All their lives, women are urged to play fair and be “nice”. Often that is code for ‘don’t rock the boat’, or ‘know your place.’ Today with the passing of Margaret Thatcher the world lost a trailblazing feminist who showed us all that while niceness and popularity have their place, they are often irrelevant obstacles for women seeking to make their mark.
Lady Thatcher might well recoil from being labeled a feminist, but in the truest sense of that word, she embodied the triumph of courage and ability over gender stereotypes. She showed class conscious Brits that leadership was not the preserve of the monied elite, and forever laid to rest the belief that women were too timid, and weak to chart their nation’s destiny.
While the debate still rages in America over ‘having it all’, and ‘leaning in’, Mrs. Thatcher showed us how to do both. Wife, Oxford grad, mother of twins, chemist, barrister and awesome competitor, she neither asked for nor expected special consideration. She faced a barrage of fierce sometimes-vicious criticism, and soldiered on.
Women (and men) of all political stripes should identify with and learn from this iconic figure who embodied qualities not often seen on the public stage. How refreshing in an age of plastic politicos who rule by opinion polls and regurgitate meaningless pabulum to find someone willing to state her views and stand by them, despite the blowback. As the current debates over gun control and the budget illustrate, few of our current elected officials display that type of courage.
It is tempting to dismiss Margaret Thatcher as an irrelevant relic of the Cold War best consigned to the dustbin of history. I submit however, that her courage, grit and patriotism transcend time and provide important lessons to us all.
Was the ‘iron lady’ a nice girl? Heavens no! She was a role model in the best sense of the word.
Godspeed, Mrs. Thatcher. RIP