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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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210 Responses

  1. Kathryn
    Kathryn April 8, 2013 at 11:18 am |

    But that’s exactly the kind of person I really despise – they have struggled, and come through difficulties, and then use their position to make things MORE difficult for the people they leave behind. And deny that they benefitted from those who fought for their right to become who they are. She lacked empathy to a psychopathic extent.

    1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help April 8, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

      Hear, hear!

    2. McMike
      McMike April 11, 2013 at 5:18 am |

      What struggle? Her family owned a shop. When there was a problem they raised their prices on their goods. Why did the country take an issue if those whom trade in their labour wanted to raise their price?

  2. Paige
    Paige April 8, 2013 at 11:23 am |

    I’ve been very disappointed in many of my progressive friends today. I’m seeing countless misogynistic slurs thrown around all over Facebook and twitter. I know they didn’t like her (I’m no fan) but now it seems they’re pretty excited to dip into their arsenal of sexism, and that giddiness worries me.

    1. Li
      Li April 8, 2013 at 11:36 am |

      It’s been pretty much non-stop links of a fairly predictable musical number from the Wizard of Oz on my facebook. At least “This lady’s not returning” was creative.

      1. EG
        EG April 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

        I’m pleased with my LJ friends. What I’m seeing is “Break out the shovels and champagne!” and a celebration playlist that begins with “When Maggie Thatcher dies, we’re all havin’ a party!”

        1. Paige
          Paige April 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm |

          I saw someone post a playlist for the occasion. Something like, the ten best anti-Thatcher songs or something. Good stuff lol.

    2. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve April 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

      I know they didn’t like her (I’m no fan) but now it seems they’re pretty excited to dip into their arsenal of sexism, and that giddiness worries me.

      I disagree with the sexism, and I agree that it seems for some that it is a free pass to use to a certain specific five letter and an even worse four letter word.

      However, I have to equally disagree with your characterization of opposition of Margaret Thatcher’s evil policies as ‘not liking her’ or not being a ‘fan’. That’s like saying I wasn’t a fan of Mussolini, not like saying I’m not a fan of One Direction.

      1. Paige
        Paige April 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm |

        No, don’t get me wrong, I think she was a loathsome embarrassment.

  3. Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman

    Perfectly put, Jill.

  4. saurus
    saurus April 8, 2013 at 11:29 am |

    The ability for women to be assholes at the top of a fundamentally oppressive, imperialist hierarchy might be “indicative of feminist progress”, but that raises some pretty depressing questions about what “feminist progress” is.

    1. EG
      EG April 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm |

      For real.

    2. Jane
      Jane April 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm |

      Seriously. When this blog gets people up in arms about its lack of race or intersectional analysis, it’s this kind of post to which we are referring. How could you ever call her election “feminist progress” considering how maliciously she set attacked economic and racial justice– which, you may be surprised to learn, impacts women, a lot more of whom live at the bottom than preside over the top.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 April 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm |

        This….she was as far from feminist progress as it is possible to be and if she had not been elected we probably would have had a great female labour prime minister by now.

    3. Drahill
      Drahill April 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm |

      I think it goes to the core of what feminism is about. If feminism is about advancing equality for women, then feminism is about advancing equality for all women – the Thatchers and the Palins of the world included. Obviously, the election of a Thatcher or a Palin is not a celebration for feminism, but that goes to the very definition of feminism in the first place.

      The paradox is that feminism, to be successful, will on some level have to work against its own interests. Women are not a monolith (nor should we be, really). Thus, in advancing women’s interests, you are invariably going to advance the interests and standing of people who you fundamentally disagree with and who will, in the end, work against you. The core question then, to me, is whether a feminism that doesn’t do this could really be feminism in any meaningful sense. I don’t know.

      If feminism is solely about the advancement of women, then yes, I think Thatcher’s election probably counts (and Sarah Palin’s nomination counts). But if feminism is about advancing certain ideals, then certainly it is not. By that standard, Barack Obama’s election is far more of feminist victory than Thatcher’s.

      1. Jane
        Jane April 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

        Feminism is intersectional because power is intersectional in people’s lives. Ignoring these intersections, these pwer dynamics and celebrating Thatcher because of her gender alone consolidates power across class, racial, religious and nationalist lines at the expense of the vast majority of women around the world. It’s an active move to co-opt feminist movements by powerful women (and I implicate the author of this post here– a white, highly educated professional class American citizen) to secure power in the hands of powerful women who share their class/race/etc allegiances. This post is really an epic Feministe fail.

        1. Drahill
          Drahill April 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm |

          I agree that I think Jill phrased it poorly. However, I do think that feminism, as a movement, is not by assumption intersectional. There are still feminists out there who do not engage in intersectional analysis and do not feel the need to. Intersectional feminism is the far better version, to me (and to most people), but I think you can’t say definiatively that feminism is by defition intersectional, especially before the 3rd wave. It is worth noting that Thatcher was of a generation when intersectionality largely has not come into play yet.

        2. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm |

          It is worth noting that Thatcher was of a generation when intersectionality largely has not come into play yet.

          That’s really not true. The word “intersectionality” had not come into play, but second-wave feminism grew out of the New Left, and it originated as heavily in debt to a number of leftist analyses. There were plenty of leftist and anti-racist feminists who saw Thatcher for what she was, even then.

        3. karak
          karak April 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm |

          Seriously? You’re muttering that Jill is a dirty colluder? One Of Them?

          A highly influential, controversial, well-known and powerful woman just died. Jill did a short post about how she was a terrible person with terrible policies, but the fact she had power at all, as a woman, is worth noting.

          Frankly, I’m really sick of the commentariat here being snarky about Jill. If you don’t like her, like the blog, or like the post, you’re free to leave, and take your nasty little insinuations with you. I don’t want to hear it.

      2. EG
        EG April 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm |

        If feminism is about advancing equality for women, then feminism is about advancing equality for all women – the Thatchers and the Palins of the world included.

        But if feminism is about advancing equality for all women, the advancement of the Thatchers and Palins of the world would be not just balanced out but drowned in the way that so many women were and are prevented from advancing by their use of power. On a pure cost-benefit analysis regarding the advancement of women, they are no victory at all.

        1. Drahill
          Drahill April 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

          I agree you on your analysis, but I’m not sure feminism as a movement was ever really concerned with cost/benefit analysis. If the movement was about the empowerment of all women, then would it owe equal duties around to all women regardless of their views? Does it owe a duty to screen women for potential offense prior to supporting them? Does support get withdrawn at some point? I’m still unconvinced that if one defines feminism as a movement that seeks universal empowerment of the female gender, that conservative women are not at least some evidence of effectiveness. I think I see a difference between Thatcher’s election, which in itself was evidence of some feminist success, and her tenure, which was a feminist disaster.

        2. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm |

          Does support get withdrawn at some point?

          I withdraw support from these women from the beginning.

        3. Drahill
          Drahill April 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm |

          But EG, you haven’t really answered my question. I’m not arguing that feminism has any duty to support anti-feminist policies regardless of who they come from. What I am trying to get at is whether the election of a woman, any woman, is evidence of feminist progress. Both you and I know that there was a point in human history when the election of any woman at all was pipe dream. The fact that Thatcher could even have a viable shot at election must be some evidence that feminism worked. Her tenure, from a feminist standpoint, was disasterous. I think that was what Jill was trying to get at – her election was, and will remain, a bfd in women’s history, regardless of what her tenure brought and how anti-feminist she was. And my question is whether that marker in women’s history deserves some, if very little, recognition in feminism.

          It’s the old question about what feminism owes women who are not feminists. If feminism is about the advancement of progressive goals, that is fine, but then the question is what separates it from mere overall progressivism in general.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 1:12 pm |

          I think that was what Jill was trying to get at – her election was, and will remain, a bfd in women’s history

          Oh puhleeze. There were a bunch of female world leaders before Thatcher. The only thing that Thatcher’s election proved that hadn’t been done before was “yay, white people finally got on board with the women are people thing!”

        5. Drahill
          Drahill April 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm |

          Mac, I believe the reason she was considered a big deal was because she was the first female leader of a first world nation. That doesn’t diminish the female leaders of other nations, but it notes that Thatcher was the first one wielding enough power to hold considerable influence on world affairs. Sorry if pointing that out grings your gears.

        6. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm |

          If the only thing that distinguishes feminism from other left movements is getting harmful right-wing women into power, then I say the hell with it. I do not consider her election a win for feminism. As I say elsewhere, I consider it a co-opting and a fluke–if you scroll down this list, you don’t see her ushering in a wave of European female heads of state in the 1980s.

          What distinguishes feminism is prioritizing gender as an axis of discrimination. Thatcher did nothing to recognize that, either.

          Her getting elected is like Clarence Thomas getting put on the Supreme Court, if Thomas were independent enough to cause ten times the amount of harm he has hitherto done.

        7. Willard
          Willard April 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

          I believe the reason she was considered a big deal was because she was the first female leader of a first world nation.

          We’ll have to let Israel know they’ve been demoted. Golda Meir was Prime Minister a decade before Thatcher, and the latter even got her nickname as a hand-me down.

          The quote from the Slate article I think you’re after is

          the first woman to lead a major Western democracy

          Which I’ll go along with. Since we seem to be shoring up anglo-centric, first world apologia today.

        8. Drahill
          Drahill April 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm |

          EG, I never said that her election was an overall good for feminism – her election led to her tenure, which was an overall bad. However, you again miss my point. I am arguing that it is impossible not to attribute at least part of Thatcher’s success to feminism, since it was feminism that largely permitted her the opportunity to even have a place in politics in the first place. Just like even if Clarence Thomas has been an overall bad appointment for civil rights, the civil rights movement largely broke down the barriers that would have held Thomas back from joining SCOTUS in the first place.

        9. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm |

          I’m not missing your point; I’m dismissing the point. If her election had been significant of an overall feminist change in women’s electability, we would have seen further women PMs and national leaders. We haven’t. So I see it as a fluke. Perhaps a fluke made possible by feminism, but I’m not even totally convinced of that.

