“I owe nothing to Women’s Lib.” – Baroness Margaret Thatcher
THE NEWS came as a thunder clap from Great Britain.
“It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning. A further statement will be made later.” – Lord Bell
The tweets are now coming in a contagion.
“It was with great sadness that l learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton” – David Cameron, UK Prime Minister
Then a statement from the Queen:
The Queen is sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher and Her Majesty will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family, Buckingham Palace said today.
It’s too bad Meryl Streep’s portrayal of the great United Kingdom conservative and first female PM was seen through such an abysmal movie.
Thatcher’s importance to Great Britain simply can’t be overstated.
Her politics, however, were abhorrent to any liberal, and roundly criticized by her adversaries, but also any woman who believed that the working class couldn’t survive without government enforcement of fairness, because corporations weren’t going to do it.
The world economic crisis today has its roots in the neo-conservatism of Thatcher and her American counterpart, Ronald Regan, back in the 1980s. Thatcher inflicted significant and lasting damage on the working class and our movement. She was a strong leader who knew exactly which side she was on. She never flinched from her duty of acting on behalf of the ruling class.
As a minister of the 1975 Tory Government and as Prime Minister for 11 years, Thatcher inflicted misery on working class women. She once said she did not identify with feminism. No kidding, sister!
Regardless of this, she had to fight sexism within her own party and the establishment to get to the top. And once at the top sexism took on different guises.
Called “evil cow,” the sexism and misogyny Thatcher endured was epic.
It even came from American quarters and the vaunted heights of Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, Peggy Noonan.
She represented a movement. She was its head. She was great figure, a person in history, and she was a woman. She was in it for serious reasons, not to advance the claims of a gender but to reclaim for England its economic freedom, and return its political culture to common sense. Her rise wasn’t symbolic but actual.
In fact, she wasn’t so much a woman as a lady. I remember a gentleman who worked with her speaking of her allure, how she’d relax after a late-night meeting and you’d walk by and catch just the faintest whiff of perfume, smoke and scotch. She worked hard and was tough. One always imagined her lightly smacking some incompetent on the head with her purse, for she carried a purse, as a lady would. She is still tough. A Reagan aide told me that after she was incapacitated by a stroke she flew to Reagan’s funeral in Washington, went through the ceremony, flew with Mrs. Reagan to California for the burial, and never once on the plane removed her heels. That is tough.
The point is the big ones, the real ones, the Thatchers and Indira Gandhis and Golda Meirs and Angela Merkels, never play the boo-hoo game. They are what they are, but they don’t use what they are. They don’t hold up their sex as a feint: Why, he’s not criticizing me, he’s criticizing all women! Let us rise and fight the sexist cur.
As with all conservatives, Noonan tangles herself up in her own massive ignorance of sexism by utilizing it herself against her heroine, but especially when comparing Hillary Rodham Clinton to Margaret Thatcher’s power.
A word on toughness. Mrs. Clinton is certainly tough, to the point of hard. But toughness should have a purpose. In Mrs. Thatcher’s case, its purpose was to push through a program she thought would make life better in her country. Mrs. Clinton’s toughness seems to have no purpose beyond the personal accrual of power. What will she do with the power? Still unclear. It happens to be unclear in the case of several candidates, but with Mrs. Clinton there is a unique chasm between the ferocity and the purpose of the ferocity. There is something deeply unattractive in this, and it would be equally so if she were a man.
Can anyone imagine Hillary Rodham Clinton having an all-male cabinet, as Thatcher chose to do?
What so many conservatives refuse to accept is that the ferocity of Thatcher’s purpose hurt female workers and the poor, many of whom were women and children, while Clinton ferocity of purpose, seen most recently at the State Department, revolved around empowering women economically and suggesting that governments play a role in the equality of women’s lives.
As for Noonan’s fantasy of Thatcher being not just a woman, but a lady, she completely forgets the convenience of Thatcher’s feminine prerogatives. From the UK Guardian, back in 1989:
It was an interesting judgment, not least because most people found her ‘coquettish’ in giving way to frequent interruptions from Labour. Clare Short, leading feminist in the Commons, observed, ‘She was practically flirting with some of our younger chaps. I expect it’s all part of the efforts to soften her image.’ Whatever the verdict, it seems the political lexicon of sexism is being dusted off as the shock of Margaret Thatcher’s current vulnerability leads to the writing of a new chapter in the fortunes of the first woman Prime Minister.
…From the ludicrous posed photos at the kitchen sink on the day she became Tory Leader, to the famous make-over of the voice, hair and clothes, to the double acts on the international stage with Hollywood-trained Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher’s femininity has been deliberately moulded and put to powerful use. She has tremendous appeal as a role model for modern women, while paradoxically emphasising their traditional roles as homemakers and mothers, and remaining indifferent, if not downright hostile, to the needs of working women.
It’s no accident that the television satirists of Spitting Image have portrayed Thatcher as a man. Clare Short (who herself confesses to believing there’s a colonel’s uniform beneath the trim suits) is convinced she has got away with a lot more than any man would have, while Tory MP Theresa Gorman believes that qualities for which men in politics are complimented are used in evidence against her.
The “Ditch The Bitch” campaign against Thatcher in her very early years, back in the ’80s, resembles much of what America saw in the 2008 campaign against Hillary. It also reveals just how juvenile America remains when it comes to women and power.
“Economics are the method; the object is to change the soul.” – Baroness Margaret Thatcher
Conservative leaders who try to “change the soul” of the poor through economics only end up making low-income families poorer. That’s one thing Mrs. Thatcher never learned and conservatives still can’t digest, because they simply don’t understand that economic equality and fairness can only come through government policies that demand it.
Margaret Thatcher’s politics were abysmal, but her strength in fighting against “Ditch the Bitch” sexism is a common fight of women around the world, which still rages.
As for Thatcher thinking she owed nothing to “Women’s Lib,” well, that’s what all conservatives believe. It’s also why women don’t ever benefit from conservative economics, which never mandate economic equality, regardless of gender.