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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Did Thatcher offer ‘the Obama effect’ for women?


    by guest on 1st February, 2009 at 5:46 pm    

    This is a guest article by persephone as part of Speakers Corner Sundays

    A recent post about Obama being a role model for black people made me think about Lady Thatcher - the woman outside of her politics - seeking a path to power in context of Barack Obama and his journey to power.

    Mary-Anne Stephenson of the Fawcett Society said of Thatcher: “A lot of younger Labour women have said they were inspired to get into politics because of Margaret Thatcher - she made them think a woman could do it.”

    Undoubtedly, Thatcher inspired women seeking a position of power in spheres other than politics. Nevertheless, as with all early role models, there were certain problems.

    At the time, the ‘women in power’ debate seemed to begin and end with Thatcher. She was a dominant role model at a time of few alternatives. Thatcher was likened to Boudicca due to the lack of modern equivalents of self-made female leaders on such a scale.

    Thatcher broke through the gender glass ceiling but after that women had to carve their own path without becoming or wanting to become another Thatcher. Therein lays a conundrum and perhaps suggests why the gender battle remains only partly won.

    The expectations faced by Thatcher to push a female agenda and the resulting criticism for having ‘let down’ women also led to another barrier. Even today, not all career women want to push a female agenda - some actively avoid it. In parallel, it is interesting to see the outcry when Obama is judged or expected to raise race related issues because of his ethnicity.

    Men have not experienced things to such an extent. They have always had more than one acceptable male role model. Obama’s success was paved with previous black politicians and speakers such as Martin Luther King whose success as a public speaker was due to the prior existence of a black religious culture that was easily translated for civil rights oratory.

    In addition, since classical Greek/Roman times, politics and public speaking were exclusively male and the deep male voice became associated with being ‘statesmanlike‘.

    Public speaking (including speaking at meetings, presentations etc) means that some women have to overcome a physical problem. Women have a higher pitched voice. The pitch heightens with age, nerves and when speaking loudly. It is due to that pitch that an association is made of women being perceived as ‘hectoring’ ’shrill’ or emotional. Thatcher is famous for having a voice coach to help soften her voice - it made her more ‘palatable’ as a speaker and avert such associations.

    Not all things are as easily resolved.

    Post Thatcher, more women are treading a wider range of identity paths and are more readily accepted for it. Yet women are still under-represented at Board level, in the Commons, in local government and patronised by the media. Remember the reference to ‘Blair’s Babes’?. Where are the references to the male cabinet being called ‘Brown’s Himbos’?.

    Ironically, Thatcher was elected because her party supporters assumed she would not dominate due to her gender. Her eschewing feminist causes and image as a ‘traditional’ woman also went in her favour. It was when her dominance became palpable that her party support started to wane.

    Where does this legacy leave us now? Do women, like Thatcher, still have to use their female ‘weaknesses’ as strengths, adjust any female aspects that are perceived as negative and mask so called ‘male’ traits to be a success?

    Or can women who overtly display stereotypical male traits make it to PM and other positions of power?

    These are some of the questions that many women are asking. The fact that they are asking them means that the final frontier of gender identity (or gender equality?) has yet to be tackled.

    And what of Lady Thatcher? She is known just as much for her professional work (however much you may disagree with her policies) as for being the UK’s first female PM. Some might say that this is a true marker of success.



      |   Trackback link   |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: British Identity, Current affairs, Sex equality




    78 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. halima — on 1st February, 2009 at 5:51 pm  

      persephone

      Great post.

      Short answer - the gender game didn’t end with the election of Thatcher - so why expect so much more with the election of Obama and all that he represents?

      Will write more tomorrow .. bed time for me now.

    2. halima — on 1st February, 2009 at 5:56 pm  

      “Or can women who overtly display stereotypical male traits make it to PM and other positions of power?”

      See…. yesterday ( or the day before) headlines from Iceland..

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/31/iceland-gayrights

      To throw in a little more food for thought…

      Iceland ready to endorse first openly gay PM.. who is also a woman…

    3. Rumbold — on 1st February, 2009 at 6:23 pm  

      Despite Mrs. Thatcher not really implementing any feminist policies, her election can still be considered a step forward for women, as it showed that traditional social conservatives were prepared to vote for someone because of their policies rather than their race and/or gender. The same applies to Bobby Jindal. Even if you don’t like the person’s politics, it is still refreshing to see people voting for policies.

    4. Amrit — on 1st February, 2009 at 7:02 pm  

      Hmmm, I can’t help thinking of Joan Smith and what she said about Margaret Thatcher, I think in the book Misogynies - that Thatcher wanted (to paraphrase wildly) to claim the advantages of ‘being female’ (apparently she would stamp her foot and play the ‘emotional female’ card at times when she wanted her ministers’ attention? Not sure if I’ve remembered that exactly right) while actively refusing to, as you put it, ‘push a female agenda.’

      See this for a different, but equally interesting comparison: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/joan-smith/joan-smith-a-woman-of-stature-versus-a-woman-who-needs-a-statue-437746.html

      I think feminists dislike her for the reason JS gives in the linked article - not so much because she didn’t promote a female agenda, but more because she actively hindered female progress. She tried to render her own sex invisible and appointed no other women, and also effectively transmitted the message that it was not just ‘OK’ but should even be expected of women to behave as deeply traditional housewives/mothers AND be ambitious, and that just isn’t fair.

      Whether it was the world of politics, her own megalomania, or both that led to things being so, I can’t say. I must also offer another example (perhaps unconventional for a feminist) of how she set things back: often, when people praise her, in lieu of engaging directly with her behaviour, they say ‘Oh she was great because she was the first female Prime Minister.’