        10. Drahill
          Drahill April 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

          But EG, if you look at the list, you’d see that within a year of Thatcher’s election, 4 more women were elected heads of state (in India, Portugal, Bolivia and the Dominica). For 15 years prior to Thatcher, there had been only 7 female heads of state elected (and 3 of those were in Sri Lanka). So, I’m no statistician (and I suspect neither are you), but that does appear as though female heads of state certainly picked up after her. Now, I’m not arguing that this is clear evidence. You are – and your numbers seem to be off. If we’re arguing purely on numbers, your argument seems far less convincing.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

          Mac, I believe the reason she was considered a big deal was because she was the first female leader of a first world nation. That doesn’t diminish the female leaders of other nations, but it notes that Thatcher was the first one wielding enough power to hold considerable influence on world affairs. Sorry if pointing that out grings your gears.

          It’s fascinating how you made no such specification until I pointed out your anglocentrism.

          Right, right. When white people do tokenism, it’s a “win for feminism”. When brown people do representation, it’s “an accomplishment incongruous with their patriarchal savagery”. Noted.

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

          (Not meaning to imply the quotes are Drahill’s. They’re just distillations of attitudes in general.)

        13. Drahill
          Drahill April 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm |

          Mac, if you’re gonna complain about anglicentrism, you should probably care enough to come correct. The first Caucasian female head of state wasn’t Thatcher, it was Golda Meir. Just sayin’ there, Mac.

        14. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm |

          No. We can either limit the field to major European powers, as does the NYT, and thus say that Thatcher was a first and important for that, but then she didn’t have the effect that would make her first important, or we can broaden the field to the world, and note that some others came after her, but then she can’t be the first. But we can’t do both. We can’t say “only major European powers count” in order to make her election important and then say “but the world counts” in order to claim that her election had knock-on effects. Not only is it dishonest, but Thatcher is not worth that kind of contortion.

        15. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm |

          Mac, if you’re gonna complain about anglicentrism, you should probably care enough to come correct. The first Caucasian female head of state wasn’t Thatcher, it was Golda Meir. Just sayin’ there, Mac.

          I’m quoting YOU, in my quote there, Drahill. I don’t forget shit. You’re the one who said Thatcher was the first, instead of Meir. Not me. You.

        16. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm |

          We can’t say “only major European powers count” in order to make her election important and then say “but the world counts” in order to claim that her election had knock-on effects.

          Well, but how else would we be able to establish that White People Do Everything That Is Good First?

        17. Drahill
          Drahill April 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

          EG, it’s not so easy to break down. Now I haven’t taken geopolitics in a while, but from what I recall, Thatcher’s tenure was noted as the most important at the time. There had been female heads of state before her, but none that held her influence (including Meir, who did plenty to influence). In the 70s, countries of influence by and large meant nuclear nations (if Indira Gandhi or Golda Meir were around today, I can safely say that their influence would be far more felt on an international scale due to their countries now having the Bomb). Them’s the breaks. It’s not euro-centric to point out that by virtue of her being British and leading a nuclear nation, Thatcher was in a unique position that previously had been unavailable to female heads of state and her influence largely places her in a higher position in the political sphere.

        18. Drahill
          Drahill April 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm |

          Mac, I was pointing out that in the annals of history, Thatcher is going to be recalled as a very big deal (and that includes in women’s history). You were the one who took that as a slight to all the other female heads of state who came before her and alleged that Thatcher is only recalled because she was white. First, you miss the point that Thatcher was the first woman to head a major international power nation – the others were not so fortunate. She was also the first to head a nuclear nation, which substantially increased her power and standing. Then, I did feel the need to point out your factual error – Thatcher was not the first white woman to lead a nation – that distinction belongs to Golda Meir. You are the one who made this debate, so I’m sort of surprised why you’re not addressing my actual points.

        19. Donna L
          Donna L April 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm |

          In the 70s, countries of influence by and large meant nuclear nations (if Indira Gandhi or Golda Meir were around today, I can safely say that their influence would be far more felt on an international scale due to their countries now having the Bomb). Them’s the breaks. It’s not euro-centric to point out that by virtue of her being British and leading a nuclear nation, Thatcher was in a unique position

          That’s not true, actually. Even though it’s never made a public announcement, Israel is known to have had operational nuclear weapons since about 1967, after the Six-Day War, and had the capability of putting them together earlier in the ’60’s. It was certainly a nuclear power when Meir was prime minister form 1969-1974, including during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when I seem to recall that some were concerned that she would decide to use them, which she obviously didn’t. In fact, she received a lot of criticism at the time for her refusal to order a pre-emptive strike despite all the indications that Egypt and Syria were about to attack.

        20. Donna L
          Donna L April 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

          Thatcher was not the first white woman to lead a nation – that distinction belongs to Golda Meir.

          Of course, not everyone would agree with you about Meir! After all, I once heard someone actually say that most Jews can “pass for white,” and that’s why we’re so dangerous. And it isn’t much more than 100 years ago that most official documents about European Jewish immigrants to the USA used to classify them not as white but as members of the “Hebrew race.” (Certainly when little Golda Mabovich was a child back in Kiev, born in 1897, nobody thought Jews belonged to the same race as gentiles.)

          But the history of the granting of official whiteness to Jews in the USA is a whole different topic.

        21. hotpot
          hotpot April 8, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

          I believe India had the bomb in 1974, in fact Indira Gandhi got most of the credit for it.

          In any case, this shouldn’t be very complicated. The fact that a woman became the PM of the UK was a silver lining to a horrible watershed election. Seeing that a woman can really stand at the top of national politics has positive psychological and cultural effects, just as seeing that a black man can stand at the top of national politics does. In Thatcher’s case, that was far outweighed by her actual policies.

          As feminists we accept that by advancing the rights of all disadvantaged people, some of those people will take the new opportunities they have and turn it around to slap down others who are disadvantaged, either in the same or a different way than themselves. That’s human nature. You can’t get around it. It doesn’t make social justice any less worthwhile.

        22. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

          by virtue of her being British and leading a nuclear nation, Thatcher was in a unique position that previously had been unavailable to female heads of state and her influence largely places her in a higher position in the political sphere.

          And I agree with that. What I don’t agree is that her election had anything to do with female heads of state in Argentina of any of the other places you mentioned. At best, she was the most highly visible member of an accelerating trend that began before her and continued after her.

        23. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 5:59 pm |

          You were the one who took that as a slight to all the other female heads of state who came before her and alleged that Thatcher is only recalled because she was white.

          Er, no. I took exception to the way Thatcher’s being framed as a “Foremother Of All Female Heads Of State” all over this thread, because she quite simply wasn’t. She neither began the trend, nor accelerated it. However, she was a landmark position-holder; no one could say differently.

          She was also the first to head a nuclear nation, which substantially increased her power and standing.

          No and no. Israel and India were both nuclear nations by then, as others have pointed out. Also, what Donna said about Meir. She might have headed what is today considered to be white-majority nation by US standards, but the history of Jews-as-white is less than a century old and the transition was within her living memory. I’d hesitate to take away her position as quasi-POC at least, simply because it informed so much of the shit that Meir would have had to deal with. (It kind of feels like accusing 1800s Irish or Greek folk of having white privilege, to me.)

        24. Donna L
          Donna L April 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

          I assume you mean Irish people in Ireland; there were certainly people of Irish origin in the antebellum South who had white privilege, and, of course, there’s what happened in the Draft Riots in New York City in 1863. (I highly recommend Kevin Baker’s book, Paradise Alley, for anyone interested in that subject.)

          As for Golda, I don’t know, but she certainly did have “Jewish hair” back in the day!

          http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-rtL9q2IRkbk/UJ-Qn4lyAQI/AAAAAAAAS3o/z-dFq8r0WBk/s1600/GoldaMeir918_goldasolteira.jpg

          And I do have to say that regardless of the technicalities of who is or isn’t “Caucasian,” whatever that really means — and I happen to believe that “whiteness” really is almost entirely a socio-political construct that very little to do with skin color outside of places like Scandinavia — I don’t think it would occur to too many people looking at the 19th and early 20th century photos I have of some of my Polish-Jewish ancestors and their families that they were “white.”

        25. Willard
          Willard April 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm |

          Those people of Irish descent with privilege in the South were quick to redefine themselves as Scotch or Scots-Irish as soon as the predominantly Catholic famine refugees entered the scene.

          The draft riots were terrible, but hardly a product of privilege. The Federal government of the time pushed the freedmen and new Irish into a small room together, then the Tammany Democrats threw in a stick.

          It’s the old story of the destitute and downtrodden beating the crap out of the the moderately more downtrodden. The common enemy is always high above chuckling softly…

        26. EG
          EG April 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |

          I would argue that the Draft Riots were about the Irish in NYC constructing themselves as white, part of the process whereby they violently asserted a difference from black New Yorkers.

    4. Natalia
      Natalia April 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm |

      It does indeed.

      But I also think that leadership is also just… crudely symbolic, at the end of the day. I’m pretty sure that 500 years from now, in the cold distance of history, people will indeed point to Thatcher as feminist progress – without being the least bit controversial. Because she was a symbol. Just by virtue of being a woman.

      The sad thing is – symbols so rarely do anyone a genuine bit of good.

      1. Hugh
        Hugh April 9, 2013 at 9:13 am |

        Can I just point out here that neither Gandhi, Meir or Thatcher were ‘heads of state’.

        The Head of State of the UK is the Queen/King, and the Head of State of India and Israel are their Presidents. Thatcher, Meir and Gandhi were all Heads of Government, not Heads of State.

    5. jess
      jess April 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |

      Yeah. I agree with Jill, but this, too.

  5. Coraline
    Coraline April 8, 2013 at 11:29 am |

    She was a hell of a lady, and I admire her greatly.

    I love this quote:

    “You don’t follow the crowd,” she often said. “You make up your own mind.”

    Hell, yeah.

    1. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve April 8, 2013 at 11:47 am |

      She was a hell of a lady, and I admire her greatly.

      I love this quote:

      “You don’t follow the crowd,” she often said. “You make up your own mind.”

      Hell, yeah.

      She was a despicable, horrible person who destroyed communities and ruined lives and a facile quotation is hardly a defence of the destruction she brought on 80’s Britain with her policies as prime minister and the destruction she brought upon the world as a promoter of war and aggression.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve April 8, 2013 at 11:49 am |

        OH GOD!!!! BLOCKQUOTE FAIL! I know the moderators have better things to do with their time but I’d LOVE it if someone could pop in and change my blockquote screw-up so I don’t look like I’m the one defending Mrs. Thatcher.

