The passing of Margaret Thatcher has caused a significant divide within the British public; she has always caused controversy. One of the most interesting debates that has been raised since her passing is whether or not she is a feminist icon or a barrier to female progress (Tuesday 9 April, p9). I feel as though I should word this carefully because she raises many complex ideas and stirs a range of feelings amongst people, not only because of her policies, but because of how she was as a person.
In some respects, I feel that she is a strong positive female role model. She had a successful career – whether you agree with her policies or not – she is still our only female prime minster. Second to this, she also managed to raise a family, although I do not doubt that she could not have done this without the support of her husband of 50 years.
The tough issue though, regards her attitudes towards women and her views. She was adamant that she wanted to be seen as a politician rather than a ‘female’ politician. She also created a lot of policies that went against working mothers.
She highlights the ruthless determination that is necessary to be successful, both in the 70s and now. I don’t believe that she was a feminist, but had she embraced what she was doing, she could have become a strong positive role model for women and girls.
I think that over the years, the word ‘feminist’ has almost become a dirty or negative word; it has also been overused to the extent where any successful female is obviously a ‘feminist’. Well… No. What I think should actually be promoted, is the successful women that are strong and can be positive role models. Those that are successful in their careers, although I think this is promoted more positively now, consider popular TV shows that feature successful women that are successful in their own right, not because of their families or their partners.
Unfortunately, we still live in a male dominated world, and there are a lot of complex issues over body image and the over sexualisation of females. I guess it’s complicated because some women find success and empowerment by being sexualised and, in some ways, selling their bodies. Some women are so opposed to the sexualisation of their bodies to make money that they are offended by those that do.
Overall, I think it comes down to each individual and what they feel empowers them. I think that doing the things I want to do – within reason obviously – will empower me. This includes travelling and climbing the career ladder.
As far as ‘feminism’ is concerned… I think it is moving into a new phase. Where women are celebrated for being successful, but the emphasis is on what they have or are doing rather than because they are a women. I’m not sure if this 100% makes sense, but I think things are changing. Or maybe I hope that things are changing.