      Great. That sort of anti-meritocracy thing is what just holds back progress even further. Sometimes you need certain landmarks - like Obama’s election - but TALENT and MERIT must be taken into account. As observed by others here before, if people get excused for being inferior on the basis of gender/race or whatever, any short-term ‘representation’ gain will be rapidly unbalanced by the long-term loss.

      @ Rumbold:

      ‘it showed that traditional social conservatives were prepared to vote for someone because of their policies rather than their race and/or gender. The same applies to Bobby Jindal.’

      I really don’t know about this. To some extent, yes. However, there IS a lot of PR-posturing involved as well, I’d say. The Mail has toned down its racism slightly now that it’s realised there’s a big black/Asian audience out there that it’s reliant upon; in the same way, I’d contend that political parties, increasingly desperate for supporters of any kind, are now getting off their arses and ‘looking further afield.’ In the case of Thatcher, I’d venture you have more of a point than with Jindal… but then, I’m cynical, me.

    5. Desi Italiana — on 1st February, 2009 at 7:18 pm  

      This question would be similar to asking: Did Indira Gandhi offer the “Obama effect” for women? Did Bhutto offer the “Obama effect” for women”?

      My answers are no.

    6. Desi Italiana — on 1st February, 2009 at 7:26 pm  

      Perhaps the qualifier I should add to my comment #5 and underline what I think some commentators are trying to say here is if their politics are seen as a “positive” step forward, than maybe yes, it represents some sort of glass ceiling breakage. But if they are deemed as regressive/reactionary/corrupt/detrimental, then no.

    7. misssc — on 1st February, 2009 at 7:47 pm  

      Great piece, and a good parallel to draw in the ‘British Obama?’ debate. In terms of landmarks and powerful narratives, in some ways we already did. Thatcher was elected only about 50 years after women couldn’t even vote and a liberal PM was commenting that the idea of it was like suggesting that rabbits should get a vote…

      But what do you mean by?
      “Where does this legacy leave us now? Do women, like Thatcher, still have to use their female ‘weaknesses’ as strengths, adjust any female aspects that are perceived as negative and mask so called ‘male’ traits to be a success?
      Or can women who overtly display stereotypical male traits make it to PM and other positions of power?”

      My impressions of working in business are the opposite. Whatever about the traditional housewife image, I would say that her ‘male’ traits outweighed her feminity, and isn’t Thatcher’s real legacy the masculine shoulder-padded 80s power woman? The women I come across in positions of influence are still more often than not the overtly stereotypically male, whether that is their natural personality or how they adapted to survive in that environment. As a young, and probably stereotypically female, woman working in business I am still made to feel that I have to work that little bit harder to be taken seriously and to be trusted by some clients. Isn’t the question more, can women who overtly display stereotypical female traits make it to PM and other positions of power? In which case I would say yes, it depends on the individual, but at the moment they might still have to work a bit harder (harder than a man and harder than a woman who acts like a man) to prove themselves.

    8. Rumbold — on 1st February, 2009 at 8:07 pm  

      Amrit:

      “I’d contend that political parties, increasingly desperate for supporters of any kind, are now getting off their arses and ‘looking further afield.’”

      That may be true for the party selection committees, but it doesn’t explain why people voted for them.

    9. Amrit — on 1st February, 2009 at 11:26 pm  

      @ Rumbold:

      Oh, please. Both times Thatcher was elected, the Tories only got 42% of the vote - the majority of voters preferred other parties.

      (Alan Sinfield, Literature, Politics and Culture in Postwar Britain (London: Continuum: 2004), p. xxxii).

      That would suggest that the sort of people who voted for her were the sort of blue-blood Tories who absolutely wouldn’t vote for anyone else, even if their party fielded a woman…

    10. persephone — on 1st February, 2009 at 11:28 pm  

      Desi @ 5

      The question is not similar as I would not put the two together.

      In the post I referred to Thatcher as an early self made leader. Self made being the operational word here.

      Yep before Mrs Thatcher became PM several other women had headed a government: Eva Peron (Argentina) Indira Gandhi (India) Mrs Bandaranaike (Sri Lanka) & Golda Meir (Israel)

      BUT Bandaranaike, Peron and Indira Gandhi (and later also Benazir Bhutto) all had close family links with male iconic leaders who had died. Would they have got there without that? My thinking is not and hence I do not see them as self made or in the same position as Thatcher.

      I say that knowing that Thatcher was fortunate to have a wealthy husband who helped fund her campaigns but it was her personal abilities that got her there.

      From that early era, Thatcher and Meir appear to have been the only ones who had reached the top entirely by their own individual efforts.

      The others had some amount of nepotism to help them and that aspect cannot have helped other women break into the male dominated political world.

    11. fug — on 1st February, 2009 at 11:41 pm  

      golda meir. and evil zioness.

      thatcher. a very male woman.

      red herrings the both of them.

    12. persephone — on 1st February, 2009 at 11:54 pm  

      Fug

      what was it about Thatcher that you thought was male?

    13. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 12:18 am  

      Sunny posted an article recently:

      I see black people everywhere.

      That was to miss the point, just as much as the writer of this post does.

      It does not really matter what colour or gender you are, what matters is what you think and do. As someone once said, I’ll support a black, one eyed, lesbian saxophonist, if that is what it takes.

      Honest.

      Least, that’s what I think. Says the minority of me.

      What say you?

      Incidentally, I hated Thatcher. And her sex didn’t come into it. Really, it didn’t. She was just awful. She probably had an intense dislike for Dalmations.

    14. Shamit — on 2nd February, 2009 at 12:23 am  

      Persephone

      Brilliant post and good arguments on Desi’s point.

      Mrs. Thatcher/Mrs. Gandhi did break a hell of a lot of glass ceilings. There have been many parts of their leadership which range from brilliant to abysmal but no one could argue about the impact they had both in domestic and foreign policies.