        [Done ;)]

      2. EG
        EG April 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm |

        Nicely said, even with the blockquote mess-up.

      3. Coraline
        Coraline April 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm |

        I admire the fact that she didn’t care if people liked her, didn’t care if people thought she was “nice” or not. (mostly not) And I admire her fortitude and her ability to ignore her detractors.

        I admire that what she cared about was being seen as capable more than anything else.

        I admire that she did her job to the best and fullest of her abilities as she saw fit.

        I admire that she was decisive.

        I admire that she was unapologetic about being unsentimental.

        I admire her drive and ambition, that she knew what she wanted, and that she had the courage to do what she needed to do in order to achieve her goals.

        I admire the fact that she successfully bucked the gender trends, assumptions, and requirements of her generation, that she didn’t feel like she needed to act the way that a woman is “supposed to”.

        I hope that I have that kind of courage to live my life in that kind of defiance to people who think that women should behave in a certain way or do certain things just because they are women.

        1. saurus
          saurus April 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |

          Personally, I’m grateful to know women with that kind of individual strength and mettle who also didn’t support, you know, apartheid.

        2. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |

          I admire that what she cared about was being seen as capable more than anything else.

          So you admire her utter lack of morality? I don’t personally consider that admirable, but each to her own, I suppose.

          I admire that she did her job to the best and fullest of her abilities as she saw fit.

          I admire her drive and ambition, that she knew what she wanted, and that she had the courage to do what she needed to do in order to achieve her goals.

          As her goals were loathsome, and “what she saw fit” was disgusting, I see nothing to admire there.

          Personally, I’m grateful to know women with that kind of individual strength and mettle who also didn’t support, you know, apartheid.

          Seriously. Ambition, strength, confidence, etc, are all worthless if they’re in the service of oppression and cruelty.

        3. Mariucel
          Mariucel April 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

          I admire that she was unapologetic about being unsentimental.

          This seems to come from the same place as the American term “bleeding heart liberal”.

          Empathy for the people of the country you govern is NOT A BAD THING. Why is it admirable that Thatcher was willing to fuck everyone over to achieve her goals. And the less said about those goals, the better.

        4. Lara Emily Foley
          Lara Emily Foley April 9, 2013 at 4:05 am |

          I admire the fact that she didn’t care if people liked her, didn’t care if people thought she was “nice” or not. (mostly not) And I admire her fortitude and her ability to ignore her detractors.

          I admire that what she cared about was being seen as capable more than anything else.

          I admire that she did her job to the best and fullest of her abilities as she saw fit.

          I admire that she was decisive.

          I admire that she was unapologetic about being unsentimental.

          I admire her drive and ambition, that she knew what she wanted, and that she had the courage to do what she needed to do in order to achieve her goals.

          This also basically describes Ayn Rand? Do you admire her too?

        5. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help April 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm |

          I can’t admire those qualities in someone who turned them to trashing a society, to making the most vulnerable even more so and entrenching the power of the elite. Thatcher was a despicable human being and utterly appalling for British people.

  6. EG
    EG April 8, 2013 at 11:43 am |

    I loathe Thatcher. If her rise to power is indicative of feminist progress, then feminism is not a movement I support (since I do support feminism, take it as read that I disagree). She did nothing with her power but exploit and cause misery to those already suffering. The only thing her death makes me sorry about is that it didn’t happen sooner, before she’d been able to do all the damage that she did. Fuck her.

    1. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve April 8, 2013 at 11:51 am |

      +1

      (+1000 on the third-to-last paragraph.)

    2. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date April 8, 2013 at 11:52 am |

      I don’t know, EG. If there used to be lots of loathsome political leaders, but they were all men, but now some of them are women, my feminism considers that progress.

      I also remember really disliking the dialogue that went:

      Person 1: “If more women were in public office, the world would be a more peaceful, kinder, nicer place.”
      Person 2: “Oh yeah, what about Margaret Thatcher?”
      Person 1: “She doesn’t count. She’s not really a woman.”

      1. EG
        EG April 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm |

        Mine…doesn’t. The fact that one loathesome, horrible political leader was a woman didn’t exactly inaugurate a move toward greater equity in leadership. I would call it a fluke. If it meant anything, all it showed was that if a woman is as horrific and disgusting and unscrupulous a person as possible, she would be able to claw her way to power. Which is something that was true before feminism as well.

        The argument that more women in leadership roles would lead to a kinder, gentler politics is a stupid, offensive argument. Any defense of it would be stupid and offensive.

        1. saurus
          saurus April 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm |

          It’s called “a woman is involved” feminism.

          Not to be confused with “dismantling oppression, building liberation” feminism.

        2. Coraline
          Coraline April 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

          The argument that more women in leadership roles would lead to a kinder, gentler politics is a stupid, offensive argument. Any defense of it would be stupid and offensive.

          I can’t agree more. You put is way better that I would have been able to.

        3. Jane
          Jane April 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

          Seconding Saurus.

          If you want to focus on the sexist nature of opposition, I’d be behind you. But giving praise because a powerful, wealthy white lady got to run a country and a neocolonial empire at the purposeful expense of poor, working class women and women of color around the world? You’re the one tokenizing her & using her as a prop for your shallow politics (“feminist progress”), not her opposition or her party who view her as a fully developed agent acting out her political will– which included destroying feminism and women’s lives. And lots of other lives too.

        4. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date April 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm |

          It did turn out to be a fluke. But that’s hindsight.

          I also think that this

          If it meant anything, all it showed was that if a woman is as horrific and disgusting and unscrupulous a person as possible, she would be able to claw her way to power. Which is something that was true before feminism as well.

          is an oversimplification. There have presumably been any number of women in history who were as horrific and disgusting and unscrupulous as possible (just as there have been any number of men). Which of these women clawed their way to power without being related to a man in power?

        5. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date April 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

          But giving praise because a powerful, wealthy white lady got to run a country and a neocolonial empire at the purposeful expense of poor, working class women and women of color around the world?

          I’m not giving praise. I’m saying that the fact that a woman got to do it shows that feminism accomplished something. Not something good, or something long-lasting, but something.

        6. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm |

          It did turn out to be a fluke. But that’s hindsight.

          Of course it’s hindsight! She just died and we’re looking back over her life and its signficance. This whole post is hindsight!

        7. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

          feminism accomplished something. Not something good, or something long-lasting, but something.

          But if this is what feminism accomplished–something neither good nor enduring–then what good is feminism? Why should I support it? Why would I tout this as something worth marking from a feminist point of view?

        8. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm |

          There have presumably been any number of women in history who were as horrific and disgusting and unscrupulous as possible (just as there have been any number of men). Which of these women clawed their way to power without being related to a man in power?

          You could ask the same question regarding men; most people who get into power start out by attaching themselves or by being attached to men in power.

          And Thatcher attached herself to a political party that was, as most of them are, mostly male. I suspect that the difference in parliamentary politics (the party gets voted for, not the individual) makes a difference in getting to the top as well.

        9. matlun
          matlun April 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm |

          It did turn out to be a fluke. But that’s hindsight.

          Did it? The proportion of women in leadership roles have been increasing, and I would say it was part of a larger trend.

          Which of these women clawed their way to power without being related to a man in power?

          I assume you are counting marriage?

          The relationship part is a bit of a distraction, I think, since it was very important for men also (inheriting power has been the rule). But your point still stands, since it has been a lot harder to do for a woman than a man.

        10. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date April 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm |

          You could ask the same question regarding men; most people who get into power start out by attaching themselves or by being attached to men in power.

          But there have been men, in history, who got into power without being related (including by marriage) to men in power. I can’t think of any women. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any, but I can’t think of any.

          As for

          then what good is feminism?

          I guess I would say that it’s better than the alternative.

        11. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

          I guess I would say that it’s better than the alternative.

          That’s what the Democratic Party’s been saying about itself, and I’m no fan.

          More to the point, I don’t agree. If the alternative to unscrupulous, monstrous, oppressive, exploitative regimes that revel in cruelty run by one woman amid a sea of men is unscrupulous, monstrous, oppressive, exploitative regimes that revel in cruelty run by men only, then it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other, as far as I’m concerned, and I’d rather take back all the work and activism I’ve done on behalf of feminism than be a part of it.

          So no, I don’t think that’s what feminism is.

        12. Jane
          Jane April 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

          I guess I would say that it’s better than the alternative.

          And I would say that I would take a cismale making feminist policy or a social movement of any/all genders bringing about positive feminist change than an entire parliament full of rich white ladies securing the wealth of their class through imperialism and capitalism at the expense of like, all other humans– some of whom are also women, if your feminism is really just based on gender arithmetic.

        13. Jane
          Jane April 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm |

          Sojourner Truth had something to say about white woman electoral politics that come with harm towards other people who also happen to be women.

        14. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm |

          But there have been men, in history, who got into power without being related (including by marriage) to men in power.

          Honestly, I can’t think of any at the moment. It has, historically, been easier for men to attach themselves to other men who are in power than it has been for women, so, yay, Thatcher got to play party politics. But that’s a ver y very small chalkmark to set against several volumes of anti-feminist regress that she represents, and highlighting the former as opposed to the latter, as this post does, is prioritzing her identity over her effect, what she was over what she did.

          And just as intent isn’t magic, neither is identity. This post could have and should have made a very different point.

        15. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm |

          Did it? The proportion of women in leadership roles have been increasing, and I would say it was part of a larger trend.

          But the issue isn’t that she was a woman in a “leadership role.” The issue is, as the NYT put it, that she was “the first woman to become prime minister of Britain and the first to lead a major Western power in modern times.” There has not been a subsequent female PM, and it’s not as thought she inaugurated a 1980s trend of putting women at the head of major Western powers.

        16. matlun
          matlun April 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |

          The issue is, as the NYT put it, that she was “the first woman to become prime minister of Britain and the first to lead a major Western power in modern times.”

          You were discussing whether that did “translate into or signify a change in the electability of women in general”. There was and is a general trend, which would have been there with or without Margaret Thatcher. Whether that meets the criteria is semantics.

