Whether you agree with her policies, or have, or not have not, been affected by her actions, a woman has died. Understandably, many people of this Nation take a strong stand, one way or the other, because of how Thatcher affected their lives. I would be the last person to discredit, or detract from the raw anger still felt by the people affected by the decisions made by politicians. What I find hard to accept is that so many people are using the day, and subsequent days of someone’s death to dissect and analyse their policies. Surely, this is not the time to question whether a woman was right or wrong in their individual actions twenty years ago, but to allow a moment to pass; to acknowledge that a woman has died. Right or wrong, Margaret Thatcher was a woman, a mother, a grammar school girl, and as big a part of our history as you can get, for better or worse.
In the first few moments after I heard the news, I clicked on the Twitter hashtag for Margaret Thatcher, and found it almost entirely swamped with messages relating to Hillsborough, and a petition called No State Funeral for Margaret Thatcher. I was flabbergasted. Leaving aside whether it is right or wrong for people to attach this issue to the Hillsborough tragedy, making it more about that than the woman who is dead, why shouldn’t Margaret Thatcher have a state funeral? She was the first woman prime minister, longest serving prime minister in living history, she was part of this country for a very long period or time. Right or wrong, she is part of Britain. Why should she die and be carried away without dignity, and the acknowledgement any historical figure deserves? Because she is that, if nothing else. Right or wrong, we all know who she is, don’t we?
To see the images and slogans ‘rot in hell’, bandied all over the social media sites, and indeed the world, and press, to read the passionate vitriol directed at this figure, often by people who have no idea what she did or didn’t do, let alone were affected by it, saddens me. Can’t we allow a moment of respect? Be angry, be indignant, hurt, furious, vengeful, but ‘rot in hell?’
I heard today that ‘Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead’ by Judy Garland is Number 1 in the download charts. Villain she may be, but witch?
It has also been debated whether or not Maggie is a feminist icon. Long ago, when I was about seventeen, and I first created my Myspace profile, my heroes were listed as Oscar Wilde, Oskar Schindler, and Margaret Thatcher. After I wrote a pontificating piece to a local newspaper about the downfall of the town, a family friend gave me the nickname Maggie Thatcher, one which I hold very dear.
Feminism isn’t defined by what you believe, or which policies you support, it is something much more than that. Isn’t it be possible for a woman who argues in favour of staying at home to cook, clean, and look after the children, and a woman who argues in favour of a career, both to be feminist? They are both arguing for their own choice. Feminism is about the power of women, and the respect they are given, and how many women in history have won as much power and reverence as Thatcher? How many women have stood on such a high pedestal of their own accord, not as a wife, or daughter, but as themselves? How many women have been heard by the world?
Margaret Thatcher walked into Parliament amidst a sea of suits, and polished shoes; her own heels the lone click on the marble floor. She stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men, looked them in the eye, shouted them down, argued her corner. She stood in a room full of powerful men, and held her head every bit has high as they did. If Margaret Thatcher did one thing, she fought. She fought while they made jokes about her handbag, and tried to break her spirit. It only made her stronger.
Isn’t the emblem of everything English a lion? Margaret Thatcher fought for what she believed in with the heart of lion. Many politicians conjecture limpidly for what they think will win votes, or what is in the best interest of a particular agenda. Margaret Thatcher, right or wrong, fought for what she believed was right. How many politicians can we think of, to hand, that have fought as she did?
Maggie is a feminist hero, for me personally, because she equalled men. Someone said of Sylvia Plath that she was one of the only women to write as well as a man. It may sound very un-feminist to say that, but in a man’s world, it takes a big woman to stand with men. Men have innate confidence that doesn’t need to be learned, or fought for. Men have the security of being in the dominant position from birth, from the cot, to the playground, to the office. Few women have come along who haven’t asked for an allowance for being a woman, or to be treated differently. Margaret Thatcher stood with the men, not against them, or under them, or above them on a pedestal. She stood alongside them. She also, in my opinion, showed that a woman politician doesn’t fight with an agenda, she fights like a mother, to protect what she believes is right. She fought for every policy like a mother.
I think we should put aside what has gone before, leave the analysing of policies, and debating, and take a moment to acknowledge a great force in our history. Take a moment, each of us, to find the good. For everyone, there must be something to admire.
It is so easy to be swept along, onto the bandwagon, and quite often we’re arguing for untruths and axiom anathema. Most of us feel positively or negatively without even knowing the full facts. The red tops are hard to fight against. Let’s leave aside all the politics, and mourn the death of a great woman.
I hesitate to quote Harry Potter, but as it was said of Voldermort; ‘You Know Who did great things; terrible! Yes! but great’. Whether for good or bad, Maggie made a difference. How many politicians have done that? How many politicians, prime ministers even, have faded into insignificancy without making impact or memory, or even marking their name across the world?
Let’s mourn the passing of a British force; a woman with backbone, and balls, and big hair. A woman who fought hard, took no shit, and made people respect her as an equal. A woman who looked people in the eye.
Let’s allow a moment to remember Maggie, rather than Thatcher.