      When Thatcher became leader of the Conservatives they thought she would not last long — when she became PM everyone thought that the Unions would drive her out of office and we were almost bankrupt as a nation.

      Guess what Thatcher changed things around and did influence a hell of a lot of women and men not only here but beyond these shores.

      Similarly, when Indira Gandhi became PM India could not feed itself — she brought about the agricultural revolutions and was transformational in both the domestic and foreign arena.

      Eva Peron - I don’t think ever headed Government though.

    15. sonia — on 2nd February, 2009 at 12:26 am  

      good post persephone, and amrit, absolutely spot on in no. 4

    16. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 12:30 am  

      “It does not really matter what colour or gender you are, what matters is what you think and do”

      plus it should not matter what school, college you went to, what your ‘class’, what accent you have is etc

      In an ideal world yes it should not but it does. What say I? I say fight it on the ground.

    17. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 12:32 am  

      Shamit,

      You said:

      Guess what Thatcher changed things around and did influence a hell of a lot of women and men not only here but beyond these shores.

      And I’d agree.

      But not for the better.

      It is to give up politics in favour of gender or colour or saxophone players that is wrong, completely wrong, about this debate. I think.

      I have said, as an old white guy, that I would campaign for quite a few folk from here to get elected. Sunny, Sonia, etc. Should the opposite not apply?

      Should it not be colour neutral?

    18. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 12:50 am  

      persephone,

      plus it should not matter what school, college you went to, what your ‘class’, what accent you have is etc

      Call me a class warrior or somesuch, but I think these things are still allowed to matter. They are the result of privilege. I would doubt, excepting that you are a secret member of the Bullingdon Club, that you, or I will ever become leader or the Conservative Party. My lack of Eton credentials probably precludes me.

      What lack of credentials might preclude you?

      Great word, ‘credentials’. Isn’t it?

    19. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:08 am  

      Credentials? My values would preclude me from wanting to enter the conservatives.

      “Call me a class warrior or somesuch, but I think these things are still allowed to matter. They are the result of privilege”

      But it needs to be fought - I interviewed a woman who was the highest performer at 1st interview. Her 2nd interview included, the most senior person at that orgn. After, he raised her accent with me(she had a slight essex accent, was coherent, could communicate well). My answer was that it would be discriminatory if we did not recruit on the basis of someone having a regional accent. He had no answer to that as he himself had a slight regional accent from Lancashire…

    20. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:15 am  

      Thks Misssc @ 7: “But what do you mean by … etc?”

      For eg bossy is seen as a negative/weakness that women have - Maggie turned it into the forthrightness of a nanny - perhaps why a party largely brought up by matronly nannies accepted her - it was familiar to them.

      She could also be coquettish when needed - remember Mitterrand’s famous description of her - “the eyes of Caligula but the mouth of Marilyn Monroe”

      She dramatically adjusted her natural female pitch - post coaching it came halfway b/n a man and a woman - exceptional as after 45 a woman’s pitch naturally rises. As to ‘male’ traits - she appeared less dominant prior to being elected - it was the allusion of party supporters that she would not be dominate that made them feel safe in selecting her. Only after did the extent of her dominant personality appear.

      I think she played an astute balancing act in more ways than one.

      As to dress, the padded shoulders of suits in very conservative hues, the sturdy handbag, brooch/scarf (female equivalent of a lapel pin/tie), bouffant but rock steady blow dried hair meant she was not too feminine or too masculine.

      I know what you mean about the women that make it to a senior level seeming ‘masculine’. I think that is less a legacy of Thatcher but more because that behaviour makes women less different to the men in power - even (male dominated) Boardrooms today do not like change - they still want to feel they can have their male banter etc and if a very ‘female’ woman were to enter that enclave it would change the dynamic.

      Such women get to the top because it is more acceptable to the majority around the table.

    21. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:20 am  

      persephone,

      But it needs to be fought - I interviewed a woman who was the highest performer at 1st interview. Her 2nd interview included, the most senior person at that orgn. After, he raised her accent with me(she had a slight essex accent, was coherent, could communicate well). My answer was that it would be discriminatory if we did not recruit on the basis of someone having a regional accent. He had no answer to that as he himself had a slight regional accent from Lancashire…

      If you ever met me, I doubt you’d understand my fairly thin Glasgow accent. Or, at least, your wankish chum and you would pretend it was worth a judgement call.

      You can probably understand why I’d like to kick you and your colleague in the nuts, though you would, obviously not agree.

      Though I would take great joy in that. Accent elitists the pair of you!

      Fuck that.

    22. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:24 am  

      Are you drunk Douglas?

      You are wide off the mark - I did not raise the accent issue. I recruited the woman - the objection to the accent was from the head of the orgn & not accepting his objection, in some environments, would have put my own career on a shakier footing. How does that make me what you say?

    23. Shamit — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:31 am  

      “But not for the better.”

      Douglas

      I differ with Mrs. Thatcher’s various approaches to domestic policy but I have to give her credit for making Britain governable once again. We were a bankrupt nation run by diktats of undemocratic union leaders and the Government was running businesses and was doing a miserable job. She turned it around and you have to give the old lady her due credit.

      She was not perfect and no politician is ever perfect - because they are human beings. But she had convictions and she was willing to put her job in the line to follow through with her convictions -I respect that. I don’t care for her ideas about there being no society but I do care about making Britain a force to be reckoned with once again.

      So I disagree with you on her not being good in any respect or not changing anything for the better.

      **********************************
      Perse -

      I agree with you — we must fight discrimination in all its manifestations in our day to day lives and stand up against it wherever and whenever we have an opportunity.

    24. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:46 am  

      Persephone,

      No, not really. To answer the question that seems to exercise folk now:

      Are you drunk Douglas?

      No I am not.

      I am not “wide off the mark” when you post stuff about accent supremacists.