          As for the NYT quote, that (fairly typically) seems pretty arbitrarily limited. (Much like “related to men in power” above …)

          Ie “in modern times” to exclude all the historical regnant queens, and “major Western power” to exclude a few more women (see eg here). On what meaningful basis beyond being able to write a “first woman that…” obit?

        17. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

          There was and is a general trend, which would have been there with or without Margaret Thatcher.

          Then she herself isn’t that notable.

      2. Donna L
        Donna L April 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm |

        there have been men, in history, who got into power without being related (including by marriage) to men in power. I can’t think of any women. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any, but I can’t think of any.

        Golda Meir’s husband was a sign painter, and I’m pretty sure they were separated early on. I think her parents had a grocery store in Milwaukee.

        1. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date April 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm |

          Oh! Yay. Thanks, Donna!

        2. Willard
          Willard April 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

          Snarked about how the original Iron Lady’s being erased by all this Thatcher worship up thread. “My Life” is amazing.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm |

          Agatha Barbara, former head of Malta, worked as a schoolteacher for most of her life.

          Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, former provisional president of Haiti, was the daughter of a factory worker and a seamstress.

          Violeta Chamorro, former president of Nicaragua, also no political connections. (Though she came from a wealthy family, so wev. Unless class doesn’t apply to men?)

          Etc, etc.

          So….I guess the “women in power came to power because THE MENZ, except for Margaret Thatcher” should really be “WHITE women in power only came to power because of THE MENZ”.

          No, no, first world. Plz to be owning your misogyny.

        4. matlun
          matlun April 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm |

          @mac: I do not think

          Agatha Barbara, former head of Malta, worked as a schoolteacher for most of her life.

          and

          […] should really be “WHITE women in power […]

          works together.

          I guess past my expiration date might have been thinking about older examples when saying “in history”, but I am still not clear on why the formulation is reasonable. There are many examples such as Catherine the Great who came to power and ruled through her own strength, even if her marriage was what allowed her to build her power base.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

          @Matlun,

          Damn it, I meant to correct that! You’re right of course. -_- Goddamn classes, I didn’t get back to a computer until just now.

          I guess past my expiration date might have been thinking about older examples when saying “in history”, but I am still not clear on why the formulation is reasonable.

          I dunno. I mean, I haven’t got deep, deep knowledge of European history, much, but there’s dozens of women in Indian/south Asian history who wielded their own power, thanks. I mean, you’d have to go pre- or post-colonial to find the ones who didn’t rely on caste/class/menz-related privilege, but they’re definitely there.

        6. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date April 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm |

          @Mac, my argument (combined with EG’s comment) was that feminism made it possible for horrific and disgusting and unscrupulous women, not related to men with power, to able to claw their way to power. Margaret Thatcher, for example. All of your examples began to be leaders of countries after Margaret Thatcher. Besides Golda Meir, were there any women who became leaders of countries and weren’t related to men with power, before Margaret Thatcher? (This is not a rhetorical question.)

          @Matlun, no, not Catherine the Great. She was married to the czar.

        7. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date April 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

          Drat, posted at the same time as Mac.

          In any case, my point is not — wielded their own power. Of course many women have wielded their own power. My point was the route by which they arrived at that power, i.e., being related to a man with power, or not.

        8. matlun
          matlun April 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm |

          @Matlun, no, not Catherine the Great. She was married to the czar.

          She was married to heir and then czar Peter III. He ruled as czar for about half a year before she staged a coup, overthrew him and ruled herself.

          She ruled Russia as a strong leader for over 30 years until her death.

        9. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm |

          All of your examples began to be leaders of countries after Margaret Thatcher.

          But…my point was that feminism hadn’t advanced nearly as far in many of those countries (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan), so their ascension couldn’t be claimed as a success in the feminist movement. I don’t think we’re disagreeing as much as addressing different things.

          Besides Golda Meir, were there any women who became leaders of countries and weren’t related to men with power, before Margaret Thatcher?

          Depends how you’d define leading a country. There’s several matriarchal/matrilineal tribes in Northeast India, for example, which were traditionally always headed by women. Not to mention Native/First Nations cultures. You also realise that your “no relations” rule basically removes any monarchies from the equation, and more places were monarchies than not before Meir’s time? Also, that eliminating “men with power” means that class privilege (which is a huge factor in anyone of any gender becoming a world leader, pre-1900s at least) means that women like, say, Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, or Razia Sultana, are ineligible despite being amazingly rebellious for their time and, I daresay, more feminist than Thatcher by miles?

          That aside, and even including your incredibly stringent qualifications:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himiko
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsi (succeeded a queen)

        10. Willard
          Willard April 9, 2013 at 1:43 am |

          Wikipedia, make what you will of it:
          Elected/appointed heads of state

          No premiers on the list since they’re neither directly elected or appointed to the position. As EG pointed out above parliamentary systems are different from the split ballots used to elect POTUS, Federal, and state officials in the US.

    3. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help April 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm |

      Hear, hear, EG!

  7. Bunny
    Bunny April 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm |

    Nope, nope nope. Not going to look back on her kindly even if she was our first female PM. We’re talking about an incredibly horrible woman. A brief review of her legacy includes:

    called Mandela a terrorist
    supported apartheid
    helped give aid to pol pot
    privatized almost everything
    left millions unemployed
    supported pinochet and thanked him for “bringing democracy to Chile”
    falklands war
    used the literal military in police uniform to break up protests and strikes
    destroyed unions
    infamous poll tax
    huge riots throughout Britain, marked by extreme police brutality
    destroyed our mining, steel and dock industries
    hated feminists and feminism
    sold off British Gas
    allowed 10 political prisoners to die in hunger strikes
    law prohibting “promotion of homosexuality”
    close friend of Jimmy Fucking Savile
    started the dismantling of the NHS
    destruction of the council house system

    That is NOT someone I want to hold up as an example of progress,

    1. Bunny
      Bunny April 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm |

      Ah poop, sorry, clicked post before I was done typing.

      Just wanted to say, there’s a reason a google of “margaret thatcher songs” brings up such a huge list. A vast number of iconic British bands from the 80s punk era made their mark on our culture producing songs that were directly referencing Thatcher, the Tory Party and her policies.

    2. DP
      DP April 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm |

      I agree with everything on your list but the Falklands. The Argentinian junta was monstrous, jingoistic and aggressive, and every person on the islands would have been worse off under their rule.

      1. Bunny
        Bunny April 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

        oh aye, and the people living on the island wanted to remain British anyhow…

        But I’ve read a few articles noting that the military forces on the island were significantly scaled back prior to the invasion, which may have left the island vulnerable and allowed the war to happen in the first place, to say nothing of the sinking of the Belgrano.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong April 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

          oh aye, and the people living on the island wanted to remain British anyhow…

          This being the key point for me.

    3. EG
      EG April 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm |

      Thank you. “Horrible” is an inadequate word. If only she had endured even half the suffering she brought on others.

    4. bleh
      bleh April 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm |

      You forgot her oppressive policies in Northern Ireland.

      1. bleh
        bleh April 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

        Ooops. You did mention the hunger strikers. My apologies for reading fail.

        1. Bunny
          Bunny April 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

          No worries – I realise I didn’t cover her treatment of Northern Island very well in that list,

          It’s really hard to adequately describe everything she did without taking it into a full article in and of itself!

    5. khw
      khw April 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

      The Falkland Islands war was her 9/11; there is no way she could have survived the Coal Miners’ Strike (which lasted over a year and directly contributed to the desindustrialization of the UK) if she didn’t have that victory, especially seeing as her monetarist policies had caused havoc in the economy and it looked like she would be ousted.

      The Junta ordered the invasion for a similar reason – tobuild national unity in the face of Argentina’s own economic crisis.

      I love Borges’ scathing description of the war “two bald men fighting over a comb.”

    6. ArmouredApple
      ArmouredApple April 18, 2013 at 6:34 am |

      I generally agree with your list but I’m worried about the claim “supported apartheid” (which appears elsewhere in the comments too). She opposed sanctions and did engage with the South African regime in other ways, and (if we disagree with her about that) of course it makes sense to be angry about that…but that seems to me to be a question of tactics. There have been examples where some voice on “the left” have supported engagement over confrontation as more likely to be effective, and has been criticised by voices on the right as “supporting” e.g. the Taliban, Iran. If that sort of criticism is unfair, then it seems unfair to make that criticism of Thatcher.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 April 18, 2013 at 7:12 am |

        She said Mandela was a terrorist who should remain in Jail and never spoke out against apartheid in any way. Lets not re write history any more than it has already been.
        It was not about tactics, she supported apartheid.

  8. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm |

    For those looking for a Nice Song to celebrate to, Lily Allen’s “Fuck you” is a non-ist haterant I love to go to, for people like this.

    Although, given the person in question, the Pet Shop Boys’ “Opportunities (Let’s make lots of money)” seems to be more appropriate.

    1. Bunny
      Bunny April 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm |

      I may have prepared a youtube playlist of some classic songs from her era…

      1. khw
        khw April 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm |

        Please share! I’m feeling nostalgic for some 80s political music!

        1. Bunny
          Bunny April 9, 2013 at 1:02 am |

          It’s… less nostalgic for what people tend to think of as the 80s and more, well yo’ll see :D

        2. Sambarge
          Sambarge April 9, 2013 at 8:10 pm |

          I raised a glass last night and drank a toast while listening to Elvis Costello’s “Tramp the Dirt Down.”

          I’ve had this song queued up for a while. If I get back to the UK, I’m going to her grave just to trap the dirt down.

      2. Willard
        Willard April 9, 2013 at 1:49 am |

        Billy Bragg and Christy Moore! Be still my heart.

    2. Nobody
      Nobody April 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

      And let’s not forget Stand Down Margaret by the English Beat:

      Our lives seem petty in your cold grey hands
      Would you give a second thought
      Would you ever give a damn, I doubt it
      Stand down Margaret

    3. Alcharisi
      Alcharisi April 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm |

      One sexist comment about “the witch’s spell” aside, I’m rather fond of Oysterband’s “Jam Tomorrow”. “Another Quiet Night in England,” without naming Thatcher directly, is also pretty good.

