12 14:33:22

Thatcher a feminist icon? Daftest thing I've heard in a long time. As numerous posters have pointed out, she had no interest in gender issues and the policies of her government were by accident or design, deeply damaging for other women.

Don't buy the Rags to Riches bollocks either, he father was a local bigwig who owned a couple of Grocery stores, Mayor of Grantham, Magistrate, Chair of the Rotary etc.

She was also married to a millionaire who supported her during her countless attempts to get adopted as an MP and qualify as a Lawyer. Nothing wrong with that per se, but she seemed hell bent on denying similar opportunities to women who hadn't the fortune to have married someone fabulously wealthy.

That said, I would be delighted to pay for a state funeral for Thatcher - just so long as she is buried alive.

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