      You really do need to understand quite how insidious that is. And it applies to white, regional accents, just as much as it does to Asian or African voices.

      Good on you for telling the prick off, but would you have been able to do that in a less secure environment?

      I think not.

      Fact is, this is a prejudice that folk don’t want to identify or recognise.

    25. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:47 am  

      Shamit @ 14

      Thanks for the correction - it should read the 2nd wife: Maria Estela Isabel Martinez de Peron and not Eva Peron

    26. Shamit — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:49 am  

      Perse

      You demonstrated courage and conviction when you hired the woman in question and you put your career in the line.

      That takes guts. So respect.

    27. Shamit — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:51 am  

      Perse — I think Isabel was the third wife of Juan Peron — but now I am being pedantic -sorry

    28. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:57 am  

      Perse and Shamit,

      OK. You love each other. Could either of you answer the implicit questions that this thread raises?

      Thought not.

    29. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:58 am  

      @ 24

      If you know the answers why ask me?

      How about a question for you, would you have been able to threaten someone that you wanted to kick them in the goolies in a less secure environment such as from behind the PC screen?

    30. Shamit — on 2nd February, 2009 at 2:12 am  

      Douglas

      Well I don’t think Mrs. Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and she took charge at a time when things were bad — and the country was almost bankrupt and rule of law was fading fast.

      At that time, I think Mrs. Thatcher was more concerned about being the best Prime Minister she could be and that was based on her convictions. I honestly don’t think she thought about the gender agenda very much.

      But just her being PM, and a wartime leader (twice) and being able to stand up to the male chauvinism that was prevalent in the Tory party as well as the Houses of Parliament did more for the feminist agenda than marches or blabbing on blogs or writing 10,000 articles would do even in the Times or Guardian etc.

      Her legacy taught us that a grocers’ daughter who went to grammar school could become PM of this country and be able to shape the nation’s future effectively. Interestingly, the successor she backed finally which put him over the top also did not come from an elite background but from Brixton — left school early — and was a good PM as well.

      But did Mrs. Thatcher become PM because she was a woman — nah. Did she care to be the icon for women’s movement? I doubt it — but did she want to transform Britain and make it a better country based on her beliefs — hell yeah.

      And therefore, could I ask you what is the point you are trying to make mate? What are these implicit questions — pray tell me as I stand here completely lost

    31. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 2:17 am  

      persephone,

      I think - as you are obviously completely pissed - that my comment at 21, not 24 as you suggest, was not addressed directly at you. However, if you wish to live by the sword, I have only one suggestion for you.

      You have not covered yourself in, ahem - glory - exactly, on this thread.

      Think about it.

    32. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 2:21 am  

      Admin, has my comment just got deleted?

    33. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 2:24 am  

      Douglas ” You have not covered yourself in, ahem - glory - exactly, on this thread. Think about it.”

      That rather applies to you douglas

    34. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 2:27 am  

      Shamit,

      There is too much to discuss in your post at this time in the morning. Tomorrow, perhaps?

    35. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 2:30 am  

      persephone,

      Lets discuss that a bit more.

      Eh!

      Tomorrow is another day…

      Night night.

    36. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 7:39 am  

      Okay,

      Slept a bit, snow outside.

      Persephone, you may have raised the accent issue, but you were complicit in it. You said:

      But it needs to be fought - I interviewed a woman who was the highest performer at 1st interview. Her 2nd interview included, the most senior person at that orgn. After, he raised her accent with me(she had a slight essex accent, was coherent, could communicate well). My answer was that it would be discriminatory if we did not recruit on the basis of someone having a regional accent. He had no answer to that as he himself had a slight regional accent from Lancashire…

      You should have kicked your interviewing partner in the balls. This is a fairly common, and particularly nasty form of prejudice. I should like to see it reversed. I’d like anyone who thinks like that to be banned from interviewing folk. Snobby bastards, the lot of them. I’d have thought folk from Liverpool. Newcastle. Cardiff and Glasgow would have agreed with me. Along with Asians…

      But, there you go.

      I am not an accent snob. My friends, friend, speaks with an incredibly broad Fife accent. BSc, PhD, I believe. And quite funny with it. Asian, also. It is a tad surprising, but that is the world we live in.

      You’d have a job understanding what she had to say for a moment or two. That would be your misfortune.

      So, stuff it. It is just another form of prejudice.

    37. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 9:06 am  

      Shamit @ 30,

      I think she was an evil bitch. That’s what I think.

      And I wouldn’t have altered my opinion had she been male, asian or gay. Or Scottish, come to that.

      Evil is as evil does.

      Doesn’t matter what your background is, what matters is who and what you are.

      I’ve said, numerous times, that I’d vote for either Sonia or Sunny.

      Which bit of that don’t you get?

      Neither of them are wrong. And neither is right because of the colour of their skin. That would be ridiculous.

    38. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 9:43 am  

      “I’d like anyone who thinks like that to be banned from interviewing folk.”

      The person in question owned the business so from that secure environment (apart from saying you would kick someone from the protection of a PC screen) how would you have dealt with it?

      “You’d have a job understanding what she had to say for a moment or two. That would be your misfortune.”

      Who said I did not understand her? If what you are raising is that I mention her being coherent etc that was because the job involved speaking - if the way anyone (accent or otherwise) was not coherent it would have affected relevance for that role. Anyhow, I have a regional accent myself & we both understood each other v well.

      I am so glad you have asian friends with an accent & would vote for asians - how right on. Its quite big brother jade-esque in that you seek to mention it.

    39. Rumbold — on 2nd February, 2009 at 10:29 am  

      Amrit:

      “Oh, please. Both times Thatcher was elected, the Tories only got 42% of the vote - the majority of voters preferred other parties.”

      Since no government in the post-war period has got more than 50% of the vote, I am not really sure that is a valid point.