  9. SeteSois
    SeteSois April 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm |

    “The battle for women’s rights has largely been won. The days when they were demanded and discussed in strident tones should be gone forever. I hate those strident tones we hear from some Women’s Libbers.”

    and supposedly

    “The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.”

    http://www.newstatesman.com/archive/2013/04/margaret-thatcher-feminist-icon

    Damn near everything she did was shoring up classism and patriarchy. She was a privileged, if hard-working, woman whose rise to power was definitely indicative of the effects of feminism and who then did everything she could to shut the door on everyone else.

    Admire her for her will and determination if you want – it’s hard not to sometimes, for brief spells – but let’s not let that get in the way of the fact that she was a massively regressive force for British society.
    There’s millions of victims of her policies feeling a great deal of justified catharsis for a reason right now. Compassion isn’t about faking respect for the most powerful and immoral figures in society.

    (Obvious caveat that there’s a distressing but unsurprising amount of sexism going into her postmortem.
    I don’t want to police all the people whose lives were literally (not even figuratively) destroyed by her policies but there’s plenty of ways to express how terrible she was without doing so in a misogynistic manner. Only wish those ways were more common.)

    1. Sambarge
      Sambarge April 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm |

      True. What was wrong with Thatcher is everything she said and everything she did not her gender.

  10. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin April 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm |

    I am no fan of Thatcher’s politics, but I have to admire any strong leader, especially in a time where strong executive leadership seems to be nonexistent.

    Love her or hate her, she spoke her mind. Whatever she wanted, she usually got.

    1. EG
      EG April 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm |

      I have to admire any strong leader

      Why? Strength for its own sake is not admirable; might doesn’t make right.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

      but I have to admire any strong leader, especially in a time where strong executive leadership seems to be nonexistent.

      o_O Well, I could do with never having strong leadership again, if it means the Thatchers of the world never get into power.

    3. Paige
      Paige April 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm |

      A strong leader is not someone who squanders the marginalized. A stubborn leader? Sure. But I don’t respect that on its own.

      1. saurus
        saurus April 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm |

        +1. In an age where a lot of politicians are helplessly inconsistent, lack any vocal conviction or personal charisma, and seem to take a carefully diluted stand on every issue, it’s easy to mistake a stubborn, authoritarian, closed-minded, opinionated, bullying leader for a good one.

    4. SeteSois
      SeteSois April 8, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

      I am no fan of Thatcher’s politics, but I have to admire any strong leader, especially in a time where strong executive leadership seems to be nonexistent.

      Yeah, the phrasing of this really leaves a lot of really shitty 20th century leaders open to admiration.

    5. matlun
      matlun April 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm |

      I have to admire any strong leader, especially in a time where strong executive leadership seems to be nonexistent.

      No!

      The reflexive desire for a strong leader is the cause of many destructive regimes throughout history. Especially in economical and political crisis it is natural to want a strong, benevolent leader to show the way, but this is an extremely dangerous attitude. You have to judge the actual ideology and cause to be able to judge the person.

      1. EG
        EG April 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm |

        Strongly agreed. Well said.

    6. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date April 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

      Love her or hate her, she spoke her mind.

      I’ve never understood why many people consider this a virtue.

      1. PrettyAmiable
        PrettyAmiable April 8, 2013 at 11:27 pm |

        I don’t know if “virtue” is the right word, but I think it’s fair to value, especially if you belong to a class of people who is traditionally supposed to sit down and have their shit handed to them. Plus, if you’re in a position where you can model this behavior for others, it’s pretty badass too.

        I’m not saying shit about Thatcher – I pretty clearly don’t know enough (anything?) about her politics, because I was surprised by the epic shitstorm this has become, but I see that as valuable in other contexts.

    7. Donna L
      Donna L April 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm |

      I have to admire any strong leader,

      You can’t possibly be unaware of where a statement like this leads in discussing 20th century politics. And never mind the past; I guess this means you admire, say, Vladimir Putin?

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

        Never mind Hitler or Lenin, this statement basically elevates someone to being worthy of admiration for behaving like a freakin’ toddler. Having Opinions and Being Strong mean shit unless you’re actually doing some good with your opinions and strength.

        1. khw
          khw April 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm |

          I was thinking more Stalin, a definite steely leader (pun intended), who was very consistent in his management of any and all opposition…

      2. karak
        karak April 10, 2013 at 3:07 am |

        Am I the only one that does have a sense of admiration for the evil dictators of the world? I don’t mind admitting it–but they were unusual and compelling as people, and fascinating as historical and political figures.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L April 10, 2013 at 6:05 am |

          Am I the only one that does have a sense of admiration for the evil dictators of the world?

          I hope so.

    8. Combray
      Combray April 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

      The traditional definition of a strong leader really speaks volumes on what kind of shit tends to pass for “strength”.

    9. Lara Emily Foley
      Lara Emily Foley April 9, 2013 at 4:15 am |

      I am no fan of Thatcher’s politics, but I have to admire any strong leader, especially in a time where strong executive leadership seems to be nonexistent.

      Love her or hate her, she spoke her mind. Whatever she wanted, she usually got.

      Nah you don’t. I’d take a weak leader who doesn’t try to ruin the lives of women, QUILTBAG folk, racial minorities, the poor etc…

      Over someone who is so dedicated to her views that she’ll actively destroy those folk.

      Almost every evil leader has been a strong, opinionated leader. That’s how they come to power. Doesn’t mean you have to respect any of em.

      Hell fuck them all.

    10. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help April 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm |

      I’m resisting mightily the temptation to Godwin this thread right now …

    11. CartoonCoyote
      CartoonCoyote April 12, 2013 at 3:20 am |

      I am no fan of Thatcher’s politics, but I have to admire any strong leader, especially in a time where strong executive leadership seems to be nonexistent.

      Love her or hate her, she spoke her mind. Whatever she wanted, she usually got.

      And how about Stalin? Now there was a real go-getter!

    12. ArmouredApple
      ArmouredApple April 18, 2013 at 6:24 am |

      Is it even true that strong executive leadership was nonexistent? This follows up on others’ points about what counts as “strength”. There was actually more disinflation under James Callaghan’s premiership than there was under Thatcher’s – it could be argued that, until the Winter of Discontent, he was making progress in resolving the economic problems. But he used a “social contract” approach – convincing the unions to restrain their wage demands in exchange for companies restraining their price increases, so both sides had to make some sacrifices. Cooperation, not confrontration. Is that less strong? And yes Thatcher portrayed herself as “tough”…does that make her strong?

      There’s a nice story (told, if I remember rightly, by the British journalist John Simpson) about Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, who Churchill quipped was a modest man with much to be modest about. I think it was the Cabinet Secretary, the most senior civil servant, who was describing their different working styles: one was decisive and efficient, the other was a ditherer. But it was Churchill the war hero who was the ditherer; Attlee the self-effacing collaborative “chairman” got things done.

  11. Bredin
    Bredin April 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm |

    She introduced VAT – supposedly for “luxury” goods – onto tampons, towels etc. No. Just no.

  12. Evangeline Jennings
    Evangeline Jennings April 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

    This post displays a fatuous lack of knowledge or insight and Feministe should be ashamed to display it.

    “She didn’t do particularly good things for women, the poor or the marginalized.”

    Good grief.

    1. EG
      EG April 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

      Right? Gee, could you downplay that a little more?

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune April 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

        “Well, you know, there was some stuff. And stuff.”

        (I tried?)

        Though to be fair, I don’t read any endorsement of her in the OP either….

        1. EG
          EG April 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

          I don’t read endorsement. But given that not only did she do fuck-all to advance the well-being of any but the wealthy, but she did all she could to crush everybody else, I really do expect a post that acknowledges that rather more forcefully, rather than one that just marks her for her achievement. It’s not even like her legacy is complex. Her legacy is a pile of shit.

  13. A4
    A4 April 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm |

    The first distinction that springs to mind after reading this thread is the distinction of feminist progress defined as the movement from conditions that are oppressive to women to conditions that are less oppressive to women, and feminist progress defined as the expansion of women’s possible roles in society.

    With the former (inspired by EG’s comments above) the election of Margaret Thatcher is most definitely not indicative of feminist progress.

    With the latter it can be pointed out that previous to her election there was no example of women being in the role of leading a first-world state power and therefore her election expanded the public perception of women and their possible roles in society.

    1. Bunny
      Bunny April 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

      I think for me, the second point is still debatable. Because if we’re going to discuss whether she was a force for some good by expanding the public perception of the roles women can take in society, I’m not sure she did.

      We had one woman PM in the late 70s-early 80s. We’ve since not even had a candidate for PM that was a woman, or even a candidate for being the leader of any of the three political parties in the UK, which is the path that leads TO becoming PM. Thirty years, and not ONE.

      And I’ll argue, although it is speculation on my part, that Thatcher may have contributed to that. Because you can bet that the next woman to be a serious candidate for party leadership, let alone PM, in the UK is going to have to not only fight against sexism, but against being seen as a successor to Thatcher.

      How much harder is it going to be now for a woman to show herself as a strong party leader without coming across as a second Iron Lady? Even if she doesn’t behave like Thatcher, you KNOW the media in the UK will be unable to help but draw comparisons.

      1. Bunny
        Bunny April 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm |

        *any of the three MAJOR political parties*

        blarg typing fail. There’s LOADS of parties in the UK, but the ones with a credible chance at leadership have always been Labour, the Tories and, in more recent years, the Lib Dems.

      2. Willard
        Willard April 9, 2013 at 10:35 am |

        So much interesting reading these days.

        I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of her, but the election record is a bit off.

        Pro temp/Acting Leaders: Margaret Beckett (1994 Labour), Harriet Harman (2010 Labour)

        Candidates: Margaret Beckett (same), Jackie Ballard (1999 Lib Dem), Diane Abbot (2010 Labour)

        So they’re standing, just not winning. I don’t think it’s fair to erase them though in order to make Thatcher’s legacy marginally more repulsive than it already is.

  14. Lizzie
    Lizzie April 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm |

    I grew up under Thatcher but I was too young to understand her policies. For me, thanks to her, I and all my classmates went through our elementary school education in an world where the Queen and Margaret Thatcher were always on TV being the boss of everyone. I realize now that the Queen got there because of a classic patriarchal institution and that Thatcher got there by (in the legit view of many) screwing over millions in not-so-fine patriarchal style. But by the time I understood that, I had internalized the total normality of female leadership, to the point that at age 6, I stopped liking movies where women were always subordinate, because I thought they weren’t realistic. It was a hugely effective bulwark against future encounters with sexism. So while I would likely feel very different if we had been working class or I had been 5+ years older, she is certainly part of my personal feminist progress.

