Margaret Thatcher: a role model for feminism?

Margaret Thatcher was British Prime Minister from 1979 - 1990

Margaret Thatcher was British Prime Minister from 1979 – 1990

The death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher has been about as divisive as her life in power. A figure of many dispositions: controversial, yes. Iconic, yes. But a role model for feminism? Debatable.

Okay, so she has been known to say things that may appear to be positive for the development of women within society. Take this for example:

“If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”

Although it’s quotes like this that inspired the Spice Girls to use Lady Thatcher as inspiration for girl power, this statement appeals to female superiority rather than gender equality. It’s not really feminism either. Nothing about the statement is appealing to the rights of women.

Besides, it has been known for Thatcher to openly condemn the feminist movement. She once told the New Statesman: “The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.” And she didn’t really do too much in the way of developing the rights of women in the work place and very little to encourage women to get involved in politics. In fact Lady Thatcher only appointed one woman, Edwina Currie, to her cabinet.

But what I would say is that the only ever British female Prime Minister is dead. She was the first woman to achieve the position, and the last. I think this is something to celebrate. I wouldn’t go as far as President Obama and say that she showed women “that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered”, but I would say that she is an example of what is possible. After all, she was elected by the people of Britain to be their Prime Minister in three general elections.

Both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have voted a female Prime Minister into office for four terms, and Norway has had a woman in charge for three. Angela Merkel is the Chancellor for Germany and she previously headed up the European Council. So why is Britain so behind?

You don’t have to be a feminist to be a positive example for women, therefore I think that Margaret Thatcher should be admired by men and women alike for her motivation to take on societal convention.

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