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.

Margaret Thatcher dies age 87

Margaret Thatcher died at the Ritz hotel in London

Margaret Thatcher died at the Ritz hotel in London

Former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher has died aged 87, after suffering a stroke earlier this morning.

Lord Bell, Thatcher’s spokesperson, said: “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother, Baroness Thatcher, died peacefully following a stroke this morning.”

The Iron Lady died at the Ritz hotel in London, where she has been living, following an operation in December last year (2012). Neither of her children was with her when she died.

Over the past decade, Lady Thatcher has suffered regular bouts of illness, including a series of small strokes and dementia. She is to have a state funeral with military honours at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Prime Minister David Cameron has cut his European trip short and is set to return to London following the news. The flag at 10 Downing Street is currently flying at half-mast as a sign of respect for the former Prime Minister.

Baroness Thatcher was the first, and only, female British Prime Minister from 1979-1990, winning three successive general elections. She was a former member of the Conservative Party and is a controversial figure due to her radical reforms. Her death has caused mixed reactions worldwide.

Here are some celebrity tweets in response to the news of her death:

David Cameron @Number10gov

“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”

Barack Obama ‏@BarackObama

“She stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered.” —Obama on Margaret Thatcher’s passing

Harry Styles ‏@Harry_Styles

RIP Baroness Thatcher .x

Stephen Fry ‏@stephenfry

Was in the air when the news came in about Margaret Thatcher. Such a force in Britain through my university days through to my 30s

Ross Noble ‏@realrossnoble

Bloody typical Thatcher dies when I am in rural Australia. I hate to miss a good street party.

Lord Sugar ‏@Lord_Sugar

Baroness Thatcher in the 80’s kicked started the entrepreneurial revolution that allowed chirpy chappies to succeed and not just the elite

Rylan Ross Clark ‏@RylanClark

Getting a bit of backlash about thatcher, maybe I’m not up on history???

James Argent ‏@RealJamesArgent

Just heard Margaret Thatcher has died…Very sad news! RIP x

Geri Halliwell ‏@GeriHalliwell

Thinking of our 1st Lady of girl power ,Margaret Thatcher , a green grocer’s daughter who taught me any thing is possible…x

Piers Morgan ‏@piersmorgan

Brave, divisive, formidable, tough, stubborn, dominant & domineering, Margaret Thatcher bestrode the world like a political colossus. RIP

Sarah Millican ‏@SarahMillican75

A lot of miners are discovering they can dance today.

Johnny Vegas ‏@JohnnyVegasReal

Geography won’t allow myself to go right now but strongly suggest if you’re out in Manchester to get yerself down to @thelassogowrie #toppub