    1. king ten butts
      king ten butts April 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm |

      I’m sure quite a few white, straight, middle or upper-class, and otherwise-privileged women were inspired by Thatcher in their formative years and beyond. Impossible to quantify which of those were turned to feminism by it and which were turned (more-so) to patriarchy. That’s not exactly what feminism should be concerned with, in my opinion….

  15. karak
    karak April 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm |

    The Iron Lady is dead. May her policies be overturned, her politics buried, and her ideology burned, but she earns a reluctant salute for being the unapologetic ass that she was.

    I hate her, but she’s someone worth hating.

  16. amblingalong
    amblingalong April 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm |

    She didn’t do particularly good things for women, the poor or the marginalized.

    Leaving aside the debate over the whole “indicative of feminism’s progress” thing, this line ranks among the most vacant, cowardly, insipid things I’ve ever read. In Jill’s world, it seems being pro-apartheid is better phrased as “potentially could have done more to support civil rights.” Maybe Todd Akin just “isn’t always perfect on issues of reproductive freedom.”

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong April 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm |

      She was far from a feminist or social justice warrior, but

      “Lenin was far from the most vocal advocate of capitalism, but…”

      FFS, this is pathetic.

  17. A4
    A4 April 8, 2013 at 5:08 pm |

    Jill, while I have many disagreements with your rhetorical treatment of this subject, I would like to thank you for providing me this platform to read the opinions of others and voice my own, even when they vehemently disagree with you and make vicious statements about your worldview.

    We are free to criticize the food if it gives us indigestion but let’s not forget whose house we’re in.

    1. TomSims
      TomSims April 8, 2013 at 10:50 pm |

      Very well stated.

    2. Marksman2000
      Marksman2000 April 9, 2013 at 1:24 am |

      +1

      Agreed.

  18. Nico
    Nico April 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm |

    Completely independent of Thatcher’s politics and policies, her being PM normalized women in power, and that normalization was in itself a feminist event, which was *also* independent of the politics and policies that were the “content” of the event, and was also independent of its consequences.

    The regressive consequences of Thatcher’s policies outweigh the progressive aspects of her normalizing influence (was having a Thatcher an acceptable tradeoff for having a woman?) but I don’t think they negate them. Are they devalued? Maybe, probably, yeah. But I think normalization and its consequences can operate on two different planes that interact and intersect in less than obvious ways.

    Madeleine Albright normalized a woman being SoS, which made it easier for Condoleezza Rice to be SoS, which was also facilitated by Colin Powell through his normalizing effect as the first black SoS, which also helped make Obama more plausible as a president, with his appointment of Clinton as SoS adding another link to the chain of normalization, as did the appointment of Susan Rice as UN ambassador.

    The range of politics and policies of the people I just named shows there can be a progressive factor to an event independent of the event’s content. It’s hard to measure these things, or even keep track of what exactly is being measured. Maybe cognitive dissonance.

    When I hear about a woman who commits the kind of crime normally associated with men, I admit that there is a part of me that inwardly smiles and thinks “ok” even as I’m horrified by the act. Think Aileen Wuornos. Normalization operates in mysterious ways. I believe that events that weaken essentialist expectations will in and of themselves have some progressive effect, and that even if the tradeoff is somehow not worth it, the effects are nevertheless cumulative. (I’m sure counter examples to this can be found.)

    1. EG
      EG April 8, 2013 at 11:15 pm |

      When I hear about a woman who commits the kind of crime normally associated with men, I admit that there is a part of me that inwardly smiles and thinks “ok” even as I’m horrified by the act. Think Aileen Wuornos.

      Um…OK. That’s not creepy or anything.

      The problem is that you’re applying a causal narrative to a sequence of events without any evidence for that causality. A happens after B which happens after C, but that doesn’t mean that A is the result of B, or that B is the result of C. One thing happens after another, because time is sequential. And causal narratives are appealing, but that doesn’t mean they’re true. But Albright led to Rice? I’m not seeing any evidence.

  19. Nico
    Nico April 8, 2013 at 11:42 pm |

    I can’t show any evidence. It might not be possible to find any evidence of something like that. I totally concede that.

    Nor am I *quite* saying that there is causality in the sequence. But I do operate on the assumption that social change is effected (not exclusively) by normalizing precedents.

    Isn’t that the premise behind the idea of and desire for role models? So you have one (hopefully positive, or at least not all bad) instance of some social identity (eg, female politician) transfer into the general sense of the possible.

    Thatcher raises so many hot issues that this easily gets obscured, but I do think that “even a Thatcher” …. who herself might have no redeeming qualities whatsofuckingever… still gets processed at some level in this way. Like I said, you could decide that it’s not worth the tradeoff, but even then, the example/role by type/model still holds.

    This is not a defense of Thatcher, just an assessment of one aspect of her impact.

    Um…OK. That’s not creepy or anything.

    heh… yeah, but I’d guess I’m not the only one. (no?)

  20. t
    t April 8, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    1. EG
      EG April 8, 2013 at 11:58 pm |

      Nice.

  21. Gerry Dorrian
    Gerry Dorrian April 9, 2013 at 1:31 am |

    Margaret Thatcher smashed glass ceiling after glass ceiling to get to the Conservative leadership. Regardless of individual opinions on whether she was a feminist – and there are different streams of thought on this – her critics’ constant references to her gender provides a valuable insight into how their minds work.

    Nevertheless, thank you for not revelling in her death, as many are doing.

    1. thinksnake
      thinksnake April 9, 2013 at 8:47 am |

      She smashed glass ceilings – only to rebuild them after she got through.

    2. EG
      EG April 9, 2013 at 9:43 am |

      The only reason I’m not revelling is that she had already done all the damage she could possibly do. Her dying now hasn’t helped anybody. Like Jesse Helms, she got a long, successful life that she used to hurt as many people as possible, while people I know and love who hurt nobody died young. Her death isn’t justice to revel in; it’s just a function of age.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L April 9, 2013 at 10:42 pm |

        Not to mention that given my understanding of her mental condition, the “Margaret Thatcher” who did all those things ceased to exist years ago.

  22. » The Retro Feminist may be The Real Feminist - Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion

    […] For example, just because Margaret Thatcher wasn’t a “social justice warrior” as one of the most influential Western leaders during one of the most formative times in the modern era, Feministe blog deems that the the Iron Lady was “not a real feminist“. […]

  23. WestEndGirl
    WestEndGirl April 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm |

    I’ve been musing over this thread for some while now, having read it on my tube journey home and I felt the need to comment on something specific related to her impact on women.

    I grew up in Thatcher’s Britain (born in the 1970s) in London, which means I don’t have such a visceral dislike of her as someone from the industrialised North. I’m not surprised that those people despise her: her industrial policy was wantonly destructive in the extreme. But I’ve also met women in serious positions of power, from a variety of cultural, class, racial and ethnic backgrounds who were encouraged by a woman in power and given the means to do so. There’s a female CEO of a major community organisation I’ve met who is a radical left-winger but who counts Mrs Thatcher as a critical spur to thinking that she, a girl from a council estate, could achieve and have a career.

    In terms of means, I hate to say it, but several critical pieces of equality legislation were passed under her tenure that specifically helped women. Like women being able to apply for a loan or credit in their own names rather than having their father/husband sign it off in 1980. Like the Equal Pay Act in 1985 and the Sex Discrimination Act in 1986. Likewise the independent taxation regimes introduced in 1990 which gave women separation from their husbands’ tax affairs.

    I do not like the woman, she was no Feminist, no progressive and I think her Neo-Con ideology destroyed a great deal of the social fabric of Britain. But she also enacted the above and reignited enterpreneurialism in the UK, including among women which had not happened previously. So it just seems to be a bit odd to disagree with Jill’s key point. I despise her politics, but she was a symbol of Feminist progress and did give women some key tools to progress which were and are used by women of all backgrounds.

      1. Nico
        Nico April 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm |

        This perspective might not be intersectional, but it has something in common with intersectionality in the way it allows for complexity in effects, including those effects that might not be apparent at the surface but that can nevertheless be in operation.

        Intersectionality as a tool for locating or avoiding unintended effects can actually be applied here. In this case, the tool locates a positive effect (positive female role model) among the otherwise negative ones (being a cold-blooded Tory.) It is invertedly intersectional: the negative intentional event producing an unintended, even counterintuitive positive.

        Thatcherism not being intersectional doesn’t mean it couldn’t have had an unintended intersectional effect, no different than what happens in well-intentioned progressivism. In fact, it’s *because* Thatcherism was *not* intersectional that it threw out the (invertedly) intersectional effect.

        Saying this isn’t to give Thatcher any credit or to soft pedal her destructive impact. It’s just that Thatcher or any other public figure doesn’t need to be a feminist herself in order for a feminist effect to get smuggled in along with all the rest.

      2. wembley
        wembley April 10, 2013 at 8:21 am |

        There’s a female CEO of a major community organisation I’ve met who is a radical left-winger but who counts Mrs Thatcher as a critical spur to thinking that she, a girl from a council estate, could achieve and have a career.

        from a council estate

        Gender intersecting with class/poverty.

        ut I’ve also met women in serious positions of power, from a variety of cultural, class, racial and ethnic backgrounds who were encouraged by a woman in power and given the means to do so.

        racial and ethnic backgrounds

        Gender intersecting with race and ethnicity.

        But they, and Nico, disagree with you, so their analysis isn’t “terribly intersectional.” Okay.

  24. Sambarge
    Sambarge April 9, 2013 at 8:45 pm |

    I cannot believe that I’m quoting Russell-freaking-Brand but, from his Guardian article on Thatcher:

    Barack Obama, interestingly, said in his statement that she had “broken the glass ceiling for other women”. Only in the sense that all the women beneath her were blinded by falling shards. She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism.

    Read the whole thing here:

    Russell Brand in the Guardian

    He’s probably right. Mark Steel is probably a better read but this is remarkable cogent for Brand.

