Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Thatcher: was The Iron Lady an inspiration to women?

Meryl Streep as Thatcher in The Iron Lady
Everyone has a view on Mrs T. Even now more than 20 years since she resigned as prime minister, the mention of her name causes fists to clench and jaws to tighten. 

Even now she's an ailing and diminished old lady but still has the power to polarise opinion. Alone an impressive achievement. 

I don't want to talk about what she did or didn't do as politician, the thought of it exhausts me. However, I read a post yesterday over at From Fun To Mum that set me thinking. 

The question was: was Thatcher a good mother? 

My answer is that it's no one else's business. And, in any case, outside the realms of proper neglect, the notion of "good" or "bad" parenting is bunk. 

When we become mothers we don't stop being all the things we were before. And they are just as important. 

We don't see screeds of pontification on the parenting abilities of Cameron, Brown, Blair or Major. I'd argue that to even debate the point about Thatcher is sexist. After all, we assume that offspring of the male prime ministers are being cared for perfectly well by their other parent while the politician is busy, don't we? 

There's a lump of opinion that howls about how "anti-feminist" Thatcher was because she didn't support the cause of feminism, that this Tory didn't do more for female solidarity. Was that really such a surprise?

Whatever way it ended up, there is no denying that Margaret Thatcher achieved an impressive amount as a woman at that time. Perhaps the problem we have now is that she proved that it could be done, and therefore what are we all waiting for now.

It was put to me recently in a mess of metaphors that she smashed the glass ceiling and then slammed it shut again behind her. Not so. 

What she did was get on with her job, achieve her ambitions and, in the main, reach her goals. That she was a woman had nothing to do with it. 

And that's the inspiring bit. Surely, if we have the ability, there is nothing to stop us being or doing what we want - regardless of gender. 


  1. Say what you like about that woman - I will be at the party in George Square the day they bury her.... and I would have done for a male PM who did what she did.... will do? Cameron? IDS? Yeah I can see myself dancing on theirs too... might be a bit crinkly seeing Cameron is a couple of years younger than me but I suspect I'll find the gumption somewhere.

  2. As always, she demonstrated that women can achieve the same as men BUT that they need the infrastructure behind them that men usually have, a partner who can run the home and family and leave them free to pursue their career

    Sadly most women don't have the back up to compete on that footing - I'm not sure she would have achieved the same if she had been the one shopping for groceries or dealing with the twin's night wakings

  3. Muddling Along, I think that's a very valid point. And perhaps that's where we should start with trying to make sure we are not held back by domestic arrangements if we don't want to be.


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