    40. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 10:39 am  

      persephone,

      The person in question owned the business so from that secure environment (apart from saying you would kick someone from the protection of a PC screen) how would you have dealt with it?

      I am not suggesting it is easy.

      There is speech crap, just as much as there is other crap. Least, that is my understanding.

      On the other issue:

      Anyhow, I have a regional accent myself & we both understood each other v well.

      So what? You and I write to each other.We do not tend to use local words without admitting that we are playing a game, ya wee barra’ ye!

      My point is that, if you you or I wish to pretend that we cannot understand one another, then it it is largely down to class snobbery, not down to reality.

      I have very few, one, Asian friend. It is you that assumes, not me. I mention it simply because I don’t think it is an issue, persephone, whereas you do. Would you rather I didn’t vote for Sonia or Sunny?

      Nothing to do with me being better or some such.

      ‘Tis you that has an issue, not me.

    41. Amrit — on 2nd February, 2009 at 10:52 am  

      ‘Since no government in the post-war period has got more than 50% of the vote, I am not really sure that is a valid point.’

      Hmmm. True. I’m still not totally convinced though… Maybe some were voting based on policy (I’d like to believe it were so), but I suspect that for many, it was the same urge that led to the recent election of Boris: people just wanted to get rid of Labour (just like they wanted rid of Livingstone).

    42. Rumbold — on 2nd February, 2009 at 10:54 am  

      Britain was in a mess in the 1970s, because of the immense power of the unions, and the abuse that resulted. People recognised that someone was needed who could actually take the unions head on and win (unlike Callaghan, Heath and Wilson). So while you are right in that some people just wanted Labour out, there was also a real feeling that something needed to be different, and so voted for different policies.

    43. Ravi Naik — on 2nd February, 2009 at 11:07 am  

      She was not perfect and no politician is ever perfect - because they are human beings. But she had convictions and she was willing to put her job in the line to follow through with her convictions -I respect that. I don’t care for her ideas about there being no society but I do care about making Britain a force to be reckoned with once again.

      Her legacy taught us that a grocers’ daughter who went to grammar school could become PM of this country and be able to shape the nation’s future effectively. Interestingly, the successor she backed finally which put him over the top also did not come from an elite background but from Brixton — left school early — and was a good PM as well.

      Shamit, you tend to romantacise History. You could definitely write the plot of “Thatcher” - the 2-part TV series on the rise of a grocer’s daughter in the chauvinist world of politics. :)
      In my opinion, she was effectively a disaster as a PM by governing completely to the right. She dramatically increased poverty in the UK, where at the end, 1 in 3 children were below the line of poverty. This is the measure that counts, not whether she had the conviction to do what is best for the country, etc. Another measure is how she defended murderers like Pinochet - she didn’t care how many people were murdered by this bastard or justice be brought to their families, she said Pinochet should not prosecuted because he was an ally.

      I also think that successive governments have learnt that the country needs to be governed in the centre: you can’t forego social services and cater the poor.

      I am glad she is part of History.

    44. fug — on 2nd February, 2009 at 12:16 pm  

      12. pers.

      her cruelty, her lies and their analysis of how the world works. her stiff ness and her imitation of ‘male’ character flaws.

      i generally admire characters like queen naomi and shami. you dont have to be a political headliner to remind people of the future. What do you think these pointless new labour ‘babe’s’ prove? they give hasina a run for he money in the ugliness and cowardice stakes.

      same with condi rice. golda meir led a bunch of evil culturally inbred squatters, thatcher cause great harm to her people. you’ll be proclaiming israeli massacress Lipvi a gender role model or a millenium development goal soon.

      their gender…. like obama’s race, is a cunning political ploy to gain kudos and disguise their sinister way of being exactly the bluddy same as anybody else.

    45. Refresh — on 2nd February, 2009 at 12:51 pm  

      ‘I am glad she is part of History.’

      Very well put Ravi, if only to remind us that sometimes when things are really bad, they can still be worse.

      The one thing that we should not forget is that this mother of all economic crises, today, is down to Thatcher, Reagan, Alan Walters, Milton Friedman et al.

      Acolytes Blair and Brown are to be blamed for being gutless for not taking on the City when it really mattered.

    46. Refresh — on 2nd February, 2009 at 12:54 pm  

      Like your post #44, fug.

    47. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:05 pm  

      Douglas @40

      What remains unaswered is what would you do in order not to be, as you see it, complicit?

      @ 37 “I think she was an evil bitch.”

      BTW your right on carapace is slipping.

    48. persephone — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:18 pm  

      Fug @ 44

      “her cruelty, her lies and their analysis of how the world works. her stiff ness and her imitation of ‘male’ character flaws.”

      Are not these traits per se & not gender linked? Or is it that if a woman displays them she is evil etc because the expectation is for her to be docile, nurturing & yielding etc

      “What do you think these pointless new labour ‘babe’s’ prove? they give hasina a run for he money in the ugliness and cowardice stakes.”

      They prove that you can bring a variety of identities (as a woman) to exist in that world, wider than were available at Thatcher’s time. BTW why seek to criticise a woman’s looks if you are displeased with her?

    49. SE — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:49 pm  

      No.

    50. Don — on 2nd February, 2009 at 1:50 pm  

      But she had convictions and she was willing to put her job in the line to follow through with her convictions…

      Her job on the line? It’s all the other jobs she was all too eager to destroy that I remember.

    51. halima — on 2nd February, 2009 at 3:15 pm  

      A bit late to the thread….

      It’s interesting when we discuss women leaders we pose the question about gendered behavior - is Thatcher masculine in her style or feminine , or which behavioral trait is more acceptable in the work place. The work place generally is associated with dis-passion and reason - all, going by stereotypes that are associated with male behavior.