  25. wembley
    wembley April 10, 2013 at 8:08 am |

    Holy balls, I did not think this post would generate this much rage and frustration. It read like a heaved, resigned sigh to me: “Ugh, I don’t want to talk about Margaret Thatcher, we all already know she’s terrible. I can’t spend too long on it or I’ll have Failed Feminism Forever for devoting so much time to an asshole. If I don’t cover it at all, I’ll have Failed Feminism Forever for ignoring an important woman in history. If I do a link round-up, same deal, it comes off as lazy. Fuck, here’s a paragraph, done.”

    Onto arguments that have been made:

    EG, I agree with your comments on this site far, far more than I disagree with them, and I cherish your input, but this whole “Thatcher’s election was a fluke, not feminism” feels like a cousin of No True Scotsman to me. One of feminism’s major projects is the expansion of opportunities to women. All women. Even the assholes! Someone brought Clarence Thomas up earlier, saying that his seat on the SCOTUS isn’t a Civil Rights victory. Of course Clarence Thomas is terrible on civil rights. But it would be ludicrous to deny that the Civil Rights movement didn’t make it possible for Thomas to sit on the SCOTUS, even if he himself is doing his best to undermine the very movement that made his appointment even possible. I saw it argued above that, if it was a choice between regressive policies implemented by diverse policy-makers and progressive policies implemented by privileged folks, the commenter would rather have the latter. I find that deeply creepy.

    I can’t remember if it’s Backlash or Blinded By The Right or both, but it’s full of examples of right-wing women who road the coattails of feminism to writing and speaking careers (complete with husbands staying at home to take care of the kids to make this possible) — writing and speaking careers all about telling other women not to have careers and to stay home. What they’re doing may not be feminist, but we can’t say feminism didn’t give them the freedom and power to do it. It’s not like there’s a litmus test — “okay, yay, ladies, we have the right to vote! Except you, Sarah Palin.”

    The idea that acknowledging this — that feminism made her rule possible and the very fact of her rule normalized the idea of a woman in power (just as Golda Meier being in power did, etc.) — is an example of Gross Second-Wave White Woman’s Feminism is bizarre to me. If Obama were a Republican (except for the ways where he is), would we argue that he’s suddenly not normalizing the idea of having a black president?

    Additionally… again, this is not a n00b space. We’re politically aware people. Everyone knows Thatcher is terrible. The idea that Jill needs to talk at length about how horrible her policies were now that she’s dead when so many others are doing it… we’re not talking about a WOC blogger that needs the rest of the blogosphere to back her up. We’re talking about… England. They’ve got back up. They’re good.

    1. EG
      EG April 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm |

      You’re right; “fluke” is an overstatement. I would agree with something like the “the most powerful and visible member of an accelerating trend made possible by feminism.”

      But I disagree that Thatcher’s odiousness didn’t need flagging, when her status as a the First European Woman blah blah blah is being flagged. What that suggests is that her power as a symbol is more important than the material damage she did to so many. And what she did needs reinforcing–look at the way the right wing has tried to rehabilitate Joe McCarthy’s image over the years. People like Thatcher need to be remembered for their appalling cruelty, particularly so their symbolic power doesn’t overwhelm awareness of their real effects. When Hitchens died I found that several people who were posting here had never heard of the Iran-Conra scandal; what does that say about the likelihood that they’d know about Thatcher’s depredations? Lots of people don’t remember or never knew history, even very recent history.

      I also don’t see the attitude you’re seeing reflected in the post. Even a brief post could have said something like “So, Thatcher’s dead. She may have been the First European Woman blah blah blah, but let’s not forget what a horrible, horrible human being/leader she was.” The structure of the post, as I noted above works to emphasize the positive, as does the incredibly mild and general language used to condemn her actions.

      1. wembley
        wembley April 10, 2013 at 6:29 pm |

        look at the way the right wing has tried to rehabilitate Joe McCarthy’s image over the years. People like Thatcher need to be remembered for their appalling cruelty, particularly so their symbolic power doesn’t overwhelm awareness of their real effects. When Hitchens died I found that several people who were posting here had never heard of the Iran-Conra scandal; what does that say about the likelihood that they’d know about Thatcher’s depredations? Lots of people don’t remember or never knew history, even very recent history.

        …that’s a really good point. I got nothin’.

        The structure of the post, as I noted above works to emphasize the positive, as does the incredibly mild and general language used to condemn her actions.

        I see what you’re saying, but — I don’t know, maybe it’s just a difference in style preference. When people quoted Jill’s words back, the parts they found too mild, I could see what they were saying, but when I read it originally, I “heard” something else. I don’t know. I can see what you’re saying, I guess.

        1. Nico
          Nico April 11, 2013 at 4:48 pm |

          I also “heard” something else in Jill’s post. It was located in the “particularly good” and the “can’t say I’m a fan” and more straightforwardly in “indicative” (to say nothing of the context of the post.) When I read it, what crossed my mind wasn’t that Jill was somehow giving Thatcher a pass but that she’d get hit for not using a blow torch to burn her in effigy, then dance on the ashes (though please NOT to “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” because, well, you know.) It didn’t take long.

          This article in the Daily Beast likewise doesn’t go out of its way to beat up on her, but without apologizing or making excuses for her, or in any way suggesting that she was a feminist, or even a nice person, it assembles a pretty good brief for Thatcher’s *value* to feminism, if feminism were able to mine and exploit it.

          There’s even a smidg of unconventional intersectional analysis in play: “From the outset, Thatcher was belittled and ignored because she was the wrong type of woman for progressives and the wrong type of Tory for conservatives.”

          The Accidental Feminist

        2. the_leanover
          the_leanover April 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm |

          Hahahaha you have got to be kidding, that daily beast article is a pile of steaming apologetic shite. It might seem like an odd thing to pick up on, but the spelling of ‘mummie’ is apt in how frankly stupid it looks to a British reader, as a neat little metaphor for the writer’s grasp of the realities of British political history.

        3. Nico
          Nico April 11, 2013 at 11:58 pm |

          Well even if only the broad outline of the basic facts are accurate, or for that matter even if they are merely plausible, I think it still provides feminism a way of productively appropriating Thatcher, or “a Thatcher,” into its narrative of women’s progress. The alternative is having to deflect or make excuses or actively “disown” her and comparable figures (of which there will be endless others) whose careers in one way or another raise tricky questions of and for feminism. Powerful and prominent women predictably trip the media’s “Feminist” wire, and it seems a wasted opportunity if feminists do nothing but compete among themselves for the most emphatic condemnation. The feminist condemnation of a Thatcher goes without saying, so why should it be the only thing that gets said?

          Because Thatcher was “the first woman to…lead a major Western power in modern times,” her capacity for destruction was greatly amplified. But the “Is So And So A Feminist?” question and variations of it comes up with whiplash regularity, whether in politics with women like Thatcher and Palin or in pop culture with women like Beyonce and Gaga, even Taylor Swift, and reaching back to Thatcher’s era, Madonna, who at the time was the focus of the identical unresolved debates — the only difference being they didn’t take place in internet time.

          If someone’s career or work prompts the ISASAF question then there’s probably *some* reasonable basis for asking it, and the answer will inevitably not be a simple yes or no and will need to be carefully teased out. Obviously Thatcher herself was not a feminist (which should also be able to go without saying.) But if feminism doesn’t claim its legitimate share of the Thatcher legacy — EVEN WHILE DISOWNING IT IN EVERY PARTICULAR — and interpret it through a feminist filter, it gets written out of the story altogether. The only downside to that I can find is that its hands don’t get dirty, but a feminism without dirty hands is just an intellectual exercise.

          A lot of the feminist response to Margaret Thatcher’s demise seems symptomatic of its inability to frame its issues, recognize its successes, and in a very real sense take yes for an answer. That seems a waste of a perfectly good tyrant.

        4. Nico
          Nico April 12, 2013 at 12:02 am |

          I meant to say (above) The only downside to that I can find is that its hands don’t get dirty,

        5. Donna L
          Donna L April 12, 2013 at 12:49 am |

          the spelling of ‘mummie’ is apt in how frankly stupid it looks to a British reader,

          I thought the article constituted ridiculous apologism, but I have no idea what you mean by this. Unless it’s a different Amanda Foreman, she is British. (Born and raised.) And very well known to be.

          Also, “mummie” is a very common British way of spelling the word. (Try searching on Google Books for that spelling.) I always assumed it was spelled that way not only to differentiate it from the American “mommy,” but to differentiate it from old corpses wrapped in linen.

        6. Donna L
          Donna L April 12, 2013 at 12:55 am |

          Also, I do know, at least, that it’s true that Thatcher wasn’t highly thought of by a lot of more patrician types in her own political party, but — not being British — don’t know how much of that was class-based and how much was gender-based.

          It’s also true that she received a lot of disdain for appointing Jews to her cabinet. The joke about there being “Old Estonians” instead of “Old Etonians.” (Not that I think of being in Thatcher’s cabinet as something to be admired.)

        7. EG
          EG April 12, 2013 at 10:17 am |

          The feminist condemnation of a Thatcher goes without saying, so why should it be the only thing that gets said?

          Except it doesn’t go without saying. Again, I don’t know where anybody is getting the idea that everybody is fully aware and informed of Thatcher’s destructiveness. People don’t remember. People never knew. People were infants or not yet born at the time. I don’t understand where the idea that progressive understandings of history are so secure that we can just blithely assume them is coming from.

          In turn, I could easily point out that Thatcher’s significance to feminism, First Woman to Blah, is obvious and goes without saying, so why do we need to bother to say it? Shouldn’t we be speaking in more detail than that?

        8. Nico
          Nico April 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm |

          [the block quotes aren’t displaying right in preview… but they really do seem correct…. i hope the formating off…. here goes……]

          Except it doesn’t go without saying. Again, I don’t know where anybody is getting the idea that everybody is fully aware and informed of Thatcher’s destructiveness. People don’t remember. People never knew. People were infants or not yet born at the time. I don’t understand where the idea that progressive understandings of history are so secure that we can just blithely assume them is coming from.

