Unless you live under a rock, it is near enough impossible not to have heard that an iconic figure, mostly known for her drastic reforms in the 1980’s, passed onto glory this week (church rhetoric it has become an intrinsic part of me). Like her or loathe her (my dad spared no words in providing a detailed account of the radical changes that occurred whilst she was in office), Margaret Thatcher provided perhaps the most significant lesson on feminism since the suffragette movement. And how ironic that the woman who was coined the ‘Iron Lady’, would in fact personify the very thing she hated – feminism. For that reason, rather than demonise her, I have decided to give credit where it is due to a woman who gave women a voice everywhere. Here are my top 5 reasons as to why I would hail her as a trailblazer:
- First female Prime Minister – undeniably, she implemented tough austerity measures; so much so that George Osborne looks like a wet wipe in comparison. And it is inexcusable in terms of how difficult the lives of community groups such as miners were made as a result but we cannot negate the fact that she smashed the concept of the glass ceiling in the truest sense by becoming the first and only female UK Prime Minister. In a field that is heavily dominated by the ‘male, pale and stale,’ she reached unprecedented heights through hard work, tenacity and a sharp blue suit.
- Extending the ladder – whilst she has often been criticised for not promoting enough women (she believed that women should be promoted on merit which I don’t think is too far off from the truth) she still ensured that Baroness Young was promoted; a promising political figure at the time which inevitably tells me that she didn’t necessarily buy into this idea of the ‘Queen Bee’ syndrome. Additionally, despite the fact that men were still paid more than women in the 1980’s (no change there then) she actively sought to increase the full-time pay for women and in turn empowered a generation; she revolutionised a patrilineal society.
- Have your cake and eat it too – unlike Condoleezza Rice (Condi- it’s all love) she actually had a husband and a set of twins to boot. Now if that is not a clear example of ‘having it all’ then I don’t know what is especially given the social infrastructure at the time; it couldn’t have been easy. Thus, the word inspirational doesn’t even come close to describing how this makes me feel, I think the word elated has a more resounding ring to it. As a graduate of Politics and a strong believer in the family institution, her life has served as a gentle reminder that I can in fact do both; I can be a Mother and a Manager.
- Brawn Beauty, brains, wit – Thatcher was intellectually equipped; an astute Barrister, a Chemical Scientist and a seasoned politician – need I say more? She indeed was able to put her money where her mouth is all whilst looking immaculately dressed; she was the embodiment of the demure, timeless, classic look.
So forgive me if I refuse to join in on the ‘Thank-God-Thatcher-Is-Dead’ parties. Maybe it is because I am unable to truly identify with hundreds of people whose lives were affected by the stringent measures that she put in place; I don’t know. But what I do know is that had a man adopted the same uncompromising style of leadership, I am pretty sure he wouldn’t have faced as much criticism. Food for thought. Another thing that I am absolutely certain about is that her life and the things that she exemplified, has done more for me than the watered down slogans and anthems that has been belted out by what is now being perceived as the new modern day ‘feminist’ – cases in point Beyoncé. So long live the Thaterite legacy; her life has reawakened the much needed discourse on feminism and what it truly means to be a woman without limits.
Until the next time! xx