      Traits associated with women for example , being emotive and more personal - are usually discouraged in the work place so I think women naturally have to think about the way they approach work life. In short i think the incentives for women to do well in certain professions and within the work place is to adopt a masculine approach. However, younger women probably use their femininity in more direct ways - while not saying women have perfected the air of flirting for the work place, I’ve definitely encountered women changing their behavior with senior male managers because ‘it works’ whatever the ‘it’ is.

      Working ‘it’ probably applies more in terms of moving up the organisation - and some women still play the feminine role more even at the top . Nothing wrong with that. There’s also the tendency to apply the word ‘flirting’ to women but charm to men. Bill Clinton has ‘charm’ but another attractive woman will ‘flirt’ her way out of a tricky question, dilemma.

      Trouble with PM roles is that there have been so few , it’s quite difficult to apply lessons and discuss what works best - the tried and tested hard edged approach , the iron lady who is in fact no different to a male leader, or a more ambiguous style that moves between the male and female leadership style.

      And as the comparison is with Obama - it’s worth asking do black leaders have to act ‘black’? I mean, it sounds like a silly question, but that’s what we’re asking of women - do women have to act more like women in their leadership roles?

    52. halima — on 2nd February, 2009 at 3:23 pm  

      For me, Mrs Thatcher isn’t a role model for women, but more an example of a self-made politician.

      Obama is a role model just because of the sheer symbolism of his election to the highest office in a white majority country, the most powerful country in the world. Obama will have to prove whether he is a role model for under-represented groups by his policies, not just by symbolism alone. Will be promote rights for marginalized groups, including and beyond African Americans? That would be the test for me on whether he will be good for progressive politics and inclusion - not just coz he’s black .. ( which he’s not anyways..)

    53. fug — on 2nd February, 2009 at 3:45 pm  

      i would criticise a mans ugliness.

      i think the westoxic fememist discourse is peculiar to its own set of hang ups.

      the message thatcher sent is that ‘women leaders can just as warmongering, destructive and rancid and manky’ as men.

      nice one. very progressive. ‘become a man, to be a leader’ ‘ become a christian to be a leader’ ‘become white to become a leader’.

      the assimilationists dream.

      Obomber is a con. that anybody is taken in is a sign that people are unable to think in straight lines. especially brown ones in white established countries.

    54. Don — on 2nd February, 2009 at 4:03 pm  

      i would criticise a mans ugliness.

      Why? And actually, how? If you were to say to me, ‘Damn, Don, you’re remarkably ugly’ I wouldn’t give you an argument. It’s true, as even those who love me would concede. But how is that a criticism of anything?

      Obomber? Grow up.

    55. Ravi Naik — on 2nd February, 2009 at 4:28 pm  

      i would criticise a mans ugliness.

      This is the sort of thing you don’t share with people. Unless you are Paris Hilton.

    56. Ugly Don — on 2nd February, 2009 at 4:54 pm  

      i think the westoxic fememist discourse is peculiar to its own set of hang ups.

      I’m sure that makes sense to you, fug, but communicating ideas to others does call for a certain amount of effort. Right now you are producing more spit than sense.

    57. Rumbold — on 2nd February, 2009 at 4:58 pm  

      Persephone:

      They linked to you on Conservative Home:

      http://conservativehome.blogs.com/

      (Scroll down about 2/3rds of the way down under the ‘Latest news and blogs’ section)

      Always a good sign.

    58. fug — on 2nd February, 2009 at 5:05 pm  

      tell those who now can be listed on obombers death count.

    59. Jai — on 2nd February, 2009 at 5:24 pm  

      i would criticise a mans ugliness.

      Generally only a good idea if you’re better looking than your target, and even then only if the other guy is a particularly nasty piece of work.

      Re: “Obomber” — I suspect Fug would only be happy if Obamessiah was Obamohammad instead, if you catch my drift.

    60. Particularly Nasty Piece Of Work Don — on 2nd February, 2009 at 5:36 pm  

      As a particularly nasty piece of work, by conventional standards, I demand a community leader who can air my grievances.

      Jai, I’m astonished. …a good idea if you’re better looking than your target… No, not even then.

      Ugly bugger power!

    61. Jai — on 2nd February, 2009 at 5:53 pm  

      Jai, I’m astonished. …a good idea if you’re better looking than your target… No, not even then.

      I meant “a good idea” in the sense of “only then could you manage to get away with it”, ie. “people in glass houses” and all that jazz.

      Analogy: A short person saying “Jesus, that guy’s a real midget. Does he have to wear reflective clothing so he doesn’t get run over by amoebas ?”

      Or:

      A fat person saying “Bloody hell, that dude’s so fat he’s in three time zones”.

      Or:

      A person with a tendency for extreme gullibility saying “Heh heh, that bloke’s like an Alzheimer’s patient in a brothel: He’s constantly surprised he’s getting screwed, and he doesn’t want to pay for it”.*

      Or:

      You get the idea.

      *with thanks to Two and a Half Men, as always.

    62. douglas clark — on 2nd February, 2009 at 6:23 pm  

      persephone @ 47,

      BTW your right on carapace is slipping.

      Not really. I would have been as happy as a sandboy if Shirley Williams had become our first female PM. Thatcher, contrary to Rumbolds’ analysis at 42, was more damage than cure. The reason that many communities outwith the SE are completely ruined, even to this day, is because she didn’t care. We are still living in the legacy of her philosophy. An over politicised and controlling police force being one example, there are many more.

    63. Amrit — on 2nd February, 2009 at 6:40 pm  

      LMAO @ Particularly Nasty Piece of Work Don.