          Those are are fair points, EG, and I could have put what I said differently and/or elaborated so as to accommodate them. But the point I was making is that in a forum like this (and in lieu of over-elaboration), opposition to and condemnation of a Thatcher can be *pretty* reasonably taken as a given… even those who were pro-Thatcher at a policy level and happened to be reading/participating here are still *pretty* likely to understand they’re in a tiny minority. True enough, people who don’t remember or were infants at the time could find themselves in the dark, but not for too long, I don’t think. Now these are just assumptions and so they won’t be right in every case, but based on those assumptions (and without daring to speak for Jill or read her mind) I further assume that it’s assumptions just like that that led her to write her OP in an understated tone without spelling out that Maggie was a Monster of World Historical Proportions. Of course we all know what they say about assumptions… but where would we be without them?

          In turn, I could easily point out that Thatcher’s significance to feminism, First Woman to Blah, is obvious and goes without saying, so why do we need to bother to say it? Shouldn’t we be speaking in more detail than that?

          That’s also a good point. But I think it’s more complicated than that. As you say, her “significance to feminism, First Woman to Blah, is obvious and goes without saying” (though that might not be so obvious judging by the consensus replies here.) But the reason we (to continue speaking of a singular “feminism” though that’s problematic) need to bother saying it is so that it is stated in explicitly progressive terms.

          The fact that it’s obvious and goes without saying — that’s exactly why the media never gets tired of the ISASAF question: the people its asked of intuitively (obviously) have *something* to do with F, but it’s the complicating elements of their careers/work, the ones that get marked (also intuitively, if not correctly) as non- or anti-F, that drive the question. And with question driven in that way it invariably plays as a challenge of some kind to “Feminism”: “ok, feminists, so what do you say about…. how do you account for…” a Thatcher? That’s actually a good question, and one that feminists should have no problem or hesitation answering. The question seems to assume the only answer is silence or competitive teeth-gnashing. Why cooperate like that?

          My point in what I’ve been saying here is that feminism needs to find a way of making the most of these recurring opportunities for its own interests, even if it goes no further than complicating how it (feminism) is viewed and understood by the public (the feminist public image and identification gap is after all one of F’s recurring internal themes.) When a woman of Thatcher’s power and prominence kicks it, the event will always have a feminist component, whether F likes it or not, or picks up on it or not. Why not pick up on it? Especially since the feminist component is valid and legitimate and something F can and should take credit for. The fact that huge aspects of the event also (certainly in a case like MT) need to be denounced can just as legitimately be spun as a feminist plus as something to shy away from or simply throw eggs and tomatoes at.

        9. EG
          EG April 15, 2013 at 8:38 am |

          I think our real difference, Nico, is our level of comfort in assuming that posters here will be well aware of Thatcher’s politics and impact from a progressive point of view. As I mentioned above, when Hitchens died, I found myself explaining what Iran-Contra was, because not only did several posters not know of it (and if I recall correctly, one went so far as to say that if she hadn’t heard of it–and she had an MA in history–it couldn’t be that important), but several posters did not know that Hitchens was a leftist writer in any form. On this site.

          Iran-Contra was contemporaneous, more or less, with Thatcher. I just can’t accept the assumption that everyone here is going to know what’s what, especially people who read but don’t post.

          And I’m quite comfortable throwing eggs at Thatcher’s legacy. Spin it however one can, it’s foul.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune April 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm |

      If Obama were a Republican (except for the ways where he is), would we argue that he’s suddenly not normalizing the idea of having a black president?

      Not unless the other black presidents of the world (there’s been a few, by the way) don’t count…

      That said, WORD to your assessment of Jill’s post. I didn’t actually have any issues with it, and I certainly didn’t read it as an endorsement. if anything, I read it as damning with faint praise.

      1. wembley
        wembley April 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm |

        Not unless the other black presidents of the world (there’s been a few, by the way) don’t count…

        I think you know I meant the US, and the US’s particular history of anti-black racism and what Obama’s presidency, regardless of his policies, means in the face of that, but I take your point and I’m sorry for being so thoughtlessly blinkered.

        And thanks, I’m glad I’m not the only one who read the post that way!

    3. Safiya Outlines
      Safiya Outlines April 11, 2013 at 6:36 pm |

      I hate to nitpick, but Magaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, not of England. Considering the massive damage she did to anywhere that wasn’t the rich parts of the South-East of England, it’s important to get that right.

      1. wembley
        wembley April 12, 2013 at 10:15 am |

        Sorry! I wondered when I typed that if I was getting that wrong! I was about to type “UK” and I thought that was wrong! Thanks for correcting me.

    4. CartoonCoyote
      CartoonCoyote April 12, 2013 at 3:26 am |

      I saw it argued above that, if it was a choice between regressive policies implemented by diverse policy-makers and progressive policies implemented by privileged folks, the commenter would rather have the latter. I find that deeply creepy.

      Unless you mixed up the meanings of “latter” and “former” here, you’re not the only one creeped out right now.

      1. Willard
        Willard April 12, 2013 at 4:08 am |

        The actual quote I think is being paraphrasing (badly), amazing we can do this to ensure accuracy and stuff like that:

        Jane: And I would say that I would take a cismale making feminist policy or a social movement of any/all genders bringing about positive feminist change than an entire parliament full of rich white ladies securing the wealth of their class through imperialism and capitalism at the expense of like, all other humans– some of whom are also women, if your feminism is really just based on gender arithmetic.

        Was an argument against “A Woman was Involved” feminism.

        I’m twisted around with formers and latters though. I get that wembley feels that a diverse political elite stripping away the support structures they themselves used is better than a homogenous political elite expanding the rights of the disenfranchised (expanding “regressive” and “progressive” a bit here). Are you creeped out by that, or the original misquoted conclusion?

      2. CartoonCoyote
        CartoonCoyote April 18, 2013 at 1:15 am |

        I get that wembley feels that a diverse political elite stripping away the support structures they themselves used is better than a homogenous political elite expanding the rights of the disenfranchised (expanding “regressive” and “progressive” a bit here).

        If that was truly wembley’s position, that regressive policies under any circumstances are better than progressive ones under any circumstances, then that’s all kinds of fucked-up. How could anyone actually say/believe that?

    5. EG
      EG April 12, 2013 at 10:41 am |

      I saw it argued above that, if it was a choice between regressive policies implemented by diverse policy-makers and progressive policies implemented by privileged folks, the commenter would rather have the latter. I find that deeply creepy.

      Actually, now that I re-read this, I find it deeply creepy that anybody would rather have diverse policy-makers systemically exploiting people and depriving them of their rights and well-being than justice and the common good brought about by privileged people. Identity is far less important to me than policy. Which is why I loathe Thatcher. Better a progressive man than ten right-wing women.

      1. Willard
        Willard April 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

        Thanks, I was semi-worried my white male privilege was giving me a false positive on the creep-out I was feeling.

      2. wembley
        wembley April 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm |

        I guess if I’m being real… I don’t even know where I stand anymore. Because it is more practical to have a Privileged Elite Cadre Of Progressives making progressive policy decisions than a Rainbow Coalition of Clarence Thomases. I can’t argue with that. And I prefer to be practical.

        I did get this feeling that “A Woman Did It” Feminism was being sort of conflated with/implied to also be Second Wave White Privileged Women’s Feminism but, simultaneously, The Hypothetical Cadre Of Progressive White Dudes Making Progressive Policy Decisions On Behalf Of Everybody Else was a-okay. And that just felt off to me, like talking out of both sides of one’s mouth. But in pointing out that that felt off, I grasped for a viewpoint that, when I think more deeply about it, I don’t usually espouse (and would probably think was idealistic, “perfect being the enemy of the good” bullshit if I saw anyone else espouse it!) I also may be misrepresenting what was being argued.

        I’mma just shut up now.

        1. Willard
          Willard April 18, 2013 at 2:15 am |

          If its any consolation, I learned about “No True Scotsman” from you, which I will forever treasure.

          We’ve all chased rhetorical rabbits down holes only to find a land-mine waiting for us.

        2. EG
          EG April 18, 2013 at 7:39 am |

          We’ve all chased rhetorical rabbits down holes only to find a land-mine waiting for us.

          So true. And I like the phrasing.

  26. McMike
    McMike April 11, 2013 at 5:15 am |

    She was the daughter of a shopkeeper and as such posed as one who was allowed to talk down to the street, because thats where she came from.

    However what did daddy do when he hit hard times? He raised prices and so passed on his problems on whoever wanted to eat. Somehow she took great offense when those whom had labour to trade wanted to raise their price though.

    A hypocrite without realizing it.

    1. Tom
      Tom April 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm |

      Who says she was a hypocrite? The miners wanted to raise their wages, despite the fact that their mines were already unprofitable. She said no, same as her father’s customers could have said “no.” Nothing hypocritical about that.

  27. Tom
    Tom April 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm |

    In addition to being the first female leader of a Western great power, she rescued Britain from a severe recession and helped destroy world Communism. But pity a bunch of union thugs who launched an illegal strike without a ballot (one in which people were killed, mind you) and lost, just so they could suck off the British taxpayers teat forever. Boo hoo hoo. Who says winners write the history books?

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable April 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm |

      Sure, “thug” seems like an appropriate term for someone who organizes politically. “Boo hoo hoo” indeed, given the waaaahmbulance hasn’t taken you away yet.

      1. Tom
        Tom April 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm |

        Yeah, “organizes politically” by ignoring strike ballots, killing taxi drivers, and taking funding from the Soviet Union.

        1. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable April 12, 2013 at 4:23 pm |

          Poor Soviets. Waaahmbulance.

    2. EG
      EG April 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm |

      To quote Bunny above:

      called Mandela a terrorist
      supported apartheid
      helped give aid to pol pot
      privatized almost everything
      left millions unemployed
      supported pinochet and thanked him for “bringing democracy to Chile”
      falklands war
      used the literal military in police uniform to break up protests and strikes
      destroyed unions
      infamous poll tax
      huge riots throughout Britain, marked by extreme police brutality
      destroyed our mining, steel and dock industries
      hated feminists and feminism
      sold off British Gas
      allowed 10 political prisoners to die in hunger strikes
      law prohibting “promotion of homosexuality”
      close friend of Jimmy Fucking Savile
      started the dismantling of the NHS
      destruction of the council house system

      But sure, I’m sure she didn’t actually kill anybody with her own two hand or anything, so no big.

  28. McMike
    McMike April 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm |

    The woman involved in taxing womens sanitary wear is not a feminist? Pl0x explain.

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