Today brings the news that Margaret Thatcher has died. She became Britain’s first and only female prime minister fairly shortly after I was born and remained there until I was almost a teenager. As a child in the 1980’s I was of course politically unaware so my Maggie memories are pretty low brow, I remember my modern studies teacher crying with delight when she resigned and telling us how important this day was. I thought it was an important day because we had witnessed a crying teacher, a male one at that.
Feminists don’t like her, they think she did nothing for women, she didn’t care or understand social equality and behaved like a man. I think that she did rather a lot for women, she certainly influenced my peers and I who grew up under her shadow. Here was a woman at the ultimate helm, who pissed everyone off, didn’t care what they said about her, who had a firm and clear view of where Britain was going and ruled her party under the nickname “iron lady”. She may not have been doing it the way the feminists would have liked her to but there is no denying she was a woman and a wife and mother and there has never been any female as powerful as her since. She hated the feminists in return and had only one woman in her cabinet, but perhaps there just weren’t any women appointable.
She had a strong sense of her own image in the days when having a stylist or a dresser or a team of guru’s was uncommon. Fast forward to 1995 and Cherie Blair (in true First Lady style) submitted an invoice to the Labour Party for £7500 for hair styling during the general election, revolting behaviour. The impact Thatcher had on me is not insignificant, I grew up truly believing that women can do anything they want to whilst wearing heels, pearls and an alarming amount of make up. I wonder what girls today feel about how high they can reach and whether they have the same expectations of unlimited by their gender success. I think she showed a lot of little girls that women and men were undoubtedly equal and that women could do anything they wanted to do and for that I am very grateful.