      Criticising people based on their looks - a tendency levelled often at female politicians rather than men, it must be said, though neither camp is immune - is a tendency that really needs to be stamped out. It leads down the path to ‘Heat-magazine’-style commentary where people judge politicians by utterly useless criteria (how much belly fat does he/she have?! how much do I want to sleep with him/her?! Think Glenda Slagg…) and thus fail to engage properly with politics… and we have far too much of that already. The right-wing tabloid press are, unsurprisingly, repeatedly guilty of this, more so against women, but also see Liz Jones on David Miliband for vomit-inducingly vacuous.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1040928/If-wife-resembled-Angelina-Miliband-Brad-Pitt.html

      I mean, sure, sometimes for the sake of satire, it’s acceptable - but the best satire (like Private Eye for example) does fine without resorting to such cheap shots.

    64. Refresh — on 2nd February, 2009 at 7:06 pm  

      Douglas,

      ‘Not really. I would have been as happy as a sandboy if Shirley Williams had become our first female PM.’

      You mean Barbara Castle surely?

    65. Refresh — on 2nd February, 2009 at 7:16 pm  

      Is it the weather or what? Here we have Don, who rightly says:

      ‘Obomber? Grow up.’ to fug.

      and without too much prompting, changes his monicker not once but twice:

      In space of a handful of exchanges we have from ‘Don’ to ‘Ugly Don’ now resting at ‘Particularly Nasty Piece Of Work Don’.

      Is that Darwinian Theory in action or has fug finally got to him too?

    66. Desi Italiana — on 2nd February, 2009 at 7:46 pm  

      Perse:

      “BUT Bandaranaike, Peron and Indira Gandhi (and later also Benazir Bhutto) all had close family links with male iconic leaders who had died. Would they have got there without that? My thinking is not and hence I do not see them as self made or in the same position as Thatcher.

      I say that knowing that Thatcher was fortunate to have a wealthy husband who helped fund her campaigns but it was her personal abilities that got her there.”

      True, but I think only to a certain extent. Bhutto DID enjoy popularity-and one could argue that despite her dynastic links, she still had to “use her personal abilities” to demonstrate to some segment of the population that she had the ‘right stuff’. Ditto for women who came close to clinching the presidency, such as Hilary Clinton.

      BTW, you could also argue that some men get into power due to family as well and are not self-made (i.e. George Bush)

      My point is that whether its Thatcher, Bhutto, whomever, they may break a glass ceiling, but I do not think there’s a large effect if their politics are deemed whacky. You could basically argue that GENERALLY no one-whether male or female- could get into politics and become PM/president without some helpful connections, being tied/married to/related to powerful people.

    67. fug — on 2nd February, 2009 at 8:34 pm  

      If thatcher wasnt and evil person. her looks would be irrelevant. You remember The Twits right (or general Dahl childrends writing)? On the relationship between evil throughts and features.

      Based on this highly scientific theory, Sid is the ugliest pickler alive, in body, mind and soul.

      Benazir Bhuttos kudos comes from her father who was another power hungry maniac able to fund her elite education and therefore reproduce his cultural spastication for another generation.

      It’s highly amusing how her female gender gets the ‘awwww poor little muslim girl’ appeal from everybody in the west.

      Its a bit like the english fascination with iranian film ‘wow you are fundos but you produce art?…. guffaw… what a beautifully confusing contradition’

      Lets call this ‘obama/thatcher effect’ the ‘ Distraction by Virtuous Tickboxing Veneer’.

    68. Ravi Naik — on 2nd February, 2009 at 9:16 pm  

      Ditto for women who came close to clinching the presidency, such as Hilary Clinton.

      Before Hillary started her bid to the presidency, she hired an internal poll to know whether she would be more successful running as “Hillary Rodham” or “Hillary Clinton”. She got far more popularity using her husband’s surname.

    69. Don — on 2nd February, 2009 at 10:27 pm  

      Refresh,

      Just feeling frivolous. How else to deal with fug?

    70. Refresh — on 2nd February, 2009 at 10:54 pm  

      Don,
      He is good fun. His last post had me in stitches.

      I had a great, truly fearsome english teacher who along with the classic department always wore a gown, he’d probably discarded the mortar as a sop to the swinging 60s. His yellow, which he later changed for magenta, open-top Spitfire didn’t quite match his stern demeanour. He wasn’t the get down with the kids type. You respected him because he demanded it. And we did.

      There were two very important things he taught me, one of which was to never be afraid of inventing language.

      The other, that nobody could ever achieve a perfect 10 - the only real betrayal of his Catholicism throughout the five years he taught me.

      I admire fug for his inventiveness and take extra care to read what he has to say. That of course is different to agreeing with all he might offer.

      I do think there is a poet in there somewhere, bursting to get out. A teetotalling Burns.

    71. Refresh — on 2nd February, 2009 at 11:11 pm  

      Especially the posts where he uses words unknown to modern-day dictionaries. You can just sense the passion, the frustration or whatever emotion he wants to express in language, sounds and rythm mortal words cannot even begin to describe.

    72. Ravi Naik — on 3rd February, 2009 at 9:10 am  

      Based on this highly scientific theory, Sid is the ugliest pickler alive, in body, mind and soul.

      You can’t argue with science… :)

      It’s highly amusing how her female gender gets the ‘awwww poor little muslim girl’ appeal from everybody in the west.

      Its a bit like the english fascination with iranian film ‘wow you are fundos but you produce art?…. guffaw… what a beautifully confusing contradition’

      I am beginning to understand what fug is saying. And that scares me.

    73. Refresh — on 3rd February, 2009 at 11:48 am  

      Ravi, I thought it might :)

    74. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 4th February, 2009 at 9:12 am  

      This is an excellent topic and post persephone!
      Reading all this and the comments made me think of
      Benazir Bhutto, and what a beautiful woman she was, a powerfully feminine leader. I don’t think you could say she wanted “power” … her authority came from within, it was heart and soul.
      she would be a much more influential role model for me.
      I read a quote once …
      A true leader inspires others to achieve greatness.
      I worry about people who would seek leadership positions if what they really want is power … including that in a battle of the genders. Maybe if women tried not acting like men they might actually become strong women and things might balance out.
      You talk about Obama but what of his wife Michelle?
      First lady is also the position of a role model and she will have a job to do herself while at his side in the white house. Maybe not equal to the label “president” but just as important. The US has seen many famous trail blazing and still inspirational ladies. My fav would be Elenore Roosevelt. I guess it’s all in how you look at things.
      I would say Michelle is also a woman who is comfortable in her femininity, beautiful, strong, driven and intelligent.
      She may not be president but she too can be an influence for some young girl to succeed …just as much if not more than Thatcher. True power would be found in just being yourself… without acting like anything or learning to manipulate your audience or party for the sake of personal power.

      I do kind of feel bad for men … they get blamed for everything that is wrong in world. So if this is the final frontier of gender identity (or gender equality?)Maybe it’s time women decide what that really means - to be a woman, and what effects their own actions play in ways that are working against them and start tackling that first. How do you create a bond and equality with anyone who is out right striving to take “power”? and what good would that actually serve in the end?

    75. persephone — on 10th February, 2009 at 12:17 am  

      Desi @ 66

      My thinking was that Thatcher made it despite the odds, for e.g. she was not especially from a well connected family plus when she asked Ted Heath to act as her sponsor he famously refused and she also faced obstruction from party members. Conversely, Benazir Bhutto had a more privileged start and her father recruited Benazir as his personal aide when she had other career plans.

      If we say that all people in power are reliant upon connections for success, what of the many well connected women (and men) before and after Thatcher who have not made it to such a level?

      Her legacy is that you can achieve against the odds - whether the odds are background, lack of support, gender etc. After election she then went on to survive the odds as PM for 17 years despite some very contentious policies.

      No mean feat and not comparable.

    76. persephone — on 10th February, 2009 at 12:20 am  

      Rumbold @ 57

      Thks for letting me know

      How did it get there?

      How very ironic for it to be there.

    77. persephone — on 10th February, 2009 at 12:36 am  

      The Queen @ 74

      “Maybe if women tried not acting like men they might actually become strong women and things might balance out.”

      Is that not the nub? I question what is ‘acting’ like a man or woman - why judge things as male or female. I believe it was traditional stereotypes that led to the quest for the ‘right identity’ at work.

      “You talk about Obama but what of his wife Michelle?”

      As in behind every great man there is a great woman? (Though am not sure about Denis Thatcher being Maggie’s driving force more like monetary force ;-) perhaps)

      “Maybe it’s time women decide what that really means - to be a woman, and what effects their own actions play in ways that are working against them and start tackling that first.”

      Agreed

      “How do you create a bond and equality with anyone who is out right striving to take “power”? and what good would that actually serve in the end?”

      In life you get people who prefer to follow and are quite happy to do so - it should not mean they are unequal but have sought a different role and is how they best relate. Similarly, others prefer to be the leader.

      Why do you see power as not serving good in the end?

    78. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 11th February, 2009 at 8:37 am  

      persephone,
      I know this topic has gone off the page now, but read your comment earlier, and have been thinking about your questions still. again I wanna say this was an excellent and thought provoking post. I hope you will make more :)

      Is that not the nub? I question what is ‘acting’ like a man or woman - why judge things as male or female. I believe it was traditional stereotypes that led to the quest for the ‘right identity’ at work.

      I agree, and I don’t judge anything as male and female either. I think everyone regardless of gender should be free to …just be themselves and set their own goals. There are a million roles to fill … what defines success? I really don’t think it makes a better world to have “a woman of power” as the new stereotypical role model, anymore than the old traditional ones. It really all boils down to individuals.
      Thatcher was an individual. This is just a small link with one paragraph … but to me it says alot …

      http://tinyurl.com/djuv5z

      I wonder who maggies role models were? Do you know? I don’t really know much about her, but I do know she says Denis was indeed her supporter, as a good husband should be no matter what position his wife is in- though I’m not sure what you mean by driving force?
      Plus I don’t see Michelle as behind him but beside him, and equal in every way. What do you think about other women like Carla? Who come right out and say they use sex for power?
      I’m not judging, it’s just I wonder if woman say they got into politics, cause thatcher made them think a woman could do it, what is their true motivation? Not a love of or interest in politics/ government? but power? and why did they think a woman couldn’t in the first place? The world is and always has been full of amazing female role models in everything from science, to art to journalism, also the equal rights movement had some very powerful female leaders… all individuals.
      For myself I never even thought to make a
      gender judgment with my own personal influences, all of which are men. I love history, philosophy, and things that fall more under the humanities line of study, including politics.
      come to think of it, I know not one female philosopher to name? Or spiritual leader. So there is a lot more ground to break still.
      I don’t know how things work.. LOL
      It just seems sometimes the people that have made the greatest achievements in the past … often were not ones that set out on any path. They just kinda became.
      Did Thatcher have a goal to be PM from the beginning?

      in life you get people who prefer to follow and are quite happy to do so - it should not mean they are unequal but have sought a different role and is how they best relate. Similarly, others prefer to be the leader.

      Why do you see power as not serving good in the end?

      I do understand what you are saying and you are right… I’m sorry I have this stupid obsession with words. I don’t think it’s always a matter of preference. but sometimes of abilities or capacity.
      Someone may prefer to be leader, that won’t make them a good one. Better leaders arrive due to a necessity maybe than a quest for “power”. I relate people like Saddam with power … not my definition of a “leader”
      but thats just me…
      not really to do with the male female topic I guess. will wait till next time …
      but thinking of my favorite PM …Churchill - while he was a soldier in WWI in letters to his wife …he used to say things like to ever be a politician was his worst nightmare, and look where he ended up.



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